Sun Acquires grapeVINE, Adds Tools to iPlanet

Realizing the importance of knowledge management tools for businesses battling information overload, iPlanet is bolstering its portal offering with search, indexing and knowledge management capabilities.

IPlanet will gain these features through Sun Microsystems Inc.'s acquisition of grapeVINE Technologies, which makes collaborative knowledge management software. All grapeVINE technology and resources acquired by Sun will be integrated into the iPlanet Portal Server software, company officials said of the deal being announced Monday. The iPlanet Portal Server is part of iPlanet E-Commerce Solutions, a Sun-Netscape alliance.

IPlanet Portal Server will continue to remain system-agnostic and will support other applications, content and services, including other knowledge management tools, says John Fanelli, iPlanet's director of product marketing for portal and communications. However, grapeVINE's search and indexing capabilities will become free, standard features of iPlanet Portal Server.

With this technology, iPlanet portal users will be able to search internal and external Web sites and then create an index or database that can be searched from the portal or remotely through a Web browser.

Users also will have the option of buying a value-add knowledge management component called iPlanet Portal Server: Personalized Knowledge Services. This component will enhance the portal's search and indexing capabilities by allowing users to categorize information, personalize searches and then collaborate on collected data with other portal users by rating the usefulness of certain documents, for example.

The knowledge management services will become available in the first quarter of next year, Fanelli said. Terms of the grapeVINE acquisition were not disclosed.

Analysts say knowledge management capabilities will become increasingly important in portals as more companies go online. The knowledge management software market is expected to grow from US$1.4 billion in 1999 to $5.4 billion in 2004, according to IDC.

IPlanet Portal Server 3.0 is priced at US$25,000 per CPU for open access and $90,000 per CPU for secure access. Cost for the iPlanet Portal Server: Personalized Knowledge Services, which will be sold as an upgrade to the portal server, has not yet been determined.