More Portal Products Readied

SAN MATEO (06/27/2000) - The enterprise portal market has come alive with new companies and new features in existing products, with Verity Inc. and Sybase Inc. the latest to boost their wares, offering a corporate portal and wireless portal access, respectively.

The two companies join a host of others making waves recently, including Yahoo with the introduction of its Corporate Yahoo Inc. enterprise portal and Oracle Corp. Portal, portal building and management software.

Verity's Portal One solution, released on Monday, seeks to ease the problem of corporate data overload through "intelligent classification" of that information and unified access to various data sources, said Laura Ramos, director of product marketing at Sunnyvale, California-based Verity.

"We look at the different types of repositories, bring information together, and bring it into taxonomies without touching the information," explained Ramos, adding that Portal One searches across and accesses both enterprise and Internet resources to find relevant data based on content and meta data, or information about the origin of data. This lets users scope down through several levels of information to find the exact data they're looking for, she said.

Using sets of APIs to connect applications into the portal allows them to talk to each other, so the portal is "not so much a bunch of disparate applications in one Web desktop," said Ramos, noting that a portal's capability of streamlining access to business information and connecting users of that information is one of its most important roles in enterprise environments.

Portal One also makes use of whatever authentication technology the company already has so that administrators can set mandatory windows on employees' portals and limit access to certain content based on an employee's role in the company. The offering supports both XML and WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) so that portals created with Portal One can be device-aware and present summaries of documents formatted for smaller-screened wireless devices, should a user try to access them through a smart phone or handheld PDA (personal digital assistant) device.

In the future, Verity will push Portal One into new markets, including the business-to-business arena, said Brian Di Silvestro, product marketing manager at Verity.

"People are going beyond portals as a way to integrate applications," Di Silvestro said. "Conducting business on the Web has become just another channel [portals can be involved in]."

Portal One is currently available a price of $65,000 with a 250-user license.

For Sybase, in Emeryville, California, the pending wireless explosion was the impetus behind Monday's addition of mobile and wireless features to the Sybase Enterprise Portal (EP), giving smart phone, palmtop, pager, and laptop users the chance to access the Sybase EP through WAP and other protocols.

The Sybase EP will use XML to deliver device-independent content and then implement XSL (Extensible Style Language) to recognize the device type and map content into the appropriate display type for that device, a process Sybase calls "transcoding." Officials said the same process will be applied to content that starts out in the HTML format to make it available for wireless access.

According to Bill Jacobs, senior product manager for the enterprise solutions division at Sybase, the company is fashioning its mobile/wireless capabilities with the mobile worker in mind.

"When we talk about the mobile worker, we're now talking about somebody who's highly, highly dependent on the data; if they don't connect, they've got a real problem," Jacobs said. "We're leveraging our strength in the tools as a differentiator, both at the connectivity level, getting the data to the user, and making sure that data is live, up-to-date, synchronized correctly and generated by the correct events -- all the way back to a mainframe application, ERP [enterprise resource planning], or CRM [customer relationship management] - and is secured and validated."

Jacobs said the Sybase EP also will be taking a look at access for voice-based devices in the future, perhaps making use of "VoxML [Voice Markup Language] language standards coming down the pipe."

Sybase EP's mobile/wireless features will be available in the third quarter of 2000.