WebSphere Wears Enterprise Portal Software Crown Again
August 21, 2006 Dan Burger
Five years ago, the portal business was just a glint in IBM‘s eye. Last week, IDC released a report that placed the WebSphere Portal portfolio in the number one slot for the fourth consecutive year. IBM secured its position as the established leader in the enterprise portal software (EPS) market with a year-over-year revenue gain of 12 percent, according to Ken Bisconti, vice president of workplace, portal, and collaboration products at Big Blue. IDC bases its rankings on software license and maintenance revenue.
The abstract to the IDC report noted that IBM’s leading position in the EPS market can be attributed to the company’s commitment to service oriented architecture (SOA) and collaboration technology, its availability of solution frameworks with cross-industry and vertical-specific process capabilities, and the company’s portfolio of more than 1,500 back-end connectors to enterprise systems.
The IBM WebSphere Portal portfolio includes Portal Express, Enable, Extend, and Everyplace Mobile. Approximately half of portal revenue comes from WebSphere Portal Enable, the enterprise-level product that deals primarily with content- and document-management issues. Portal Extend adds collaboration features to the Enable product, and it is the other primary revenue generator in the portfolio. Express, a scaled-down version of the enterprise software with less scalability, is aimed at the small to mid size businesses. It contributes 10 to 15 percent to the revenue stream. Everyplace Mobile is being deployed in only a handful of organizations at this stage of the product evolution. The WebSphere Portal server runs across all IBM platforms. In terms of implementations, the majority of servers are running on Windows and Linux, and the largest deployments are on mainframes and AIX.
Organizations continue to use portals primarily as content aggregators specifically on intranet systems accessible by employees. Bisconte estimates two-thirds of the implementations are done this way, with the net result being an improvement in information delivery and collaboration. “The growth of WebSphere Portal software is being driven by customers deploying composite applications that deliver customized information to employees,” he says.
However, he readily points out the evolution of this technology now includes the delivery of applications and the use of portals outside the enterprise. A portal can aggregate content and personalize it so users receive information that is most useful to them and the jobs they do. It can also support composite applications that allow “click-to-action” integration for user interactions.
Access, via portals, to information and applications by an organization’s customers and suppliers are becoming more frequent. Bisconte says IBM has thousands of large enterprise customers using external portals. He cites manufacturers such as 3M, financial institutions such as HSBC, and government agencies such as Miami-Dade County, Florida, as examples. “The evolution has gone from strictly content to content and provisioning,” he says. “There has been a conversion with content and document management, e-mail and workflow. Where there were once vendors with standalone portal products, they don’t exist any more.”
As the scope of portal products expands, it also plays into the long-term plans for service oriented architecture. According to a Gartner analysis, 50 percent of enterprises are using portals as the first step in SOA implementations, where the portal serves as the front end. This is sometimes overlooked because at this point in the evolution of SOA, most companies are focused on the back end where no user interface comes into play. An IBM white paper titled WebSphere Portal: An On Ramp to SOA will illuminate Big Blue’s vision regarding the marriage of portals and SOA.
For additional information on the WebSphere Portal lineup of products, go to the WebSphere software home page.