IBM Debuts New WebSphere Portal 6.0, Slices Prices
August 28, 2006 Dan Burger
With the introduction of WebSphere Portal 6.0 server, IBM is delivering a package designed to activate more portal projects. Portal technology holds a great deal of promise, but it remains sluggish in terms of the number of projects up and running. IBM expects the Portal 6.0 portfolio boost this business because it has reduced the upfront costs as well as the complexity of portal deployment by virtue of eliminating features that are built into its portal products, known as Enable and Extend. You can’t really argue with those types of product/marketing changes.
Will it motivate companies that were balking at the budget hit they were about to take and the discomfort with long build-out time frames? Most certainly. Momentum is an important step at this point for portals. IBM’s message is that companies can get projects up to speed quicker, which is less of an implementation burden on the staff, and, therefore, users can get familiar with portal technology quicker. In short, this latest version of WebSphere Portal with the Portal Server offers entry-level pricing without the features that few organizations require in a start-up project.
Aside from price, for the time being, the key facts to consider are that this product can match its more expensive portal siblings in terms of scalability and it has incorporated the WebSphere Portlet Factory Designer that allows application building without Java-intensive skills. It will take a portal project through the proof of concept and trial period, becoming a stepping-stone to larger more elaborate projects that involve multiple departments and business communities.
In terms of types of content and content capacity, it can do everything the more expensive products can do. What it can’t do is provide features such as document management and workflow (Enable) and the collaboration tools that are part of Extend. It will provide the capability to aggregate applications and include as much as 30,000 portal pages of content per portal instance.
Application templates are provided as an aid to development. And companies can use them to build their own templates, which can then be rolled out to individuals in charge of various divisions or departments, who can then modify those templates to suit particular needs.
Portlet Factory Designer is a development tool, and templates it provides can be used to connect to back-end systems as well as to create, deploy, and maintain service oriented architecture (SOA)-based portlets. There are also more than 880 portlets and solutions developed by IBM and its business partners that are accessible through the Portal Catalog. These portlets are ready-to-go, industry applications including financial management, customer relationship management and enterprise resource planning among others. Most of these receive some level of customization when put into use.
Compared to the previous version of the software, WebSphere Portal 5.1, IBM claims Portal 6.0 has performance gains of up to 20 percent with better response times and better scalability. At least some of that performance gain can be attributed to an improvement in how it handles database requests.
WebSphere Portal Server 6.0 is supported on platforms Windows, Linux, Unix, and i5/OS platforms.
“I’ve talked to a lot of customers in the enterprise space,” says Chris Lamb, WebSphere Portal market manager. “They want to roll out a call center application, for instance. They are not going to incorporate advanced collaboration services in that. They just need a composite application for the call center staff. This fits that requirement very nicely.”
WebSphere Portal 6.0 is expected to be a key component in IBM’s WebSphere Portal portfolio, which was recently ranked number one in worldwide portal market share for the fourth consecutive year by IDC. The cost savings alone should assure it a place of importance. This offering is a little more than half the cost of its predecessor. IBM’s list price for WebSphere Portal 6.0 is $45,000 per processor, or $2,500 for every 20 users if you want to pay per user. Compare that to Portal Enable at $95,000 and Portal Extend at $130,000 and it’s probably the incentive to push more portal projects.