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IBM targets Microsoft with latest portal

IBM opened its annual Lotusphere Conference in Orlando, Fla., today with the unveiling of a new version of the WebSphere Portal software that adds a so-called portal collaboration center built by engineers at the firm's Lotus Development Corp. unit.

Larry Bowden, vice president of portal solutions at IBM, said described the portal collaboration center as a single point of access for a variety of functions, including e-mail, instant messaging, calendars, project planning and team rooms. The new collaboration capabilities based on Lotus technologies allows users to interact with multiple collaboration applications, such as corporate white pages, organizational charts and virtual meetings from a single screen, Bowden said.

The new capabilities ''were built from scratch,'' he said. ''We could do it because of the Lotus domain expertise, a big differentiator for us.'' The portal offering also includes technology from IBM's Tivoli, DB2 and WebSphere development labs, Bowden added.

Bowden conceded that the latest version with updated collaboration is aimed directly at various offerings from rival Microsoft Corp. While IBM's full portal solution competes with offerings from a variety of
firms, such as BEA Systems, Oracle Corp., Plumtree, PeopleSoft, SAP and others, ''from a pure collaboration perspective, it's IBM vs. Microsoft,'' Bowden said. ''We'll have to see how long it takes Microsoft to respond.''

The new version of WebSphere Portal will ship by mid-year. A version for the low-end WebSphere Portal Express offering is still in development, said Bowden.

IBM plans to utilize the Lotusphere stage this week to unveil J2EE implementations of a variety of Lotus learning tools, messaging systems and other offerings.

About the Author

Mike Bucken is former Editor-in-Chief of Application Development Trends magazine.

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