SAP today announced the latest version of its Enterprise Portal software, which has improved multi-platform support and localization features.
This release, the first since 2001, provides support for Unix servers from IBM, Sun Microsystems Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co., as well as for the latest Microsoft Windows servers. It also allows companies to access information from SAP and non-SAP applications, data warehouses, desktop documents, internal and external Web content, as well as collaboration tools, according to SAP.
Available next week, Enterprise Portal 6.0 now supports Unicode for localization to more than 20 languages, including Japanese, Chinese and Korean. The portal will be released as a component of SAP NetWeaver, the company's relatively new integration and application platform.
SAP is a leader in the portal platform market, along with IBM's WebSphere Portal and Plumtree Software Inc.'s Enterprise Web Suite, followed by Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server and Vignette Corp.'s Application Portal, Roth said.
SAP's latest release represents an improvement in integration technology, rather than new functionality, according to Craig Roth, vice president of technology research with Stamford, Conn.-based Meta Group.
Roth said SAP has a competitive edge in a feature SAP calls iView, drag-and-relate technology that allows an end user to combine elements of information in different portlets. However, if a company has a custom-built application, setting up the iView technology could be cumbersome, he said.
"It's one of the products out there that bridges the whole Java and .NET sides of the world," he said. "It's a big deal to get onto the Java platform, but for end users, I don't know [that] it will be seen as a huge change."
However, SAP's portal software also does a less then stellar job at customer profiling and Web site activity tracking, Roth said. It doesn't form as many relationships with user profiles and other data as does other portal software, he said.
SAP said its portal administration has been extended and simplified through an object-based model that provides a streamlined interface for delegating access and control over all portal components. It provides a greater level of independence in terms of languages, operating platforms and administrative control, a company spokesman said.
Competition in the portal space has increased in recent months. IBM this year bolstered the integration capability of its WebSphere Portal by adding adapters that connect to IBM middleware. Microsoft extended the range of its SharePoint 2003 Portal by tightening integration with Office applications and the company's Content Management Server.
San Francisco-based Plumtree also announced upgrades to its portal software this year, opening its framework to support every major application server, security system, content repository, development environment and operating system.
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