SAP, Computer Associates push enterprise portals

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Enterprise software vendors SAP AG and Computer Associates International Inc. today laid out separate plans for personalized, easy-to-use and all-encompassing portal applications that are aimed at simplifying end-user access to corporate business data and other information.

SAP announced an as-yet-unnamed portal package that it will develop in partnership with Santa Clara, Calif.-based Yahoo Inc. and said it's creating a new U.S.-based subsidiary to oversee its enterprise portal activities. The moves follow a planned acquisition of portal developer TopTier Software Inc. that SAP announced last Friday.

Meanwhile, Islandia, N.Y.-based CA detailed the release of an upgrade to its six-month-old Jasmine ii portal software. New features will include support for users who need multiple portal "workspaces" on their screens and the addition of an increased number of international languages.

Hasso Plattner, co-chairman and CEO at Walldorf, Germany-based SAP, said during a press conference today that the company's collaborative portal initiative with Yahoo is aimed at speeding and simplifying data access for corporate users who need better ways of organizing the voluminous amount of information they face each day.

"It's the kind of ease [of use] that really makes people self-sufficient," Plattner said. "You switch it on and you instantly see, 'Oh, it looks like Yahoo'." The planned portal is scheduled for release by midyear as a companion to SAP's enterprise resource planning software and other applications, he added.

Carl Hartman, vice president of marketing at CA, said the company’s new Jasmine ii Portal 3.0 software also is targeted at giving corporate users improved abilities to "get their arms around the information they need to do their work." For IT administrators, the upgrade is said to include new features such as a streamlined set of centralized management tools.

Harry Wolhandler, an analyst at ActivMedia Research LLC in Peterborough, N.H., said today's announcements are part of a larger trend to make corporate information more accessible to employees. The collaboration between SAP and Yahoo "makes a lot of sense" because of their respective back-office and front-end strengths, he said.

SAP said its new SAP Portals Inc. unit, headquartered in Palo Alto, Calif., expects to get "a significant portion" of its revenue from licensing technology to other vendors. To illustrate that point, an executive from Invensys PLC's Baan Co. subsidiary, a business applications rival of SAP that resells TopTier's portal software, took part in today’s announcement.

But Bruce Richardson, an analyst at AMR Research Inc. in Boston, said in a report issued today that SAP's new strategy could be confusing to customers who use its existing mySAP Workplace portal software. The marketing plans "may need tuning" to keep users from worrying about having multiple products from a single vendor, he added.

This story, "SAP, Computer Associates push enterprise portals" was originally published by Computerworld.

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