By Siobhan Kennedy It’s been a long time in the making but Oracle Corp will today finally detail a new technology framework that the company says will enable customers to build their own roles-based portals that integrate Oracle products with third party applications and internet content. Oracle says the technology will be included in the […]
By Siobhan Kennedy
It’s been a long time in the making but Oracle Corp will today finally detail a new technology framework that the company says will enable customers to build their own roles-based portals that integrate Oracle products with third party applications and internet content.
Oracle says the technology will be included in the next version of its WebDB software, release 3.0, which will be available by the end of the year. The news follows hard on the heels of announcements by rival ERP vendor SAP AG, which last week demonstrated its portal strategy during its user conference in Philadelphia. But other vendors, including PeopleSoft Corp and JD Edwards & Company have also announced similar strategies.
Unlike SAP, which says it will work with its customers to configure their portals according to a roles-based model, Oracle says its tools will be so easy to use that IT departments can assemble the portals for themselves.
Central to its portal framework is what Oracle is calling its new portlet technology. A portlet is basically a set of open Java APIs that Oracle says will enable IT departments, third party vendors and systems integrators to wrap up non-Oracle applications and content and make them available as reusable components that can then be brought together on a mix and match basis to assemble user-specific portals.
For its part, Oracle said it will introduce about 12 or 13 portal templates, which will give roles-based access to its own ERP and CRM applications. According to Dom Lindars, director of internet platform marketing, customers can use these templates as a base and then customize their portals by adding individual portlets from a corporate library as they see fit. Lindars said the roles fall into the standard categories including employees, sales, people, customers and suppliers. Although it’s intended to integrate the templates into the new version of its applications, 11i, Oracle said that won’t happen until the middle of next year, while 11i itself is due to be released early 2000. They [the templates] will be layered on top of 11i as soon as they become available, Lindars said.
The idea is to bring order to the chaos that’s going on in organizations, he added. We’re pulling all that information together in an open, component environment based on open, public APIs that can be used by enterprises and our 400,000 developers. The framework will also provide single sign on capabilities to all applications, both Oracle and third party products, he said, and users will be able to access the portals via their handheld devices. The framework and portlet assembly capabilities will be fully integrated into Oracle WebDB 3.0, available in beta in November.
Asked why Oracle was so late coming to the market with its portal strategy, Lindars said the company had been offering portal-like interfaces to its applications for some time, only it hadn’t billed them as such. It’s difficult to believe that Oracle wouldn’t jump at the opportunity of marketing itself as a technological pioneer and indeed Lindars was quick to point out that whatever the timeframe, Oracle’s offering was more comprehensive than any other currently available. SAP’s portal strategy is very much focused around SAP applications, he said. Its mySAP interface is very much their first generation of web interfaces for their own client/server applications. He added: Last month, the CEO was saying SAP is taking a serious look at the internet but client/server was still its main flagship product..I think it’s a very confusing strategy.
One area where Lindars admitted Oracle was weak was full front office/back office integration, something which SAP says it’s already got in the bag. This is very much a front office strategy, he said, we’ll be unveiling details about back office integration over the next few months.