Intranet portal solutions die, evolve & move to Intranet 2.0

The enterprise portal solution market continues to consolidate while the big name vendors like IBM, Oracle, and Microsoft focus their R&D and marketing on Web 2.0.
Your portal solution is dying… or evolving into a Web 2.0 platform.

As I predicted at the start of the year (Enterprise intranet predictions for 2008), Oracle bought BEA, and has already moved to kill one of the BEA portal products: WebLogic Portal. Now BEA has three portal solutions, and will no doubt move to one or two…

“I interpret that as good news for Oracle WebCenter Suite, but high-risk for customers of the other three enterprise portals (BEA WebLogic, BEA AquaLogic and Oracle Portal) in the mix here,” says Janus Boye, Contributing Analyst, a contributing analyst to and one of the world’s foremost experts on enterprise portal solutions, in his post BEA's last release of WebLogic Portal.

“In other words, this is certainly the final major release before Oracle will be firmly in charge of the development teams. The question that looms for me -- and for you -- is whether this also represents the final major release of the product?”

Enterprise 2.0 will become a $4.6 billion industry by 2013 and 
social networking tools will garner the bulk of the money,
according to a report by Forrester Research.

In short, Oracle is putting its money on its newer generation portal solutions that namely flaunt Web 2.0 (Intranet 2.0) functionality. It won’t be long until Oracle issues its last release of Oracle Portal (they’ll probably integrate the portal’s integration attributes into something else) as it’s more of a traditional integration solution, and not at all focused on the new Web 2.0.

Meanwhile, CMS solutions that were trying to be big players with solutions that have begun to resemble portal solutions are falling by the wayside to the big players. Serena Software has decided to abandon (for all intents and purposes) its CMS solution and has stated it will not issue any new releases, and will support it only through next year. A competing solution that its owners have begun to style as portal-like, the Communique CMS from Day, hasn’t had a major release in 3 years and keeps stalling its release schedule.

All the while the big boys keep getting bigger, more powerful, and are pushing Web 2.0 and Intranet 2.0. IBM is ready to release its next version of WebSphere Portal (6.1) chalked-full of Web 2.0, and tested by some 4,000 beta testers.

Some of the WebSphere Portal’s new features include:

  • AJAX-based features
  • Live text tagging (think of the pop-up text and links in Google Maps)
  • Improved document management
  • More templates (through plug-in suites called accelerators) for everything including blogs
  • Mash-ups using a new suite called sMash
According to research firm IDC, the Enterprise Portal Software 
market will expand by 50% in the next 3-4 years to a killer
$1.4 billion in total sales. 

The sMash service is of particular interest to the techies who need to respond to their communications, marketing and HR clients who are demanding more Web 2.0: “WebSphere sMash advances Smart SOA’s simplicity and accelerates the alignment of Business and IT by allowing developers to quickly and simply deliver dynamic Web 2.0 based applications, enabling mashups.”

IBM is clearly the portal market leader and knows full well the power that Web 2.0 holds. According to research firm IDC, the Enterprise Portal Software market will expand by 50% in the next 3-4 years to a killer $1.4 billion in total sales.

"Web 2.0 collaboration features are finding a welcome home within the portal as business users want to take advantage of these new egalitarian methods that offer easy ways for end users to customize content, while IT can take comfort in the portal's ability to deliver them within a secure deployment environment," states the IDC report.

According to a study by Wintergreen Research (2008), IBM owns 64% of the service-oriented architecture market (for a definition, see The critical importance of SOA). WebSphere Portal now has about 6,000 customers with a base that has increased 15% in the last year.

Not to be outdone, while Oracle / BEA was announcing the beginning of the end for WebLogic Portal, it quickly followed by announcing a new major release of its BEA AquaLogic(R) User Interaction, the other BEA portal product.

The latest BEA AquaLogic parades Web 2.0 and boasts that its customers “can create richer, more interactive profile pages, deliver infinitely customizable user experiences and multi-channel interfaces, leverage full RSS capabilities, and enable dynamic human networks to create social applications that enhance worker productivity, group collaboration and community innovation.”

American Diabetes Association (ADA) is the nation's leading nonprofit health organization providing diabetes research, information and advocacy, chose BEA AquaLogic in large part due to the Web 2.0 functionality.

"ADA initially deployed its portal, MyADA, to 900 staff nationwide in 2006. After witnessing the revolutionary impact of Web 2.0 companies on the consumer Web, we were ready to begin adopting these principles in the enterprise," said Rob Cork, director, internal and volunteer communications at American Diabetes Association. "Portals tend to be the leading vehicles for the implementation of Web 2.0 and enterprise social computing because of their rich user interface and interactive capabilities.”

MS claims more than 17,000 MOSS 2007 customers, and 
85,000,000 licenses.

Google is nudging itself into the portal ‘space’ as well. Google has unveiled the Google Solutions Marketplace, a portal or platform for applications that make use of Google Gadgets (APIs or application programming interfaces, and more commonly called widgets).

"The Marketplace's initial focus is connecting customers of our communications and collaboration products, like Google Apps and Enterprise search," wrote Scott McMullan, Google Apps partner lead on his blog. "But that's just a start. We expect to grow to fit the needs of an expanding set of Google customers and developers."

Not just a nudge, actually, its Google’s huge push into the enterprise intranet. Google Gadgets (a.k.a. widgets, not unlike portlets) represent portal type functionality, with an emphasis on Web 2.0. Witness Google’s purchase of enterprise wiki vendor JotSpot, now called Google Sites. Gadgets provide an interface for grabbing and displaying data from other applications like Google Docs and Calendar, or from spreadsheets, blogs, etc.

Did I forget to mention the 500,000 pound gorilla in the corner, known as Microsoft? SharePoint’s (MOSS 2007) blog, wiki, and RSS features are now a mainstay of its marketing efforts, and MS claims more than...

  • 17,000 MOSS 2007 customers
  • 85,000,000 licenses

(Note that its not unusual for MS to give some clients MOSS for free if they are committing to enterprise investments in MS-Office and/or Windows or other MS software).

Enterprise 2.0 will become a $4.6 billion industry by 2013 and social networking tools will garner the bulk of the money, according to a report by Forrester Research. Although a majority of corporations have still not deployed Web 2.0 or Intranet 2.0 tools, the growth rate is impressive with 51% of Global 2000 companies expecting to buy Web 2.0 in the coming years.

The march towards Web 2.0 continues at a rapid pace, leaving some vendors in the dust, some solutions in the ditch, and the big guns smiling from cheek to cheek. Customers should be cautious though that many portal solutions are extraordinarily complex for many organizations (though some will argue that MOSS 2007 is in fact not quite complex enough to often be an appropriate enterprise intranet solution).

If you are looking for simple Web 2.0 functionality like a few blogs and wikis, then a portal can certainly be overkill.


Toby Ward is the President and Founder of Prescient Digital Media. For help in evaluating and purchasing an enterprise portal solution or CMS, please see our Enterprise Portal Blueprint © 2007-2008 or contact us directly for more information on how to transform your intranet into a high-value employee & business system. Also, download our free white paper Finding ROI: Measuring Intranet Investments

Related Reading

Pros and cons for enterprise intranet portals

Enterprise 2.0 vs. Intranet 2.0

Enterprise intranet predictions for 2008

The critical importance of SOA

Intranet Portal Blueprint © 2007

Intranet 2.0 on the rise, but barely

The Big Deal About Portals