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Commentary: Portals stay hot

Despite problems with the economy, businesses will continue to spend more money on portal technology, and this will remain true even as the economy improves, a Gartner analyst says.

    By Gene Phifer, Gartner Analyst

    Despite the problems with the economy, businesses will continue to spend more money on portal technology, and this will remain true even as the economy improves.

    The reason is simple: Portals make a company's technology work better. Businesses have spent millions on software for enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management and collaborative knowledge systems. However, those systems do little good without software to link them together behind a common interface.

    Dropping a portal in front

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    Companies open wallets to portal software
    of enterprise applications makes those applications significantly more effective. That is true not just for business users of these applications. Portals also help make applications accessible to a broader audience. In many cases, companies must make their applications available to a wider audience than was ever anticipated when the application was first installed. That is where portals excel.

    When the economic slowdown ends and businesses resume heavier IT spending, portals will play an even stronger role in helping integrate new applications.

    Given the present and future usefulness of portals, it's not surprising that so many vendors have been jumping into the market. Gartner expects that the market shakeout that began in early 2001 will continue well into 2003.

    But the nature of the shakeout will change. In 2001, the emphasis was on smaller, pure-play vendors being bought by larger vendors. In the future, it's likely that vendors that can't compete will simply go out of business. Some vendors will voluntarily withdraw from the market, as has already happened with Autonomy, Ascential Software, Divine and Verity. They withdrew their portal products but remain in and around the portal product market. For example, Verity now calls itself a vendor of "portal infrastructure" technology.

    Overall, the market for portal products has matured significantly since its birth in 1998. Still, because of the volatility of this market, businesses should continue to take great care in selecting a portal vendor.

    (For related commentary on Sun Microsystems' recent portal server announcement, see Gartner.com.)

    Entire contents, Copyright © 2002 Gartner, Inc. All rights reserved. The information contained herein represents Gartner's initial commentary and analysis and has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. Positions taken are subject to change as more information becomes available and further analysis is undertaken. Gartner disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information. Gartner shall have no liability for errors, omissions or inadequacies in the information contained herein or for interpretations thereof.