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Netiva changes name, goes mobile

Now called Portera Systems, the company that once developed Java tools will now offer 'business portals' for businesspeople on the move.

    With a new name and a new twist to link rentable applications with e-commerce, Portera Systems has unveiled its plan to deliver "business portals" for mobile users in mid-sized companies.

    Firms would subscribe to Portera's service for their mobile users, letting them use a Portera application, buy supplies, and view information relevant to their day's activities. Portera was formerly a Java tools vendor called Netiva Software.

    "The target of mobile professionals is unique among business portals--traditionally these applications would be the domain of packaged client/server vendors like Siebel," said Allan Bonde, analyst for Extraprise Group. "The middle market is underserved by the Web vendors, if you think of this as an alternative to rolling out a packaged client/server application for that market."

    Renting enterprise applications, rather than selling them, has become popular, particularly for enterprise software vendors looking for a way to reach smaller companies.

    "We believe that the middle market is the right place to start selling business portals. There is less IT infrastructure, a higher need for a service-oriented delivery model, and the middle market has also become the biggest packaged application opportunity," said Gary Steele, Portera CEO. More than 4.5 million mobile workers work for companies in the segment.

    Oracle, for example, plans to launch next year a service to rent its own applications and those of partners to firms that want to try outsourcing. U.S. Internetworking is now renting applications from a dozen or so vendors.

    Portera is developing its own applications but would only say they are "customer-facing, front-office" software, with two programs to be available before March.

    But it will name content and e-commerce partners, including financial data from Standard & Poors, portable computer batteries and gear from 1-800-Batteries, sports information from SportsLine USA and iSyndicate, COMTEX, PeopleScape, GoldenWare Travel Technologies, Weathernews, and distribution services from Level III Services.

    Netiva, Portera's former name, was a Java Fund company funded by venture capital heavyweight Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.