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Plumtree to firms: Prune your portals

The software maker readies a new version of its portal program designed to help businesses avoid what it calls "portal sprawl"--a slew of outdated internal sites.

Plumtree Software is readying a new version of its portal program designed to help businesses avoid what it calls "portal sprawl"--a proliferation of outdated and unused internal sites.

Plumtree Corporate Portal 5.0, scheduled for release by July, features a portal directory that workers can search and browse, making various portals easier to find, update and maintain, the company said on Monday.

Portals are private, password-protected Web pages through which employees, customers and business partners can take care of things like retrieving information on accrued vacation days or placing orders online.

Keeping track of numerous portals can be a big challenge, especially for large companies, said AMR Research analyst Jim Murphy. In a recent AMR study, one company, which Murphy declined to name, reported having more than 2,000 separate portals.

The new version of the software also includes tools to customize and personalize different portals for different audiences and to administer access and security for those portals separately. It also includes a set of development tools to speed the creation of new portals and allow the building of more interactive features, Plumtree said.

Plumtree, based in San Francisco, competes with Oracle, Vignette, IBM, Microsoft, SAP and PeopleSoft in the market for corporate portal software. Companies say such software has helped them improve employee productivity and cut costs.

Earlier this month, Plumtree reported that first-quarter revenue declined 26 percent compared with the same quarter a year ago, indicating that the sales slump dogging the rest of the software industry has caught up to what was thought to be a bright spot in the market .