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Epicentric unveils software for corporate portals

The company's Portal Server lets customers create "starting points" to integrate a range of services and applications.

Start-up Epicentric, headed by a former Wired Digital executive, has jumped into the market for providing corporate portal software.

San Francisco-based Epicentric's Portal Server lets companies to build intranet and extranet portals that integrate a wide range of services, applications, content, and commerce offerings to create "starting-points" for a company's employees or customers, the company said.

"Companies would rather avoid the time, human resourcesl, and expense of building their own custom portals from scratch--let alone forge the partnerships with content and service providers," said Ed Anuff, chief executive of Epicentric.

Before starting Epicentric, Anuff was director of product management at Wired Digital, where he launched the search engine HotBot and managed the company's search and navigation services.

Analysts said the new software provides a unique steppingstone for companies to build their own portals.

"This is the first company to provide a framework" for companies to develop their enterprise portal, said Mike Gotta, an analyst with Meta Group. "This means the partnerships Epicentric has made are necessary" to make the service unique.

Epicentric has forged redistribution agreements with more than 100 content providers, enabling companies to provide general content and services, such as financial information, maps and directions, travel services, 401k support, and industry-specific news while providing access to internal and external applications.

Last month, the company announced a number of partnerships with content providers, including Reuters, Stockpoint, Travelocity, Weatherlabs, MapQuest,, InternetWire, and others. Epicentric integrates the content and services provided by these companies into modules that ship with the Epicentric Portal Server.

"They've taken an interesting approach in that they include most of the applications and services people would need to include in a portal, so a lot of it is taken care of by Epicentric," said Wayne Eckerson, an analyst with the Patricia Seybold Group. "This is the whole notion of a portal service like Yahoo. They have blended the best of both worlds into the server."

Epicentric competes with such corporate portal software makers as Plumbtree, Viador and Verity, though analysts say its product is unique in its partnership strategy.

"None of them start with this type of framework," said Gotta.

In addition to being a corporate portal, Epicentric Portal Server also comes under the wider spectrum of knowledge management. Knowledge management has become a catch phrase in the collaborative-software industry. During the past two years knowledge management has been heavily touted as a new strategy by groupware giant and IBM subsidiary Lotus, and more recently by Microsoft.

Knowledge management software vendors build products to provide a system for corporations to transform information from various sources--the Web, back-office applications, and databases--into client applications for making business decisions.

Pricing for the Epicentric Portal Server ranges from $50,000 for a 1,000-user license to $100,000 for a portal supporting 10,000 users.