IBM has launched its Enterprise Information Portal (EIP) strategy, which is intended to provide users with the enabling technology to build their own enterprise wide portals to access corporate data.
EIP is based on socalled supermiddleware that enables customers, ranging from mid sized companies to the Fortune 500, to tie together data from all areas of their organisation.
The first version of the offering, which is scheduled to ship on 30 November, handles unstructured data such as video and text, but the second release, due next year, will natively connect to relational databases and business intelligence tools so that users can access information stored in their data warehouses. Such hooks are currently provided by such middleware as ODBC and JDBC.
Janet Perna, general manager of IBM's data management solutions business, said: "This is the first step along the delivery train for the IBM ebusiness portal strategy to provide users with search capabilities and access to all of their corporate data."
She continued: "It's a foundation for building portals so that companies can leverage their assets - their data, their applications and their people - in context from a single point regardless of location."
External information feeds will be hooked up to EIP by means of socalled connectors, some of which will provided by IBM, while ISVs such as Brio and Hyperion have been provided with a single application programming interface (API) to write their applications to or to enable their own portals to support the environment.
The API is also intended to make it easier for ISVs and systems integrators to write domain specific portals for line of business users, although IBM Global Services has come up with five new service offerings, ranging from portal consulting to connector construction.
Jim Kelly, IBM's vice president of data management marketing, explained: "We're not providing the front end user experience, but the enabling technology. Our enabling supermiddleware allows application providers to be systems integrators or application service providers (ASPs), but the same job can also be done by corporate developers."
EIP will initially run under Windows NT and IBM's AIX Unix variant, but a mainframe version is scheduled to follow at some unspecified time in the future.
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