Hewlett-Packard (HP) plans to combine its espeak middleware, which is used to broker online services, with Oracle's Oracle8i development environment.
HP hopes the alliance will help it become a strong force in what it terms as chapter two of the Internet, after admitting it missed chapter one.
The agreement centres around what HP describes as next generation portals that will allow users to pick and choose the online services they want to receive and from whom. (see earlier story)
The linchpin is espeak, which acts as an agent searching for Web sites relevant to users and soliciting 'bids' from service suppliers to appear on users' desktops according to users' specifications.
Espeak allows sites and services to find, collaborate and broker with other online services so that they can update each other when they change information on their sites.
The two companies will establish two labs in California: one at HP's facility in Cupertino and the other at Oracle's headquarters in Redwood Shores. They will be staffed by engineers from both organisations to develop e-services applications.
The partners will also set up expert centres worldwide that will help customers, including Internet Service Providers (ISPs), Application Service Providers (ASPs) and online companies, to develop Oracle8i based espeak services.
According to Rajiv Gupta, general manager of HP's open services operation, and the brains behind espeak, this agent capability will become pervasive on the Internet within the next two years. He said HP is negotiating with a number of potential hosts of espeak agents, including Merrill Lynch, Qwest, SAP, and Helsinki Telecom.
HP also expects portal suppliers to include espeak to their services. It recently announced a deal with Yahoo to build My Yahoo portals for corporates. Nick Earle, chief marketing officer with HP's enterprise computing business, said the company is discussing when to include espeak functionality into these portals.
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