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IBM has added the Bowstreet Portlet Factory Solution to its catalogue of Java 2 Enterprise Edition portlets and portlet tools, giving the 5-year-old, privately held company a boost over competitors in the portlet tools marketplace.
IBM will also resell Portlet Factory through its 1,500-person sales force working with WebSphere Portal and Lotus Domino Server products. The recent reseller agreement "dramatically expands the sales opportunities for Bowstreet," CEO Michael George says.
Portlets are windows to a particular service or sought-after information on a company's portal site. Bowstreet lets developers with minimal programming skills add portlets to a portal by making selections in a rapid development environment. Portlets that can be built include an automated query builder for relational databases, a data column modifier for quickly changing tables on a page, and a Java-to-XML converter. When a portal visitor clicks on a portlet, it activates an underlying Java program that performs a designated service or delivers new information. With Portlet Factory, Web-site developers and programmers with less than full J2EE skills can build portal applications "without writing lines and lines of code," says Joe Lichtenberg, VP of marketing for Bowstreet. Many of the portlets made available by the product will help "change the behavior of site visitors" and make a site "stickier," retaining visitors' interest for a longer period, he says.
IBM unveiled a subset of WebSphere Portal for small and medium business, called WebSphere Portal Express, at the same time that it signed the deal with Bowstreet. Portal Express and Bowstreet Portlet Factory will help businesses with small IT staffs do more on their employee and customer-facing Web sites, Lichtenberg says.
Gartner Dataquest recently named IBM as the portal software market leader, ahead of SAP and BEA Systems Inc. IBM will charge $50 per intranet user for the Portal Express version of Portlet Factory, and $10,000 per processor for extranet or Internet-facing sites.
Kroger food stores and Wackenhut Corp. have recently signed up, Lichtenberg says. Rick Tower, director of development, says Wackenhut is using it to roll out a pilot portal site in six countries.