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RIA & Ajax: Article

CMS Watch Finds User Interface Dilemmas for Enterprise Portal Buyers

Portal Vendors are Investing on AJAX, Buyers Find That "Super User" Screens Still Predominate

Enterprise portal software customers must invest substantial resources to create usable and accessible user interfaces, according to the latest semi-annual release of the "Enterprise Portals Report" from independent analyst firm, CMS Watch.

Despite all the hype about SOA, portal tools are designed to make enterprise systems more accessible to humans. But portal technology adopters today face several usability challenges, including complicated, dashboard interfaces, as well as tools generating non-standard code that fails common accessibility tests.

"Most enterprises blindly adopt the default 'building block' approach to layout found in contemporary portals -- a leftover from the early days of public portals." according to Lead Report Analyst, Janus Boye. "Today, this de-facto standard can mitigate against adoption in the enterprise," adds Boye.

Major portal vendors such as BEA, IBM, JBoss, Microsoft, and SAP are investing heavily in AJAX-based interfaces, but buyers find that "super user" screens still predominate. Getting adequate value from the portal experience typically requires substantial training and technical acumen.

The Enterprise Portals Report was released today by CMS Watch (www.cmswatch.com), an independent analyst firm that evaluates content technologies and strategies for prospective solutions buyers.

Based on hundreds of interviews with enterprise portal customers worldwide, the 2nd Edition includes detailed comparisons across 16 key feature categories, as well as evaluations of product suitability for 7 enterprise portal scenarios.

"The Enterprise Portals Report has provided my team an invaluable resource to explain the portal marketplace and pitfalls of the different products to our clients," says Lisa Welchman, Founder of Welchman Consulting (www.welchmanconsulting.com ). "This kind of in-depth research and analysis would take many months, if not years, to replicate, but the Enterprise Portals Report puts it all in one handy place," Welchman adds.

Other Report findings include:

- IBM's WebSphere Portal product is under pressure from Microsoft on the departmental side, as well as other Java-based offerings at the enterprise tier. However, IBM has reworked its product UI with a more accessible interface.

- Microsoft portal customers are presently engaged in a potentially expensive waiting game: enterprises deploying the extremely popular Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server 2003 face a massive upgrade to the much delayed MOSS 2007.

- Oracle will shortly join BEA as an infrastructure vendor with multiple enterprise portal offerings.

The 2nd Edition of the Enterprise Portals Report provides 8- to 16-page comparative product surveys of 15 enterprise portal products as well as information about 6 other packages across 3 product categories. Vendors covered include ATG, BEA, Broadvision, Microsoft, Oracle, Vignette, IBM, Red Hat/JBoss, SAP, Sun, Apache, eXo, Liferay, and Plone/Zope. The Report is available for purchase online from CMS Watch (http://www.cmswatch.com).

The Report is designed to help enterprises make faster and better buying decisions. Like all CMS Watch offerings, the Enterprise Portals Report does not rank "best" vendors, but instead details the strengths and weaknesses of the various suppliers, identifies their suitability for different use cases, and isolates vendor tendencies that may influence longterm product roadmaps.

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Ever since Google popularized a smarter, more responsive and interactive Web experience by using AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript + XML) for its Google Maps & Gmail applications, SYS-CON's RIA News Desk has been covering every aspect of Rich Internet Applications and those creating and deploying them. If you have breaking RIA news, please send it to RIA@sys-con.com to share your product and company news coverage with AJAXWorld readers.

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