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Plumtree Upgrades Collaborative Portal Offering

New Web-services features highlight the software, which now supports Java under Sun Solaris in addition to Windows.

Charles Babcock

October 12, 2004

3 Min Read

Plumtree Software Inc. made its updated portal software generally available Monday with improved collaboration features and the ability to work with Java as well as Microsoft .Net.

The unveiling of additional functionality for portals, offered as Web services, occurred at Plumtree's annual Odyssey User Conference in Hollywood, Fla., this week. "We started building our software on Web services two years ago. Now services-oriented architecture is the new best-practice architecture," says John Kunze, president and CEO.

Plumtree portal software, dubbed the Plumtree Enterprise Suite, historically has been tied to Microsoft applications. Collaboration Server 4.0 expands upon the document management, calendaring, and threaded discussion capabilities that already were included in the suite. The new release, for example, allows a user to drag and drop desktop files into an online shared project. Users can manage project documents in Windows Explorer much as they would on their individual desktops, Kunze says.

Plumtree portal users also can synchronize project calendars with information in their Lotus Notes and Microsoft Exchange calendars. Individual Microsoft Project files used in project-management tasks may be imported to a shared-task list with a calendar schedule and generate notifications as tasks are due, he says.

"Presence awareness" can be added to a joint project so team members may see who is online at any given time and contact them via instant messaging. Business users can edit Microsoft Office documents attached to submitted content rather than creating multiple versions as individuals download and edit files at their desktop.

The improvements to Collaboration Server allow more composite applications to function underneath a portal, Kunze says. By being able to draw on different Microsoft Office applications to build a portal presentation, Plumtree users can create a "composite" application for the portal.

So far, portal vendors "are taking on the easier stuff" needed to build composite applications, says Wayne Kernochan, a software analyst at Infostructure Associates, an IT research firm. The deeper problem of integrating legacy data remains in the lap of the user. He calls the approach "composite lite."

But Plumtree isn't trying to solve business automation problems deep in company infrastructures, Kunze says. "Plumtree applications are focused on people-centric problems," rather than data and transaction-centric problems, he says.

Another upgrade within the Plumtree Enterprise Suite, Content Server 6.0, will be available in late 2004. It will allow an enterprise IT department to generate a template for a portal site, and then help business users create and publish content in the template. The move lets a portal maintain a consistent look and feel while delegating to business users the ability to manage information content. Both Collaboration Server and Content Server, when it becomes available, are priced at $75,000 each.

The Plumtree Enterprise Suite is now available to run as a Java product under Sun Solaris in addition to the traditional Microsoft Windows version. It will be available for Linux next year.

The 400-employee San Francisco company has achieved profitability, Kunze says, but is "intentionally returning to loss-based operations" by rapidly expanding its staff to take advantage of new portal-market opportunities. Revenue for the third quarter, which ended Sept. 30, is expected to be in the range of $21.5 million to $22.5 million, instead of the $19 million to $20 million projected in July. The loss per share is expected to be in the range of 9 to 12 cents per share, compared to the 14 to 17 cents projected in July.

About the Author(s)

Charles Babcock

Editor at Large, Cloud

Charles Babcock is an editor-at-large for InformationWeek and author of Management Strategies for the Cloud Revolution, a McGraw-Hill book. He is the former editor-in-chief of Digital News, former software editor of Computerworld and former technology editor of Interactive Week. He is a graduate of Syracuse University where he obtained a bachelor's degree in journalism. He joined the publication in 2003.

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