Computer Associates Jasmineii - When Is A Portal Not Just A Portal?

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Computer Associates Jasmineii-When Is A Portal Not Just A Portal?
M. Reed - May 18, 2001

Event Summary

This article discusses the new release of CA's portal technology, but goes on to explore the deeper implications of what is actually contained in the product. Watch the TechnologyEvaluation.Com website for an upcoming series of articles on the nature of Application Integration, market forces, and players.

Computer Associates International, Inc. (NYSE: CA), a leading provider of e-Business management solutions, recently announced the general availability of Jasmineii Portal 3.0 e-Business information portal. The new release enables customers to meet global e-Business objectives through dynamic personalization, double-byte and European language support, and streamlined administration.

For IT administrators, Jasmineii Portal 3.0 features streamlined, centralized management and easy integration with a full range of existing corporate information systems. A Web interface enables Jasmineii Portal 3.0 to be deployed to users with virtually "zero administration" across an unlimited number of desktops and without the need for browser-specific plug-ins or applets. Administrators can also create visual templates for specific groups of users. Baseline content can also be developed and deployed in support of specific B2B, B2C or B2E requirements.

Centralized security controls provide Jasmineii Portal 3.0 with the convenience of single sign-on while ensuring that access to sensitive information is restricted to appropriate users. Business partners, customers and employees can be confident that their information remains confidential.

"We selected CA's Jasmineii Portal technology for its proven capability to integrate our rich, yet complex, information environment," said Romano De Carlo, CIO, Post Italiane, which teamed up with CA to create a regional network of more than 14,000 post offices linked to its main headquarters. "Jasmineii Portal provides a global solution that readily aligns with our business needs, allowing us to respond effectively to rapid market change."

In conjunction with the announcement, CA's field services organization is introducing JetStart for Portal, a packaged service that leverages CA's consulting expertise and best practice portal methodology for quick and effective deployment of enterprise information portals. Jasmineii Portal 3.0 supports Windows and UNIX platforms, it is available under CA's new simplified licensing model.

Market Impact

This announcement emphasizes the new product's ability to personalize and manipulate an enterprise portal for improved information access. CA would benefit from highlighting Jasmineii's ability to access, integrate, and then present, complex business information. The presentation layer is (arguably) the easy part. The other components speak to the entire area of Application Integration (EAI, IAI, B2Bi, A2A, depending on the vendor). The problem that many vendors face, and which is exemplified by CA's marketing quandary, is how to explain the exact nature of application integration, how it works, how it relates to portal technologies, and what it can do for a business.

As CA defines the overall product strategy, it involves the following 3 areas:

  • e-Business infrastructure management. Products such as Unicenter and ArcServe to manage the environment. Unicenter can provide facilities to perform activities such as tracking distributed units of work. Security would also be provided at this level, an area in which CA has many industry leading offerings.

  • e-Business process management. Process management can be thought of as the business level logic of the framework. Processes generally known as B2Bi and EAI can be performed at this level with offerings from CA's Interbiz e-Commerce subsidiary.

  • e-Business information management. The ability to build applications, transform and integrate data, and provide intelligence. Products such as Jasmineii, AION, COOL, and DecisionBase can provide this capability.

This is a fairly accurate representation (at a high level) of what application integration tries to provide. The problem is explaining the issue to the market, how you address it, and how to measure return on investment with AI, (especially in the short term).

Another question CA has to address is "whom are you competing with?" CA believes that its technology is well positioned to compete with vendors such as IBM, Oracle, Plumtree, and iPlanet in the portal space. In the overall Jasmineii framework space, they can compete with IBM, Tibco, Vitria, webMethods, and NEON (now a division of Sybase). CA has admitted that it has not been very aggressive about articulating its market position and competitive advantages, but is putting renewed marketing focus on its portal technology and expects to gain both expanded mind share and market share in the near future. (Note that CA describes their Jasmineii Portal and the Jasmineii framework as separate products, which are not interdependent.)

The bottom line is that Computer Associates has virtually all of the components (with the exception of message-oriented middleware such as IBM's MQSeries, which CA is working on delivering in a maintenance update in the "near future") to provide a complete AI solution. All that remains for CA to do is decide that it wants to pursue that market, and throw some of its considerable R&D and marketing muscle at the project. The question is "will they"? CA assures us that it plans to do so, but only time will tell.

User Recommendations

Customers engaged in the selection of EAI/B2B product "suites" should at least include Computer Associates on a long list of candidates for selection. Given CA's current (and possibly only temporary) ambivalence towards this market, caution should be exercised, but keep in mind that many of the "best of breed" products required to accomplish application integration have been developed or acquired by CA over the last few years. What remains to be seen is whether customers will be presented with a total solution or the "sum of the parts".

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