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Compaq's enterprise portal strategy

This article appears in the issue May 2000 [Volume 9, Issue 4]

Rapid deployment or completely customized

Saying it's in a unique position to facilitate e-business, Compaq introduces a suite of services and solutions around the enterprise portal. Lex Dekkers, Compaq's director of knowledge management and messaging, calls strategy a "portfolio of offerings through professional services, applications and engineering." He adds, "Knowledge management is an essential component of e-business, and Compaq couches it in pragmatic terms. We offer simple solutions to customer needs."

Enterprise portals have moved to center stage in IT, largely because of the secure and personalized information they provide users to get their jobs done efficiently. Along with enhancing what Compaq calls the Global Value Chain (an organization's ability to deliver products and services), portals maximize the potential of CRM and enable the enterprisewide creation of communities of interest, teams that can be quickly put together for specific needs and then disbanded when the goal is accomplished.

Compaq's approach takes two distinct forms: Enterprise Portal Services (EPS) and the Package Portal Solution. EPS involves the services of one of Compaq's 100 specially trained portal consultants who performs: 1) a knowledge management assessment to recommend the appropriate strategy and technologies for implementing a solution based on the customer's business needs,2) a portal assessment to validate business goals and indicate how a portal can achieve them, and3) a portal planning and design to provide a smooth transition for the knowledge worker to an enterprise portal environment.

Estimated time of implementation for this approach could be, depending of course on needs, anywhere from one month to nearly a year.

Dekkers explains that Compaq has created two portal competency centers--one in North America, the other in Europe--to serve as hubs for that side of the business. In the future, Compaq plans to extend the geographical reach of the portal strategy and add more centers.

The other component, the Packaged Portal Solution, is designed for rapid deployment and involves what Dekkers calls "best of breed" applications from partners Plumtree, KnowledgeTrack and Autonomy running on the Compaq ProLiant DL380 operating on Microsoft Windows NT. The CPU, storage and I/O bandwidth must be matched to the needs of the various portal functions.

David Applebaum, general manager of Autonomy, says, "Our Portal-in-a-Box understands ideas, not just keywords. It provides everything needed to deploy an easy to navigate portal that organizes information from hundreds of sources, including Web sites, news feeds, word processing files, e-mail messages, spreadsheets, databases, Lotus Notes and MS Office applications. This relationship with Compaq allows Autonomy to extend into new customers and markets."

"Compaq has highly scalable hardware," says Jack Porter, KnowledgeTrack CEO, "and we provide the same with our software--so there is a very good match right there. We position ourselves with software in a very similar fashion as Compaq does with hardware."

As far as what KnowledgeTrack brings to Compaq, Porter says, "One is our Personalized Portal, which is an individual's view of information. Behind that we have the concept of e-business communities. It allows you to do discussions, shared meetings and chats. Both of those systems allow you to collaborate very easily," he adds. "Further, all of our content is published. We realize that most of these portals are not just inside the firewall; the information is shared with people outside, as well. You have to publish documents to handle that."

Plumtree sees its partnership with Compaq to be a productive alliance. "We view Compaq as a terrific systems integrator because of its global presence," says Conan Reidy, channel development manager for Plumtree.

"It brings a lot to our desire to bring our products to market," he says, adding that Compaq is a global reseller for the Plumtree Corporate Portal.

"What we bring to Compaq is a complete solution, a fully capable corporate portal," says Reidy. "Compaq has a strong legacy in knowledge management, and we both understand large, enterprisewide solutions. Plumtree brings knowledge management value to the right audience."

Compaq has developed a specific step-by-step "recipe" for implementing PPS: two days of setting expectations, collecting configuration information and creating a taxonomy; three days of installation, configuration, knowledge transfer and creating one of each type of data source--Web, file system, Microsoft Exchange or Lotus Domino; one half day of on-site review each week for three weeks; and two days of on-site evaluation.

Cost for the Package Portal Solution begins with about $30,000 in hardware, with another $20,000 to $40,000 for software, depending on the number of licenses. Compaq is working on lowering the threshold, and in the months ahead plans to forge new partnerships to meet customer needs.


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