In the rosy days of late nineties there were three pure portal play companies. Plumtree, Epicentric and Toptier. Then sometime in late 2000 SAP decided to complement there technology platform with a portal offering. They acquired Toptier for whopping $400 millions and married it with their existing portal product called workplace. This was a great buy for SAP as the acquired product has now morphed in the very mature people layer of SAP’s Netweaver platform.

Then somewhere in 2002 came Epicentric’s turn and it got acquired by Vignette for $32 millions. Vignette complemented their content development platform with the content delivery platform via Epicentric.

Today I read the news of Plumtree’s acquisition by BEA via Phil Wainewright’s excellent Loosely Coupled blog. It is sad in the sense that there is no major Pure Play Portal vendor left in the field :(But does that mean being pure portal vendor is not viable in today’s economic scenarios. You got to be an applications vendor and club portal as delivery platform. SAP has a whole slew of applications to be delivered via portal i.e. CRM, BW, HCM, SCM, and SRM etc. Vignette has while not a business application vendor has the content management system up its sleeve.

This gives rise to the question what application does BEA has? But again BEA has been a pure technology platform vendor. What perplexed me as rightly pointed by Phil in LCBlog was the decision to keep BEA’s existing portal separate from Plumtree stack.

“We now have leadership in both transactional and collaboration portals” Chuang said.

Both Chuang and Carges stressed that BEA will maintain separate portal offerings. “We will have two separate portal product lines for as long as we can see,” Carges said.

Keeping both the products separate would mean more pain for the customers in maintaining and operating two separate stacks. It would be interesting to see how long both of the stacks remain separate from each and how they evolve.

Last a disclaimer I have been a SAP Portals consultant for the last four years and naturally I have a strond bias towards SAP Portal which I consider the best positioned platform sitting at the top in SAP’s Netweaver Platform’s People layer. Also it would have been more interesting if Oracle had bought Plumtree ūüėÄ