Launches Online Portal Service - InformationWeek

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Software // Enterprise Applications Launches Online Portal Service

The new service allows subscribers to populate a customer portal with selected information from their accounts and to embed application services from partners. next month plans to launch a service that lets subscribers of its online sales-management software build their own customer portals.

AppSpace is part of's Spring '07 update, which was unveiled Monday at a news event in London. The new service allows subscribers to populate the portals with selected information from their accounts and to embed application services from partners.

Collaboration over the Web is common among companies, which often build their own customer portals. For subscribers, AppSpace is a less expensive alternative, in terms of development and maintenance costs, said Bruce Francis, VP of corporate strategy. For, the service has the potential of increasing subscriber loyalty, while also introducing a large number of potential customers to the company's software.

Subscribers can build their own portal using the vendor's Apex platform, a programming language and set of online development tools that were introduced in January for customizing the service.

Subscribers can choose from a number of templates in building their own branded user interfaces. In addition, they choose the people who can have access to the portal, and the data each person can access, based on their user ID and password.

Any application available through's AppExchange, a marketplace for about 550 applications offered by the vendor's partners, can be embedded into the portal, assuming the creator has a subscription for that third-party service.

Once set up, and depending on the services chosen, AppSpace users would be able to share and collaborate on documents and spreadsheets, check invoices and order status, and perform any number of other tasks. "You can think of AppSpace as the MySpace for the enterprise," Francis said.

Unlike the online social network, however, AppSpace isn't free. Pricing starts at $995 per month for up to 200 users.

Other enhancements to the service announced Monday include customizable search to improve relevance in results, and better synchronization with Outlook, Microsoft's popular e-mail client. Leads and accounts can be created directly in Outlook, and users can upload e-mails and attachments to with one click.

The vendor has also added features to its partner-relationship management service, including better reporting to partner sales managers. In addition, is offering Enterprise Edition and Unlimited Edition customers integration with an Oracle 11i database for a $12,000 annual fee.

Such back-office integration is a reflection of's effort to move upstream from mostly small and medium-sized businesses to bigger companies. In January, demonstrated its potential with large companies by signing a 15,000-seat license deal with computer maker Dell.

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