BEA Systems, Inc., a leading application infrastructure software company,  unveiled a new strategy designed to help customers combat "Web sprawl": the unwieldy proliferation of custom Web applications and disparate portals that can breed complexity and high costs in enterprises today. Dubbed enterprise portal rationalization (EPR), this new approach is designed to leverage the service-oriented architecture (SOA) capabilities of BEA WebLogic Platform, combining best practices and industry expertise to help customers resolve years of fragmented portal and Web application development. In addition, BEA announced the availability of the BEA Business Value Assessment - an EPR program designed to help customers identify the scope of their Web sprawl and develop a road map towards a more rationalized IT environment. Finally, BEA announced that it is working with key partners on several marketing and sales initiatives in support of its EPR efforts: Accenture, Documentum, Enterpulse, HP and Hyperion.

During the late 1990s, Web-based computing and applications in the enterprise created a multitude of disparate portals and Web assets designed to serve diverse audiences, such as business operations, sales, customers, and employees. Due to the unsystematic, tactical way these Web assets were deployed, Web sprawl has become prolific throughout enterprises today. This sprawl can create blind spots for businesses in several crucial areas: achieving a coherent view of customer info; gaining visibility into real-time business performance metrics; and providing self service applications to customers, partners and employees. These tasks have become extremely difficult, complex and expensive due to the chaotic nature of Web sprawl. The typical results are high maintenance costs, weak governance and poor user adoption of Web applications - the antithesis of an agile enterprise.

"Many of the organizations we spoke with felt they had gotten into current high fixed cost predicaments because of the buying sprees of the 1990s, without the correct rationalization processes in place. The current economic climate has forced organizations to look at ways to cut costs," said Colleen Niven in an AMR Research Report. "Organizations that have accomplished application rationalization successfully have saved significantly on time, money, and resources; measures of success include decreasing hundreds of business applications, increasing the availability of application data, and creating savings of $1M within one year."(1)

IT rationalization has become a key focus of many enterprises, both on the front end and the back end. Rationalizing hundreds or thousands of portals into either a master portal, or a discrete network of federated portals, dramatically reduces overhead and maintenance costs. According to Niven's report, "Eliminating fees is an immediate savings, from which one user saw an approximate $10 to 20 million of ROI at each of its six business units."(1) Most importantly, rationalizing portal infrastructure has been shown to improve user satisfaction and adoption, and can help enterprises to become more nimble and responsive to changing business requirements.

To help companies reduce the time spent on IT maintenance, BEA offers a standardized, platform-based SOA approach to portal development and management. Based on a common set of components that can be re-used across services and applications, BEA's approach is designed to enable the tight integration of and communication between disparate systems and Web assets. BEA WebLogic Platform can uniquely provide a common administration, security, user interface, and coding framework designed to make it easier and more cost effective to deliver new services and functionality.

The AMR Research Report also found that "of those without a defined [application rationalization] process, more than 80 percent expect to have one in place within the next 12 months."(1) BEA's customers, such as Documentum, the leader in enterprise content management, are already experiencing the benefits of deploying the BEA WebLogic Platform suite to rationalize their enterprise portals. Faced with the cost of maintaining separate marketing and partner portals, Documentum opted to rationalize multiple sites into a single portal architecture that is serving both their internal marketing and partner needs. Through the deployment of BEA WebLogic Portal(TM), Documentum now manages a single portal architecture to upgrade, one place to publish content and one place to manage users while using only one set of code to develop and maintain -experiencing easier content sharing, lower maintenance and marginal costs for additional projects.

"Customers have spoken - complexity is contagious, wreaking havoc on their ability to achieve results through IT," said Olivier Helleboid, executive vice president of products, BEA Systems. "BEA's philosophy is that successful software projects should result in fewer technologies not more. Our enterprise portal rationalization strategy is all about helping customers not only realize savings, but also helping them tame the out of control propagation of technology that has been the unfortunate by-product of portal proliferation."

Due to intense customer demand, BEA and key partners have joined forces to bring enterprise portal rationalization to market, specifically, Accenture, Enterpulse and HP. Additionally, BEA, Documentum, HP and Hyperion today launched a worldwide, integrated marketing campaign aimed at helping customers solve their portal problems.

(1) The AMR Research Report, Colleen Niven, "A Four-Step Process to Application Rationalization," June 24, 2003

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