Probably the most over-hyped, overused and misused word in the vocabulary of many IT people these days is the term "portal." It seems as if every ERP and business intelligence (BI) vendor hawks an enterprise portal solution. Further, it seems as if each supposed portal vendor has different criteria for defining a portal.

Fortunately, there are burgeoning industry standards defining what really constitutes a true portal. If you know the criteria, you can separate a wanna-be from a true portal vendor ­ and save yourself time and headaches in the process. Stamford, Connecticut-based Gartner has established base criteria for portals. These criteria include:

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