Gartner analysts forecast that the emergence of two types of integrated suites will cause the portal product market to further consolidate and segment along four paths in the first half of 2003.

By 2004, most businesses will not buy a portal product, according to Gartner analysts. Instead, they will buy a set of functionality that will include the portal and will likely be bundled into a suite. By 2005, the portal product market will essentially disappear.

"Vendors should identify their target segment and build plans to close any functionality gaps through acquisition of technology or partnerships," said Gene Phifer, vice president and research director for Gartner. "Users should immediately begin to evaluate their current or prospective vendors to validate whether the vendor's target segment aligns with business needs."

Two types of suites have been introduced into the market, forcing segmentation: the application platform suite (APS) and the smart enterprise suite (SES). The four segments that the portal product market will divide into are APS only, SES only, an APS/SES combination and traditional.

"The APS will likely become a popular path to modern, competitive IT for mainstream businesses with moderately sophisticated IT resources," said Phifer. "However, the functionality delivered by the SES has become required for successful portal deployment, and the SES and APS/SES combination will be the dominant versions of these suites."

The APS is a set of integrated software infrastructure technologies for modern business applications. It contains an application server, integration suite and portal product.

The SES is an integrated suite containing search, classification, content management, collaboration, knowledge management and process management components.

"The APS and SES aren't merely bundled for marketing purposes," said Phifer. "These two types of suites enjoy tight integration among their components, including a common look and feel; common administration, directory, security and metadata repositories; and a single point of support."

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