Air Force picks portal providers

The Air Force announced Oct. 24 that it has selected BroadVision Inc.'s InfoExchange Portal and Plumtree Software's Corporate Portal to power the service's enterprisewide portal initiatives.

The Air Force is deploying perpetual licenses of the Plumtree Corporate Portal in conjunction with an interim license of previous Plumtree e-business solution to create the Air Force Version 3.0 Portal, which is composed of products from Plumtree and BroadVision.

The Air Force portal will serve all 1.2 million service personnel with an array of information and services. It will consolidate information from hundreds of legacy databases and applications to provide authorized users with access to data ranging from personnel files to frontline combat intelligence.

Several large Air Force activities used the Plumtree Corporate Portal, including the Theater Battle Management Core Systems (TBMCS), which tested the portal platform throughout 2001. Plumtree had an interim license with the Air Force during 2000 and 2001, but changed to a perpetual license in order to make sure that the groups using Plumtree will still have access to the portal in the future, which is not guaranteed with an interim license.

The Plumtree solution provides users with ongoing access to supply-chain data, mission-capability status, personnel information and a wide variety of other Air Force applications, including Microsoft Corp. Exchange.

John Kunze, chief information officer of Plumtree, said that the Air Force organizations that used the Plumtree Corporate Portal through an interim license "indicated we had together created a portal solution that would provide ongoing value for the Air Force enterprise."

The Air Force selected BroadVision's InfoExchange Portal after conducting a six-month evaluation of portal technologies from 22 vendors. The evaluation was based on more than 100 specific criteria identified by the Air Force, including scalability, support for multiple platforms, security, advanced personalization, support for open standards including J2EE and customer satisfaction, said Robert Frye, executive director of the Air Force's Standard Systems Group.

Frye said the service was impressed with the success of "other BroadVision-powered e-government initiatives at the state of California and the [General Services Administration]," and that the BroadVision portal "meets all of our technology requirements and provides the best value to the Air Force."

Lt. Col. Mark Bryant, portal program manager, said the Air Force "specifically looked for products with the required functionality that integrated well with the Air Force Global Combat Support System." He added that the BroadVision solution would minimize the costs of integrating databases and applications while providing a "single point of access for mission-critical information."

Speaking Oct. 23 at the Government Electronics and Information Technology Association's Vision Conference in Alexandria, Va., Terry Balven, director of information planning at Air Force headquarters, said the portal is "still growing and maturing," and has about 170,000 registered users, who have been using the Plumtree product.

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