Earlier on this week we took a look at the recently released Magic Quadrant for Horizontal Portals from Gartner (news, site). While there was considerable interest in the leaders, there were also a number of other companies including Open Text and Red Hat JBoss that made it onto the list for other reasons.

The market for portals is powered by the need to improve collaboration across the enterprise and extend business processes and applications to wider audiences.

The Magic Quadrant report shows that with a shift towards Web 2.0, cloud and consumer facing portals, the number of viable vendors has dropped from more than 50 in 2003 to less than a dozen in 2010.

The companies that are best able to provide portals to do that include IBM, Liferay, Microsoft, Oracle and SAP. These, according to Gartner, provide a wide range of capabilities to enable portal deployment and have shown themselves capable of meeting customers’ needs over a long period of time.

The enterprises that didn’t make it into the leaders list include those that are identified as challengers, visionaries and niche players. So here, in alphabetical order, are the others.

Challengers

These are companies that Gartner says showed significant ability to execute and deploy portals, but lack the same level of portal-specific vision shown by those in the market leader space. They include:

1. Open Text

While Open Text (news, site) is the largest independent vendor of enterprise content management in the group, Gartner says it has shown a reluctance to enter the portal market and seems happy to appear as a complement rather than competition to its partners and competitors.

When it bought Vignette in 2009, it also bought portal technology. Although it offers it as a standalone, more usually it markets it as part of its ECM, or web engagement management suite, which targets intranets and customer facing portals.

  • Strengths: With a number of acquisitions under its belt, Open Text has deep vertical offerings that are now established in many large organizations in a customer-facing role. It has also established strong partnerships with heavyweights like Microsoft (news, site) and SAP (news, site) that could help it extend its reach beyond its current market. Open Text fits in well with the emerging UXP market.
  • Cautions: Following the acquisition of Vignette, Gartner says, portal customers noted a lack of responsiveness to them in the period directly after the acquisition. Gartner adds that -- based on interactions with its customers -- Open Text's Portal is considered for replacement more frequently than most other portal software.

2. Red Hat JBoss

As the commercial version of the open source GateIn community portal, Red Hat's JBoss Enterprise Portal is the result of a partnership between it and eXo (news, site) which fills content and collaboration feature gaps in Red Hat's (news, site) portal.

  • Strengths: Red Hat, Gartner says, provides excellent support to JBoss (news, site) EPP customers, which in turn provides a portal platform for users looking for a simply architected, standards-compliant scalable product. Its eXo partnership offers a broader range of capabilities than would be otherwise possible.
  • Cautions: Even after the eXo (news, site) partnership, EPP still depends on the embedded JBoss application server and also lacks search federation support in the packaged open-source engine. It also suffers from limited integration support. To fill gaps in its portal, JBoss partners with companies like eXo, improving abilities in GateIn, but also increasing integration challenges.

Visionaries

Visionaries are just that. They continue to work on developing their own portals sometimes making them more interoperable with others. They demonstrate the ability to develop modular components that can enhance their own portal, complement portals from other providers or suit some portal purposes on their own.

1. Covisint

Offering portal services through its ExchangeLink Platform, Covisint was one of the first companies to move into portals as a service and has now established itself in a number of verticals including automotive, healthcare and financial services. It offers federated identity management, data integration, as well as a third-party app marketplace along with its portal.

  • Strengths: Covisint looks to have jumped on the wave of the future by using the cloud to move across a number of different verticals producing a broad horizontal appeal to its products. Combined with open source building blocks, it can construct portals very quickly at a predictable cost.
  • Cautions: Key differentiators like its cloud delivery and federated identity management will be challenged by competitors like Liferay (news, site) as they enter the cloud. It is also limited in its ability to customize portals because of its cloud-base, making it unsuitable for enterprises that need customization to support on-premise software.

2. Tibco Software

With its experience in SOA and business process management, Tibco is in an ideal position to serve the enterprise portal market. It has a large number of modular products that support both traditional portal building and portal-less portals.

  • Strengths: Particularly good at developing complex portals for business-to-business relationships and processes as well as portals for information management, including master data management and customer information management, its AUX products anticipate the rise of the UXP. It is rated as flexible, extensible and scalable and performance orientated.
  • Cautions: While the modular approach works well with established technologies from other providers, the number and array of technologies and the way they are segmented can be confusing, Gartner says. It adds that many portal customers regard it as a base technology rather than a portal ready for any particular scenario. It also has low visibility in the portal market.

Niche

Niche players are focused on a limited set of portal development scenarios and limited geographic presence outside of their home market. This year there was only one company named in this quadrant: Backbase.

1. Backbase

Backbase (news, site), which focuses on Web-orientated architecture and RESTful modes of interaction, is the first portal-less vendor to enter this Magic Quadrant. It started as a RIA technology vendor and then entered the enterprise mashup tool market. It offers portal services including personalization, content, search and security as Backbase Rich Portal -- a portal building framework.

  • Strengths: Because it focuses on WOA, Backbase Rich Portal enables organizations to build portals rapidly and despite its lightweight nature has some multi-million user portals. It supplements core portal offerings with forms, collaboration and community functionality.
  • Cautions: It is a small company with little visibility as yet and it lack of support for some standards will limit the scenarios it can be used in. It may find it difficult to compete with portals that offer built-in collaboration and content management capabilities.

There is a lot more in this report, including the leaders in the market, and is well worth a look. If you want to read the report in full you can download it here.