Personal Portal is a site on the World Wide Web that
typically provides personalized capabilities to its
visitors, providing a pathway to other content. It
is designed to use distributed applications, different
numbers and types of middleware and hardware to provide
services from a number of different sources. In addition,
business portals are designed to share collaboration
in workplaces. A further business-driven requirement
of portals is that the content be able to work on
multiple platforms such as personal computers, personal
digital assistants (PDAs), and cell phones.
of Personal portals
In the late 1990s, the Web portal was a hot commodity.
After the proliferation of Web browsers in the mid-1990s,
many companies tried to build or acquire a portal,
to have a piece of the Internet market. The Web portal
gained special attention because it was, for many
users, the starting point of their Web browser. Netscape
became a part of America Online, the Walt Disney Company
launched Go.com, and Excite and @Home became a part
of AT&T during the late 1990s. Lycos was said
to be a good target for other media companies such
of the portals started initially as either web directories
(notably Yahoo!) and/or search engines (Excite, Lycos,
AltaVista, infoseek, and Hotbot among the old ones).
Expanding services was a strategy to secure the user-base
and lengthen the time a user stayed on the portal.
Services which require user registration such as free
email, customization features, and chatrooms were
considered to enhance repeat use of the portal. Game,
chat, email, news, and other services also tend to
make users stay longer, thereby increasing the advertising
portal craze, with "old media" companies
racing to outbid each other for Internet properties,
died down with the dot-com flameout in 2000 and 2001.
Disney pulled the plug on Go.com, Excite went bankrupt
and its remains were sold to iWon.com. Some notable
portal sites, for instance, Yahoo!, remain successful
to this day. To modern dot-com businesses, the portal
craze serves as a cautionary tale about the risks
of rushing into a market crowded with highly-capitalized
but largely undifferentiated me-too companies.
Regional Web portals
Along with the development and success of international
personal portals such as Yahoo!, regional variants
have also sprung up. Some regional portals contain
local information such as weather forecasts, street
maps and local business information. Another notable
expansion over the past couple of years is the move
into formerly unthinkable markets.
content - global reach" portals have emerged
not only from countries like India (Rediff), (MswPower.Com),China
(Sina.com) and Italy (Webplace.it), but in countries
like Vietnam where they are very important for learning
how to apply e-commerce, e-government, etc. Such portals
reach out to the widespread diaspora across the world.
Government Web portals
At the end of the dot-com boom in the 1990s, many
governments had already committed to creating portal
sites for their citizens. In the United States the
main portal is USA.gov, in addition to portals developed
for specific audiences such as DisabilityInfo.gov;
in the United Kingdom the main portals are Directgov
(for citizens) and businesslink.gov.uk (for businesses).
U.S. states have their own portals which provide direct
access to eCommerce applications (e.g., Hawaii Business
Express and myIndianaLicense), agency and department
web sites, and more specific information about living
in, doing business in and getting around the state.
U.S. states have chosen to out-source the operation
of their portals to third-party vendors. The most
successful company to date for this is NICUSA which
runs 19 state portals. NICUSA focuses on the self-funded
model, and does not charge the state for work. Instead
it is supported by transaction fees for its applications.
Corporate Web portals
Corporate intranets gained popularity during the 1990's.
Having access to a variety of company information
via a web browser was a new way of working. Intranets
quickly grew in size and complexity, and webmasters
(many of whom lacked the discipline of managing content
and users) became overwhelmed in their duties. It
wasn't enough to have a consolidated view of company
information, users were demanding personalization
and customization. Webmasters, if skilled enough,
were able to offer some capabilities, but for the
most part ended up driving users away from using the
1990's were a time of innovation for the concept of
corporate web portals. Many companies began to offer
tools to help webmasters manage their data, applications
and information more easily, and through personalized
views. Some portal solutions today are able to integrate
legacy applications, other portals objects, and handle
thousands of user requests.
corporate portals are sprouting new value-added capabilities
for businesses. Capabilities such as managing workflows,
increasing collaboration between work groups, and
allowing content creators to self-publish their information
are lifting the burden off already strapped IT departments.
addition, most portal solutions today, if architected
correctly, can allow internal and external access
to specific corporate information using secure authentication
Standards emerged around 2001. Java Specification
Request (JSR) 168 standards allow the interoperability
of portlets across different portal platforms. These
standards allow portal developers, administrators
and consumers to integrate standards-based portals
and portlets across a variety of vendor solutions.
SharePoint Portal Server line of products have been
gaining popularity among corporations for building
their portals, partly due to the tight integration
with the rest of the Microsoft Office products. Research
by Forrestor Research in 2004 shows that Microsoft
is the vendor of choice for companies lookign for
portal server software.
Hosted Web Portals
As corporate portals gained popularity a number of
companies began offering them as a hosted service.
The hosted portal market fundamentally changed the
composition of portals. In many ways they served simply
as a tool for publishing information instead of the
loftier goals of integrating legacy applications or
presenting correlated data from distributed databases.
The early hosted portal companies such as Hyperoffice.com,
Intranets.com, or the now defunct InternetPortal.com
focused on collaboration and scheduling in addition
to the distribution of corporate data. As hosted web
portals have risen in popularity their feature set
has grown to include hosted databases, document management,
email, discussion forums and more. Hosted portals
automatically personalize the content generated from
their modules to provide a personalized experience
to their users. In this regard they have remained
true to the original goals of the earlier corporate
Other types of portals
Entertainment Portals: Often all members of an entertainment
portal are responsible for its content and direct
the type of entertainment that is available to visitors
to the site. An example of one such portal is the
South African Music and Entertainment portal Overtone.
These can be an essential part of community based
networking and collaboration.
Environmental Portals: In recent years, many Environmental
Portals have been developed in order to raise awareness
about Environmental Indicators. Such an Example is
Investment Portals: These are an excellent resource
when researching global and industry specific markets.
B2B and B2C Portals: B2B or Business to Business Portals
have become a very important resource for Global business.
They provide buyer and seller details for different
commodities and products and help in connecting businesses
across the globe. A B2B portal that specializes in
a single industry is called a Vertical B2B Portal
or a Vortal. B2C or Business to Consumer portals are
used to directly sell products to consumers.
Mini Portals: Some localized portals are based on
local interests, and edited and maintained by individuals.
While they do not provide the same levels of services
as major portals, they are a good place for collaboration
of ideas, for commonly interested people.
Voice Portals: In addition to standard web sites accessed
through web browsers, people can also access "voice
sites" through "voice browsers". Destinations
accessed in this way by standard telephones are often
called Voice Portals. (Credit: