SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - IBM (IBM.N) has reached a deal with Google Inc. (GOOG.O) to bring the consumer Internet into the office by piping YouTube and thousands of other Web programs into IBM software used by millions of office workers.
The pact brings together Google, one of the world’s most popular consumer Web technology companies, and IBM, the biggest supplier of employee portal software which big businesses use to offer a kind of personalized home page for office workers.
In coming months, millions of users of IBM WebSphere will be able to choose from 4,000 existing Google Gadgets services — mini-Web applications that users can add with the click of a button onto public sites or internal office intranets.
These include practical business applications such as maps, language translators, package delivery trackers or instantly updating weather and news services, audio search or Wikipedia.
“These sites are not just valuable to consumers. Businesses want the same content. Why would we keep these two universes separate?” said Larry Bowden, vice president of the IBM Lotus division for portals and Web services.
While Internet access, and thereby Google Gadgets, may be easily available to consumers, many businesses restrict access to the latest Web applications for security reasons, to make network management easier and to limit employee distractions.
By allowing Google Gadgets to work within its WebSphere Portal, IBM is making it easier for companies to give employees access to popular Web applications while keeping control over how they are used. Companies can decide which Google Gadgets they can see.
“The end user decides: We no longer need to go off and call a technician,” Bowden said. “The power has been turned over to the people who know best. You know best.”
IBM WebSphere is the global market leader for portal software with a roughly 30 percent share, according to Gartner and IDC surveys. It competes with SharePoint from Microsoft Corp. (MSFT.O) and rival software from BEA Systems Inc. BEAS.O, Oracle Corp. ORCL.O and SAP AG (SAPG.DE).
IBM supplies the software to customers ranging from banks to energy companies to foster collaboration among employees. The national government of India uses it to deliver information to the country’s 1.1 billion citizens.
Customers such as German airline Deutsche Lufthansa (LHAG.DE) and Disney hotel operator Starwood Hotels will now be able use Google Gadgets to embed features on their customer service sites, Bowden said.
Beyond the novelty of running Google Gadgets on corporate networks, the IBM-Google deal lays a foundation for IBM to deliver hybrid applications that infuse consumer ease of use into existing business applications, Bowden said.
IBM said Google Gadget features are available at no cost to companies who have purchased WebSphere Portal Version 6.0 and also customers of WebSphere Portal Express.
Separately, IBM also said that later in 2007 it plans to offer a search utility to make it easier for published content to be located by Web searchers inside companies.