An Open-Source Portal on the Front End . . .

With major IT projects involving new marketplaces, a unified supply chain system and middleware messaging software in its budget, the TVA didn't have a lot of money left to spend on a Web page.

So the company built its own business-to-business portal using open-source technology to keep costs low.

Buying more expensive off-the-shelf portal software was "the one thing we could put off," said Doug Wielfaert, the TVA's manager of Internet services. And as it turns out, he added, you can build a perfectly decent start-up business-to-business portal based on open-source products.

The TVA used an Apache Web server that's linked to its Unix business systems. To create common gateway interfaces, it chose Mason HQ, a Perl-based development and delivery engine that handles functions such as data caching, debugging and templating.

Separate passwords are currently needed for the customer service, online billing and private marketplace features offered on the portal. But Wielfaert said the TVA is looking to bolt on a security product to create a single sign-on and access policy manager.


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