Oracle has teamed with Baltimore Technologies PLC to offer customers in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region Oracle's portal product, with added security features such as secure access and authorization management, the companies announced Tuesday.The Trusted Portal for Oracle, which has been developed to work with Oracle's Internet Directory and other security-oriented features in Oracle9i Application Server, has been designed to simplify the process of security measures such as issuing and managing digital certificates and digital signatures, the companies said in a statement."Of course, the first question would obviously be, isn't the Oracle portal product already secure? Yes it is, but this is about adding the additional security measures that customers are asking for, especially in Europe. We have found that the complexity of implementing security is putting customers off, even though security is so high on their agenda. This product is designed to address that problem," said John McLevy, Oracle vice president of enterprise solutions for EMEA.Oracle has been working with Baltimore, in Dublin, on the project for the past 15 months. The two have been working together on security issues on a ad-hoc basis, customer by customer, for a number of years, McLevy said."The portal is one of the strongest reasons for people to buy our middleware applications. The main reason we've been working with Baltimore on the security features is to make those features simple and out-of-the-box. Baltimore provided public-key infrastructure security tools that are integrated with the business applications, as well as single sign-on technology to give individuals access to applications," McLevy said.Another potential advantage of Oracle's trusted portal product is cost savings, McLevy said. "With the implementation of digital certificates, you can use public lines with the same level of security as leased lines, which could be less expensive for a customer. It also means that you've got more options in designing portals," McLevy said.Oracle is not currently offering any specific bundled pricing for the product, and the cost is dependent on the size of the project, McLevy said.Oracle has also worked with other security companies, including Netegrity, of Waltham, Mass., on other security aspects of the portal, McLevy said.Netegrity has a similar product of its own, TransactionMinder, that combines security and identity management tools with portal infrastructure in an effort to secure the delivery and management of Web services. The product validates the content of the Web services XML messages, such as user name and passwords, PIN, or SAML (Secure Assurance Markup Language) assertion; provides digital signatures; and offers centralized policy and single sign-on between applications and Web services.However, Oracle EMEA chose not to go with TransactionMinder. "Netegrity is one of our partners, but what they offer, though it is in the same area, it doesn't have the same breadth at the moment as the what we've devised with Baltimore," he said.Trusted Portal for Oracle is now available to all of Oracle's EMEA customers. There are no customers currently using the product though there has been interest from financial service customers and large ISPs and McLevy also expects to see interest from customers in the public sector.The product is first being rolled out in EMEA because European customers have expressed a greater interest in security in general than their U.S. counterparts, McLevy said. "It may just be cultural, but Europeans seem to be a lot more concerned with security," he said.McLevy and his European colleagues are hoping to bring the product to Oracle's U.S. customers. "We have already started to discuss how we can roll this out in the U.S., though there is no timeline to do so. It is a question of updating our U.S. colleagues on what we've achieved and then seeing if there is the same level of customer demand for this sort of product in the U.S. as there has been in Europe," McLevy said.