IBM is offering a free portal component, which IBM calls a portlet, that lets business users link nearly 4,000 Google Gadgets to their WebSphere Portal environments.

IBM Portlet for Google Gadget lets users pull Google gadgets into their network, turn them into portlets and then use them safely behind the firewall.

The use of the Gadgets, which will be provided at no cost, is supported in WebSphere Portal 6.0 and WebSphere Portal Express.

IBM announced in February it was developing the Portal/Google integration. The portlet technology is available here.

Google is supplying IBM with a set of APIs to foster the integration. A refresh mechanism ensures that the Gadgets are constantly updated.

The Google Gadgets include services such as Maps, World Clocks, a YouTube Player, Chat and a language translator.

IBM officials said users could do things such as integrate Maps and customer contact applications so when a WebSphere Portal user clicks on a customer they are presented with a Map and directions to that customer’s location. Users also could overlay Google’s traffic information service or World Clocks to display the current time in the customer’s time zone.

IBM already has existing relationships with Google, including integration of Google Desktop Search with Lotus Notes and integration of Lotus Sametime instant messaging with Google Talk.

The forthcoming Lotus Notes 8 ships with a composite applications framework that has the capability to host application components such as Google Gadgets.