Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A reflection on 'Enterprise Portal'

Wikipedia contains the following definition for the concept of an Enterprise portal: An enterprise portal, also known as an enterprise information portal (EIP) or corporate portal, is a framework for integrating information, people and processes across organizational boundaries. It provides a secure unified access point, often in the form of a web-based user interface, and is designed to aggregate and personalize information through application-specific portlets. One hallmark of enterprise portals is the de-centralized content contribution and content management, which keeps the information always updated..

I agree with this definition on the conceptual level. However, I want to supplement it with a fundamental notion on a more architectural level: Enterprise Application Integration. Especially the concept of business process integration is achieved by combining the functionalities of multiple business applications within one single employee workplace. The High Performance Workplace.

Patterns in Enterprise Portals

Industry analysts and portals vendors identify the following set of enterprise portals patterns / types:
  1. Content portals
    Aggregates enterprise content from many sources throughout the enterprise. Typically augmented with search functionality to allow employees to find the requested information quick and easily. Authorization applied at content level to protect sensitive information.
  2. Transaction portals
    Extend content portals by not only displaying documents and textual information (unstructured data), but also provide the employee with the means to access and operate individual application functionality direct from within the portal. The applications are provisioned via individual portlets in the portal, and provide on-the-fly / realtime business data (structured data), and allow users to interact with the application via the portlet.
  3. Collaboration portals
    Support a team in collaborating on a mutual task. This can be a project, an assignment, or the performance of the daily and regular team responsibilities. The collaboration features enable the employee to self-organize the ad-hoc work, and share + work on the same information through a dedicated team workspace.
  4. Process portals
    Compared with the individual and non-connected silos in a transaction portal, the process portal provides the employees with an integrated business process that spans multiple back-end systems. The employee is not aware of single applications, but can rather enlist in the total business process.

Enterprise Portals platforms

An enterprise portal is not a shrinked-wrapped product, but requires configuration, customization and provisioning to be of added value for an individual enterprise situation. Custom development is often required to achieve enterprise specific functionalities and integration. Portals vendors position their enterprise portal product more and more as an Application Integration Platform. A.o. SAP uses the phrase "Applistructure" to point out the combination of out-of-the-box enterprise applications and functionalities, together with application infrastructure. Applistructure capabilities which are expected in an enterprise portal platform offering include the following:
  • Presentation services
  • Content aggregation
  • Data management
  • Enterprise search support
  • Webservices / interoperability support
  • Team collaboration support
  • Document handling
  • Enterprise Content Management
  • Web Content Management
  • Workflow support and integration
  • Business Process Management
  • Business Intelligence functions
  • Personalization
  • Site design and structure
  • Branding
  • Authentication and Identity Management
  • Authorization, roles management
  • Operational management support
  • Multi-channeling
  • Functional management support

Commercial and Open Source

The enterprise portal product space consists currently of numerous parties. Some are the well-known traditional technology-stack vendors, but more and more also (commercial) Open Source platform offerings come up. Here is a list of some of the major current players in this field:
  • IBM - WebSphere Portal
  • Microsoft - SharePoint
  • SAP - NetWeaver / Enterprise Portal
  • Oracle - BEA WebLogic
  • Sun Microsystems - GlassFish Web Space Server
  • Vignette Corporation - Vignette Portal
  • Tibco - PortalBuilder
  • Liferay - Liferay Enterprise Portal
  • Red Hat - JBoss Portal
  • Jahia
  • Alfresco
  • Covisint
  • DotNetNuke

Trends and new capabilities

Incorporate Web 2.0 capabilities (Wiki's, blogs, social computing), Mashups, Rich User Experience, Mobile usage, Cloud Services, incorporation of Self Service applications

No comments:

Post a Comment