Enterprise Portal and Service Oriented Architecture (SOA)

Service-oriented architecture (SOA) is the talk of the enterprise fraternity. Not only the business is getting benefited but the potential of SOA is affecting the speed of application development process.

This buzzword strikes Portal technology as well. These days organizations are in the process of migrating from traditional client/server, monolithic or disparate n-tier architecture to a more loosely coupled and interoperable environment, this process is then better termed as Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA).Most of us are aware of SOA and its benefits, I wont be repeating those here but will discuss that how Portal can be used to leverage SOA.

When we talk about the underlying components of SOA i.e. Interoperability, Scalability, and
Integration, the best suite that does and support all these is an Enterprise Portal Implementation.

A Portal based on standard like JSR168 and WSRP can be the most eligible candidate for SOA. When we look at the Portal’s Infrastructure, we find that it comprises of nuts and bolts of Service Oriented Architecture.

So the next thought that comes to mind is how Portal fits in SOA?

Portlets are reusable web components which forms the core of a Portal Desktop, providing relevant and customized information.SOA’s Interoperability is achieved by deploying JSR 168 Portlet to any JSR 168 compliant Portal server. Also, a portlet can be reused in different Portal pages as well as in different containers which proves reusability aspect of SOA.

Web Services, one of the main building blocks of SOA, fits nicely with Portal as WSRP based portlets. WSRP enabled portlets, which adhere to Web services standard such as SOAP and WSDL, enables portal to easily include services from a third party into a portal page. This eases and reduces the development process and makes use of already available enabled services. WSRP provides much support for the basic pillars of SOA like SSO, Reusability, Access management, service integration with loose coupling (here I mean to say that different processes should be integrated but without the processes being dependent on each other ).

Lastly, Role based content delivery model in Collaborative Portals makes a value addition for role based SOA Implementation.

The above information perfectly fits with the Gartner’s conclusion that

The portal can be a logical and appropriate first step toward SOA implementation because its fundamental nature lends itself to SOA approaches”

An Eye on Collaborative Portals

The New Year heralds new realizations derived from the bygone year’s developments and thus, exploring options in the Collaborative portals space. The concept of Collaborative portals was an extension of the idea from commercial to business and organization’s infrastructural needs. It always was a challenge to achieve a single point of access as the teams are geographically distributed and mobile. Employees want to locate and communicate directly in the context of business processes and their day-to-day applications. They do not want to launch separate tools to chat with colleagues, participate in discussion threads or check project status.

However, the big players have their plug-in applications that adhere to no one standard and thus a technology incompatibility had erupted. Devising specifications for Java users (JSR 168) has been one move in this direction. As today’s teams are geographically distributed and mobile. To meet the expectation of being insync, organizations are providing and enhancing the capabilities that can transform the way colleagues communicate, relate with each other and perform work activities.

May it be asynchronous or synchronous, real-time based, these collaborative tools have provided a electronic workspace to allow people to share documents, project plans, calendars in the same online location. Bulletin boards and Blogs are becoming the medium to share thoughts and ideas on a particular topic on the web. Interactive Content Management System (I call it iCMS) with version control,Shared database ,email, event messaging etc are becoming the vital part of the collaborative suite.

It’s the business that benefits when –
• Employees access the right enterprise information, business process and people contributing in their areas of expertise with new ideas ,past experiences.
• Distributed expertise can respond more quickly and accurately to access consolidated
systems, reducing travel and facilitating efficient communications.
• A fast and reliable information flow can improve responsiveness, reduces coordination costs.
• Use the portal as a collaboration forum for employees and partners to work together more efficiently without regular face-to-face meetings.

Where every vendor is busy building their collaboration stacks and not concentrating on the compatibility with other Collaborative platforms,still there is no answer to the question of interoperability between different collaborative platforms in external or internal business units.

With this in mind a new category of integration software may emerge to enable interoperability among disparate enterprise collaboration platforms.

Concluding this post ,I believe that the market for collaborative portals is still promising, A trend is noted towards moving from collaboration to an “WorkField” which will incorporate collaboration, e-Learning, expertise location/identification, Interactive content management System (iCMS) and self-service applications.

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