I think that it’s a great question from a portal standpoint. The value of portal lies in it’s functionality and ability to aggregate content, processes and transactions. Once you have a portal foundation in place, then you really begin to realize some great savings on your projects. Let me give you an example. We are finishing up the first portal project for a client. During that project we built out the various environments, got the account self service portlets in place, created an acceptable look and feel, migrated users from an MDM system to the user repository (LDAP), defined the overall information architecture, and of course, actually created content and application portlets.
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Now we are working on another project. With the foundation in place, we no longer have to worry about any of that. We simply define the content and app portlets, create them and place them on a page. All the other services around it are already up and running so my delivery time just got a lot shorter. Life is good………………except that getting the foundation in place took a fair amount of time.
So what are my options if we cannot afford to spend a couple months getting the foundation in place? We faced that with a proposal for a client who said we had about 6 weeks to get a new site up and running. That included getting hardware prepped and running in multiple environments. They also said they couldn’t do it in their data center since just ordering hardware would take up all the time. Here’s what we did:
- Used Amazon.com EC2 as the platform for hosting portal.
- IBM offers an out of the box set of Amazon Machine Images (AMI) with WebSphere Portal, Lotus Web Content Manager, and Lotus Forms. That makes it really easy to just create an account, choose your machine size and get it up and running. It’s a matter of hours instead of weeks or months.
- I spoke to my friend Steve Gerhardt who has done this a time or two and got some good information from him about how it’s done.
- Included the services necessary to get the site up and running with the content and integration to a couple other systems
- Presented it to the client.
Let me just say, the time to get this up and running is much shorter than if we had to create the foundation from scratch. There are some real possibilities here to save time and money. I think a number of vendors are seeing this. IBM has jumped in with both feet and have a large number of AMI’s out there for use. Oracle has fewer and no portal but they do have WebLogic Server. Microsoft is doing a lot in the SaaS world. I don’t know that we will see everyone moving everything out of their data centers in the near future but there are valid use cases for putting some of your apps on the cloud instead.