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The Top 5 Things to Make Your WebCenter Portal “Lean”

shutterstock_245520250_350Several years back, the IT research and advisory firm Gartner came up with the phrase “Lean Portal.” The term was invented to draw contrast to the traditional portals of the time, which were generally regarded as complex, expensive, and bloated with unnecessary features. Lean portals, by contrast, are those that are quick to implement, utilize modern web technologies, and reduce overall complexity and maintenance while provided just enough features. Oracle’s portal solutions over the years were typically not considered to be in the “lean” category. Have things changed? Can WebCenter Portal 11g/12c be considered (lean)?

This post describes the top five things you need to do to move your WebCenter Portal into the lean-and-mean category.

  1. Embrace modern UX frameworks
    By their very nature, portals are designed specifically for human interaction, so good design is the most important thing to get right.  Despite this, many portal implementations have their UX bound and constrained right out the gate, typically related to the complexity and perceived limitations with ADF and skinning. One way to remedy this is to embrace the modern UX framework your designers may bring to the table (ex: bootstrap, foundation, materialize, etc.). These frameworks can co-exist with ADF.
  2. Turn off unnecessary features
    WebCenter portal bundles a lot of features. If you don’t need them, or they don’t fix well out-of-the-box, turn them off. Few things are worse for a portal’s credibility than to roll out a bunch irrelevant features or functionality clearly not tailored for your organization. They increase support cost, too.
  3. Choose RESTful web services over portlet development
    While WebCenter Portal certainly supports portlets, they are typically too heavy and complex for many use cases. Use (consume) RESTful web services instead.
  4. Hire a professional services firm to perform the baseline installation
    Implementing a highly available WebCenter Portal isn’t super complex, but the installation and configuration details are spread across many documents. That said, it’s likely that even the most experience sys admin may miss a step or two the first time they implement WebCenter.  Avoid the risk and let a professional services firm come in and implement one or more baseline environments quickly and correctly. Plus, lean portal or not, why take on the learning curve and risk for something you’ll likely never have to do again?
  5. Limit the number of environments
    I’ve seen several organizations with 5 or more environments (prod, staging, UAT, integration, development) to support a single portal implementation. I find this to be overkill, and also find that it typically introduces more problems than it solves. Three environments is usually enough.

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Andre McMillan

Andre McMillan is a Lead Technical Consultant within the Oracle Technology Group at Perficient, Inc. where he is responsible for the technical architecture, design, implementation, and customization of Oracle middleware based solutions for Perficient clients, with a focus on WebCenter Portal, WebCenter Content, and Oracle Cloud.

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