When teams create a portal for the first time, team members often undergo a paradigm shift. This change might manifest itself as an epiphany at some point during the project, or it might seep in as a gradual change. The single integration framework provided by a portal provides opportunities which are not available to the average Web site-- such as single sign-on, personalization, easier customization using themes and skins, collaboration functionality, and exchange of information across functional components using cooperative portlets, to name just a few. The team members come to realize they are not just building a simple Web application; rather, they are creating something that affects their entire organization.
Creating a portal is not like creating any other Web site. Everything you currently know about building applications and Web sites can be leveraged in a new portal project; however, you need to consider and understand much more. Along with the new possibilities provided by a portal comes new responsibilities for planning and implementation, such as understanding all the component systems, how the portal will be maintained, task workflow, and the requirements of the various user sets, along with their possible interactions. Portals are complex systems involving security, heavy user load, multiple processes, transaction capability, and more. The infrastructure requirements for a portal project can be quite large. The different types and numbers of servers --application, HTTP, portal, LDAP, and database—can seem like a daunting set of connecting parts. Add the need for high availability that is necessary for most production portals, and your infrastructure complexity might double or triple, in some cases.
Fortunately, the core framework necessary to implement the key functionality is provided by IBM® WebSphere® Portal. This series of articles can assist and maximize your success by helping you understand what you really need to know, and where you might need help. This series also provides:
- A set of "practical" work products, or tools, which can be used in almost any portal project to help you gather, track, design, and deploy a successful portal. Even if you do not adopt the documents and templates exactly as provided, you can use them to gain a new understanding of many of the tasks that should be done.
- Best practices that have been gathered by portal architects and specialists over dozens of projects that you can apply to your effort.
The goal of this series is to cover the entire spectrum of a portal project from initial requirements to ongoing operations and maintenance. You do not need to have any previous knowledge of portals or IBM WebSphere Portal to understand the content of this series; however a working knowledge of Web-based applications, and experience with IT projects will give you enough of a footing to understand the process.
To understand the complete process, and to be able to anticipate the tasks and events which might occur throughout the project, read the entire series. The following provides some guidance to specific team members, who might gain more from some parts of the series than others.
Executives, Business Sponsors, and Business Analysts can read the first three articles to learn how to effectively gather requirements, and to understand the overall picture of how a portal project might unfold.
Project Managers can also read the initial three articles, and will be most interested in the third article involving project planning. Architects might read the entire series but they could focus on chapters 2-4, which cover the portal workshop, project planning and task estimation, and portal design.
IT Specialist and Development Leads will probably read the entire series, but will focus on the project planning article, and the article on developing and building the portal.
The Infrastructure and Support Specialist should focus on the last article involving the administration and maintenance of a portal.
About the series
Part 1. Getting started provides an overview of the issues that teams face when starting a new portal project, and suggests some initial first steps to take. Includes a discussion about the types of portals, and describes how the type of portal you choose might influence your planning. Introduces several tools, including a Portlet Matrix and Content Map, which you can use to plan and set up your own portal.
Part 2. Conducting a portal workshop tells how to conduct a portal workshop, which is a several-day effort designed to kick-start a project, and to help identify challenges, tasks, and timetables for creating your portal. The goals include understanding how the portal can meet the project’s requirements, definition of the portal infrastructure, and definition of the capabilities and development options within the portal framework.
Part 3. Estimating and tracking focuses on the job of the architects and development leads to help them understand how they might organize and break down tasks for the various units of work. It includes a sample spreadsheet that can assist in defining, assigning, estimating, and tracking all the efforts that go into the design, development, and deployment of the portal. It shows how these estimates can feed into the project managers’ overall project plan, and offers best practices for portal project planning.
Part 4. Designing the portal discusses best practices for portal and portlet development within the WebSphere Portal environment. Topics include navigation and layout, framework , and API considerations. Additional tools are discussed including a component design document that can be used to document your own components.
Part 5. Developing and building the portal discusses setting up a development and build environment to ensure that your build and deployment process is in place and working. Having an effective process assists in the initial project development, and insures that bug fixes can be deployed as quickly as the change can occur. Discusses strategies and tools for building and deploying the portal.
Part 6. Administering and maintaining the portal describes the effort involved in the ongoing support and administration of a portal, including the need for specific team members and their roles. Discusses the skills and training that should be developed before your portal goes live, how to harden the performance of your portal, and issues you might face with the deployment and governance of your production system.
- Meet the Expert: Skyler Thomas on WebSphere Portal applications answers questions about developing portals.
- WebSphere Portal in Action: Read Joey Bernal's blog on developerWorks.
- developerWorks WebSphere Portal zone: Find more resources to help you develop portals and portlets.
Get products and technologies
- Download a trial copy of WebSphere Portal Express from developerWorks and try out many of the WebSphere Portal capabilities.
- Download a trial version Rational Application Developer from developerWorks to try out the portal tools and a test runtime copy of portal that you can use to develop a prototype.