The WebSphere Portal Blog
Welcome to the WebSphere Portal Blog. We're the team responsible for the strategy and planning of WebSphere Portal. Let me introduce the team (they should be putting all this into their profiles, but those will be filled in over time. ;)
Rob Will is the chief architect of WebSphere Portal. He's an IBM Distinguished Engineer. That's a fancy title that means he's a technical expert and has made substantial technical and leadership contributions in IBM over a long time. It is an executive title equivalent to Director. He's never been a manager in IBM. One great thing about IBM is that there is a robust career track for technical professionals that doesn't lead to management. I first worked with Rob almost 10 years ago when I was working with another product he led, WebSphere Personalization.
Stefan Liesche is another architect for WebSphere Portal. (We have lots of architects!) He lives in Germany and works out of the Boeblingen lab which is near Stuttgart, Germany. The Boeblingen lab houses the core portal development team. They were the team that built the first version of WebSphere Portal, version 1.1, way back in 2001. Today, WebSphere Portal is built by teams all over the world. In addition to Germany, we have developers working on WebSphere Portal in Dublin, Ireland, Sydney, Australia, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, Westford, Massachusetts (near Boston), and, like most companies these days, we have developers in India and China as well. These days Stefan spends most of his time working on Portal Accelerators. Portal Accelerators are products that are complementary to and plug into WebSphere Portal.
Marshall Lamb is the third architect on this blog team. He works out of the Research Triangle Park lab. (He also just works out--if you haven't met him in person, he's like 6'3" tall and very fit). Marshall is responsible for the management and deployment aspects of WebSphere Portal. Some people think that stuff is just boring technical infrastructure--like plumbing, but Marshall doesn't! ;) But our customers love Marshall because he's the guy that makes WebSphere Portal easier to roll out and manage.
The last development person on our team is Doug Gieger. He's the Director of Portal Development. He's in Research Triangle Park with Marshall. Besides WebSphere Portal, he also is responsible for Lotus Web Content Management, Mobile Portal, Lotus Forms, Lotus Active Insight, Portlet Factory, Portal Accelerators, and other products too. That's a log of stuff to keep track of and he does a great job. He's relatively new to the Portal team, but has been in IBM a long time.
Lauren Wendel is the product manager for WebSphere Portal. She is responsible for Portal requirements and product marketing activities. She's the keeper of the product roadmap schedule. If you want to know when the next fixpack is coming out, she's the one to ask. She's very involved with our Portal-related education events like Lotusphere and Portal Excellence conferences. She works in the Westford office or from home. That's another great thing about IBM. Many IBMrs work from home. A phone line and an internet connection are the only office requirements. With the Lotus collaboration tools for mail, calendar, instant messaging, team rooms and web conferences, all the things you need to do your job are provided. Sometimes we'll work with someone for years and never meet them in person. (ok, enough of that. I'm starting to sound like a recruiter!)
Brian Chaput is the offering manager for WebSphere Portal. That means that he is responsible for directing the activiites that bring the product to market. He creates the text for the brochures and announcement letters, builds the portal presentations our executives use, does market research, trains the sales team and plans the business strategy. Sometimes he gets to do other stuff that is more fun. ;) He's another work-from-home IBMer and lives in New Hampshire.
And then there's me. I'm Bill Swatling and I lead the product management team for WebSphere Portal. I've been involved with WebSphere Portal since the first release in 2001, first as the Product Manager and then managing various parts of the WebSphere and Lotus portfolio before coming back to being responsible for Portal about a year ago. Before coming to IBM Software Group, I worked an consultant, architect, and developer in IBM Global Services where I built web applications using WebSphere and other technologies. A big part of my job is to go around and talk about how great IBM technology can be applied to solve business challenges. Lately we at IBM have been talking a lot about how social software is changing the world and how it can help businesses and organizations better communicate and foster communities that build value. But I've only been a spectator in that Web 2.0 revolution until now. Sure I have posted a few videos to YouTube and occasionally I have posted to forums, but I haven't really made a contribution to any online community. So I got together some of the best minds in IBM on Portal and we agreed to start this blog.
There's a lot of stuff that we do that we think the community of WebSphere Portal customers and the people who work with them would be interested to know. All of us spend time talking to customers. We're all involved in planning the future of portal. We are actively involved in Portal-related events and activities. So in this blog, we'll try to share some of our experiences with the WebSphere Portal community on IBM developerWorks.
WebSphere Portal is #1 in portal market share. The data comes from a new report from Gartner, Inc, that shows IBM has maintained its #1 market share position. What makes this even more impressive is that IBM has held the #1 portal market share title for 7 years in a row now. Given the market consolidation and intense competition in this space, that makes this accomplishment even more significant. A #1 ranking by market share is a good measure of actual value for customers since it is measured in dollars, not seats or servers which can be given away in bundles or other packaging. It is value customers are willing to pay for.
The report also lists some of our customer success stories. These are great. Our customers are using WebSphere Portal in very innovative ways. But in the press release, these are cut way down because of space. IBM has posted some great WebSphere Portal case studies here.
The other great news in the press release is our industry success. This is more than just rounding up our best customers and listing them together in a press release for good marketing. It is a focused effort to expand the horizontal value proposition of WebSphere Portal into industry verticals by introducing industry-specific product capability. Let me explain what I mean...
Portals are a horizontal product in that they can be used by companies in any industry. An intranet portal in a financial company really isn't all that different from an intranet portal in a technology company. Even when a customer uses a portal for their public, external web sites, many of these sites are not all that different in what they contain. It is when companies start implementing applications on their web sites that there begins to be a significant difference between industries.
For example, Duke Medicine implemented WebSphere Portal for their patient self-care portal called HealthView. This site enables patients throughout the Duke Medical system to make appointments, check and pay their bills, and even get lab results through the portal. Because of HIPAA and other privacy and regulatory concerns, the process of doing those things is substantially different from the way people make appointments and pay bills for other things. IBM and Duke Medicine partnered to build the Healthview portal with the thought of reusing this for Healthcare-focused portal customers. This is where the Websphere Portal vertical or industry-specific portal strategy began to evolve from just an industry-focused marketing and sales approach to have a vertical/industry product focus as well.
The code that we wrote for Healthview has been enhanced and expanded and is now available as the IBM Healthcare Accelerator. We are now expanding this strategy to include new Industry Toolboxes. Toolboxes have both collateral and code that enable companies in that industry to get a head-start on implementing portal solutions to their industry-specific challenges. The first two toolboxes for Healthcare and Government are posted already. We have plans for more industry toolboxes. On the product team we are now discussing what industries to go after next and what the toolboxes should contain. Do you have any suggestions?
I was invited to participate in the first meeting of the WebSphere Portal Canadian and Carribean User Group session. (CC-WPUG). This community held the meeting in Toronto and simultaneously across their member locations. We always look forward to learning from our customers at these sessions, as it's a great way to understand how our customers are progressing, their common questions, and for customers to discuss their experiences and best practices.
A key area of interest for this group were deployment best practices. We spent time discussing approaches, test plans, best practices for building well performing portlets, and more. There are many resources for information that users can leverage as they finalize plans for test and deployment. A publication has just been made available on the WebSphere Portal and LotusWeb Content Management wiki, entitled: Managing WebSphere Portal 6.1 Environments This wiki provides high level information about how to set up a WebSphere Portal v. 6.1 Environment, including a development, staging, and production environment. Within the context of each of these environments, it includes direction related to how to move changes through the system and successfully manage releases of a WebSphere Portal 6.1 site. We look forward to your view of this information and input as to how more detail or clarifications could be added.
This group also learned about the latest updates in WebSphere Portlet Factory, an easy to use development tool included with WebSphere Portal. We saw an extensive demonstration of it's capabilities via Sametime Unyte, which ranged from building portlets accessing data tables, making modifications and republishing, to using the tools Web 2.0 features such as the AJAX builder to create highly responsive, interactive portlet applications. There are many good demonstrations and articles for developers new to and experienced with Portlet Factory on the WebSphere Portlet Factory wiki
Another topic of discussion across the participants was the ways organizations were incorporating search services to their Portal deployments. Some were using the Portal Search Engine, included with WebSphere Portal, others used IBM OmniFind, to expand the search reach beyond the Portal managed resources. Other customers were using additional search engines they had invested in, some were using both Portal and external third party search engines. There are useful articles related to these efforts, for customers who may want to deliver more customized search experiences, or to extend the Portal's Search Center portlet. This article, Customizing and Extending WebSphere Portal 6.1 Search Center portlet, shares how to extend the newly redesigned portlet, now leveraging Dojo and AJAX, with custom widgets, or with additonal portlet samples to manage External Search source queries or Suggested Search Links to guide user search results.
We also reviewed some of the recent enhancements to the WebSphere Portal and Lotus Web Content Management Version 6.1 offerings, including the new JSR 286 Web Content Viewer portlets, PHP Extension and WebDav extension, available from IBM on the WebSphere Portal Business Solutions Catalog. These new offerings make it easier for portal site designers and content authors to expand sources, tools and associated user skills to easily contribute to and update portal paes and content.
This was a very productive event for attendees at the customer host facility in Toronto and participants from remote member locations.
Another venue we look forward to each year as a way to share information, best practices, strategy and experiences across our portal community as it the IBM Portal Excellence Conference 2009. We've renamed this event from the WebSphere Portal Technical Conference this year, to provide an expanded agenda which will cover industry and business topics across the IBM software portfolio. During the week, these events provide many programs and sessions to interact with our customers, IBM Business partners, IBM architects, services and business leaders to share information that helps to shape the future direction of our products and solutions. We are building the session directories now for events we'll offer at four worldwide locations this year. You can visit the event site to receive the latest updates. We look forward to you input on the topics and agenda in plan, and to your participation this year.
- - Lauren