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.
We often get asked what is the difference between a portlet and a widget and so I thought it would be a good idea to provide a post that explains some of this. Portlets and Widgets both provide a UI component model and as such have a lot of similarities. They also have some differences. Lets start with the similarities.
Both Portlets and Widgets are mostly concerned with the applications UI vs. the applications logic. So they both assume that there is some useful service on some 'back end' system and they provide a user interaction with that service. We say they are 'mostly concernced with UI' because it isn't always clear what is UI and what is logic, and there are certainly cases where some logic is performed in the Portlet or Widget.
Both Portlets and Widgets can pass information/context to other Portlets or Widgets, and they can also both consume context from other components on the page. There are a number of techniques for doing this context sharing and they have pros and cons, but those pros and cons will rarely enter into the decision of which component model to choose.
End users and administrators can put portlets or Widgets onto a page and re-arrange them on the page, and customize their behaviors based on global settings that impact all users in the case of administrators as well as personal settings that only impact that one user.
So does that matter and what does it mean?
The second consideration is how much augmentation of the back end services is likely needed? If there is a lot of logic or data manipulation required, then using a language like Java, or doing that processing on a server vs. on a client is probably a good idea. Or alternatively, you might want to deploy some server logic on a Java server or PHP server or sMash server to do the necessary processing and then use an Widget for the display. Purists can argue whether or not this is an 'Widget' scenario, but that isn't important. We'll just refer to it as a Widget hybrid scenario. The important consideration is to determine whether or not your back end services are ready to use or need additional server side logic. If they need additional logic, portlets are a good model for that if you are comfortable with Java and the portlet spec. Otherwise, you should consider what language you do want to write these services in and look at Widgets to create the UI components.
The fourth consideration is responsiveness. This is a tricky one. In the purest sense, Widgets are independent browser calls to server side services and will be, or will feel, more responsive than the standard portal pattern of rendering all the portlets before returning the page. Where this is a bit tricky now is because you have more options for rendering individual portlets as well as the portlets using AJAX for improved responsiveness. There are also cases where it is best not to independently render parts of the page. So you want to consider your bandwidth, the 'chattiness' of the user interactions, what the right kind of page(s) make the most sense.
The fifth consideration is standards and investment protection. Portlets are the most mature of the choices and is covered by second versions of widely adopted Java and Oasis standards. Widgets are relatively new and you should expect some amount of evolution and possible churn as the industry moves to standardization.
The sixth consideration is that you probably will have some additional testing against different browser types based on how much logic you put into the browser. For intranets, you can often minimize this by specifying one or two supported browsers. This is not really just and Widget vs. Portlet consideration however. As already mentioned, you can put a lot of client side logic into portlets as well, and so it is a general consideration as you put logic into the browser.
And finally, client side aggregation (whether portlet based or Widget based) causes issues with most search engines and so you should consider having an alternate rendering for search engines. For public facing web sites with external crawlers, that is probably most easily accomplished in the near term via Portal and Portlets. For intranets, there are more options for indexing sites and search.
Hopefully by now you've seen the announcements about WebSphere Portal and Lotus Web Content Management joining the ranks of several other IBM software products with offerings out on Amazon Web Services. Here's the IBM press release: http://www-304.ibm.com/jct03001c/press/us/en/pressrelease/26673.wss.
In February of this year, we released free for use, "development only" versions of our product as Amazon Machine Images (AMIs) that you can use free of charge from an IBM licensing perspective. You only pay Amazon for the time and space used. These images are small in size and are meant for use in eduction, trials, development and test of portal and content management solutions. Later, in June, we released production AMIs that are larger (64-bit, giving access to larger machine instance types) and are licensed for use in production environments in the cloud. See the complete AWS IBM AMI catalog for more details.
We are very excited about the benefits cloud computing, and particular Amazon's Elastic Computing Cloud, brings to the portal and content management platform. In about 20 minutes, you have a fully-functional WebSphere Portal and Web Content Management instance running, with several features preconfigured out of the box:
Leveraging a product like WebSphere Portal and WCM in the cloud allows the user to get past those initial setup and configuration costs and down to business much faster than using traditional bare-metal installations. You can either use our AMIs as a starting point (see the catalog link above), or build your own AMIs based on product licenses you've already purchased.
I can think of several ways to leverage Portal/WCM in a cloud:
Additionally, we've started posting Portal/WCM Beta AMIs on EC2. You can now run our beta programs from within the cloud. Go to our Portal.Next beta page for more details.
With the introduction of our AWS support, we have started on the cloud computing journey, rich with exciting technical advancements and total cost of ownership savings. Look for new announcements coming that expand on our cloud computing support and commitments.
When it comes to open source software there are usually two main perspectives (among several other opinions!) on its value. One is that the software is “free” (that is, there is typically not a license cost) and that is good for the consumer. The other perspective also notes that the software is “free”, but warns – as the old adage states – that “you get what you pay for!”
Understandably so – especially in this economy – open source
software can be tempting for organizations of all sizes. However, as my grandfather used to say, “there
is no free lunch”…so be sure to understand what “free” software really
costs you, and investigate and question how it can grow and evolve to support
what undoubtedly will be changes to your organization’s requirements. For some projects, open source might make
sense, and recognizing this, even IBM prides itself on being an active open
source software supporter,
as well as a provider of free software such as Lotus Symphony.
Where the Web is concerned, however, we think it’s a
different story (OK, call me biased!).
Web technology, uses and interaction has changed, is changing, and
undoubtedly will continue to change…rapidly.
Compared to other technologies, the Web is still in its formative
stage…not quite an infant, but not yet even a toddler. Here in the WebSphere Portal product team, we
strive to ensure that an investment in WebSphere Portal provides you with
assurance that as new and better Web technology emerges, we will provide it as
part of the portal so you can keep up with the demands of the ever increasing
Web-savvy user. In addition, we’ll
continue to invite
you to help us shape the future of the portal and provide you insight into
trends, such as the convergence of portal and social networking (something I
will be blogging about soon), to help you derive more value from your portal.
portal software has the initial appeal of being a low-cost alternative to
commercial portal technology, like WebSphere Portal; but not every (and I would
dare say most) Web portal application use case is a good fit for open source. Web users, whether for external or internal
uses, have a high expectation level for their Web experience; they want it to
be visually appealing, secure, fast and of course, available. These are just some of the factors to
consider when evaluating open source and commercial portal offerings.
To help understand all the factors, IBM is hosting a live Web seminar called: "Free" Open Source Portals: Myth, Hype, or Reality? on July 7, 2009, with Forrester's Matt Brown as the featured speaker. In this one hour session, we’ll go beyond the obvious licensing cost topic and take a broad look at how to perform an effective evaluation of the portal approaches. If you would like to participate or listen in, you can register here…bring your questions!
-- Brian Chaput
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We've been very pleased to host collaborative education sessions that provide our Customer Experience Suite, WebSphere Portal, Web Content Manager and IBM Forms Beta audiences an advance look at specific upcoming release features, designs and strategy. The next Feature Focus session will be offered April 17 for Beta participants - details below. Don't miss this opportunity to take a look at the latest release of the Beta software and a view to the improvements in the platform upgrade processes.
Version 8 Feature Focus Session: Upgrading to WebSphere Portal and Web Content Manager Version 8
Successfully upgrading WebSphere Portal and Web Content Manager solutions to the latest release requires careful planning to understand the scope of the effort that is required and an awareness of the tasks involved. Join this Feature Focus session to understand the migration processes in plan to support upgrades from WebSphere Portal and Web Content Manager Version 6.1.5 and Version 7 (last two CF/fixpack releases), to WebSphere Portal and Web Content Manager Version 8. In this session, the IBM configuration architect for Version 8 will present the 'basics' behind upgrading to WebSphere Portal and Web Content Manager Version 8.0 as well as the overall architecture, planning, and best practices when planning for release migration activities. The session will also present detail outlining the difference between migrating from a 6.1 environment vs. a 7.0 environment (covering both standalone and managed node cases), and custom code considerations
Barry Pellas, WebSphere Portal Configuration Architect, IBM
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. EST
Background: General program information:
Announcing the IBM Customer Experience Suite, WebSphere Portal and Web Content Manager V8 Beta Strategy and Feature Focus sessions
Beginning in September 2011, new education sessions will be available to the IBM Customer Experience Suite, WebSphere Portal and Web Content Manager Version 8 Beta Test community. The IBM Customer Experience Suite, WebSphere Portal and Web Content Manager Version 8 Beta "Strategy and Feature Focus" series will present offering market and technical strategy and in-depth reviews of new and enhanced platform features. Participation is limited to active participants of the IBM Customer Experience Suite, WebSphere Portal and Web Content Manager Version 8 Beta program. The education sessions offer new opportunities for Beta participants to provide direct input to product engineering and market team leaders. We look forward to your contributions through these interactive discussions of Customer Experience Suite, WebSphere Portal and Web Content Manager Version 8 platform strategy and feature development directions. Pre-requisite: All attendees are required to download and install the Version 8 Beta software: https://www14.software.ibm.com/iwm/web/cc/earlyprograms/lotus/portalopenbeta/
Participation is limited to active participants of the IBM Customer Experience Suite, WebSphere Portal and Web Content Manager Version 8 Beta program. The education sessions offer new opportunities for Beta participants to provide direct input to product engineering and market team leaders. We look forward to your contributions through these interactive discussions of Customer Experience Suite, WebSphere Portal and Web Content Manager Version 8 platform strategy and feature development directions.
Pre-requisite: All attendees are required to download and install the Version 8 Beta software: https://www14.software.ibm.com/iwm/web/cc/earlyprograms/lotus/portalopenbeta/
Session recordings and presentations/demonstrations will be made available to registered participants on the shared community on Lotus Greenhouse:https://greenhouse.lotus.com/communities/service/html/communityview?communityUuid=db315c42-8135-4d93-9e3c-3785dba30ec8#fullpageWidgetId=Wf60b8157fb56_4ab0_8cbd_3025f07ee2b4
As we shared at the recent IBM Exceptional Web Experience Americas event, several new web experience features are now available via the IBM Web Experience Fast Track program. The pace of change is accelerating, so we know you may need to add new web experience capabilities fast, preferably without having to manage an entire software release update. This program allows you to do that - features you can implement when the time is right for you. Want to authenticate users via Facebook or Google login? It's there (with new OpenID Authentication). Have investments in existing web applications you want to use in a new web experience? You can do that now, too (with the IBM Web Application Bridge).
Check out these and other new no charge (yes, no charge!) features now...with more to come.
-- Brian Chaput
The Americas IBM Exceptional Web Experience Conference 2011 will be held on May 15 -19th at the Buena Vista Palace, Lake Buena Vista, Florida. The Call for Abstracts is now open and we invite you to submit conference breakout session and hands-on-lab abstracts for consideration to one of six tracks in either the Business Impact or Technology Program.
Examples of session topics are listed to provide guidance in alignment of solution areas to conference tracks. Actual sessions and labs selected for presentation at the conference will vary, and be based on submissions received through the conference Call for Abstracts process.
Business Impact Program
Track 1: Customer Case Studies and Industry Solutions
Detailed presentations of client solutions,including Project Goals and Analysis,Industry Specific Approaches,Implementation and Governance Techniques, Best Practices.
Track 2: Accelerating Solution Time to Value and ROI
Proven Strategies to Build the Vision and Value of an Exceptional Web Experience; Building a Portal Delivery Roadmap: Paths to Success; How to Successfully Justify and Deploy Portal and Social
Software in Your Organization; The Real Scoop on Understanding the Portal Competitive Landscape.
Track 3: Optimize Customer Experiences to Build Brand and Generate Revenue
You are What You Market: Leveraging New Rules of Marketing; Getting Smart with Retail Portals to Address the Accelerated Shift in Buyer Behavior; Delivering Your Portal Solutions to Mobile Audiences: Best Practices; User Experience Optimization Initiative: Understanding and Applying Web Analytics.
Track 4: Web Experience Platforms and Solutions
Getting Started with IBM WebSphere® Portal and IBM Web Content Management; WebSphere Portal 7
Technical Overview and Strategy; Leveraging Portal NOW to Deliver Exceptional Web Experiences; IBM
Forms Technical Deep Dive; What’s New in Lotus® Quickr™?; Extending your Portal to Mobile Devices; IBM Mashup Center Overview; Exceptional Web Experience in the Cloud – How to Use IBM WebSphere Portal; IBM Web Content Management; Forms and Mashups in the Cloud.
Track 5: Developing Exceptional Web Experiences
Improving the Online Experience: Building Next Generation Web sites;Using Adobe FLEX to Deliver IBM
WebSphere Portal and Collaboration Services; Developing Web Applications using IBM WebSphere Portlet Factory, IBM Rational® Application Developer and IBM Lotus Widget Factory; Powering Exceptional Web Experiences Using Industry Toolboxes; Leveraging WebSphere Commerce and IBM Web Content Management; Deliver Operational and Real-time Business Intelligence with Cognos® Business Intelligence; IBM Forms Technical Deep Dive.
Track 6: Best Practices and Implementation
Managing the Portal Deployment Project: Best Practices, Effective Portal Governance; High Availability Designs and Implementation with WebSphere Portal, Virtualizing Portals, Successfully Managing Your WebSphere Portal, Virtualizing Portals; Successfully Managing Your IBM Web Content Management Solution; Hands On Lab; Administrating WebSphere Portal.
To submit an abstract to be considered for presentation at this event click here or visit:
Note: You must be a registered user of Lotus Greenhouse to access the form. To register, access this link. https://greenhouse.lotus.com/home/login.jsp and select Join Now !
Hurry! Deadline for submissions is Friday, March 4th, 2011.
Lectures: 60 minutes (including Q&A)
Hands-on labs: 75 minutes
If you have any questions about your submission, please feel free to contact the IBM Exceptional Web Experience Conference content team:
Lauren Wendel - firstname.lastname@example.org
Sonia Malik - email@example.com
Sean Flanagan - firstname.lastname@example.org (Partner/Business Development Day)
We hope to see you there!
-- Brian Chaput
IBM Study Reveals Strong Alignment Between Business & Technical Teams
It's no secret that the Internet has leveled the playing field for all organizations. No matter the size, location or industry, any organization today can easily “hang a shingle” on the Web and start competing for attention. In fact executive leaders clearly recognize this challenge, as evidenced in the recent IBM Global CEO Study which illustrates that CEOs have identified “reinventing customer relationships” with “getting closer to customers” as an imperative – and in today's world that means exceptional customer experiences in all touch points, spearheaded in many cases by the Web experience.
The recent introduction of the IBM Customer Experience Suite directly addresses that CEO demand for better customer insight and service through exceptional online experiences. Given that CEO imperative, where then, does the responsibility fall in an organization to define, craft, deliver and sustain this most valuable part of the overall customer experience? And, what is most important to IT and the business teams when it comes to online experiences? Recently, IBM commissioned a study to gain that insight so we could share the summary results with other organizations. To ensure a balanced perspective, the study included 432 respondents globally (216 from IT roles and 216 from non-IT roles) drawn from large enterprises.
Better Understanding Customers is Paramount
Perhaps the most telling data point (and a testament to the importance of the customer across the organization) revealed that the alignment between IT and the line-of-business (LOB) groups within many organizations is in lock step when it comes to the single goal of better understanding the customer. When asked to rate the importance of various benefits, both IT (87%) and the LOB (90%) placed the highest priority on this benefit: “Developing a deeper understanding of customer needs, behaviors and access methods”.
IBM Customer Experience Suite includes all the capabilities organizations cite as most important to delivering the right web experience the customer expects, thereby gaining valuable insight into the customer for ongoing refinement for even better customer experiences. The combination of personalized content, Web 2.0 social features, dynamic multichannel delivery and instrumented analytics integration, among other capabilities helps organizations not only support that benefit, but others. For example, of the other benefits proposed, slight differences were evidenced in the next highest rated, between IT and LOB, but each are well served by IBM Customer Experience Suite. For the LOB, the next most important benefit (at 87%) was: “Providing a consistent customer experience across all of our online properties”; while IT rated both (tied at 86%) of these benefits as the next most important: “Having a website that differentiates from competitors” and “Anticipating and capturing new business opportunities quickly and efficiently”.
Scalability / Reliability Are “Must Haves”
Interestingly, the alignment of IT and LOB extends beyond the business value of ensuring the highest level of customer web experience satisfaction. Both also agree that any software solution must be one that can scale to meet the changing business needs, be always “on” (as that is a primary Web tenet) and of course, be secure. Built upon the proven WebSphere Portal platform – a web delivery platform at the heart of numerous award-winning web experience across a range of industries – IBM Customer Experience Suite exhibits all the qualities to meet that most important requirement.
So, one could surmise, based on these and other data points from the study, that organizations are rallying around the customer, which – since it is a common CEO imperative – is to be expected (and is a good thing). The study did reveal that among organizations participating in the study, slightly over half (51%) reported it is a team-based decision process among IT and customer-facing groups (i.e., sales, marketing, product management and/or customer service) to agree upon an exceptional web experience solution approach. Ask your IBM representative about more details of the study and how IBM Customer Experience Suite can help your organization serve your current and ongoing customer web experience requirements.
-- Brian Chaput
The annual IBM Portal Excellence Conference for Americas is scheduled for July 19-22 in Chicago, and registration is now open!
With a theme of Exceptional Web Experiences, what better location than the Windy City on the shores of Lake Michigan in the Summer? Chicago itself is an "exceptional" experience, so couple that with exploring all you can do today (and in the future) with WebSphere Portal, Lotus Web Content Management, and more, to deliver exceptional Web experiences at this annual event and you can't go wrong. Of course, the conference remains more than just hearing and seeing what IBM and our key business partners have to offer; it is really an event to connect with other organizations, many of which have already delivered exceptional Web experiences, some who are just beginning that effort, and others who need to know how to get started. Customers, partners and IBMers will all share the best practices, technology, management and delivery approaches for engaging Web experiences, whether for internal users, external users, or both - all from a common Web delivery platform.
We will announce the dates and locations for other upcoming conferences planned for geographies soon, so stay tuned if you cannot attend the Americas event. We do hope to see many of you in Chicago, and again, you can register now!
-- Brian Chaput
During Lotusphere, we announced several updates and additions to our Portal cloud strategy.
First of all, we updated our Amazon EC2 Development AMI to be at the WP 6.1.5 level, as well as updated our Open Beta image to be on the Beta 2 level of WP.Next (http://aws.amazon.com).
We also introduced a WP/WCM 6.1.5 image on the IBM Smart Business Development and Test Cloud Beta (http://www.ibm.com/cloud/developer). This cloud sports several images from each of our software divisions. The plan is over time to help customers build out complex test and development topologies with a few clicks of the mouse, integrating the best of our application platforms with the best of our development and test automation tooling.
Lastly, we have introduced a Beta of a WebSphere Portal/Lotus Web Content Management V6.1.5 Hypervisor Edition, for use with the WebSphere CloudBurst private cloud management appliance (https://www14.software.ibm.com/iwm/web/cc/earlyprograms/lotus/portalopenbeta/). For more information on WebSphere CloudBurst, visit their site (http://www.ibm.com/software/webservers/cloudburst/).
WebSphere Portal's popularity on Amazon's Elastic Computing Cloud is growing in popularity. These new offerings are helping bridge from single machine provisioning into complex topology management and private cloud computing, a particularly strong play for Portal I think.