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The primary purpose of implementing an Enterprise portal is to enable a working environment that integrates people, their work, personal activities and supporting processes and technology. Investment in portal technology will
Most companies have developed their Business to Consumer (B2C), Business to Business (B2B) and Business to Employee (B2E) strategies. A lot of times, the challenge is to tie them together via a comprehensive strategy that is extendable to
Portal solutions such as IBM WebSphere Portal are proven and shorten the development time. Pre-built adapters and connectors are available so that customers can leverage on the company's existing investment by integrating with the existing legacy systems without re-inventing the wheel.
1.2.1 What is a portal?
Portals are the
1.2.2 Enablement for portals
A portal represents a comprehensive approach to delivering Web supported tools and enabling services to employees, customers and business partners. A portal enables services that should be available through Web-enabled devices, on a 24x7 basis.
Authentication provides different mechanisms that can be used to validate the identity of all portal users. Authorization determines whether a user has the necessary privilege to request a service.
The Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) infrastructure provides a foundation for deploying comprehensive identity management and advanced software architectures such as Web services.
Content management provides a way for the company to manage and leverage the enterprise's intellectual assets. Knowledge assets may include business intelligence and competitive intelligence data.
Collaboration enables employees, customers and business partners to work with, interact with, and develop or maintain content with others who share activities or interests.
The portal offers a search service that supports distributed, heterogeneous searches across different data sources. Search and indexing allows users to solve problems quickly, since users often need to make ad-hoc queries to gather new information.
Personalization provides the user the ability to establish preferences and profiles. In addition, value-added services for users increase the stickiness of the portal.
A portal can provide just-in-time training and development of skills or expertise for work. It allows the individual to select the time and place of learning activities in their own time.
There is an increasing need for providing globalization. As business is getting more global, workplaces are decentralized, often with thousands of individuals working in shifting locations.
Portal provides access to applications and systems to mobile, remote users at any time and any place. It provides personalized delivery of integrated content through multiple channels: portal, wireless, kiosk, etc.
Most of the time, the return on investment (ROI) of implementing a portal may accrue through direct savings in self-service as well as reduced transaction costs. Integrating the portal with e-commerce applications can generate revenue and add tangible value that
These capabilities provide a single point of entry to applications including legacy systems. This allows processes and data from multiple applications through a single workspace. Most of the time, companies have invested substantially in the legacy systems and the investment can be leveraged.
Site analytics provide comprehensive Web site analytics to improve the overall effectiveness of Web initiatives and
1.2.3 The WebSphere Portal framework
WebSphere Portal's extensible framework allows the end user to interact with enterprise applications, people, content, and processes. They can personalize and organize their own view of the portal, manage their own profiles, and publish and share documents. WebSphere Portal provides additional services (see Figure 1-2 on page 8) such as Single Sign-On, security, directory services, content management, personalization, search, collaboration, search and taxonomy, support for mobile devices, accessibility support, internationalization, e-learning, integration to applications, and site analytics. Clients can further extend the portal solution to provide host integration and e-commerce.
Figure 1-2. Portal context diagram
IBM WebSphere Portal provides a single, secure, interactive point of access to dynamic applications, information, people and processes to help build successful Business to Business (B2B), Business to Employee (B2E) and Business to Consumer (B2C) portals. WebSphere Portal:
WebSphere Portal is a framework that lets you plug in new features or extensions called portlets . In the same way that a servlet is an application within a Web server, a portlet is an application within WebSphere Portal. Developing portlets is the most important task in providing a portal that functions as the user's window to information and tasks.
Portlets are an encapsulation of content and functionality. They are reusable
Portlets function within the Portal framework where Windows applications function in the Windows framework. From the portal user's perspective, a portlet is a window on a portal site which provides access to a specific service or resource.
The portal also provides the runtime environment for the portlets that make up the portal implementation. This runtime environment is the portlet container .
The portlet container, in the J2EE sense of a container, is responsible for instantiating, invoking and destroying portlets. The portlet container provides the life cyle infrastructure for the portlets. Portlets rely on their container to provide the necessary infrastructure to support a portal environment. The portal infrastructure provides the
1.2.4 WebSphere Portal architecture
The WebSphere Portal platform is positioned to enhance the WebSphere family of products, providing tooling for aggregating and personalizing Web-based content and making that content available via multiple devices. WebSphere Portal takes advantage of the strong platform provided by WebSphere Applications Server.
WebSphere Portal finds its roots in Apache Jetspeed. Jetspeed is an Open Source implementation of an Enterprise Information Portal, using Java and XML. Jetspeed was created to deliver an Open Source Portal that individuals or companies could use and contribute to in an
Soon after creation, it became apparent that Jetspeed was going to become an "engine" for Web applications. That, however, was far beyond the scope of the original project. Around that time, there were many discussions on the mailing list that spawned the Turbine project based on technology donated by Jon Stevens/Clear Ink. Turbine is now the Web application framework that Jetspeed shares with many other Web applications.
Building on the Jetspeed implementation, WebSphere Portal provides an architecture for building and running portal applications. The overall WebSphere Portal Architecture can be seen in Figure 1-5 on page 15. WebSphere Portal provides services for Authentication and Authorization though the WebSphere Member Services.
Figure 1-3. Distributed Portal system
The core of WebSphere Portal architecture is
WebSphere Portal can run in a single, two, three, or n-
Secure demilitarized zone configuration
As shown in Figure 1-4 on page 14 depicted a sample architecture of deploying portal in a multi-tier Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) configuration with high availability. This configuration can be used for an Internet/extranet portal solution.
Figure 1-4. High availability portal solution
IBM WebSphere Portal supports SSL. SSL support for secure transactions is one of the main reasons to use the IBM HTTP Server as part of your Web development process. The SSL encryption system is used on servers to ensure privacy when information is sent across the Internet. An SSL-enabled server enables clients to verify a server's identity, and ensures that information transmitted between client and server remains private.
Reverse proxy security server
As shown in this configuration, Tivoli WebSEAL is used to shield the Web server from unauthorized request for external
The reverse proxy acts as an authentication gateway node and sits between the browser and the Web servers it protects. It actually acts as a stand-in for these Web servers. The authentication gateway intercepts all requests to the protected resources as well as the responses from the Web servers. To the browser submitting requests, the authentication gateway appears to be the actual Web server, to the Web server responding to requests, the authentication gateway appears to be the client.
In this particular example of integrating with WebSEAL, you can configure WebSphere Application Server to use the LDAP user registry, which can be shared with WebSEAL and TAM. Replicated front end WebSEAL provides the portal site with load balancing during periods of heavy traffics and fail over capability. The load balancing mechanism is handled by a Network Dispatcher such as an IBM WebSphere Edge Server. If the Network Dispatcher fails for some reason, the standby Network Dispatcher will continue to provide access to the portal. In our sample configuration, HTTP Servers and Portal Servers are clustered to provide additional redundancy.
The Directory and Security Services provide support for a directory of users accessible through LDAP. These services are used for authentication and can also control and verify the resource access privileges or permissions granted to users. The Directory Server can be replicated to one or more replica LDAP servers to provide redundancy. WebSphere Application Server uses LDAP to perform authentication. The client ID and password are passed from WebSphere Application Server to the LDAP server.
The database server component is not accessed directly by portal users or administrators. No application-specific tables are created. Database Server is used by WebSphere Application Server, WebSphere Portal, TAM and Directory Server to store the data they need for their operation. Replication can be turned on on the database server which is used by the portal.
In this configuration, it is optional to use a separate WebSEAL for the internal users for better performance.
IBM WebSphere Portal is based on open standards. IBM is leading efforts to standardize the application programming interfaces between portals and other applications. In particular, the Java Community Process (JCP) and the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) are working cooperatively to standardize the Java and XML technology needed to link portals to disparate applications.
OASIS recently announced the formation of the Web Services for Remote Portals (WSRP) Technical Committee. Chaired by IBM, the WSRP committee has the charter to create an XML and Web services standard that will allow the interoperability of visual, user-facing services with portals or other Web applications.
IBM WebSphere Portal provides a framework for pre-built, real-time news and syndicated content portlets from third party
Companies are embracing syndication concepts and standards to automate the publishing of electronic catalogs and other internal information, and to make this information available to workers through enterprise portals.
A popular and useful format for syndicated news and entertainment content is Rich Site Summary (RSS). Content can be published directly from the content management system into Rich Site Summary and Open Content Syndication (OCS) channels, where it can easily be displayed by the Portal Server's built-in RSS portlet. This self-syndication concept defines a procedure for editing, managing, and publishing your own sources of content.
WebSphere Portal finds its roots in Apache Jetspeed. Jetspeed is an Open Source implementation of an Enterprise Information Portal, using Java and XML. Jetspeed was created to deliver an Open Source Portal that individuals or companies could use and contribute to in an Open (Source) manner.
Soon after creation, it became apparent that Jetspeed was going to become an "engine" for Web applications. That, however, was far beyond the scope of the original project. Around that time, there were many discussions on the mailing list that spawned the Turbine project based on technology donated by Jon Stevens/Clear Ink. Turbine is now the Web Application framework that Jetspeed shares with many other Web applications.
Building on the Jetspeed implementation, WebSphere Portal provides an architecture for building and running portal applications. WebSphere Portal V5 provides a modular, easily extensible architecture. It is designed as a product that can run stand-alone if required, but allows plugging in alternative
Figure 1-5. WebSphere Portal architecture
WebSphere Portal presentation services provide customized and personalized pages for users though aggregation. Page content is aggregated from a variety of sources via content and applications. The portal presentation framework
The Portal engine
WebSphere Portal provides a pure Java engine whose main responsibility is to aggregate content from different sources and serve the aggregated content to multiple devices. The Portal engine also provides a framework that allows the presentation layer of the portal to be decoupled from the portlet implementation details. This allows the portlets to be
Figure 1-6. WebSphere Portal engine
The Authentication Server is a third-party authentication proxy server that sits in front of the Portal engine. Access to portlets is controlled by checking access rights during page aggregation, page customization, and other access points.
The Portal Servlet is the main component of the Portal engine. The portal servlet handles the requests made to the portal. The portal requests are handled in two phases. The first phase allows portals to send event messages between
Portal Services are components WebSphere Portal uses to extend the portal functionality. Key functionality is provided with WebSphere Portal for personalization, search, content management, site analysis, enterprise application integration collaboration and Web services. Portlets can access these services via their container.
The WebSphere Portal infrastructure is the framework that provides the internal features of the portal. Functionality such as user and
User and group management
The WebSphere Portal infrastructure provides facilities to allow user self management along with enterprise integration with user directories such as LDAP or database structures.
Since WebSphere Portal runs within the WebSphere Application Server platform, it makes use of the standard Java Security APIs to provide authentication. The WebSphere Portal is configured so that incoming requests pass through an authentication component such as WebSphere Application Server, WebSEAL or other proxy servers. A user's authorization for a particular resource such as page or a portlet is handled by the portal engine.
User Beans are provided to allow programmatic access to the User information for use within portlets.
WebSphere Transcoding Technology is integrated with WebSphere Portal to transform the portal markup produced by WebSphere Portal to markup for additional devices such as mobile phones and PDAs.
Portal services are built-in features the WebSphere Portal provides to extend and enhance the full portal solution. These services are provided via the Portlet container as seen in Figure 1-5 on page 15. Among the services are the following:
1.2.5 WebSphere Portal tooling
WebSphere Portal and WebSphere Portal Toolkit, along with their prerequisite products, provide the basic tooling for developing and deploying portals and their associated portlets.
WebSphere Portal contains built-in support for portlet deployment, configuration, administration and communication between portlets.
WebSphere Portal provides the framework for building and deploying portals and the portal components, portlets. Portlet content is aggregated by the WebSphere Portal to provide the desired portal implementation.
WebSphere Portal makes use of the WebSphere Application Server technology to provide a portal platform.
WebSphere Portal Toolkit
The WebSphere Portal Toolkit is provided with WebSphere Portal and provides an environment for developing portal using WebSphere Portal. The WebSphere Portal Toolkit is a plug-in for WebSphere Studio Application Developer (WSAD) or WebSphere Studio Site Developer (WSSD) which adds the portal development environment.
The WebSphere Portal Toolkit provides the ability to quickly create complete, MVC-compliant portlet applications. It also provides intuitive editors for working with the deployment descriptors required by your portlet applications. Furthermore, it allows you to dynamically debug your portlet applications.
The WebSphere Portal Toolkit is explored in detail in Chapter 3, "Portal Toolkit" on page 125.
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