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The complexity of computer applications and systems continues to grow at an exponential rate. In a very short period of time, we have evolved from single applications addressing a specific functionality or set of requirements on a dedicated mainframe to an integrated set of applications representing an enterprise e-business. What is an e-business? This is a catch-all term for identifying an enterprise that has transformed its business by:
Leveraging Web technologies to reengineer business processes
Enhancing communications and lowering organizational boundaries with its:
Customers and shareholders (across the internet)
Employees and stakeholders (across the corporate intranet)
Vendors, suppliers, and partners (across the extranet)
This e-business transformation is evolutionary and complex. The typical evolution for an enterprise is to move from:
Providing access to enterprise applications and information
Through integration of systems and applications in the enterprise
To an adaptive enterprise that can optimize operations and dynamically adapt to the needs of all its constituents
We have already embarked on the next wave of change and complexity in e-business and entered the on demand era.
An on demand business is an enterprise whose business processes—integrated end-to-end across the company and with key partners, suppliers, and customers—can respond with flexibility and speed to any customer demand, market opportunity, or external threat.
In this on demand world, companies will move beyond simply integrating their processes to actually being able to sense and respond to fluctuating market conditions and provide products and services to customers on their terms—on demand. Companies will be able to acquire business functions or IT infrastructure over the Internet as they need them and only pay for what they use. Companies can quickly increase or decrease their requirements as their markets change. IBM has developed products and services that meet the business and infrastructure requirements for enabling business on demand and can help customers begin building their on demand capabilities today.
The methods, approaches, products, and tools used to design, build, and implement such on demand systems must also evolve at a rapid pace to keep up with ever-growing complexity. Several work efforts on reference architectures, patterns, frameworks, and open standards have all contributed to supporting the ability to handle this complexity. The common thread of these work efforts is that they capture best practices and proven experiences into customizable, reusable assets. Naturally, the larger the asset, the more useful it is in helping drive the entire solution and the more difficult it is to reuse. To be effective, we must facilitate the reuse of these large assets in the context of familiar methodologies and work products that architects use to design their solutions.
This redbook focuses on bringing together various efforts used within IBM to engineer complex solutions. To be able to describe these efforts effectively, we have chosen to focus on people integration (or portal) solutions.
People integration solutions allow a company to provide a personalized, integrated, interactive view of its business by giving customers, suppliers, partners, and employees anytime/anywhere access to information, transactions, and know-how. Key integration requirements include role-based, preference-based, and device-based transformation of business transactions and information.
Chapter 2, "Portal solutions" on page 39 provides a detailed look at portal solutions and sets up the class of problems that we will use to showcase the design of complex solutions using best practices. Chapter 3, "A recommended approach to architecting portal solutions" on page 65 presents the main recommended approach to architecting portal solutions by infusing the use of large assets into an industrial-strength application development methodology.
The large assets that can be leveraged include IBM Patterns for e-business, reference architectures, industry solutions along with their reference implementations, and frameworks. The best practices from field experiences are incorporated as guidelines for designing and building the solution. Chapter 4, "Architecting On Demand Workplace solutions" on page 167 applies the recommended approach to a class of portal solutions targeted at establishing an e-workplace for employees of an enterprise.
The rest of Chapter 1 provides details on some of the main topics that provide the foundation for this redbook—on demand computing, portals, and patterns. The approach we have taken is to explain these concepts through a set of questions and answers that focuses on areas pertinent to the redbook. Readers who are familiar with these topics can skip through these sections.
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