Since joining Burton Group things have been pretty busy in terms of becoming "Burton-ized", getting my home office environment setup, reconnecting with vendors, introducing myself to clients and immersing myself in my current research assignment on enterprise portals. That's the list of excuses at least for not posting lately!
Portals play a critically important role in delivering contextual user experiences. Portals are not considered an integral component of the core technology manifest for collaboration (e.g., e-mail, calendaring, group scheduling, IM, presence, Web conferencing, virtual workspaces, blogs, wikis, etc). However, portals have become the superstructure of SOA frameworks that intelligently aggregate, integrate and orchestrate the presentation/interaction management layer.
Portals are not be the only interaction model that enables contextual interfaces but their evolution from simple point-and-click gateways to component applications frameworks enables them to blend portlets comprised of applications, information, communication and collaboration services based on a variety of factors that include role, user/group profile information or other types of meta data.
Whatever choice you make on portals will have a direct impact on your collaboration services and visa-versa. Standards such as WSRP and JSR 168 do not provide a silver-bullet for plug-and-play when it comes to replicating complete application functionality and behaviors across different portal frameworks. Many portal products also have their own models when it comes to things like page layout, eventing, inter-portlet communication, look-and-feel when it comes to behaviors and such making portal syndication or federation across different products based on common/reusable portlet components difficult.
Increasingly, enterprises will not make silo decisions around portals, collaboration or other domains but will examine the entire “stack” from major platform vendors (e.g., BEA, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, SAP). Considerations around modularity, extensibility, integration and interoperability will span portal, applications, analytics, enterprise content management, collaboration and communication. This does not mean you have to go 100% with any single vendor – it’s likely you will have a couple major superplatform players that dominate certain application or infrastructure categories – but it is likely that many enterprises will be looking at a minimal amount of core trusted vendors around whose SOA scaffolding you can connect best of breed solutions where they make sense.