Wednesday, June 27, 2012

What is difference between website and portal?

What is portal?

When I was asked what do I do for living? I say I am portal consultant. blah..blah. Then comes the interesting question from the person who asked - What is it?

Well, a portal offers a single point of personalized, unified access to applications, content, processes. A portal delivers integrated content and applications, plus offers a unified, collaborative workplace. A portal is a web site that has many features than typical website. For eg, When I say Yahoo! what comes to your mind immediately? Yahoo home page has got small small multiple windows typically called portlets (tell about this in a bit). Each portlet for different purpose - stock, weather, news, search, etc, etc. They are contents from different external sources into single window. To know more about portal and its flavors in weblogic, please visit this blog entry.

Not only it stops here :)
Portals can provide valuable service functions such as security, search, collaboration, and work flow.
To name a few of Portals features - authentication, personalization, customization and content aggregation.

Authentication: - Typical website may not have authentication. You can see all contents. But portal provides facility of Logging-In. Provides you with information based on who you are.

Personalization: Limited, focused content. Eliminates the need to visit many different sites. e.g.You type in your user name and password and see your yahoo mail only.

Customization: This is the one of the powerful features of portal. You can organize which contents you want to access/see. If you go to or you can personlized what do you want to see. But in Website contents are not customizable. All content is there for every visitor. All are public contents.

Content aggregation: Portals can provide lot of contents collected from various sources under a single desktop. These contents can be secured and non-secured. Also portals can show specific contents to specific set of users based on the their entitlements (security).

What are Portlets?
Portlets are basic building blocks of portal. Portlets are web based java applications that can interact with the user. It can generate dynamic web contents.There are many types of portlets. More info on upcoming posts...

A web page can have any number of portlets.

Federated Portal Vs Enterprise Portal

What is a federated portal?
 A federated portal is a portal that consumes resources such as remote portlets, books, and pages. These remote resources are collected and brought together at run time to a portal application called a consumer, which presents the federated portal to end users. So in federated portal, portal application and portlets will be running in different containers where as in local portal, both will be running in a single portal container.

A federated portal reflects a true Service Oriented Architecture(SOA). These individual remote parts basically called producers of a federated portal that can be maintained, updated, and released independently without redeploying the consumer portal in which they are surfaced. Lets say your organization has depts like sales, marketing, human resources and finance. Every department has its own budget, needs and resources. Sales dept doesn't need to worry about how finance portlets will look like though both portlets will be running under a portal consumer. Instead of building all portlets into a single portal applications, you can develop portlets for each dept separately and deploy portlets as seperate web applications running on remote servers while portal consumes them using WSRP. You can have producer for each department if you want to which will be easy to maintain. Federated portal uses WSRP(Web Services for Remote Portlets (WSRP) for decoupling portlets from portal.

Enterprise or (Local) portals are the one where all portlets will be developed, maintained and deployed in a single container. So small changes to the portal, you need to perform whole life cycle - design, development, testing, deployment and propagation to development to staging to production. This may be OK for small sized portal but as the portal grows maintenance becomes very difficult. For many organizations, the cost of such maintenance is significant and can include portal downtime. Federation simplifies portal maintenance.

  All WebLogic Portal applications are, by default, both consumers and producers. This means that every WebLogic Portal application is capable of hosting remote portlets and consuming them. With a federated portal architecture, separate development teams, perhaps in separate business units, operating in different geographical locations, can focus on and develop their respective portlets. These development teams can update, test, and release their portlets independently from one another. You do not need to redeploy a federated portal every time a portlet deployed in aproducer changes. When a remote portlet is updated in a producer, all of the consumers of that portlet receive the change immediately and automatically.

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