You will be redirected in 30 seconds or close now.

ColdFusion Authors: Yakov Fain, Jeremy Geelan, Maureen O'Gara, Nancy Y. Nee, Tad Anderson

Related Topics: ColdFusion

ColdFusion: Article

Building Enterprise Portals

Building Enterprise Portals

Every year I find myself contemplating the dramatic changes in the Internet industry over the previous year. And every year the changes seem more dramatic, more exciting - and, most important, clearer. Everyone involved in the Internet industry does the same thing, I'm sure, and as part of this ongoing reflection we try and find meaning in a few major concepts to help us grapple with all the change and opportunity. These concepts typically end up in buzzwords that we internalize and then attempt to indoctrinate our peers (and customers) with this new understanding.

For example, in 1993, "the Internet" meant "Online Services," which meant AOL, CompuServe and Prodigy. This was about as complex an idea as people could come up with, and given how vague and overwhelming it all seemed, that was probably okay.

So it was for the next six years. Each year we in the industry tried to figure out what it was all about, building products and services to support it, and, most important, giving it a name, or a concept. We need (and needed) these keywords and concepts, which we used to map complex technology to business or consumer reality.

In 1994 and 1995 it was the "Internet," which meant "wild-wild-west," "experimentation" and "new opportunities," but that's about it. After people (including many of you) began to really work with the technology, they figured out there were opportunities beyond building brochure-ware Web sites. They saw there were real opportunities in automating a business and leveraging the incredible cost economies of the Web computing model, and in reaching new customers. Thus they were dubbed "e-commerce" and "intranets." People finally understood this computing model wasn't about brochures, but about changing how information and products were used, created and sold. In fact, for quite some time, most companies focused exclusively on intranets and the unbounded opportunities that lay therein.

Sometime in late 1996, and into 1997, the concept of the "extranet" emerged. This was a site that was NOT an Internet site, but also NOT an intranet site; still deployed on the Internet, but secured like an intranet. Whoa! But it did have meaning, and that meaning was that you could use the Internet to tie together companies and organizations in a way that wasn't possible before.

Since 1997 and through 1998, we've taken these concepts and run with them. We've built products and services that enable these terms and concepts and we use them fluidly in selling what we do to our customers.

During this time some pretty significant things have been happening in our industry, all of which bode well for our future. First, corporations are finally "figuring out" the value of the Web. After years of experimentation, working with early adopter technology and through the inevitable pressures of customer feedback and competitive threats, many corporations are now at a point to fully embrace the Web business and computing platform throughout their business, even reinventing their business around this new economy. Second, we've seen the spectacular success of the most visible Internet companies, the e-commerce portals and "dot com" players. We're seeing this, aspiring and learning, and realizing that the earth is moving beneath us. And finally, all of this hard work and learning is establishing best-practices in both the technology infrastructure and the business and organizational models. Indeed, these three trends, happening over the past year or so, indicate that we're on the verge of a massive mainstream explosion in adoption of the Internet.

Out of all this, of course, must come a new organizing concept, one that ties together everything we've learned and becomes the basis for how the mainstream thinks about and creates the next wave of Internet business. I believe the organizing concept we'll come to know, speak and understand is the "Portal." Everywhere I go I hear customers talk about building a "Family Portal" or a "Kids Portal," and, most recently, and perhaps most significantly, an "Enterprise Portal." Increasingly, it seems, "Portal" has come to mean "successful Internet site" or "successful Internet business," and no longer carries its original meaning, "search engine." I strongly believe that the Enterprise Portal is the right organizing concept for furthering our work.

Understanding Enterprise Portals
An Enterprise Portal is the combination of software and technology infrastructure, new business models and new organizational structures that combine to create an Internet-centric business. In short, an Enterprise Portal is what companies need to build in order to become Internet-centric companies. In my estimation, Enterprise Portals reflect three distinct observations about the Internet business landscape.

The first is the realization that truly Internet-centric companies don't view their Internet, intranet and extranet systems as separate. Instead, they see the pervasiveness of the Web simply as a part of their business. An Enterprise Portal represents this idea. Your Web systems become a portal to your entire business -- internally, for your employees managing their work, then extending out through private and secure interfaces to customers, suppliers and partners. The Enterprise Portal allows us, for the first time, to think of the Web as the fabric of our business, and recognizes the reality that Web systems aren't about isolated corporate applications, but about an overall approach to doing business in the Internet economy. Indeed, with Enterprise Portals the Web becomes your business, and your business becomes the Web.

A second observation is that Enterprise Portals, by being modeled on the best-practices of "dot com" companies, pave the way to understanding the four broad solution components in running an Internet-centric business: rich content, e-commerce, customer interaction management and collaboration. All successful portals center around a rich-content application infrastructure, including models for dynamic publishing, workflow, roles-based security models and content asset management. Likewise, they tie in commerce systems, including Web transaction management infrastructure, as well as common systems for merchandise management and order processing. Finally, they bridge these components with applications that enhance end-user and customer experience, such as personalization, user forums and collaboration tools for document management, threaded discussions and managing projects over the Web.

The third key observation is that Enterprise Portals represent the technology and business best-practices in the Web environment. They demonstrate that there are well-observed user interface models, known systems and development architectures, and - most important - Web-native business and organization models. This shift toward best-practices-based approaches is critical as mainstream companies look to scale their Web efforts to enterprise-wide levels.

Enterprise Portals give us a model for our businesses. At Allaire it's driving us to build a comprehensive platform that spans visual tools, application servers and packaged systems for building and managing an Enterprise Portal. For corporate customers it provides a model and call to arms to think about their business and technology strategy in the Internet age. For solution companies it should drive new solutions based on best-practices in Enterprise Portals.

In any case, we have a new mantra, a new buzzword and, finally, a way to think about how these complex technology and business issues tie together in a cohesive manner, driving forward the next generation of the Internet economy.

More Stories By Jeremy Allaire

Jeremy Allaire is one of the key people behind ColdFusion. He was one of the co-founders of Allaire Corp, which was later sold to Macromedia, where he joined as the CTO and turned his attention to helping evolve Macromedia Flash into a next-generation rich client platform. He is a regular author and analyst of Internet technologies.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

IoT & Smart Cities Stories
If a machine can invent, does this mean the end of the patent system as we know it? The patent system, both in the US and Europe, allows companies to protect their inventions and helps foster innovation. However, Artificial Intelligence (AI) could be set to disrupt the patent system as we know it. This talk will examine how AI may change the patent landscape in the years to come. Furthermore, ways in which companies can best protect their AI related inventions will be examined from both a US and...
The challenges of aggregating data from consumer-oriented devices, such as wearable technologies and smart thermostats, are fairly well-understood. However, there are a new set of challenges for IoT devices that generate megabytes or gigabytes of data per second. Certainly, the infrastructure will have to change, as those volumes of data will likely overwhelm the available bandwidth for aggregating the data into a central repository. Ochandarena discusses a whole new way to think about your next...
Charles Araujo is an industry analyst, internationally recognized authority on the Digital Enterprise and author of The Quantum Age of IT: Why Everything You Know About IT is About to Change. As Principal Analyst with Intellyx, he writes, speaks and advises organizations on how to navigate through this time of disruption. He is also the founder of The Institute for Digital Transformation and a sought after keynote speaker. He has been a regular contributor to both InformationWeek and CIO Insight...
Bill Schmarzo, Tech Chair of "Big Data | Analytics" of upcoming CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO New York (November 12-13, 2018, New York City) today announced the outline and schedule of the track. "The track has been designed in experience/degree order," said Schmarzo. "So, that folks who attend the entire track can leave the conference with some of the skills necessary to get their work done when they get back to their offices. It actually ties back to some work that I'm doing at the University of ...
DXWorldEXPO LLC, the producer of the world's most influential technology conferences and trade shows has announced the 22nd International CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO "Early Bird Registration" is now open. Register for Full Conference "Gold Pass" ▸ Here (Expo Hall ▸ Here)
@DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo, taking place November 12-13 in New York City, NY, is co-located with 22nd international CloudEXPO | first international DXWorldEXPO and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time t...
CloudEXPO New York 2018, colocated with DXWorldEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City and will bring together Cloud Computing, FinTech and Blockchain, Digital Transformation, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, AI, Machine Learning and WebRTC to one location.
The best way to leverage your Cloud Expo presence as a sponsor and exhibitor is to plan your news announcements around our events. The press covering Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo will have access to these releases and will amplify your news announcements. More than two dozen Cloud companies either set deals at our shows or have announced their mergers and acquisitions at Cloud Expo. Product announcements during our show provide your company with the most reach through our targeted audiences.
The Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform and how we integrate our thinking to solve complicated problems. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, demonstrated how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and sh...
What are the new priorities for the connected business? First: businesses need to think differently about the types of connections they will need to make – these span well beyond the traditional app to app into more modern forms of integration including SaaS integrations, mobile integrations, APIs, device integration and Big Data integration. It’s important these are unified together vs. doing them all piecemeal. Second, these types of connections need to be simple to design, adapt and configure...