If portals are set up properly, they can become a useful front end to everything in your organization. If not, they can frustrate everyone. For many Lotus developers, the WebSphere portal is the entry point for J2EE-oreinted development. But learning the ins and outs of such development is not easy. A good window into what works could start with the three laws of portals, which Skyler Thomas, IBM's chief portal architect for customer solutions, outlined recently in a wide-ranging article on IBM's developerWorks site.
The first law: Everything is now the portal's fault. The portal acts as a "glue layer" for IT projects, Thomas said. As a result, performance problems in one backend system will affect all systems, with all blame pointed at the portal team.
The second law: WebSphere Portal will test every organizational deficiency in your company. This feature is crucial, Thomas said, because portal problems expand when different systems are supported by different IT groups and barriers are erected between individual projects.
The third law: Stress testing early and often is the only way to prevent the first two laws from delaying a project. Many enterprises wait until the last minute to conduct stress tests, but this is the wrong approach, Thomas said. Instead, stress testing should begin before WebSphere Portal is even connected to the backend infrastructure. That way, problems are isolated at the early stages of a project, when team members will have the time, energy and patience to fix them.
In addition to the laws of portals, Thomas' interview offered advice for sharing B2B data, easing WebSphere Portal's often-tricky requirement documentation process and deciding between standard and JSR-168 portlets.
To read the entire developerWorks interview with Thomas, click here.