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CHAPTER

1
Introducing WebSphere
Portal

What is a portal and why do I need it? What does WebSphere Portal offer
that I can™t do with custom code? In this chapter, we will answer these
questions and introduce you to the WebSphere brand and more speci¬cally
to WebSphere Portal. We will show you how WebSphere Portal can help
you rapidly develop and deploy applications that will impact your bottom
line by introducing you to its features and architecture. At the end of this
chapter you will understand why you need a portal and how WebSphere
Portal meets your portal requirements.



What Is a Portal and Why Do We Need Them?
When the Internet was ¬rst introduced, applications were simple and text
based. Graphics were soon introduced, and programmers found out that
much of the development effort was shifting to look and feel rather than
implementing business function. Then developers felt it would be cool to
integrate various other sites into their own; however, this generated a smor-
gasbord look and feel. Security soon became an issue and each site then
required authentication. If the developer had integrated multiple sites into
his or her own site, the user would endure the frustrating experience of
having to do multiple logins on a single site, each with a different name
and password. By the 1990s the Internet was experiencing a massive boom
when numerous software companies and IT departments were developing
software; however, most of it provided the same functionality. Many groups
were designing search engines and collaboration software and IT managers
were questioning why they were constantly redesigning the wheel and

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4 Chapter 1


why productivity and quality were so low. Then, if there weren™t enough
headaches, Internet applications were required to be accessible on many
different devices with very different attributes such as desktops, mobile
phones, and palm pilots. Some devices can handle sophisticated graphics
and have lots of visual room while others have limited input and output
capabilities (e.g., a mobile phone).
Portals, speci¬cally WebSphere Portal, help today™s businesses address
the Internet challenges. It helps programmers focus on developing the busi-
ness functionality by letting the portal manage the look and feel, person-
alization, content management, and security. It allows users to integrate
different applications from disparate locations and enables them to seam-
lessly exchange information. Each user can create a personalized device-
independent “desktop” with a consistent look and feel by using drag and
drop components. Much of the functionality that is required for Web experi-
ence does not have to be programmed but can be found in the portal library,
a collection of “shrink wrap packaged” portlets or portal applications.


The WebSphere Family
WebSphere is a software platform that enables you to develop, deploy, and
integrate all types of enterprise-scale e-business applications: from business
to business, customer to business, employer to employee, on demand, and
even legacy.
WebSphere is made up of three components (Figure 1-1): foundation
and tools, reach and user experience or business portals, and business
integration.




Figure 1-1 IBM WebSphere components.
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Introducing WebSphere Portal 5


Foundation and Tools
The “engine” and the “frame” of the WebSphere constitute the WebSphere
Application Server (WAS). It is the environment in which you run and
manage your Java applications. WAS is a complete, open standard Java
2 Platform, Enterprise Edition (J2EE) 1.4 application server that enables
you to perform the following tasks:
1. Integrate easily to other e-business and legacy applications through
its support of J2EE Connector Architecture. This gives a consistent
way of connecting and communicating to other applications without
complex programming.
2. Communicate to other distributed systems using guaranteed and
reliable persistent high-performance messaging based on the Java
Messaging Service (JMS) and/or Web Services.
3. Deploy and administer applications with ease on a single server.
With the optional WebSphere Application Server Network
Deployment, you can manage and administer a large number of
servers and reduce your administration costs with its automated
server management. Installation and administration capabilities are
further enhanced through the support of Java Management
Extensions, which enables integration with third-party system
management products such as Tivoli, Candle, and CA.
4. WAS provides you with performance optimization and reliability by
allowing you to control and isolate each application run-time
environment. With the WebSphere Application Server Network
Deployment option, you get high availability and high transaction
support through clustering and caching. Using clustering, it supports
load balancing and automatic failover capability. Load balancing can
be done at the routers, Web servers, or the application servers. It also
provides content-based routing and edge-based caching.
5. Sophisticated and complete security support through
a. Secure system resources with the Java 2 security model
b. Standardize authentication with Java Authentication and
Authorization Services (JAAS)
c. Secure communication channels (TLS/SSL) using Java Secure
Socket Extension
d. Security encryption and message authentication using Java
Cryptographic Extension
e. Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) integration based on Java
Cryptographic Architecture. PKI manages the issuing,
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6 Chapter 1


distribution, and authentication of private and public digital keys.
Digital keys are used to authenticate an individual or a resource.
f. Secure interoperability between application servers
g. Support for registries based on Lightweight Directory Access
Protocol (LDAP)
h. Single sign-on support using Trust Association Interceptor or
Lightweight Third Party Authentication (LTPA)
6. Deploy applications independent of hardware and software
environments. WAS can be deployed on Intel, Sun, HP, and IBM
hardware platforms running AIX, Linux, zOS, OS/400, Solaris,
HP-UX, and Windows 2000/2003.

To enable rapid deployment of applications on WAS, IBM provides Web-
Sphere Studio: a suite of integrated application development tools based on
the ECLIPSE open standard framework. From a single user to a large team
environment, developers can rapidly develop, debug, and test their Web-
Sphere Applications and then seamlessly deploy into a WAS environment.
The WebSphere Studio integrates with the Rational product line including
modeling to code generation, testing, and version control.
The foundation and tools component also includes WebSphere Host Inte-
gration family, which enables you to integrate your legacy assets with your
e-business.


Business Integration
WebSphere Business Integration is a suite of 24 products that provides end-
to-end integration by performing the following tasks:

1. Using modeling to design, simulate, and plan business processes
2. Providing products that facilitate linking people, processes,
applications, system, and data
3. Enabling you to connect to your customers and partners
4. Allowing you to control and track business processes
5. Enabling you to review, analyze, and improve processes and
performance

Items 1, 4, and 5 are supported by the WebSphere Business Integra-
tion. Item 2 is supported through message brokering and formatting using
WebSphere Business Integration Message Broker. IBM WebSphere Business
Integration Message Broker transforms and enhances real-time information
between applications that use different message structures and formats.
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Introducing WebSphere Portal 7


Item 3 is supported by WebSphere MQ. WebSphere MQ allows you to in-
tegrate applications using messaging.


WebSphere Business Portals
WebSphere Business Portal suite focuses on the e-business user experience.
It consists of WebSphere Commerce, WebSphere Everyplace, WebSphere
Voice, and WebSphere Portal.
WebSphere Commerce enables a user to create selling, buying, and chan-
nel management solutions for anything from a simple on-line sales channel
to a multitier integrated demand chain.
WebSphere Everyplace provides a suite of tools that facilitate the delivery
of Web pages and e-business applications to a broad range of mobile devices.
WebSphere Voice supports development and deployment of conversa-
tional and voice recognition e-business solutions. It also provides transla-
tion services and uni¬ed messaging that includes voice mail, e-mail, and
faxes.
The last product, but the most important from this book™s perspective,
is WebSphere Portal, which, according to IBM™s Web site (www.ibm.com),
provides “a single point of personalized interaction with applications, con-
tent, processes, and people.” Now we explore this statement and elaborate
what it means.


What Is WebSphere Portal?
Previously in this chapter, we discussed what a portal is. WebSphere Portal
provides all these capabilities plus the availability and scalability required
for large enterprise applications. But to really understand what WebSphere
Portal is, you need to look at from the users™, programmers™, and adminis-
trators™ perspectives.


The User Experience
WebSphere Portal allows users to create their own virtual desktops that are
machine independent. Each user can create his or her own portal pages
and customize the content and look and feel of these pages. They can add
functionality to their pages through portlets, which are portal applications.
Portlets are custom made by your sites™ programmers, downloaded from
the IBM portal catalog, or are available from software vendors. Each portlet
has settings that allow users to customize the functionality for their envi-
ronment. An extensive set of portlets is available from IBM and its partners
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8 Chapter 1




Figure 1-2 Financial portlet section of the WebSphere Portal Catalog.


through the Portal Catalog at www.ibm.com/software/genservers/
portal/portlet/catalog.
At last count IBM had 531 portlets in its catalog. Figure 1-2 shows some
¬nancial portlets available from the catalog. Portlets can be easily added
to a page by clicking on the Edit Layout link at the top page you want to
customize.
Users can have as many personalized pages as they want. They are ar-
ranged in a hierarchical manner with any level of depth starting from their
home page. Based on their permissions, users can choose for each page or
set of pages their own themes, skins, and layout. Themes de¬ne the fonts,
colors, spacing, and other look-and-feel components of the page. They are a
combination of cascading style sheets, JSP ¬les, and images. Skins comprise
title bars, borders, shadows, etc. that surround the portlets. Each page and
the pages associated with its tree can have their own theme and skins, thus
creating a virtual portal. Each department that enters into the portal will
have its own look and feel.
WP Page Navigation supports complex navigation trees and labels that
logically group a set of navigation elements.
WebSphere Portal allows users to view content on multiple devices and
in multiple languages, including double byte and bidirectional. It also
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Introducing WebSphere Portal 9


generates markup that complies with the American Disability Act Section
508 Web Accessibility Standards and the guidelines of the W3C Web Ac-

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