WPS Portal project

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Websphere Portal conference Berlin 2008 / WP 6.1 feedback

This week I was in the WP conference in Berlin. Of course there are a lots of news I would like to share, but as I do not have the time yet, I just would like to share my overall feedback about the new 6.1 portal release.

First I would like to thank all IBMers I had the opportunity to met there, as they provided very valuable info and help me a lot. I really think that success of portal projects, as any highly technical and complexe project, mainly depends on people and competencies involved. So it is always very important to have the good resource or info at the right time. WP conference is a good way to gather such infos.

What about 6.1 ? Well to summarize I would say that:
- This is now a mature release (from the java standard implementation point of view),
- It is more open than ever (REST, new API, etc),
- Some really good new features (especially Client Side Aggregation),
- The roadmap of some features is not 'consistent' (or some bug/limitations exists),
- Migration effort from previous release 5.x is still very high.


Let me detail these topics:

>> Software design maturity:
- WCM data are now moved to JCR repository (the WCM has been completely re-designed),
- JSR 286 seems to be already implemented and supported (at least the major features like portlet cooperation).

All of these will allow customers to build custom solution on stable standards and without worrying about future migration, at least for a while.


>> Plateform openess:
- A lots of portal features are now exposed through REST (atom) Web Services (or even new API). For instance you can access to the portal navigation (pages list) as a feed, or get the profil/membership of a user,
- Even WCM does offers REST facilities to manage content (CRUD operations are supported on content and sitearea).
- For some part of the code (e.g the WCM multi-language assets), IBM is also thinking about an open-source approach...

I'm sure this openess will really give the opportunity to extend existing features or to build new ones easily....that is clearly a good evolution.


>> Cool new features:
- For me the major one is clearly CSA 'Client Side Aggregation' (assuming it is working well, this will clearly be a real improvement for navigation user-experience and page response time),
- Another good evolution is Remember me cookie (allow to identify the user without prompting for authentication, and so provide the ability to personalize some infos).
- WCM inline editing (6.0 feature).

These are at least the 3 main features we will surely integrate in our portal....but only once the 'as is' migration to 6.1 will be completed....


>> Roadmap inconsistency, limitations:
- PDM does not exists in 6.1 anymore, but scripts to perform migration to 'Quickr PDM' will be provided only for Q1 2009 (reminder : end of support for v5 was sept 2008),
- Under IE, the CSA does not work for the WCM Rendering portlet (this is a bug that should be fixed soon),
- The role 'identified' (remember me cookie) is not implemented in WCM 6.1 (should be only in next version 7).

Well, I would just say that roadmap could have been better aligned....I know it is easy to say, but more difficult to do...


>> Migration effort: you know my opinion about that. Even if migration scripts are supposed to be improved in 6.1 (and also better tested than for 6.0), the principle of side-by-side installation is still the same...this is still a MAJOR effort for customers to migrate to 6.1....


In conclusion:
- 6.1 release is a major evolution (especially regarding the WCM software new technical design),
- Some evolutions are really an improvement for customer (but of course it depends on your project needs),
- Finally, I let you decide either or not the cost of migration is justified compare to these new benefits ;-)


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