SOA helps transform the portal landscape

Portal proponents are predicting increasing adoption of the technology as organizations seek to leverage investments in service-oriented architecture (SOA) and build closer links between IT and the business.

Daniel Tortorici, director of product marketing for San Jose-based portal vendor BEA Systems, told attendees at a recent BEA-sponsored event in Toronto that organizations are coming to see portals as a way to leverage the IT savings and efficiencies created through the adoption of SOA, and making those efficiencies real and accessible to their business users. SOA becomes the infrastructure and portals the interface.

Tortorici said portals are helping bridge the gap between the IT side of the company and the business users who IT serves.

According to a BEA survey of its portal customers, Tortorici said, most organizations are using portals to give employees access to multiple internal systems such as self-service human resources and sales support, and to facilitate project collaboration, with business-to-employee implementations accounting for 60 per cent of portal projects.

Nav Canada, which has responsibility for Canada’s civil air navigation services and employs the nation’s air traffic controllers, was on hand to describe how it has used portal technology to give its clients more timely and seamless access to information.

Jacques Delisle, manager of Web services information management, said Nav Canada wanted to more efficiently relay information culled from a variety of sources to its clients, which include airlines and airport operators. The information includes weather reports, traffic forecasts and data on delays and traffic restrictions.

When Nav Canada started down the portal road in 2000, Delisle said the organization wasn’t making effective use of the Web, and needed a way to provide clients secure access to its internal systems while ensuring content and document management and regulatory compliance.

“The Intranet we had before was a mess,” said Delisle. “I don’t know how many pages of crap we had, and we didn’t know who was responsible for what.”

Using technology from BEA, including Aqualogic Web portal software, Nav Canada has built a series of portals to serve both its external clients and its own internal employees.

As an example, aircraft track location data (designated flight paths) was previously relayed by Nav Canada to airlines and air traffic controllers 12 hours in advance, giving them no opportunity to provide input that could lead to changes. The information is now available through the portal in real time.

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— with files from Nestor E. Arellano

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