First-generation “portalized” views of enterprise applications, as presented by portlets, gadgets or other branded tools, give users a scaled-down, customized look at the larger software systems they represent in a single desktop window.
That’s certainly useful, however, these mini-applications could soon give way to a new troupe of so-called composite applications, which the Delphi Group has recently identified as InfoServices.
According to John Kunze, chief executive officer of Plumtree Software, composite applications are created by grabbing functions from multiple front- and back-office applications, including CRM, ERP, and others, and stitching them together. The technological threads here are Web services, particularly XML (extensible markup language) and SOAP (simple object access protocol). “The portal is no longer just about creating an entry point into disparate applications and content; it has more and more to do with building completely new applications,” Kunze says. “These composite applications, which are part of a layer we [Plumtree] call foundation services, is also an indication of how the portal is shifting towards the Enterprise Web.”
Composite applications are the driving market trend here,” says Haridas Nair of Sybase. “The ability to build a customized application from multiple applications–and then to make it available through the portal–is extremely powerful for the enterprise.”
This emerging breed of applications also represents one of the true promises of Web services: application reuse. As opposed to continually purchasing applications or upgrading existing ones, Web services technologies potentially let you repurpose and combine pieces of existing applications, and then expose the results to the appropriate users through the portal.
A related discussion on portals is in a story by Line56, based on a report by Illuminata, which favours the integration-centric portal over what the information-aggregating portal.
This discussion is very relevant for our Digital Dashboard.