Thursday, December 1, 2005

An interview with IBM’s Chris Lamb on WebSphere Portal SOA

David:

So now that we have an idea what SOA is, how does it relate to IBM WebSphere Portal?

Chris:

WebSphere Portal is a critical component in an SOA strategy because it allows people to dynamically interact with their business and IT services based on their role with the organization. Those services can easily be combined into a composite application that includes the content, processes and collaboration required to complete the task at hand faster than working through multiple traditional applications.

David:

What features of WebSphere Portal are key to developing an SOA?

Chris:

WebSphere Portal actually has had a number of SOA features for quite a while. For instance, the ability to aggregate components of applications into a single view is a fundamental portal capability. Also, most of the features delivered with WebSphere Portal, such as collaboration, search, document repository, etc., are delivered as IT services that can be used to add value to composite applications deployed via the portal. IBM was also one of the leading portal solutions to deliver the ability to consume and publish Web Services via the WSRP [Web Services for Remote Portlets/Portals] standard. More recently, we have provided orchestrated workflow functions so business processes can be dynamically surfaced to portal users for faster and more accurate execution.

David:

If I am a WebSphere Portal customer and looking to get started with SOA, what are my first steps?

Chris:

People wanting more detail than I've been able to provide here could read an executive brief or watch a webcast on getting started with SOA. We also have the new online IBM SOA Self Assessment that can help you take stock of where you are and where you would like to go. [Links to these are included at the end of this interview.]

David:

How does all of this relate to Domino and Notes. What's the tie in?

Chris:

Well, many of our customers have deployed hundreds or thousands of critical applications on their IBM Lotus Domino platforms. They want to leverage their investment by making components of those applications available as services for new users or new business processes. By using the integration and presentation services of WebSphere Portal, they can do that easily. Portal users can interact with portions of Lotus Domino applications that are delivered dynamically to the user's browser. Also those services can be integrated at the glass with services from other backend applications.

David:

Are you finding that customers are taking advantage of IBM WebSphere Portal to enable their SOA strategy?

Chris:

Yes, many of our customers are using WebSphere Portal as the first step in their SOA projects, usually because they can demonstrate some quick results and return on investment. Once they get a portal project completed for a specific community of users, they then expand to new communities or expand with deeper integration of other business services.

David:

Why would an organization have an SOA strategy? What can SOA do that other approaches can't?