Pointer to article:
Oh…collaboration technology is hip again. We’ve swung back to the early 90s again, in terms of the IT industry giving a big whoop about all this. Funny that I had to cover all of this during a period when everybody else felt they knew all they needed to know about it. When Notes v. Exchange was the painfully repetitive, mind-numbing Coke v. Pepsi customer issue, year after year. Story of my life.
Interesting that the collaboration industry focus is now on portals as the primary platform: IBM and Microsoft both put their respective portals at the heart of their Web-facing collaboration product families. So does SAP (re NetWeaver’s Enterprise Portal, which includes various collaboration tools), now that I think of it.
This is a good and inevitable trend. The browser is the heart of all future collaboration environments, on the client side (or the enriched browser, or enriched-browser-embedded in the OS, a la “Longhorn” “Avalon”). The portal is the browser’s server-side counterpart in the presentation tier. Actually, some have suggested that the presentation tier be referred to as the [user] “interaction tier,” because that more fully suggests it role in facilitating two-way interactions between clients and server-side user-access/rendering/content-aggregation components (particularly, Web servers, portal servers, application servers, presentation servers, and terminal servers).
The browser as the single, all-purpose client for all collaboration environments. Boy do we need that! I’m sick and tired of having to have multiple clients (browser, e-mail/calendaring, IM, P2P, multimedia, VoIP, RSS newsreaders, workflow, SMS, etc.) up on my various clients in order to access various messaging, calendaring, conferencing, blogs, and other collaboration and content delivery services. If one of those clients could rise to the challenge of encompassing the rest, I’d be happier and more productive every single day.
It looks like the evolving browser is “it,” coupled to the evolving presentation server (the term “portal” is loose enough to encompass ongoing evolution on this end of the presentation-tier equation). However, it will take a while for the browser to become enriched enough (through “Avalon,” Flex, Nexaweb, Curl, or whatever technologies eventually take root on the client and in the infrastructure) to be able to displace all these previous clients.
And, of course, many people are quite comfortable with their multiplicity of collaboration/messaging clients. Depending on how soon the enriched browser comes to commercial maturity and ubiquity, the collaboration “client glut” may be with us for a long long time. I expect faster development on the server side of the equation, as WSRP enables greater federation among diverse portals, application servers, content management servers, and data repositories in serving/rendering richer content to today’s still-wimpy browsers.
As the article says, portals are the aggregation/rendering/personalization linchpin in all this. I want server-side components (presentation, business-logic, and data tiers) to collaborate amongst themselves in serving me with the world’s information, collaboration, and application riches.
Without fail. And at a lazy glance.