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Open Source for the Enterprise by Gautam Guliani, Dan Woods

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Portals

Two industry analysts at Merrill Lynch coined the term Enterprise Information Portal in November 1998 as “an amalgamation of software applications that consolidate, manage, analyze, and distribute information across and outside of an enterprise (including business intelligence, content management, data warehouse, and data management applications).”

We define portals more generally as web sites that collect, organize, and display large amounts of dynamic information in an organized manner. Portals are so named because they are considered gateways to the wide Internet, or to internal systems and applications, or both. In the late 1990s, for a brief time portals were considered the “next big thing” and were the subject of much hype and investment. Today portals such as Yahoo! News and MSN are quietly serving millions of users and easing their daily consumption of news and other information. Portal functionality is implemented as a collection of portal components (also known as portlets ). From a user interface perspective, portals are designed with two- or three-column layouts where a user can pick portlets to display and the column to display them in. In this way, portals help the user build a personalized home page.

In the enterprise context, portals are used to streamline communication between management and employees, foster collaboration among employees, and give employees personalized access to the information and applications they need to do their work. Portals are cost ...

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