Tying Things Together—Portals
and Middleware
A distributed networked environment has many compo-
nents. There are emerging technologies that will help make
these components more usable as a whole. Increasingly,
end-user access to technologies and services is handled
using a World Wide Web browser. The institutional access
point to enterprise information or services has been the
home page. A home page can have links to other pages and
services, but the concept has many inherent limitations.
Home pages are typically passive (i.e., one has to actively
seek out and “go to” that page), and are designed to provide
a view of the institution that tries to meet the needs of all
possible viewers. What is needed is a vehicle that can be
personalized by each viewer, showing just the information
and services the individual viewer wishes to see on a regu-
lar basis. Additionally, that information should be available
in an active manner, as appropriate. For example, when it
is updated, the new information should be immediately
published to all subscribing viewers’ browser interfaces.
This active, personalizable interface is called a portal. Al-
though the portal concept is still undergoing full definition,
and tools for developing portals are either proprietary or
limited to only a specific vendor’s information or services,
it is increasingly accepted that the more useful portal
Chapter 6 Where the Rubber Meets the Road
169

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