Portals – The Gateway to an Organization’s Soul

SAP NetWeaver Portal has seen tremendous adoption over the past year. Thanks to our close collaboration with customers and partners, SAP receives lot of valuable information about the variety of demands in the area of user productivity tools – especially regarding portals. More and more customers implement sophisticated intranets or extranets to provide their users with central and harmonized access to personalized information, services, applications, reports, social information and much more – all in the context of real business processes. One of the largest, most sophisticated and demanding customer of the SAP NetWeaver Portal is SAP itself, with large scale deployments both as an intranet for SAP employees, and as an extranet for SAP’s worldwide partner community.

We see a clear demand for intuitive tools that enable business users to easily create content and collaborate with other experts. SAP puts a strong focus on these users from lines of business who need to react instantly to changing business needs, share knowledge, and quickly make informed decisions. Ultimately, smart self-services can dramatically improve our customers’ productivity and efficiency, and enable their IT departments to simultaneously free up resources and focus on innovations.

In addition, we also see various requirements in the area of total cost of ownership (TCO) reduction, governance tools, and best practices for managing the entire intranet. Administrators need to provide a harmonized, reliable infrastructure at a low cost. And customers with multiple SAP back-end systems value the unique native ability of the SAP NetWeaver Portal to provide a single, integrated point of access to these systems.

SAP is addressing these needs with a broad portfolio of innovative solutions, such as the new release of SAP NetWeaver 7.3 including Portal, Web Page Composer, Wikis, as well as Enterprise Workspaces and SAP StreamWork.

Collaboration and Web 2.0

Collaboration plays a very important role at SAP – in all its dimensions. On a global level, we want to support enterprises of all sizes to collaborate better with partners and suppliers in their worldwide business networks. In addition, SAP also focuses on individual business users who need to discuss and jointly analyze information with other experts in order to make good decisions – – and all in the context of concrete business processes and activities. And within organizations where broadly distributed people work across countries, having a central access point to up-to-date information is especially important.

Web 2.0 and Internet trends also have a big impact on the expectations of business users in terms of usability of SAP’s business applications. For example, with the new Enterprise Workspaces, users can easily add live content to their workspaces, using content from their SAP NetWeaver Portal, the SAP Business Suite, as well as any source on the web. Users can then share these workspaces with colleagues to facilitate live collaboration. In addition to Enterprise Workspaces, the SAP NetWeaver Portal provides a full range of collaboration services for increasing the productivity of teams, including: Wikis, Forums, and the new SAP StreamWork offering.

Integrating Communication

SAP NetWeaver Portal serves as the central integration point for applications, services and information, both SAP and non-SAP, taking advantage of such services as Authentication, Authorization, Session Management, Personalization, Translation, Branding, Navigation, Search aggregation, and backend system (data) access. Given the wide range of services the portal provides, it’s a natural place for serving not just the traditional PC web consumers, but also emerging consumption channels like tablets or smartphones. SAP is well positioned to provide a comprehensive solution for organizations seeking a mobility solution, together with project Gateway-enabling technology, and with the Sybase end-to-end mobile platform.

Selecting the Standards

When building up a new enterprise portal, people should of course check the latest industry-leading open standards since they address the general needs of the market. SAP is actively contributing to various groups and committees for driving standards, such as in the areas of security, interoperability, or application servers.

SAP continuously evaluates the latest technology trends, supporting a range of new standards, including: Rich Internet Applications (Adobe Flash, Microsoft Silverlight, HTML5), Ajax technology, WSRP, OpenSocial, Java EE5, and JSR 168/268 portlets. And to support our customers during the implementation phase, SAP Consulting has broad experience and best practices.

Significant Enhancements with SAP NetWeaver 7.3

We recently launched the ramp-up of SAP NetWeaver 7.3 with several exciting customer projects. We’re already seeing huge demand in the market for the new Portal capabilities that come with SAP NetWeaver 7.3. General availability is planned for Q2/2011, and the key capabilities customers can look forward to are:

Unified Access

  • Administration Environment: Simplified portal content creation and maintenance via intuitive wizards; reduced costs for operations and administration (via SAP NetWeaver Administrator); advanced caching and memory consumption capabilities
  • Ajax Framework: New state-of-the-art default Ajax framework page and flexible APIs for easy configuration or pixel-perfect customization of the portal’s look and feel
  • Portal Landscape & Interoperability: Extended integration capabilities for SAP and non-SAP content; improved content sharing capabilities between SAP NetWeaver Portals

Content Management

  • Web Page Composer: Intuitive run time authoring environment for content editors of portal pages, including time-based publication, approval workflow, and interactive (mashup) pages
  • Knowledge Management: various improvements such as archiving, multiple upload, Hot Configurable Components, ACL indexing, and TCO improvements

Collaboration & Self-Service Enablement

  • Wikis: Easily share and contribute knowledge; includes advanced capabilities for permissions, search and tagging, branding, approval processes, and versioning
  • Forums: Allows people to share knowledge and discuss information in threads; it includes support for permissions, approval, and user control
  • SAP StreamWork: Available on-demand, SAP StreamWork offers a new, collaborative decision-making solution that brings together people, information, and proven business approaches to drive fast, meaningful results As we look to the future of the SAP NetWeaver Portal, we are exploring ways to make users more productive and to make teams more productive. We are testing new ways to integrate SAP Business Suite content, analytics from SAP BusinessObjects, unstructured content management and social interaction, aiming to new possibilities for enriching business processes and for empowering the people who participate in these processes.

*Source Note: This blog was adapted from a German-language article which originally appeared in the February 2011 edition of IT Director Magazine.