Over the last couple of weeks I was putting together a presentation
for a workshop on Divergent Technologies
. This raised some interesting questions around the use of Web 2.0 technologies, the deployment of a service oriented architecture and the differences the adoption of SOA makes. This is especially evident when looking at the portal diagrams, the move to SOA will introduce a significant level of abstraction.
The point of this post, particularly as a follow on to the Future of Web Apps thoughts, is having considered what the Web 2.0 approach could do for re-thinking portal architectures, what can the portal do for Web 2.0. This may also take us further along with thoughts as to what the next generation portals could and should be like. The Web 2.0 and portals slide
from the presentation highlight a number of features where a portal can directly support Web 2.0 or is already attempting to achieve the same, or similar, things. These features are taken from the original O'Reilly paper on Web 2.0
The first two, Web as the platform and you control your own data, are key drivers for the development of institutional portals. We want individuals, whether staff or students, to be given the opportunity to self-provision, maintaining their own data, using the common platform of the Web and spanning any browser/operating system combination (within reason). This can also be extended as better more flexible service based systems are developed to allow individuals, groups, and more formal organisational units to, for example, store and share information, using the portal as both an interface for storage and a means of dissemination amongst those interested in or allowed to view the information.
I think this also seeps into the concept of an 'architecture of participation', allowing users, as they require or would like, to participate in any number of online communities, bringing together those with a similar interest as well as providing collaborative spaces for those who already knew they had a shared interest.
Cost effective scalability has in the past and continues to be proven by the large number of people using open source software for running portals. We have used uPortal
for sometime and have found it to provide the degree of flexibility and stability required to run live services for a significant number of users.
The final point, services not packages, is reflected across all the IT sector in the previously mentioned service oriented architectures which I'll come back to at a later date. Having had an epiphany some years ago around Web Services and the potential of SOA, I feel there is now real momentum behind the ideas that will result in 'real apps' for our users.