Straight talk on portals I: Is the term “Portal” meaningless by now?

November 9, 2006 at 12:14 pm | Posted in portals | 1 Comment

I rarely encounter a technology that polarized so many intelligent people as enterprise portals.  Many people I have encountered over the years have scoffed at the word “portal”, saying it meant anything and everything, and treated its adherants as cultists.  When they would hear I covered portals I would be assumed to be a cultist as well.

So does the term “portal” mean anything?  Terms are a shortcut to understanding.  And when I use the term “portal” (specifically Enterprise Portal Framework), I am attempting to convey a great deal of information in a word.  After hundreds of portal conversations over 5 years I gained a lot of information that can be useful to people doing a project like the ones I had learned about.  I can tell you the license cost would be, for example, $35-50 per seat for a standard 5,000-10,000 user installation with about 1.5x-3.0x license costs for integration services.  I can tell you standard implementation time is about 9 months.  I can provide packets of public articles on how portals are used in different industries, and case studies to show what the ROI was likely to be.  If you are doing an “Enterprise Portal Framework” project, there are several software packages that can help and provide a lot of value and I can tell you all about their strengths and weaknesses.  I can provide best practices, a six step planning process, and more.  As long as we can verify that we mean the same thing by “portal”.

The word “portal” defines a class of websites.  This class has a set of characteristics that include pricing, implementation time, technologies, products, case studies, best practices (for planning, implementation, governance), and features.  Portal is just a word – we could make up a word or string of syllables too as long as it helps group a set of similar projects.  Knowing whether a particular project fits into this class is important to determine if the attributes of that class can be applied, thus yielding useful guidance. 

 I realize I haven’t addressed the related question “how do you define portal?”.  If you haven’t read my definitions from Meta Group, KnowledgeForward, or Burton Group and would find it useful, please let me know and I will put that in a future posting.


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  1. […] #1 capability of SharePoint. If they're going to get away from the "portal" word which is increasingly watered down then this is a good choice. Composite applications encompasses portals, but also other important […]

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