Open Source Portals Nipping on Heels of Commercial Alternatives?

September 3, 2009 at 4:02 pm | Posted in portals | Leave a comment

At JBoss World today in Chicago, JBoss announced GateIn:

eXo Platform, Inc. today committed its entire open source eXo stack to be certified on Red Hat`s newly introduced GateIn portal project and, by extension, Red Hat`s forthcoming JBoss Enterprise Portal Platform. With the eXo stack tightly integrated with GateIn, enterprise customers will be able to extend Red
Hat’s portal offering with advanced applications from eXo for document management, enterprise content management, or collaboration.

I spoke with Thomas Heute, Jason Andersen, and Benjamin Mestrallet at the conference this morning and was taken by how much their strategy addresses the gap I’ve been telling clients about for years between open source and commercial portal products.

In summary, open source portals (like JBoss portal or Liferay) have been good at what I call “web stitching”.  This is where you just want an implementation of the basic portal standards (JSR 168 and WSRP) so you can stitch together a bunch of portlets using a portal-like screen real estate metaphor. 

The commercial products have more advanced personalization, delegated administration, admin UIs for just about everything (usable by non-developers), drag and drop layout tools (for non-developers), portlets for enterprise applications, certified out-of-the-box integration into common infrastructure components, and integrated knowledge infrastructure components (e.g., discussion groups, document libraries, search) that can be used or swapped out as needed.  You can find a few of those things to some degree in the open source portal market, but you need a commercial product for the whole kit and caboodle.

This is where a picture helps.  Essentially, open source portals cover the bottom half of the “Burton Group Portal Flag” while commercial portals provide the whole thing.

Portal Quick start figure

What the Red Hat folks announced is a solid step towards closing that gap by providing a bundle of JBoss Portal with all that “front-end delivery” stuff on the top half of the flag such as collaboration, document management, drag and drop interface layout.

It’s good to see open source nipping at the heels of the commercial products to keep them running forward. 

Note: This is a cross-posting from the Collaboration and Content Strategies blog.

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