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Berndt Hamboeck

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J2EE Journal: Article

Working with the Enterprise Portal

An Overview Part 1

Why Sybase Enterprise Portal?
Sybase offers a lot of tools for developers. You can choose among different databases to fit your needs, and Sybase also offers enterprise-development tools, mobile development tools, and enterprise-integration tools. These tools now come together and help you provide a high quality of service or products to clients at an affordable price. (Sybase Enterprise Portal gives both employees and customers fast, secure access to information, which leads to better service and better products.) As you will see in one of the next sections, Sybase Enterprise Porta l is built around these market-proven products (EAServer, ASE, ASA, and iAWS).

Sybase Enterprise Portal 5.0 enables users and developers to build portlets, the basic building blocks of a portal. Portlets usually display their contents in a small box in a portal framework. Similar to a window in a PC desktop, each portlet owns a portion of the browser (or screen of the device running the portal client - PDAs or mobile phones) where itdisplays results.

Portlets can be as simple as the meal plan at your company for next week or as complex as a complete shop system. This is really up to you. Using Sybase EP, you can develop such a portlet without programming. In addition, the product supports deployment to leading application servers and offers point-and-click portal maintenance with tools you might already know. You will develop a portlet later in this chapter.

Sybase Enterprise Portal (EP) Fields of Application
Feel free to use Sybase Enterprise Portal for every kind of (distributed) application you like. Because Sybase EAServer is included and most of the Sybase products are intended for use with their transaction server, you have a lot of options for how to use it. This list shows you what is available and might be of use to you or your company.

  • Portal Services - We demonstrate Sybase EP Portal Services, the heart of the portal, later in this chapter. If you want to dig deeper or have a need for content management, content workflow, dynamic publishing, advanced deployment options, categorization, personalization, and search and presentation services, you will be able to find these kinds of features, but they might not be directly in the box. For example, a content-management system is available as a separate add-on from Sybase.
  • Mobile and wireless extensions - Sybase iAnywhere Solutions has been very successful in the mobile business for several years. It offers a special version of EAServer, the iAnywhere Wireless Server, with a preinstalled framework that supports mobile devices. This mobile and wireless framework and its extensions include mobile Internet browsing by automatic device detection and other useful features, secure and reliable messaging, and a lot of other useful stuff. Ask for a test version of this wireless server. In addition, the acquisition of AvantGo in early 2003 will further expand the product line.
  • Enterprise-integration services - Sybase acquired New Era of Technology (NEN) in 2001, which pushed the company more in the direction of a tools vendor offering everything needed in the enterprise, including integration services. Sybase now helps you take full advantage of different legacy applications, data-management systems, and different messaging middleware tools such as JMS or MQSeries. These integration services can exchange key information between applications for event-based information integration. New e-business applications can be integrated with legacy systems to increase a company's return on investment or to bring a central point of view to your company. Note that this is available as a separate product suite. These products are not the cheapest, but it's worthwhile to evaluate them and invest the money if you like them.

    This tool package includes a business process flow engine called Adapters for packaged and legacy applications (ERP, CRM, CORBA applications, CICS transactions, stored procedures, and custom applications) supporting synchronous (request/reply) and asynchronous (publish/subscribe) interactions and adapters for LAN and mainframe databases that support synchronous and asynchronous interactions. It also includes an internal message bus and adapters to TIBCO/Rendezvous, MQSeries, and JMS, a graphical development and deployment tool for defining process flows and generating application server components. These components would be used to expose integrated data and business logic based on users' role-based access rights. There is a graphical tool for managing, maintaining, and monitoring the enterprise-integration services.

  • B2B extensions - Sybase offers a solution for business-to-business (B2B) extensions. These include the technologies needed to enable and automate B2B collaboration across organizations, including suppliers and partners, to provide a single point of access to multiple e-marketplaces. Sybase calls this solution eMarketLink. It has three main components: Composer, Server, and Server Manager. Process flows are designed using the Composer, the Server runs the process flow jobs, and the Manager provides a graphical environment to manage the entire environment. Again, these are products that Sybase got through the merger with NEN. They are also available as separate products.

EP's Features
Sybase EP is a very complex product. It's not as easy to get started with as PowerBuilder (and if you want to become a good PowerBuilder developer, this isn't easy). You should explore a lot of features after you have installed the complete product. Let's have a look at what's on your machine.

More Stories By Berndt Hamboeck

Berndt Hamboeck is a senior consultant for BHITCON (www.bhitcon.net). He's a CSI, SCAPC8, EASAC, SCJP2, and started his Sybase development using PB5. You can reach him under [email protected]

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