Sunday, October 12, 2014

WebCenter Portal Strategy & Vision: Part 1

I was one of the happy few to visit the Oracle Open World 2014 edition.
On Sunday we attended the WebCenter Portal and WebCenter Content Customer Advisory Board (CAB) at which we were introduced to some exiting new features that we were not allowed to publish anything on.
Fortunately we got to see some announcements officially and without a Non Disclosure Agreement which basically means we can blog / tweet about it.
This will be the first post in a number of posts regarding the general direction Oracle has set out for the WebCenter products.

Before we start, we have to tell you that, as thiese posts are based on the ideas that Oracle has on the subjects they may decide to not implement some of these ideas. Ah well, probably everyone has seen the safe harbor statements from Oracle basically telling you not to make and (puchase) decision based on this information.

So here goes!

We see a slight shift in the way our WebCenter Portal users do business and what they expect of the portal. As more and more people use mobile devices (it's a challenge at OOW to find someone without one) our users want the same experience of the portal on their mobile as if they were at the office using a desktop computer. With that same experience they also want the same functionality. So all actions like creating content or editing pages need to be available on a mobile device as well.

Social aspects get more important every day. We all want to share our experiences we have during our day to day interactions. Enabling social on our sites is one part. Another part is responding to the social media. Being social increases business.

The third important trend is Cloud. Cloud enables you to quickly adopt change.
Not only by adopting new features in a timely manner (I know Oracle customers that are on version of WebCenter Portal) but also implementing business needs as soon as they emerge.

To act on these shifts, Oracle makes key investments in four key areas:
  1. Innovations in core functionality in all pillars (Portal, Content, Sites and Business Process Modeling (BPM)
  2. Innovations in cross-product integrations
  3. Innovations in Line of Business Solutions and Solution composition
  4. Innovation in Cloud services
This first part will cover area one: innovations in the pillar called WebCenter Portal

As you can see in the image below, the innovations in Portal are divided in four parts

  • Next Generation Portal
  • Mobility Support
  • Business Ease Of Use
  • Deploy Anywhere

Next Generation Portal
In the release Oracle has improved the composer functionality enormously. They intend to go even further, enabling the business use to perform page editing actions with more ease. Less need for EL expressions and the possibility to create visualizations of data that is exposed by the IT department in the form of REST Data Objects.
The way to add content onto a page has been simplified as well with the arrival of the Lightweight Content Contribution. This enables you to quickly add content without the need of WebCenter Content, classifications etc. The content is stored in a database table and can be edited with a WYSIWYG editor.

With the arrival of the Reusable User Interface (RUI) of WebCenter Content (WCC), the integration of the two becomes tighter. Parts (task flows) of the WCC user interface can be incorporated in the portal making content editing easier as the functionality is the same as in WCC but can be combined with other content through the portal.
Another focus is on the tighter integration of BPM, Business Intelligence (BI) and other Oracle products like Apps.

It's been a challenge to perform life cycle management on Portal assets. In WebCenter Portal 12c Oracle simplifies life cycle management with a user interface to export / import Portal assets including their dependencies. Even the entire portal can be exported / imported with a push on a button (after checking some check boxes :)
An extended sandbox functionality is put in place enabling workflows for the approval of a simple piece of content,  page or a set of pages. As long as the changes are not approved, the change is only visible in the sandbox.

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