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University of Canberra


									University of Canberra

 Web Portals and Integration
 Issues at the Enterprise Level

              presented by : Bob Thompson

 22/05/2001               University of Canberra
Portal n., a door, a gate, or entrance, esp one
of imposing appearance as in a palace [ME
portale, from L porta gate].
This definition has been extended by common
usage to include a similar concept in the virtual
world as a doorway to information, processes
and knowledge-based systems.
This presentation will restrict discussion to
web portals that give access to enterprise-level
supported services at universities.
 22/05/2001       University of Canberra
              Web Portal Scope
Before one can develop an enterprise-level
web portal, a clear vision is needed of exactly
what services beyond the gateway at the
enterprise level will be needed by users.
Who are the target users that will be allowed
to pass through the portal?
What security checks need to be passed to
enter the portal?
How many portals are needed?
 22/05/2001        University of Canberra
      Web Portal Goals at UC
To enhance the communication between the
students and the University.
To enhance the delivery of the various
teaching and learning programs.
To enhance the various clerical processes
needed to administer such programs.
On-line teaching and administration support is
seen as primary functions of UC portals.
The currently deployed portals have delivered
on these basic design objectives.
22/05/2001       University of Canberra
   Current Production Portals
Two production portals currently exist at UC.
The student web portal has been in use since
Semester 1/1999.
The latest staff web portal has been in use
since Semester 1/2000 (it replaced an earlier
web portal that was functionally very limited).
This presentation will address some issues that
needed to be dealt with to deliver this
successful outcome.
22/05/2001       University of Canberra
               Typical UC Logon
Typical UC web portal logon screen

  22/05/2001               University of Canberra
       Functions Programmed

The functions available via a UC portal are
designed to match the authorised user-class.
Some functionality exists that uses common
code between the web portals.
The conference paper documents a broad
range of enterprise-level functions and
services available via the UC web portals.
UC web portals are much more than a
doorway to Student Records information.
22/05/2001      University of Canberra
         Design Considerations
A number of high-level decisions need to be
made regarding how the web portal is
designed, built, deployed and managed.
Generic web portals versus customised portals.
Out-sourcing versus in-house development.
Enterprise application integration aspects are
particularly critical.
Design policy decisions need to be enunciated.
 22/05/2001      University of Canberra
              UC Design Decisions
Web portals were to be built in-house.
Portals needed to hide back-end complexity.
Encryption was mandatory.
Existing data and processes to be exploited.
Existing LDAP services to be used.
Under-served clients were to be recognised.
Its operation needed to be intuitive.
 22/05/2001          University of Canberra
             Development Staff
A paradigm shift taken in forming the team.
System Software Programmers given full
architectural responsibility for the design.
They practised a needed step-wise-refinement
integration development methodology.
They had experience and knowledge of
Internet&web protocols, databases, multi-
tasking and distributed processing.
Application programmers supplied knowledge
regarding existing application systems.
22/05/2001         University of Canberra
         Implementation Issues
Desirable web portal development language
Development languages used at UC include
ColdFusion, PHP, Perl, Java and Java Script.
Security, privacy and 128-bit encryption.
Under-served community considerations.
 Functionality, responsiveness and cost versus
22/05/2001       University of Canberra
 Implementation Issues (cont)
The single sign-on issue.
Collecting and maintaining authentication and
authorisation information.
Automatic configuration of web portal
functionality from corporate data.
Web portals as a legacy system integration and
complexity hiding mechanism.

 22/05/2001      University of Canberra
              Hiding Complexity
Integration complexity at UC - typical of most universities

 22/05/2001                 University of Canberra
              Management Issues
Business strategy alignment ie conducting
business on-line.
Executive and Senior Management support.
Alignment with budgets.
Legislative constraints eg privacy, security of
transactions, freedom of information,
copyright, restrictions on information transfer.
Policy and structural changes needed.
 22/05/2001         University of Canberra
       Support for IT Services
Ensuring adequate network and server
infrastructure to responsively support the load
generated by portal clients.
Re-engineering clerical-staff tasks to now
support on-line functions rather than more
traditional paper-based activities.
Training and IT support minimised due to the
use of familiar web browser technology at the
client end.
22/05/2001       University of Canberra
             Other Considerations
Complementary web portal support via
ditributed network background tasks (includes
early registration of new staff and students).
Registering non-core staff and students without
any unnecessary delays.
Web portals and pilots.

22/05/2001          University of Canberra
         Problems Encountered
Locking problems between system tasks.
Unexpected delays programmed into legacy
Problems caused by moving to 24x7 access.
Bugs in software used by the developers.
Deficiencies in existing systems.
Unexpected clerical loads.
A number of issues are still unresolved - see
conference paper for details.
 22/05/2001      University of Canberra
              Future Directions
The University is actively enhancing the staff
web portal to give access to more financial
Further portal enhancements to support on-line
teaching programs are planned.
The staff web portal is being extended to
reduce clerical effort in managing casual staff.
Will we continue with in-house web portal
developments? A definite yes!

 22/05/2001         University of Canberra
The University of Canberra has shown due
diligence in the construction of its web portals.
The author believes that any failure to
intelligently manage the issues noted during
today’s presentation would result in a web
portal that would be sub-optimal at best. In
the extreme case, a failure to address these
issues would result in a portal that would be
seen as a substantial liability to the institution,
rather than the intended asset.
 22/05/2001        University of Canberra
University of Canberra

Thank you for your attention.

    Are there any questions?
              Bob Thompson

 22/05/2001        University of Canberra

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