Thursday, 2 May 2013

Article 1: My take on the current Portal Industry and various Job roles

In this article I will try to briefly sum up my experiences, so far, with the Portal and some of the confusions surrounding it.
Its a bigger topic and I might use some other posts to cover this. But here is a gentle introduction.

Around 5-6 years back when I started on my first Portal project the market was picking up and was a buzz with Portal solutions such as Liferay.
It was understandable because Portals allowed a company to make better websites and at the same time display aggregated content.
I don't see much difference even today except that the Portal market is growing and getting better each passing day. The only problem is
lack of support and good resources to meet the current market needs. So while Liferay has become stronger in all these years, thanks to
a ton of features and being open source, its not quite easy to find good resources who can help customize it for specific needs.

Having said that a Portal solution such as Liferay still makes so many things easy for a company. Consider the following advantages:

1. It comes with out of the box themes, layouts and portlets. Most of the requirements can be met by either using these out of the box
or customizing them.
2. Security features and especially roles and permissions are pretty well defined and are easy to use.
3. It makes creating a decent website quite easy to start with. You can be done in no time. Challenges come when some major customization and third party integration are needed.

I can devote a whole article to talk about the features. But lets focus on some of the other aspects.

Talking about the resources in my view there are a few confusions. When it comes to identifying the various Roles that are needed to support a Portal project.

What I feel is that recruiters are generally confused when they are looking for developers, administrators and architects.
Same is true for people who want to start playing around or working with Portal technology. The career path is not so clear.
I will cover this in another post.

Since I work in the Java domain primarily you might notice me talking about the related technologies.

In my opinion a Portlet or a Portal application developer should be someone who has good knowledge and experience in Java and Java Enterprise Edition
which includes Servlets and JSP's to start with. Having experience with a framework like Struts or Spring is an advantage. Next would be that the developer
should know the JSR 286 spec and be familiar with the Portlet technology. Like the life cycle and the differences between Portlet and Portal servers etc.

I will be covering these topics in more detail in subsequent articles.

Administrators are generally expected to manage Portal servers and perform admin related activities like integrating with CI tools, manage Portal
users, pages, deployments etc. There work can also be around integrating search engine tools like Solr, integration with Sonar / Jenkins etc.

Stay tuned for more on this topic.

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