A Head Start for Content and Portals

Content management and portal vendors don't need to add Web services capabilities to their wares.

Content management and portal vendors dont need to add Web services capabilities to their wares; these capabilities have always been there, even if they havent been called Web services by name.

After all, portals are essentially centralized Web interfaces made up of many different services pulling data from multiple internal and external sources. And portals have always made it possible to deliver portlets (essentially portal-based Web services) to other portals and Web pages.

Likewise, content management systems work by breaking down all the elements of a dynamic Web site into small, manageable applications or services. For example, on a news site, there might be a Web service for ad management, a Web service for breaking news and a Web service for related content.

In addition, content management systems now make it easy to syndicate a sites content in and out to other Web sites—a Web service for sharing content.

So its no wonder that portals and content management systems are far ahead of most other product areas when it comes to Web services evolution. In fact, several standards designed around the display and delivery of Web services have been backed by portal and content management vendors.

Still, while these vendors often have a leg up when it comes to Web services, not all are created equal. Businesses looking for good Web services integration in a portal or content management system should pay special attention to the underlying architecture of the application.

Products such as Epicentric Inc.s Foundation Server and Divine Inc.s Content Server that are based heavily on XML and other open standards will tend to be easily integrated with Web services. Conversely, products that make heavy use of proprietary code will tend to require a lot more development heavy lifting to work with Web services.

Businesses that already have portal and content management systems in place should look for ways that Web services can extend their implementations.

For example, an inventory portlet running as a dedicated application could be converted to a Web service; this would make the application easier to deploy and more easily deployable to different devices and audiences.

And from a content management standpoint, Web services could be used to make a Web sites content areas more easily integrated by other sites.

Among the Web services standards that have been proposed or backed by portal and content management vendors are WSIA (Web Services for Interactive Applications) and WSRP (Web Services for Remote Portals).

The main goal of WSIA is to build a component framework for interactive Web applications, essentially making it easier to integrate applications between Web sites and portals. WSRPs focus is to make it easy to deploy essentially plug-and-play Web services into portals and Web sites.

Portal and content management vendors backing these standards include Divine Inc., Epicentric Inc., Computer Associates International Inc., Documentum Inc., Plumtree Software Inc., IBM and SAP AG.