Practical Tips & Considerations Regarding the Liferay Portal Platform

There are many choices when it comes to selecting an enterprise portal or Web platform. The proliferation of Rich Internet Applications (RIAs) and occasionally connected endpoint devices such as mobile phones and tablets, is making the right platform choice more and more critical. This post ask two critical questions about portal platforms, and provides practical tips and considerations as well as features and functionality of the Liferay Portal Platform.

1. Is the platform standards based, and if so, to what degree are the standards supported?

The portal platform you select should be based on modern technology standards, rather than proprietary technology. There are several reasons this is important:

Resources. Finding resources with experience on standards-based technology is typically easier than finding resources for a vendor solution requiring a high degree of proprietary domain knowledge to implement.

Interoperability. Standards provide higher levels of interoperability. This is especially important for portal platforms that integrate numerous technologies.

Portal “life span”. A solution based on standards has a higher chance of outliving the technology platform it is based on. It is not uncommon for proprietary technology platforms to fall by the wayside over the years. If the solution is based on standards technology there is more potential to move to another vendor platform while retaining the underlying code base.

Here are some important technology standards to consider when making your selection:

– JSR 168, JSR 286 – Java portlet standard
– JSR-170 – Java Content Repository
– JSR 127, JSF 314 – Java Server Faces
– OpenSearch – Open Search
– WebDAV – Web-based Distributed Authoring and Versioning
– LDAP, Open ID – Lightweight
– JAAS – Java Authentication and Authorization Service

If a standards-based platform is right for your organization, rest assured the Liferay portal platform supports all of the above.

2. How well does the platform integrate with identity management systems?

The foundations for providing secure access to information and rich personalized experiences are based on authentication and permissions. Most organizations have existing personnel databases and related authentication mechanisms already in place. And two-factor authentication is very common in the financial sector. The portal platform must be able to integrate with these authentication environments. Some common identity management platforms that are supported by Liferay Enterprise Portal inlcude:

– LDAP Authentication and Synchronization
– Oracle Access Manager
– CA SiteMinder
– Novell Identity Manager
– Sun Identify Manager/Open SSO
– Tivoli

Tying any of the above identity management systems into Liferay is matter of configuration rather than programming. If you have a non-standard identity management system, understanding the portal platform security architecture will be necessary. In the case of Liferay, there is a straightforward mechanism available for hooking into external authentication systems in a “shim-like” fashion.

Stay tuned for our next post on the importance of the support of fine-grained permissions.

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