Secure, Unified Access with Enterprise Portals

By Vinay Kumar & Daniel Garcia

What is an enterprise portal? An enterprise portal can be defined as a secured single entry point to multiple applications. In other words, it is a framework for integrating information, people, and processes across organizational boundaries. Typically, enterprise portals display personalized applications and information aggregated from multiple back-end sources, all under a unified access point.

Portals may also serve as a collaboration environment for users, whether they are employees, team members, customers, or business partners.

The pillars of an enterprise portal (see Figure 1-1) include:

  • Single Sign-On: the portal provides Single Sign-On (SSO) capabilities for allowing the end users to access all the organizational information, processes, and collaboration tools only if the user is initially authenticated.
  • Integration: a portal is usually a framework that offers tools for integrating data and information from back-end services (e.g., REST, SOAP, and databases).
  • Federation: integration usually done via web service remote portlets (WSRPs).
  • Personalization: offers the content and the data personalized to the user who is logged into the enterprise portal based on the roles associated to the user.
  • Customization: users with appropriate privileges can customize the pages and components that they want to show or hide in their personal pages or dashboard.
  • Access Control: limits the access to the portal services based on the roles of a user.
  • Enterprise Search: advanced search capabilities for searching and displaying the content from multiple data sources.


Figure 1-1. Pillars of an Enterprise Portal.

Note: enterprise portals are also called web portals because the access to the presentation is made via web interface.

Typically, enterprise portals are used for two types of solutions:

  • Intranet portals: this type of portal offers employees or users within an organization a unique way to access to all the required information.
  • Extranet portals: these are transactional portals that integrate social capabilities and collaboration.

Let’s take a look at a comparison between an enterprise portal and a website. An enterprise portal can be easily confused with a regular website. However, an enterprise portal is much more than a simple website. A website usually refers to a collection of web pages, images, and videos addressed relative to a common URL. However, an enterprise portal is a gateway for accessing to secure information, content, and forums.

The following table shows some of the key differences between portals and websites.

The decision for going for a Website or for an Enterprise Portal depends on the requirements of the business.

Typically, enterprise portals have web content management functionalities for contributing and publishing web content like a Website. However, they are usually very limited and without any intelligence if it has to be compared to a marketing website solution.

The best solution is mixing them both:

  • Expose your web marketing assets through a website.
  • Only portal members can see their personal business data via an enterprise portal. 

About the Authors

Vinay Kumar is a Technology Evangelist. He has extensive experience of 8+ years in designing and implementing large-scale projects in Enterprise Technologies in various consulting and system-integration companies. His passion has helped him to achieve certifications in Oracle ADF, WebCenter Portal, and Java/JEE. He has good experience in Java, JEE, and in various technologies on OpenStack. Vinay has been contributing to the Java/Oracle ADF/WebCenter community by publishing technical articles at his personal blog. He was awarded Oracle ACE status in June 2014.

Daniel Merchán García works as an Oracle WebCenter expert at VASSIT UK Services LTD, part of the VASS Group. He is responsible for leading the technical architecture and development of the most complex components and functionalities to be added to WebCenter products. He also helps the Oracle community through OTN Community Forums, where he is always working to find solutions to complex questions and make it easier for the community to understand WebCenter and its use. Daniel maintains and sychronizes two blogs related to Oracle WebCenter, one in Spanish and one in English, providing content in both languages so as to have it shared widely around the world. 

This article is excerpted from Beginning Oracle WebCenter Portal 12c by Vinay Kumar & Daniel Garcia, ISBN 978-1-4842-2531-8.