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With the sun setting on the Novell exteNd Portal platform (support ending in 2009), enterprise users are looking for compelling portal alternatives with long-term viability.

Liferay Portal is a mature open source portal with a growing community of Novell users and invested compatibility with Novell technologies. Using Novell SUSE Linux 10, Apache Geronimo Application Server 1.1 and Liferay Portal, a full open source stack can be deployed that works with your existing technology, whatever it may be. (see figure 1.)

In fact, with more than 700 deployment configurations, Liferay is the only open source portal compatible with all major application servers, databases and operating systems including:

  • Application Servers: Apache Geronimo, BEA WebLogic, Borland ES, IBM Websphere, JBoss, JOnAS, Oracle AS, Pramati, Sun JSAS, and more
  • Servlet Containers: Jetty, Tomcat, Resin
  • Databases: IBM DB2, Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL, Oracle, and more
  • Operating Systems: Linux (Novell, Fedora), BSD (FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD), Solaris, Mac OS X and Windows.

> Keep Your Existing Novell Investment
Liferay Portal also offers deep integration with your existing Novell investment in partnership with TriVir, a team of seasoned Novell alumni:

  • Out-of-the-box integration with eDirectory: PasswordSmith is the first eDirectory Universal Password-enabled JSR-168 portlet written to leverage password policies and Universal Password from eDirectory. With Liferay's new Plug-In Manager, you can deploy PasswordSmith live into an existing running portal environment.
  • Native integration with Novell ID Manager: Provides integration with Liferay via the Liferay Web services interface including: user registration (form-based account creation with optional e-mail verification and CAPTCHA verification during registration), password recovery and management, and account management (updates user information).
  • Liferay running behind Access Manager 3.0: This allows Liferay to consume an HTTP Basic Authentication Header. Novell Access Manager 3.0 sends a basic auth header to Liferay upon user login for an elegant, maintainable single sign-on solution. Access Manager 3.0 also comes with a J2EE security agent for a number of popular application servers.
  • LDAP Dredging Feature
  • Citrix Application Launch-Item Interface: Stargate is a JSR-168 standard portlet that exposes Citrix-published applications for launching through Liferay. It delivers a seamless interface between users and applications with little or no user configuration on the client side.
 

> Novell exteNd to Liferay Portal:
One Novell Shop's Story

With US$1.9 billion budgeted for 2007, The Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) is the second largest agency in the Colorado State Government overseeing all 64 county departments of the state's social/human services system as well as third-party service providers.

"With all our disparate user groups, our portal provides secure, easy access to core applications no matter where they were," said Stephen Swanson, Chief Technology Officer at CDHS. As its experience with Novell exteNd has been a positive one, news of its eventual phase-out brought up tangible disappointment. "The news raised concerns about the longevity of our portal solution and we knew we needed a replacement for exteNd that would last."

Hence, CDHS looked to open source.

During three months, CDHS partner, Dynamics Research Corporation, ran side by side tests of Liferay, Jetspeed, Jahia and GridSphere against its existing environment. "Liferay clearly performed the best and was the most customizable," said Swanson who also cited other key criteria, including:

  • easy integration with the existing Novell eDirectory and iChain environments
  • support for custom themes, layouts and portlets
  • a truly open source product with easy to read, well-documented code
  • the ability to natively support access to remote resources
  • a motivated support community

Liferay Portal is a mature open source portal with a growing community of Novell users and invested compatibility with Novell technologies.

> Success with Liferay Portal
Today, CDHS is rolling its Liferay portal solution out to its 7,000+ users of varying profiles. It highlights Liferay's flexible design/architecture and ease of development and customization, which allowed for expansion upon an impressive list of extensions. In particular, CDHS highlights the User Provisioning and Login functions:

User Provisioning portlet: Leverages Liferay Portal's fine-grained permissioning system and allows administrators to assign access to communities, layouts and portlets from a single screen. Information is saved to both Liferay and LDAP allowing for easy management of 400+ eDirectory groups. (see figure 2.)

Custom login module: Imports LDAP group information for first-time logins and passes that information to the Liferay database. Liferay Portal actually improved the organization's ability to leverage this existing architecture, speeding up the user login experience.

Custom Web service: Integrates with Novell Identity Manager 3 to support the synchronization of user/group memberships between eDirectory and Liferay.

Integration with Novell iChain: Allows user credentials to be passed to Liferay supporting single sign-on. When a user logs out of Liferay, the users is also logged out of iChain.

"In the past most of these changes would have had to wait for major application revisions," said Swanson; "however, with Liferay, we were able to make the desired changes as needed."

> Liferay Portal and the Value of Open Source
In development since 2000, Liferay Portal has one of the most mature and active communities in the open source portal market with more than 80 members, 50+ of which are active contributors—an impressive number compared to most open source projects with just a handful of people contributing to the code.

"This gave us a lot of confidence in the product," said Swanson, "A mature community provides us a built-in support organization of sorts to which we can turn to for help. At the end of the day, it means that the product will be sustained so we get dependability and longevity."

LIFERAY PORTAL FEATURES

ENTERPRISE ARCHITECTURE

  • Service Oriented Architecture (SOA)
    • ServiceMix enterprise service bus: Central connection manager allowing applications and services to be added quickly to an enterprise’s infrastructure.
    • Web Services support
  • Security: Industry standard, government-grade encryption technologies including advanced algorithms such as DES, MD5 and RSA. Liferay was benchmarked as among the most secure portal platforms using LogicLibrary's Logiscan suite.
  • Single Sign-On: Customizable with Yale CAS, JAAS, LDAP, Netegrity, Microsoft Exchange and more.
  • Multi-Tier, Limitless Clustering
  • High Availability: Hardware/Software Load Balancing, HTTP Failover, Session Replication,and Distributed Cache (using Lightweight Multicast Protocol).
  • Full-page caching for static content
  • Dynamic Virtual Hosting: Grants individual community members their own page with a user-defined friendly URL.
  • Support for Standards - J2EE, JSR-168, SOAP / WSRP / Web Services, JSR-170 and MyFaces.

EASE OF DEVELOPMENT

  • EJB Flexibility: Liferay is the only portal that allows you to choose an EJB or servlet-only environment.
  • jBPM Workflow Engine: Decoupling from the workflow engine to easily change it in the future.
  • CSS Compliance: All Liferay Portal pages are coded to CSS standards.
  • Fine-Grained Permissioning System: A reusable, extensible authorization architecture is used throughout the portal and is applicable to individual portlet elements such as edit and delete buttons, message board topics, portlets and users.
  • ServiceBuilder: Liferay’s exclusive tool helps developers get code ready for Web Services, Spring, and EJBs so they can focus on writing the business logic.

END USER EXPERIENCE

  • AJAX UI: Freeform portlet repositioning (WebOS) theme, drag-and-drop repositioning, dynamic portlet loader, a portlet stylizer that allows end users to customize colors, fonts and links without editing stylesheets or HTML.
  • Hot Deployable Theme Architecture: Deploys new portal GUIs that can be selected by end users without modifying core code.
  • WebDAV Support
  • Asynchronous Portlet Loading: Portlets load independently as they become ready reducing user wait time.


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