Friday, June 18, 2010

Mobile Portal – Overview, Architecture and Development

Samuel Sharaf, Solution Director, West Coast

This is a three part blog series on IBM Mobile Portal Accelerator. The blog series is targeted toward architects and engineers who are looking to get an overview of the Mobile Portal accelerator offering and want to get a simplified understanding of how they can architect and develop Mobile Portal solutions.

Mobile Portal Overview
We live in a world where the usage of Mobile applications is growing exponentially. People need access to information and services wherever they are using whatever devices they have. This can include someone using an iPhone at an Internet café, a BlackBerry at the airport, or a Droid to find the nearest restaurant while on a business trip. The possibilities are almost limitless.

IBM being a key player in the middleware market realized this upward mobility trend and started offering IBM WebSphere Everyplace Mobile Portal framework for developing mobile-enabled applications. This framework evolved in the last few years to support development of Mobile applications for a broad range of mobile devices and providing customized mobile access to Portal solutions. This framework solution is now offered as IBM Portal Accelerator and works in conjunction with the IBM WebSphere Portal software offering. In part 2 of this blog series we will go into details of the overall architecture.

In this part we will focus on the key capabilities and functionalities of the IBM Mobile Portal accelerator framework. So what’s a simple definition of Mobile Portal Accelerator? Put simply, Mobile Portal Accelerator, as an extension of WebSphere Portal, provides a delivery platform that supports aggregation of content and services from both internal and outsourced providers. Architecturally, it provides a framework that can be used to create device independent Portlet applications (XDIME Portlets).

Portal Accelerator provides supports for building XDIME Portlets which stands for xHTML device independent markup extensions, and is a device independent language.

So one can argue that there are other XDIME based frameworks available for designing and developing Mobile enabled Portlets and what value does IBM Mobile Portal accelerator provide? I believe the key benefit is that the Mobile Portal accelerator runs on top of a robust WebSphere Portal middleware platform which provides security (single sign-on), customization, personalization, navigation etc. out of box along with scalability and performance.

In summary, using Mobile Portal Accelerator, you can provide Web Content, services and applications to mobile devices while maintaining the benefits and advantages of a Portal Website; these benefits include:
  • Multi device support (per IBM, it supports 6000 devices)

  • Creation of content using device independent markup to create mobile applications

  • Separation of logic, layout and branding

  • Delivery of new network services, applications and content quickly

In the next part of this blog series, we will go into the discussion of technical architecture of Mobile Accelerator and what key components the framework offers and how they all fit together with WebSphere Portal.

Stay tuned…

Samuel Sharaf is a Solution Director at Prolifics on the West coast with real world customer expertise with Portal implementations, Dashboard, Forms and Content Management. Sam also has expertise with migrating applications from non-IBM platforms to IBM WebSphere Application and Portal Servers.