IBM (IBM CM, FileNet), BEA (AquaLogic, WebLogic, Plumtree), Open Text (Livelink, Hummingbird, RedDot), Oracle (Portal, WebCenter) are among many vendors with overlapping product offerings. However, Oracle is the only one whose two offerings in Portal space (Oracle Portal, part of application server family and Oracle WebCenter of the Fusion middleware family) are not a result of an acquisition but are home grown. There are some components like YAWIKI (part of WebCenter) which have been acquired but the base products are still home grown.
So what do you do? Read my take on CMS Watch – A Tale of Two (Oracle) Portals. Here are some of the points that you might want to consider:
- WebCenter is targeted at organizations that want to build a site using a “J2EE” framework as opposed to a “Portal” framework. So you could use JSF and other J2EE technologies (Servlets etc) to build these. If you already have J2EE applications and want to go along the same path, you could go with WebCenter. I know a lot of customers who take this approach because they have defined standards for security, integration etc using J2EE.
- WebCenter focuses a lot on “Web 2.0” features and some of the key features planned are Discussions, Wikis, IM, VoIP, Team Spaces and Mashups – features that are not in the Portal product.
- Currently, WebCenter is just a first release whereas the Portal is quite matured. But going forward, Oracle has great plans for WebCenter, including an integration with Stellent that they recently acquired. However, there are overlaps between Stellent and Oracle’s features – like both of them have a Wiki. So one of them will have to go off. WebCenter will also integrate with Content DB (Oracle’s original CMS offering), Documentum, Sharepoint and some other repositories using JSR 170 adaptors. So content that is managed in these repositories can be combined with other WebCenter services to create much more powerful applications.
- It’ll be some time before WebCenter evolves. So if you don’t want to wait that long and you prefer a more portal like environment without too much need of Wikis, VoIP and so on, Oracle Portal will be a better choice.
- And finally, both WebCenter and Portal can expose each other – You can have JSR 168/WSRP portlets exposed within the WebCenter and WebCenter services exposed within the Portal using JSF Portlet bridge. So if you can afford both, Oracle would be more than happy :). Oracle Portal had a price advantage over others (IBM, BEA etc). But if you combine the cost of WebCenter with Portal and add other add ons (SSO, BPEL etc), I suspect cost advantage will no longer be there.