Princeton University is increasingly conducting its business and
communicating with its students, faculty, staff and alumni through the
Web. Based on this realization, the university is in the process of
developing a comprehensive strategy to improve and expand the
institution's use of the Web.
The Web strategy builds on a prior initiative called the Partnership
2000 Plan. This plan, initiated in 1997, was developed to address the
Y2K problem and migrate the administrative systems from the complex
mainframe environment to a three-tier, client/server model. Several
initiatives--financial reporting, receivables and human resources--have
been proposed as part of the plan. The next phase is Web-enabling these
In parallel, several other campus projects have moved forward with
their own Web portal implementations. These include a blackboard course
portal, an alumni portal and an Oracle portal. Other portal projects
are underway too, each with its own data, look-and-feel and security
models. As part of the Web strategy, the university is looking to unify
the portals into a single meta-portal with single sign-on capability.
The technology initiatives are aligning to drive Princeton in a
technological direction that is consistent with the one envisioned by
the SunTM Open Net Environment (Sun ONE) architecture for higher
This case study illustrates the forces that are shaping Princeton's
mission in the 21st century. The case study then illustrates how the
Web strategy is being molded to support the mission. Translating the
Web strategy into a robust portal architecture is the natural next
step. This sets the university on a migration path where a Services on
Demand architecture will be the foundation for creating value.
The role of the various building blocks of the Sun ONE architecture in
making the emerging portal architecture a reality is also presented in
the case study.
In Princeton's current environment, resources are scattered and
students and others need to visit multiple Web sites to locate the
information they require. To deliver integrated access to these
different constituents, a series of institutional portals are being
implemented to remedy the existing fragmentation of user experience.
Princeton is moving toward one central meta portal that would provide
easy access to all key information, including course materials, student
records and financial information.
Princeton has chosen uPortal, a free, sharable university portal based
on JavaTM technology and developed by the Java in Administration
Special Interest Group (JA-SIG). The rationale for uPortal is open
architecture, no vendor lock-in, no purchased code and specifications
that ensure scalability, platform independence and open standards. It
is based on a publish-and-subscribe model in which users both provide
and consume content of interest to the community and themselves.
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