Forces like shrinking margins, a continuously evolving competitive
situation and mega-retailers looming in the background have made
dinosaurs of the sluggish mainframe, client-server and proprietary
legacy environments retailers have been accustomed to rely on for
delivery of the near real-time information they need to survive and
thrive. In addition, in the face of markets expanding globally,
retailers need to provide 24x7 service to their increasingly
sophisticated and Web-savvy customers.
A promising answer to this pressing need is the business portal, which
can deliver numerous services to retail users: improved communications,
secure e-business transactions, even e-learning programs. The business
portal can become the interface between users and Web-centric services,
guaranteeing the confidentiality and incorruptibility of data,
delivering improved efficiencies to the retail supply chain, as well as
reduced operating costs even for growing concerns.
Yet another useful aspect of using business portals involves the use of
existing information such as data, applications, reports and
transactors (DART) that can create and deliver new online services in
short order. The DART model focuses on the particular community to
which a service is targeted, aggregating and presenting information
assets through the business portal.
Creating a business portal begins with the retailer's use of the
directory server to define the profiles, permissions and policies that
manage users. The Sun JavaTM System Portal Server (formerly SunTM
ONE Portal Server) was designed to deliver these benefits to businesses
of all types, offering an open and secure portal framework for
delivering information and services to multiple channels and audiences.
The Sun Java System Portal Server supports multiple application
servers -- such as BEA WebLogic, IBM and the SunTM ONE Web Server, for
applications that do not require all the functionality of an
application server but that can support millions of users -- employees,
partners, suppliers and customers -- a typical level of demand for
Because there is no client-side software to install and maintain with
the Sun Java System Portal Server, the portal can be securely accessed
from behind corporate firewalls, Internet kiosks, or corporate desktops
and mobile laptops. The solution includes as well support for multiple
authentication types, single sign-on, access control, policy
enforcement and SSL support, all of which reduces the complexity of user
administration by maintaining a unified identity profile.
A further benefit of the business portal is the use to which the
National Retail Federation (NRF) has put it in founding NRF University,
an online learning solution that integrates courseware and content to
provide a reliable communication medium with consistent baseline retail
training. NRF University makes a wide curriculum of training courses
available on the Web. Retailers in any location can use this system to
consistently train employees wherever they are.
This article was based on a presentation and the insights of Manish
Punjabi, Group Manager, NICP Vertical and OEM Marketing, Sun
Microsystems. The complete original article is at the URL below:
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