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I am trying to get some guidance on working solutions for corporate portal setups? What hardware and software were involved in such a setup?

Both proprietary and non-proprietary solutions would be useful.

If you have seen such a setup in use, how has it worked out? What were the advantages/disadvantages?

Background: My company operates in different locations and has hundreds to over a thousand users at some locations. It has both mobile and office workers.

To expand on my question, requirements are access to various applications the company hosts, updates/news sections to disseminate information, authentication API that other applications can utilize through possibly some kind of web service.

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8 Answers

A wiki with limited write access would work well. Limited in that only a few individuals across the organization/company would be able to update the main portal page, and then each team or sub-org could have people that maintain their section of the site. This would encourage collaboration and get involvement from more people, so they might actually care about what is on the main internal company page, rather than take what they're given and complain about it.

I worked on a medium sized system administration organization in IBM, and we used a Wiki based portal for accessing team documentation and putting together best practices. It was put into place four years ago when I was there and per a friend still there, is still used and liked across that organization. Other teams we worked with adopted similar solutions for their own use.

We deployed the original site on a Sun E450 with 2 CPUs, and about 1G memory. The site itself was running tikiwiki, which is a php based content management wiki package. These days I would look into a wiki package that is also a ticket management system, so users can open a ticket directly to fix problems with the portal. Redmine or Trac are great tools for this.

I should add that the site running on an E450 also hosted a wiki for another organization, and all told served content for grand total of about 300 users, spread across the USA. The type of hardware required is going to be dependent on the size of the organization and the amount of traffic, of course.

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I imagine that you have significant resources available at your disposal, so I'll dispense with the rsync/mysql-dump advice and go straight to "get a content delivery system". I know that Cisco makes one (you'll have to Google, I can't post links yet), and I'm assuming that since this will be in your intranet that akamai is out of the question.

You may be able to do it cheaper by using global server load balancing (GSLB) to point people to the "right" server, if you do decide to do the sync-and-distribute on your own.

If you're asking about actual front-end software, Drupal has been a very popular choice for portal/gateway/website/* because it's nearly infinitely flexible. Since it's essentially just PHP and MySQL, you could do it on the cheap with database replication and revision control.

I've never been a part of an organization that large, so I can't tell you firsthand, but I'll be paying attention to the rest of this thread. Cool question.

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I'd second the suggestion for a wiki with access-control. The two I'd recommend would be Atlassian's Confluence or MindTouch DekiWiki. DekiWiki has an open-source version if that is what you are looking for.

(Sorry, I can't add links but Google knows both )

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Might want to take a look at Websphere Portal.

http://www-01.ibm.com/software/websphere/portal/

Contact me if you have any questions.

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I will take a look, thank you. –  Laz Jul 18 '09 at 22:11
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When you say "Portal" do you mean "Remote application portal"? If so, have a look at SSL Explorer.

If you're brave, you might even have a look at Adito, the open source fork of the same product. I've actually gotten Adito to work, but it's a pain.

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Just to add to Sunny's suggestion of Websphere Portal. You could set up a test server for this on Amazon's EC2 for not too many dollars.

http://aws.amazon.com/ibm/

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This is relatively recent news, but Drupal Mavens have released Open Atrium: http://openatrium.com/

It looks pretty decently features, and sounds extensible.

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If you run Microsoft servers in your shop, you should look into SharePoint. It offers the portal functionality you are looking for, with the ability to create team sites for departmental / divisional portals in addition to your corporate portal. Hardware requirements are typical of web and database servers. My company has a large SharePoint installation, and is very happy with it. If you are interested in wiki capability, SharePoint offers that as well, with enhancements coming in the next version.

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