Oracle WebCenter Suite - Giving Users a Modern Experience: Webcast Q&A

Following up on our live webcast last week Oracle WebCenter Suite - Giving Users a Modern Experience, we wanted to summarize the great Q&A session that was held.

Q: Do you recommend Oracle WebCenter Suite to existing customers as well as new customers?
A: Absolutely, Oracle WebCenter Suite is the most complete suite of social computing services along with high performance portal infrastructure to deliver multichannel portals, web sites, composite applications and social communities.  Leveraging our industry leading enterprise content management platform, WebCenter Suite provides everything customers need to change the way people work together individually, within groups, inside their organizations and across organizations.

Q: Will you please explain the relationship between Oracle Business Intelligence and Oracle WebCenter? How do they work together?
A: Oracle Business Intelligence has a set of pre-built task flows and dashboards that are certified to work directly with the Oracle Business Dictionary that WebCenter uses for all users to add items to their portal pages.  In addition, any custom components or custom dashboards are immediately available to WebCenter users that have permissions to see and access them.  The two products share the same development environment, JDeveloper, to build out custom business intelligence applications and components.  Finally, they both leverage common Fusion Middleware components for identity management, enterprise management, and more.

Q: Does the new release of Oracle WebCenter Suite include a new version of Oracle WebCenter Interaction?
A: No.  A new release of WebCenter Interaction will be available later this year, but customers should consider and evaluate the new features in WebCenter Suite, as they can be used directly with their existing WCI deployments and will be certified to work with the new release when it's available later this year.

Q: Are the prebuilt services, Task Flows and Portlets that are included in Oracle WebCenter Suite open source such that they can be modified as needed by developers?
A: Technically, they are not "open source".  However, all the task flows and portlets inside of WebCenter Suite leverage Oracle Metadata Services (MDS) that is used to manage all customizations of objects inside of Fusion Middleware and Fusion Applications.  Oracle MDS manages any changes made to the task flows as deltas on top of the original components.  In this way, changes are preserved across upgrades and patches that might come from Oracle.  Therefore, developers and business users can alter any of the task flows to meet their requirements directly without needing the source code.

Q: Where does Oracle Portal and the existing pieces of the Oracle Fusion Middleware architecture fit within the context of Oracle WebCenter Suite? Are there standardized adapters to Oracle Applications, Oracle Fusion Applications and others?
A: All Oracle Portal Pages & Portlets are certified and can be used directly inside of WebCenter.   All WebCenter components are certified and can be used directly inside of Oracle Portal.  WebCenter Suite's architecture directly leverages core components of the Fusion Middleware stack from WebLogic Server, through JDevelopr, Identity Management, and Enterprise Management.  Oracle WebCenter does not create it's own content repository as all other portal products on the market -- it directly leverages Oracle's industry leading Enterprise Content Management platform.  And with WebCenter's direct certification and integration with Oracle Applications, customers get a certified approach that goes well beyond just certifying portlets.  All of WebCenter's Business Mashup Tools are used to assemble new UIs from all of Oracle's Enterprise Applications along with any custom applications.  And Oracle WebCenter is the foundation for the modern user experience found in Oracle Fusion Applications.

Q: You mentioned that in the new release of Oracle WebCenter Suite that with the Oracle Application Development Framework (ADF) there was a 30% improvement over .NET. What criteria/measures were used to determine this?
A: We developed a large set of general portal and site building tests, then we leveraged Oracle's world class Usability Labs team to test each of these development use cases.  We enlisted experts and novices alike on both technology stacks to come up with the average improvement.

Q: Will Oracle WebCenter Spaces be engineered as a mature portal solution to be migrated to or will portals mostly have to be written or developed using the Oracle WebCenter framework?
A: Whether using Oracle WebCenter's Portal Framework to build a site or one chooses to use WebCenter Spaces, the page engine, the core services, the core management, the content system, and the portal resources are all the same.  The real conversation should be around the team's skillset that will be delivering the portal as all the resources and capabilities are exactly the same independent of which way a customer wants to deploy.  So if a customer has a majority of Java Developers and wants a highly tailored and optimized solution, then they should use the Portal Framework to deliver their site.  If the majority of the team members are technical business analysts, then it would be better to start in the browser and deliver their site/service.  Independent of the skills of the majority of the team members, the portal resources they build can be moved back and forth between the teams of users to deliver exactly the solution they require.

Q: For the release of Oracle WebCenter Suite 11g PS3 - what does the "PS" stand for?
A: PS = Patchset

Q: There is functionality called campaign management in Oracle WebLogic Portal. Does Oracle WebCenter Suite provide the campaign management kind of functionality?
A: The new release of WebCenter delivers a new server component called the WebCenter Personalization Server.  This builds on the core functionality that was in the WebLogic Portal Personalization engine that was at the heart of the campaign management functionality.  With the new tools used to model scenarios around delivering a personalized experience, all the components are provided in the new WebCenter to provide core campaign management.

Q: Does ADF replace the ALUI .Net Application Accelerator for .NET portlets?
A: Not exactly.  The Application Accelerator for .NET has been renamed to WSRP Producer.  This component has been upgraded to support the latest standards, plugs in to Visual Studio, and allows developers to expose .NET and SharePoint Web Parts directly into WebCenter.  It does this using the modern portlet standards and continues to be the best solution for .NET developers.

Q: How do I go about migrating to Oracle WebCenter Suite?
A: The best results require starting with a plan covering everything from architecture and infrastructure to staffing the migration effort and training.  Oracle Consulting can work with you to complete a pre migration assessment to start that process.   

Q: I know you said that there won't be any forced migrations, but can you give us some idea as to when customers should consider upgrading to Oracle WebCenter Suite?
A: As we mentioned, there are new releases of the existing portal products and Oracle has committed to extended support through 2017. This will give customers plenty of time to consider the most cost effective and productive path forward. We continue to enhance the existing products with new customer enhancements all the time. While they apply these new releases to their existing deployments, they should take advantage of some of the new WebCenter features directly. Customers can add community and team collaboration support directly into their existing portals and sites. They can add rich new Business Activity Stream support into their portal sites without going through an upgrade first. And they can add more modern user experience features leveraging the REST interfaces today, without having to wait for any new release from Oracle. The important consideration for customers is to determine where they need to add value into their business and let this drive the decision on whether to enhance their current deployment with new WebCenter Services or to provide a foundation for their future growth and move to the new WebCenter release. Customers will need to evaluate what content and applications to migrate, what new features in WebCenter can be leveraged by their business teams, how to incorporate the much richer and capable Oracle Fusion Middleware in their enterprise architecture, and how to train and enable their technical teams.  Customers that set up initial learning and development environments now will be able to facilitate learning about the platform, testing their existing code and portlets in the new environment, and providing feedback for planning the migration.  Ultimately, it's the customer's choice and not driven by a forced migration at all.

Q: Are there any other programs from Oracle Consulting or Partners that can help customers speed their modernization plans?
A: Oracle Consulting has been offering an Oracle Application Server Portal migration offering for quite some time. They provide a three tiered offering to help customers:

  1. Assess their move from Oracle Portal to WebCenter and determine the best new capabilities to deliver more ROI out of their existing deployment
  2. Migration delivery of the assets and components that they built in Oracle Portal and moving them all over to Oracle WebCenter
  3. A Site performance package to make their existing and new sites run at peak performance.

We've also held a set of boot camps worldwide to educate our partners on the concepts and utilities that we've provided. Many of our key partners like Keste, Idahsoft, Accenture, Deloitte, Wipro, and many others are already helping customers make the best choice for their businesses to move forward. The key point is that customers have many options and many avenues to take advantage of the new modern user experience platform. And there are plans to offer other migration tools for customers of the other portal products as well.

Q: Are there any documentation or guidelines available for the migration paths from any of the existing Oracle portal offerings to Oracle WebCenter Suite?
A: Yes, there are plans to release a set of migration concept documents on Oracle Technology Network over the coming weeks.  For each of the portal products there will be a specific guide that discusses the core terminology and approaches moving forward.

Q: Do Oracle WebCenter Interaction (ALUI) portlets need to be rewritten in Oracle WebCenter Suite?
A: In general, the approach will allow the ALUI portlets to continue to run.  However, depending on how the portlets were written, it will dictate if they will continue to run.  For example, if the portlet calls a set of internal ALUI APIs, these portlets would require an existing ALUI instance to be available in order to keep working.  This set of portlets would need to leverage the Pagelet Producer (formerly Ensemble) to keep working.  On the other hand, if the portlets don't use internal ALUI APIs, then the portlets will work directly moving forward.

Q: For customers who have a portal running on an existing product, can you describe the best approach for them to take advantage of the new advances in the latest release of WebCenter Suite?
A: We've recently released new versions of each of the existing portal product offerings from Oracle. The key point is that customers have a choice. They can upgrade to the latest version of their existing product which will provide them with a coexistence strategy while they determine the best capabilities to add new life into their existing deployments. This will also provide them with the fastest path to taking advantage of all the capabilities in the new WebCenter release. Alternatively, customers can start to read through white papers we've released around mapping the concepts of their existing products to the new WebCenter release. This will also give them a solid understanding of the core components of Oracle's modern user experience platform for the enterprise. And then the customers can leverage a set of utilities that Oracle has been releasing to speed their transition and get as much reuse of their existing assets like portlets, pages, content, and sites over to the new WebCenter release.

If you want to learn more about the new release of Oracle WebCenter Suite, check out the following resources:

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Oracle WebCenter is the center of engagement for business—powering exceptional experiences for customers, partners, and employees. It connects people, process, and information with the most complete portfolio of portal, Web experience management, content, imaging and collaboration technologies.

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