This article is excerpted from Chapter 2 of Proven Portals (Addison Wesley, 2003) by Dan Sullivan.

The hallmark of a portal is integration. Portals provide single points of access to applications across the enterprise. These applications all function within the integrated framework of the portal but to varying degrees. At one end of the spectrum, we have shallow integration, which brings applications together at the interface level. For example, utility applications, such as stock quotes, airline schedules and currency converters, are all accessible from a single location in the portal and are, therefore, in a limited sense integrated within the portal framework. The applications themselves do not exchange data or in any way depend on each other ­– they simply coexist in close proximity within the user interface. The more interesting examples of application integration utilize a deeper level of interoperation and will be the focus of this article. The challenges, and benefits, of application integration occur behind the scenes of the portal interface where we find architecture and process issues that are as old as information technology (IT) itself.

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