Edge enPortal is more than a window
Probably the single most troublesome issue in management software today is the lack of a clear strategic vision across the industry. This leaves users, service providers and vendors collectively adrift among an increasingly ferocious set of requirements with little more than tactical responses to see them through.
Vendors, of course, try to build a strategic vision around their product set, and since theres little definition to the landscape, they may seem to get away with a shrill set of preposterous claims. But they dont, really. Users arent that dumb. And the net result is an uneasy skepticism as users rightfully seek value in a clearly defined area, like advanced fault and performance management or better capacity planning.
In place of a strategy, then, we find two product trends. There is increasing intelligence and adaptability in management software, and there is an effort to find effective ways to bring this "intelligence" together to fit business and operational requirements.
Edge Technologies enPortal is an example of the latter. It has strong integration with Network Node Manager, CiscoWorks, Concords reporting software and other management applications, as well as relatively facile integration with any browser-based product, making enPortal more than an aggregation point. It offers customized views based on role and organization, and can create workflow sequences across different management tools. Currently, these are not automated processes, nor are there workflow templates across different types of management tools. However, longer term, as more workflow processes become established, this is an area of potential leadership for Edge.
Currently, service providers can use enPortal to customize point-of-presence information for their customers across multiple management tools, as well as to improve efficiencies within their own operations centers. Enterprises can shorten the learning curve for management products and help create and enforce in-house procedures to promote cross-organizational communication and improve IT performance. Role-based access and security procedures can also be administered and enforced with relative ease.
Architecturally, the heart of enPortal is the enPortal Server, where an XML-based Java application handles transaction management, content administration, security services and user administration. The enPortal Database handles data persistence and data management. It is a JDBC-compliant relational database, and Microsoft SQL Server is packaged with it, but support also extends to Oracle, Sybase and other databases. The enPortal Web Server serves as a front end to the client Web browsers (enPortal Browser Interface), which supports Netscape and Internet Explorer, as well as mobile devices. It should also be pointed out that enPortal is designed with the features of an operating system, such as security, file management, role management, and resource management.
While the portal approach is a good investment, users should recognize that it is not the only place where integration across management applications should or will occur. It is not a panacea for interoperability, but an important complement to other types of integration, frrom the basic exporting of SNMP traps, to more robust data exchange through the Common Information Model and other standards. Finally, enPortal is an evolving solution. As is inevitable, the possibilities will far exceed the immediate reach of the product near term. To some degree this is a good thing. This is a product category with a large opportunity for growth, and one that you, the user, can significantly help to shape.