Are Portal Servers dead?

Several years ago I was a big fan of Portal Servers (in particular for internal use), and I thought that were going to take off as the standard for public-facing sites (in particular with the release of JSR 168). This however has never eventuated.

I have therefore been asking the question for the past few years of whether the use of Portal Server technologies for public-facing sites is worthwhile, and if so for what sites (or subsets thereof). I am not questioning that the business concept of B2C, B2B, B2E, etc. portals is required, but rather whether the technology platform of Portal Servers for public-facing sites is overkill.

Portal Servers typically perform a number of primary functions (but there are other alternatives), some of which an organisation may not care about:
  • Integration with Authentication / Authorisation framework
  • Templating
  • Personalisation
  • Facilitate application/portlet reuse
  • In-context content management
  • Analytics & Reporting
  • Search
  • Ability to delegate control over part of a site / page

For intranet sites, I think Portals have a place, but I am not as convinced for other sites. So what do you think? Where do you think it makes sense to use Portal Servers (if anywhere)?


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