bdg dev2dev Plumtree • BEA AquaLogic Interaction • Oracle WebCenter Interaction

Portals and SOA: Portals in a Service-Oriented Architecture

I’ve been invited to give the following talk at BEA Participate:

Why is a Service-Oriented Architecture important to an IT infrastructure and what are the elements and products needed to build out an SOA? These questions answered, plus a discussion on how portals are the practical starting point to leveraging SOA.

Quite honestly, the title and abstract make it sound like an invitation to engage in a lively game of buzzword bingo, but I assure you this talk will be light on the trite — you won’t hear me use the acronym SOA more than once or twice — and heavy on the real deal, rubber-meets-the-road stuff about how mere mortals/human beings are actually accomplishing the sort of things that SOA evangelists are preaching these days.

So, here’s what you can expect: I’ll talk a bit about some of the challenges of building integrated user experiences in today’s enormously complex and heterogeneous IT environment and show how a software developer — without superpowers — can piece together an integrated true-to-the-principals-of-SOA application using ALUI, ALDSP (Data Services Platform) and ALESB (Enterprise Service Bus). This will culminate in an actual, real-life demo.

I will of course make sure to sacrifice a chicken to the Almighty Goddess of Demos or do whatever else I have to do to make sure my demo doesn’t crash. Scratch that, I’ll just run it on Linux and everything will be fine.

So, all joking aside, if you have any ideas for items you’d like me to include in (or exclude from) my talk, please post your comments here. I’ll be sure to give anyone who makes a good suggestion a “shout out” during my presentation. They’re actually giving me a whole hour this time, so they’ll be room for plenty of tomfoolery, geekspeak, silly anecdotes and still time to answer your insightful questions at the end. As one of my good friends and business partners said following my talk at last year’s BEA World,

you never know what to expect during one of [Chris Bucchere’s] talks.

I’m not sure exactly what he meant, but of course I took it as a compliment.

In closing, while we’re on the subject of BEA Participate, I just wanted to say thanks to Christine “Obi” Wan for giving me the opportunity to present and, more importantly, for putting together such a great-looking agenda, which you can review if you like, because now it’s posted on the BEA Participate site.

In the meantime, do your best to convince the powers that be at your company/organization that they will finally discover the secret to “leveraging SOA” if they send you to this conference. Also, please don’t mention that every past Odyssey has had several open bars.


Comments are listed in date ascending order (oldest first)

  • Working with Aqualogic we all know how it’s easy to plug in our portlet into Aqualogic. We don’t need Aqualogic portal running on our own computer to do this, we don’t need special IDE, we don’t need upload wars into portal. It took time to explain this to my experience J2EE collegaes that got some experience with IBM Websphere. Here what they do there:
    A lot of steps pretty much the some but have a look at step 11. Here is the core difference. So at least one benifit of SOA is that we don’t need to do step 11.

    Posted by: Bryazgin on April 13, 2007 at 7:03 AM

  • >Quite honestly, the title and abstract make it sound like an >invitation to engage in a lively game of buzzword bingo True, I have the some issue. In my article (for russian development network) I want to stress SOA architecture of Aqualogic, but I don’t want to use SOA word. Audience is pretty techical so they all pretty much feed up of this word. Hmm, may be I will end up with this:
    Avoid nightmare of step number eleven !
    At least, “what the hell this guy talking about?” will be more predict reaction. 🙂

    Posted by: Bryazgin on April 13, 2007 at 7:25 AM

  • Hi Dmitri! Thanks for your insightful comments.As I’m building the demo for my talk, I’ve noticed that these SOA tools encourage you to loosely-couple everything. And that’s a good thing. As you pointed out, ALUI fits into this nicely with its loosely-coupled portlet architecture. The evil “Step 11” (too bad it wasn’t “Step 13”) is: “Select the Browse button and navigate to the WAR file for your portlet, then select Next (Figure 17).” Step 11 has some pretty awful implications for the enterprise. First off, it assumes that everything is Java, which, as much as I love Java, is just wrong wrong wrong in the heterogeneous enterprise. Secondly, it tightly couples your portlets to your portal, which is contrary to SOA.As an aside, I was listening to some Web 2.0 podcasts in the car the other day, and this guy who worked on Google Maps talked about “seams” in an architecture. To paraphrase, he basically said that everyone misuses the word “seamless.” Seams, just like in the textile industry, are critical to enterprise architecture. Just as seams hold swaths of fabric together and separate one bit of fabric from another, they also help define boundaries in the enterprise architecture that are equally critical to SOA. Without seams, everything must be homogeneous — applications must be bought from the same vendor, run on the same OS, be written in the same language, etc. — and this is completely contrary to the reality of enterprise software and systems and completely anti-SOA.

    To illustrate how not being “seamless” is actually a good thing, I’ve designed a demo system that involves bits of LAMP (Linux Apache MySQL PHP), bits of Java, bits of .NET and bits of Adobe Flash all held together with seams built with ALDSP, ALESB and ALUI. I’m still working on the technical side of things, but the use case is simple: a sales rep wants to quote his customer. Behind the scenes, his company is running a LAMP CRM server, a Flash/SQLServer product database, a .NET portal, and a Java-based Collaboration Server. Using a hybrid of ALDSP, ALESB and Java and .NET web services, the user experience is easy and seamless, but behind the scenes, it’s the powerful seams supported by ALDSP and ALESB that make this not only possible, but fairly straightforward.

    If you’re interested in hearing more, register for BEA Participate and [shameless plug]come to my talk[/shameless plug]! By the way, I’m co-presenting with Joseph Stanko, the BEA Engineering Manager responsible for the development of Ensemble (formerly known as Project Runner) — he will run several slides to help you understand the theory behind SOA and I will show the reality of how the AquaLogic stack truly enables SOA in the enterprise.

    Posted by: bucchere on April 14, 2007 at 6:07 AM

  • Alas, I’ve finally finished my demo. I had some configuration issues with ALSB, but ultimately they boiled down to the interface between the keyboard and the chair, i.e. human error. I had the proxy service calling the business service, which, in turn, called the proxy service again. You should have seen the utter wasteland this little tidbit of mutual recursion made of my machine. Actually, I was impressed — Java would spit out a JVM_Bind error once it exceeded some internal maximum, but ALSB (running on WLS 9.2) would actually keep running. Nice.Anyway, now that I’m past all that, I have an ALDSP layer over two disparate data sources (one MySQL DB containing CRM info and one HSQL DB containing product info) exposing data through netui/beehive to a single ALI portlet. (The nifty little portlet uses to show an interesting new take on the age-old concept of master-detail.) I also included an Adobe Flex-driven portlet. The two portlets use some client-side IPC (inter-portlet communication) to exchange info and then they call a proxy service on ALSB that takes info from both sources and creates a Word document (in the form of a sales quote). The business service also uploads this document to ALI Collaboration so that people can work on it collaboratively before sending it to the customer. (I may replace this last little bit with a .NET web service, just to show that Java and .NET are both acceptable alternatives for writing the “glue” or “seams” in a true service-oriented architecture.)Lastly, the event coordinators have locked in a time slot for us: Monday, May 7th at 4:30 PM in the Technical/Developer Track.

    If you’re “participating” it would great to see you at our talk or at the bdg booth. This year we have a cool — yet practical — giveway that will definitely brighten your day. Looking forward to the conference!

    Posted by: bucchere on April 22, 2007 at 7:52 PM

bdg Plumtree • BEA AquaLogic Interaction • Oracle WebCenter Interaction

bdg Sponsorship of BEA Participate 2007 Confirmed

bdg_sponsors_bea_participateHere’s some more shameless self-promotion (isn’t that what blogging is all about?) — we’ve just been confirmed as a sponsor for BEA Participate 2007.

Look for more details about our role in the upcoming conference here.

Hope to see you there!

bdg Plumtree • BEA AquaLogic Interaction • Oracle WebCenter Interaction

BEA Announces ALUI/ALBPM User Conference

beaThis just in: BEA has announced that they will be hosting a user conference for ALUI and ALBPM customers and prospects. This conference is called “BEA Participate” and all the details can be found at As of this posting, there’s not much more than a “Save the Date,” which, BTW, is May 6th-9th, 2007. Seeing as how BID’s new products (Runner, Builder and Graffiti) will be nearing General Availability at that time, I would expect to see some very cool demos.

Watch this space for more info about bdg’s role in the conference!

bdg dev2dev Plumtree • BEA AquaLogic Interaction • Oracle WebCenter Interaction

BEA Participate

A quiet little announcement was made last week: BEA plans to host an ALUI (formerly Plumtree) and ALBPM (formerly Fuego) user conference! Suprisingly, I don’t see any references on BEA’s web site, on dev2dev or really anywhere else about it, so I thought I would take a minute to promote the conference here.

Could this be a response to some customer and integrator concerns that there weren’t enough AL* breakout sessions at BEA World 2006? Possibly. Could this be the final nail in the coffin that was once called the “Unified Portal Roadmap.” I’m not sure.

Regardless, you can bet that I’ll be there along with several other folks from bdg. Stayed tuned for more information here about how we’ll be involved as an event sponsor, exhibitor and perhaps even as a presenter. I expect that we’ll have a lot of fun, share a great deal of what we know about ALUI and learn a great deal more from ALUI customers and other BEA partners.

The full extent of the information that currently exists about this conference can be found at We’ll be watching that space for more info and also posting several more times about our specific role in the conference. I suggest you do the same.

One obvious question any customer or partner should ask is: if I’m getting my budget together for 2007 conferences, should I attend BEA World or BEA Participate? If you’re a current ALUI or ALBPM customer, it’s a no brainer: attend BEA Participate. But what if you’re a prospect who is considering a portal or SOA solution from BEA? If you can afford it, I would say attend both!


Comments are listed in date ascending order (oldest first)

  • Now I’m officially confused. Very weird that these are separate unless they’re using BEA World as a venue for “technical building blocks” and “Participate” to sell business collaboration / process solutions – that’s the only way I can see this.

    I have to be careful how I word this, so if the tone comes across in any way negative, well… that’s not my intention. IMO I would not attend BEA World again if it’s a repeat of last year’s.

    I loved Odyssey – it was well organized, had _great_ sessions targeted toward user education and productivity, and was all about the customer – sharing best practices, discussing common problems, and engaging in one-on-one w/ engineers and product managers. Sessions were focused on empowering the customer and making sure they were just a bit better at their jobs when they left. It was always worthwhile and our entire team (repeatedly) came away saying “glad we went.” Awesome stuff all around and did a lot to let the customers sell the solutions to other customers (always a better way to go).

    In attending BEA World last year I got the constant nagging sensation that it was a big (overt) sales conference and not really about the user and how to better utilize tools. ALUI was barely even on the map (which really bothers me). I didn’t have the sense that my needs were being addressed as much as in previous years and I really didn’t come away with anything “tangible” I could take back to justify the fee. The customer keynotes were cool, but beyond that we struggled to find value.

    Doing something with a “Participate” focus thing is a _great_ idea on the part of BEA if it’s about targeting the customer and helping understand how to succeed with the tools (and make friends along the way ;). Keywords: using the tools to succeed in business. That, IMO, was always the point to me in attending.

    Obi-wan – hear me. This should really be incorporated into BEA World for the benefit of your current and prospective customers. It will really boost the value of BEA World and do something to hammer home the fact that BEA and Plumtree are one company with one comprehensive suite (something Jay Simons’ web conference last year did a great job of explaining). Separating things like this … well… I get it, but it does imply a continued level of separation that customers expressed concern with last year.

    That said – and I sincerely hope that didn’t come across as negative – I’m excited to see what 2007 brings for the new products. Seeing a bit of what they’re cooking up, it’s nice to users finally getting past a lot of the geekware bits and into things they can build and use w/o IT bottlenecks. Very cool. Buy three 🙂

    Posted by: ewwhitley on February 12, 2007 at 7:28 AM

  • It’s not Obi-wan here, but Christine Wan and we’re definitely listening! BEA organized Participate to directly address the needs of business and IT users working with ALUI and ALBPM products. This is very much a forum for customers to gather and share best practices, to go deep with product managers and engineers and to hear the latest on new product developments.

    And it is an important complement to BEAWorld, providing much richer detail on these two specific product lines and more focus on bringing these specific users together in a forum where they can share experiences and ideas. The announcement last week was just a Save-the-Date. Stayed tuned, you’ll see a lot more information to come on the homepage and

    Posted by: cwan on February 12, 2007 at 2:09 PM

  • Hi, Christine 🙂 Very cool – I’m glad to hear this. We loved the “interactive” and focused nature of the Odyssey sessions. You guys did such a good job on that I think we just kinda got spoiled and expected something on that order for BEA World last year. That’s what happens when you make us too happy year after year 😉

    Posted by: ewwhitley on February 12, 2007 at 7:51 PM

  • I know that many customers I spoke with during and after BEAWorld echoed the same sentiment of being “underwhelmed” simply from being spoiled by Odysseys past. Along those same lines, an Advanced Developer Conference either as part of Particpate, an extension to it or separate from it would be awesome as well. I know that may be hard to do as part of this initial effort but it would be great at some point. We are definitely excited about it and all of this just builds anticipation until May.

    Posted by: kurtanderson on February 15, 2007 at 10:05 PM

bdg Plumtree • BEA AquaLogic Interaction • Oracle WebCenter Interaction

Public Sector Breakfast Seminar: Ajax, Java & Mission Critical Applications

I’m very pleased to announce that I’ve been selected by Nexaweb to sit on a panel of Enterprise Web 2.0 experts. My co-panelists include:

  • Brant West, VP Federal Sales, Autonomy
  • Brenda Dixon, Commerce Industry Account Lead, IBM Federal Systems
  • David Bock, Technical Director, FGM
  • David McFarlane, Chief Operating Officer, Nexaweb Technologies, Inc.

The event takes place on Wednesday, 11/8 at 8 AM at The L’Enfant Plaza Hotel in DC.

If you’d like to attend the free seminar, please register here. Hope to see you there!

bdg Plumtree • BEA AquaLogic Interaction • Oracle WebCenter Interaction

My 15 Minutes of Fame

Well, 20 actually. I just gave my talk on taglibs to a nice crowd of about 100 people. It was very well received!

bdg Featured Posts Plumtree • BEA AquaLogic Interaction • Oracle WebCenter Interaction

BEAWorld 2006 Speaking Engagement

This just in: my talk on ALUI Taglibs begins at 1:50 PM on Monday the 18th at the ALUI Developer User Group Meeting, which will be held in one of the rooms on the 120 block of Moscone Center. See you there! (Be sure to come up and introduce yourself.)

bdg Plumtree • BEA AquaLogic Interaction • Oracle WebCenter Interaction

BEAWorld, here we come

All of us at bdg are very excited about BEA World 2006. We’ve got our booth all ready to go, we’ve got bdg mousepads and playing cards to give away along with a brand new 4Gb iPod nano (to one lucky winner). Be sure to stop by our booth, located in the Portal Pavilion, just off the corner of BEA’s main exhibit in the center of the exhibition hall.

On top of all that, I was given a short (but sweet) speaking spot at the ALUI Developer User Group on Monday toward the end of the day (not sure exactly what time). I’ll be presenting on ALUI TagLibs, my favorite topic as of late.

Can’t wait for the big event — see you there!

bdg-podcastOn a related note, the bdg Plumtree Podcast, after an almost one-year hiatus, returned last week with Episode 4. Believe it or not, we’re back today in Episode 5 with our first special guest, long-time Plumtree/ALUI supporter and frequent contributor to the dev2dev forums, Eric Whitley.

bdg Plumtree • BEA AquaLogic Interaction • Oracle WebCenter Interaction

Podcast Episode 4: bdg’s take on BEA’s Unified Portal Roadmap

bdg-podcastI’m very pleased to announce that we’ve finally laid down the fourth episode of our podcast, nearly a year after Episode 3!

A lot has happened, a lot has changed, but a few things have stayed the same, including our trivia contest. Check out this episode’s question and e-mail us at [email protected] if you think you know the answer.

A good chunk of this episode covers bdg’s take on BEA’s Unified Portal Roadmap. You can read this press release if you want to get the official word from BEA Systems. Again, I want to remind everyone that I don’t work for BEA, so any opinions expressed on this blog or in the podcast are solely those of Chris Bucchere and bdg.

Enjoy the latest addition to the podcast and be sure to leave me a comment here if you like what you hear (or if you don’t).

Plumtree • BEA AquaLogic Interaction • Oracle WebCenter Interaction

Presenting at the DC BUG (BEA dev2dev User Group)

I’m very pleased to announce that I will be the featured speaker at the Washington DC BEA dev2dev User Group on May 11th. You can read the official invite, but here are the basics:

BEA AquaLogic User Interaction Development, Demo & Roadmap

Date: May 11 2006

Time: 6:30pm – 9:00pm


Tenleytown Ballroom
Embassy Suites Hotel at the Chevy Chase Pavilion
4300 Military Road N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20015 (map)
Metro Red Line – Friendship Heights (take the hotel exit)


Back in October of last year, BEA purchased the market-leading pure-play portal vendor Plumtree Software to provide a user interface to their AquaLogic product line. Hear former Plumtree employee and 10-year portal industry veteran Chris Bucchere explain how Plumtree fits into the AquaLogic framework, how to configure and develop for this revolutionary new platform, and what the future holds for ALUI, including integration with BEA Workshop and the WL Portal. See a demo, do some real-time ALUI portlet development, and get your technical questions answered.