"Count what is countable. Measure what is measureable. What is not measureable, make measureable." -- Galileo

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Anecdotal Evidence and Hybrid Solutions

As much as I promulgate requirements-based thinking and cold-hearted analytics when it comes to choosing software and IT tools, its nice to be surprised some times. On a conference call this afternoon where we were discussing a new Plone portal with the core group, one of the participants for whom we'd built a previous site said, "Its a great tool... a fantastic tool." To which another Plone customer in the group agreed with a simple, "Amen."

That said, the conversation then turned to the issue of portals being "only as strong as the weakest member in the group." This was in reference to using Plone to cure the e-mail blight that is crushing everyone's inbox. All it takes is one person to refuse to use the portal technology and everyone falls back to the good old standby, e-mail.

These portals are interesting hybrids. In one case we link to WebEx in order to have remote desktop application sharing between model developers. This has worked very well even for low bandwidth partners in the Middle East.

Also, with our Corporate internal portal solution locked in on SharePoint, we find it convenient to leave the sensitive internal material on a SharePoint portal. A link from the external Plone site takes users with suitable credentials into the more restricted area. This way we rely on Corporate computer security systems around the SharePoint site, but still have easy access to open material within Plone, which does all the heavy lifting for our international partners. Similarly, the Plone site has a customized skin for project branding and identification. The SharePoint sites can remain with their default look-and-feel.

One curious SharePoint gottcha reported during the telecon was the need to repeatedly re-enter one's SecureID credentials as one moved to new pages. Since each SecureID password is valid for only one authentication, SharePoint users were constantly firing up their SecureID cards, entering their PINs, and then typing the strong password that was generated. Secure, yes, but also very painful. Must have something to do with how our VPN is authenticating their session.

Just three and a half weeks to the 2008 Plone Conference. If you haven't made arrangements, time is running out. Looking forward to it, although Corporate travel put me up in a hotel across the river--I'll be taking the Metro everyday. See you there.

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