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Siemens AG had just signed a deal (http://www.sap.com/company/press/press.asp?pressID=1400&query=Siemens) with SAP in September 2002 announcing that they would be going with a single-vendor enterprise portal strategy. I was asked to engage shortly thereafter as the SAP Enterprise Portal program management role for Siemens Corporation.   Trying to deploy a global portal, enterprise-wide that reached out to a huge, highly decentralized audience would be quite a technical challenge. On the other hand, there would be bigger challenges than just the technical side. We would have to deal with cultural, political, governance, communication and a host of other issues on both the customer and SAP sides of the house if we were going to make any headway. Just due to the sheer size of people involved across such a distributed environment, every small issue would become that much more magnified.    I discovered from my past experience that when deploying a portal or any technology solution that spans horizontally across multiple business units or functional entities, the central IT organization must continuously strive to keep balance within the company. By balance I mean, to reach the right equilibrium of driving down overall costs for the good of the company through reduction or avoidance measures (basically lowering TCO) and safeguarding to the best of their ability, the business autonomy that the individual business units need or demand.   Siemens was no different. In fact, I would say the strength of Siemens’ business globally is seen in the corporate unit striving to achieve the concept of “One Siemens” on a global basis, while promoting the autonomy of the individual business units who know their business best.   Think globally and act locally is more the mantra for Siemens.   With the launch of the Siemens Enterprise Portal Services (EPS) program, Siemens was taking a giant step forward on delivering on their concept of “One Siemens”. This approach of leading with the people integration or user interaction layer (e.g. Portal) is commonly the primary location within a company’s IT landscape that they focus on first in taking the steps along their enterprise services architecture blueprint.   Thus in a relatively short timeframe, a veneer can be laid over multiple entities within and potentially beyond the enterprise. By leading with this effort first, this often brings into light or magnifies the need to standardize and/or globalize other inter-related technology topics related to the portal such as single sign-on, user management, role management and other major entitlement services.   I’ll try to highlight the top three areas that I believe were and continue to be the most challenging yet at the same time by proactively attacking these areas; we were able to make the biggest strides:  * Global Portal Strategy   * Entitlement   * Governance    h3. Global Portal Strategy    One of the keys to deploying the global portal strategy was getting our arms around the best approach to meeting the needs of the major regions within Siemens including, but not limited to, the EMEA region (Europe, Middle East & Africa) and North America. This topic was even tougher due to the fact that SAP EP 5.0 was available but SAP EP 6 was soon due out.   From the beginning we agreed that our global portal architecture was headed toward a federated approach but at that time this wasn’t technologically feasible. Nonetheless, we did agree that we would ultimately aim to have one logical portal even if there were physically multiple infrastructures at various data centers around the globe.   With this understanding as our baseline, we moved forward with a two prong approach. Siemens Corporation in North America would move forward immediately with the implementation on SAP EP 5 and focus on building the content and practical experience required to design, develop, deploy and maintain SAP EP 5.0 in their environment.   On the other side of the Atlantic, Siemens AG would move forward with SAP EP 6 in ramp-up phase and focus on a comprehensive design, tackling the major topics associated with globalization and standardization. Ultimately, they would lead the way and share practices with Siemens in North America when they migrated to EP 6.   To date this approach has worked relatively well and we have successfully deployed out to 40,000+ Siemens users in North America on EP 5 and over 110,000 Siemens employees in EMEA on EP 6.   We are currently looking at migrating Siemens Corporate to NW ’04 (EP 6) and beginning the process of moving from two centralized portals down the path toward establishing a federation of portals.   h3. Entitlement    The area of Entitlement was one of the key challenges we had to tackle when we engaged Siemens and set out on building the user interaction layer within their roadmap. How do we centralize the core corporate services for the enterprise to reduce TCO while at the same time allowing the global entities, regional entities and individual operating companies to keep the flexibility that they currently enjoy?   Since entitlement is so inter-twined with the portal, a lot of thought and design around the best approach had to go into this topic. First, let me highlight the major areas that I’m referring to when talking about entitlement: Entitlement Process
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  1. Anonymous
    Dan, this is a great start to a valuable journey of experiences. I find your weblog very similar to some of the challenges we have been having at other customers.
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  2. David Sonnenschein
    Dan,

    I think a lot of SAP customers using EP 6 will also be examing how they can use Federated architectures for their portals.  There are simply too many competing business needs and dependencies for a single, central portal owner.  I for one, would like to hear more about how Siemans does this in more detail.

    Thanks,
    David

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