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IBM WebSphere Portal and SAP Enterprise Portal – Taking Interoperability One Step Forward

This weblog gives you an overview on current progress concerning interoperability between the different enterprise portals of IBM and SAP.


Some of you might think straight away – well, why does it make sense to invest in both portals? Don’t they provide similar functionality?

Well, of course, these thoughts are not that strange at all! After all, both portals are positioned against each other on the market. While this is true and several similarities can be found in both of them (having been built up on J2EE technology and having the same focus to a certain extent), both portals still have some specific strengths, advantages and capabilities.

  • The SAP Enterprise Portal (EP) brings ready-to-use functionality with it for a big amount of SAP applications, e.g. in the form of xApps, which run in the Portal, as well as business packages, which can be used straight away in the Portal.
  • On the other hand, the IBM WebSphere Portal (WPS) provides, for example, enhanced integration capabilities for heterogeneous IT environments and Lotus Domino, which is used by a large amount of enterprises worldwide.

In order to maximize effective usage of existing IT resources and leverage the specific benefits offered by both solutions, enterprises can implement and benefit from using both portals. For a broad amount of mutual customers of IBM and SAP it makes sense to expand their IT investments and leverage the capabilities delivered by both portals. Quite often the situation is encountered where the customer started using IBM WPS on a broad scale because of its high technology potential, and decided later on to integrate SAP EP in order to leverage its capabilities of making use of SAP application functionality. Hence, it is important and useful for these customers to ensure smooth integration of both products.

The SAP IBM Collaboration Technology Support Center takes care of these issues and is supported by other SAP departments such as Enterprise Portal Consulting. Currently, there are different possible interoperability scenarios in the following areas:

  1. Accessing WPS from EP and vice versa
  2. Single sign-on solutions
  3. Navigation and look & feel issues

So, let’s have a look at what has been achieved so far in these different areas:


  1. Accessing WPS from EP and vice versa

    In interoperability scenarios, one portal has to assume the role of the leading portal. This means that either one portal is called in another browser window from the leading one or it opens directly within the leading portal in either an iView or a portlet.

    In the latter scenario, to access SAP EP from WPS it is possible to make use of the IBM Web Page portlet launching SAP EP within an iFrame (Figure 1). With SAP EP as the leading portal, the SAP Application Integrator iView can be used (Figure 2).



    Figure 1: Portal-in-Portal – WebSphere Portal as leading portal integrating SAP EP as an iFrame (possible with SAP EP 6.0 SP13 on)



    Figure 2: Portal-in-Portal – SAP EP as leading portal integrating WPS via SAP Application Integrator iView


  2. Single Sign-On Solutions

    One of the most important advantages of portals is smooth integration of applications with no need for additional log-ons once the user is authenticated in the portal. Thus, of course, enterprises using both portals don’t want their employees to authenticate twice for each portal! To achieve single sign-on (SSO) the following solutions have been developed so far:

    With WPS as the leading portal, SSO can be achieved with a JAAS login module, which enables SAP EP to accept LTPA tokens. Furthermore the Tivoli Access Manager can be put in place.

    With SAP EP as leading portal, Tivoli Access Manager can be used as well, this time with a Trust Association Interceptor to enable WPS to accept SAP SSO2 cookies.


  3. Navigation and look & feel issues

Usually, the customer does not want his users to notice that they are working within different portals. In order to achieve this, EP and WPS themes and styles must be adjusted in a way that they look similar. So far, there’s no rendering tool available, which could do this automatically.

The other interoperability requirement is a conceptualization of the way the user should navigate to other portal content considering the tools mentioned under the first point. Launching separate content can be done from different navigation levels and can take place in another browser window or in an iFrame. Whatever the customer’s decision might be, SAP and IBM offer solutions for these scenarios as mentioned under the first point.

By now you should have gotten a first insight into SAP/IBM interoperability. For more updates stay tuned on SDN’s IBM Interoperability site and Interoperability IBM (Read-only)!

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