Enterprise Workspaces: Power to the People!
Being the team that manages the SAP NetWeaver Portal landscapes at Colgate-Palmolive, we have been interested in Enterprise Workspaces since its inception. One of our primary goals is to continually increase the ability of our business units in the management of rich content and access to applications within our portals. The more power and control we can provide to our business units, the faster content and application access can be made available. Enterprise Workspaces promises to be an excellent tool for us in working towards this goal. This is an overview of what we are currently doing with Enterprise Workspaces and where we plan to go with it in the future.
If you are unfamiliar with Enterprise Workspaces (EW), it is an add-on to the NetWeaver Portal that allows users to create their own, personal portal pages using assets from a Module Gallery. It also allows teams to create Shared Workspaces of portal pages, similar to the concept of a portal role. The ease of the Flash-based user interface makes the management of page content extremely simple, and the overall concept would enable business units to do page and role creation and changes. It provides real-time, controlled page and role content management, without a lengthy transport and change control process. …Power to the People!
In early 2010, we took part in the Sprint Customer Review sessions for EW 1.0. We did the Customer Validation for its installation and we signed-up for the Ramp-up program. In mid-September, we installed the Ramp-up software. For us the timing worked-out well, because we were in the process of migrating our corporate intranet portal to a new landscape. This gave us the opportunity to install EW onto our new intranet portal landscape and see how well we could match the branding. We were extremely pleased with the result.
Building a Catalog of Modules
We wanted to start a pilot with a controlled group from our larger Application Architecture organization and development teams. This would be necessary to get familiar with creating our own modules, administering Workspaces, and to prepare demonstrations to introduce EW to other teams. Since our pilot group would be all IT users, we focused on creating modules relevant to their (and our) daily work. In EW 1.0, the out-of-the-box Modules consist of:
- Generic URL Module
- Link List
- Text Pad
- Document List
- Member List
During the course of a week, we developed and refined a simple RSS feed reader application. We implemented the feed reader as a generic Module, where a user could add it into a Personal or Shared Workspace and configure their own desired feed. We also used this feed reader to create “canned” feed Modules for specific content from the Lotus Connections collaboration suite. One of these feeds provides access to an individual’s list of files shared through Connections, which only makes sense in the context of a Personal Workspace. Altogether, the feed reader application allowed us to quickly create 7 additional modules—One Generic RSS Feed Reader, and 6 Lotus Connections specific feeds.
Next we created Modules based-off of existing applications used by IT. Some of these applications are used on a daily basis, while others are used ad hoc and monthly. These include:
- An SAP GUI Launcher (using Single Sign-on from the portal)
- A Favorites view of the GUI Launcher
- An Application used for Monthly Time Allocation to Projects
- A Security Request Application
- Enterprise Search
Using some standard Modules, the RSS feed Modules, and the application Modules, we created a Shared Workspace named, “Utilities.” We then shared this among 25 developers under our Application Architecture organization in 2 different locations.
As I mentioned at the beginning, our own team is in charge of administration of our NetWeaver Portal landscapes, as well as being an application development team. For ourselves, we created a Shared Workspace named, “Portal Core Team,” in which we have a Module built from an application for monitoring the up/down status of our portal nodes. We have a counterpart to our portal team across the globe for 24/7 coverage, and it is important to be able to see an overview of country-specific holidays, personal vacation schedules, production lock-down periods, and scheduled downtimes for system maintenance. For this, we created a Module based-off of a Lotus Notes Mail-in Database calendar (i.e. a group calendar), and here we mark dates relevant to the global team. We also included a page with the URLs to each of our portal application server nodes and a page for EW documentation.
Our Goal for the Future
You have now seen some examples of what we have done with Enterprise Workspaces 1.0. This is just the beginning…. We have plans for the future of increasing our Module catalog with more applications and rich content sourced from all of our portal landscapes. We are signed-up for the Ramp-up program for EW 1.1, and we are ready to install the software. One of the key features in which we are interested in EW 1.1 is the ability to quickly expand our Module catalog using our vast repository of rich content exposed through the Knowledge Management layer. In addition to this, we plan to integrate content and more applications from other portal landscapes and systems, using the Application Integrator.
Below is a content example we quickly put together from our development systems for a demo, using EW 1.0. The first screen shot is the homepage of our global HR Portal. Below it is the same content exposed on the separate landscape of our intranet portal, built using EW. The first image shows a page that was created and designed using standard portal configuration. The second image shows how the same page could be built quickly and easily using EW, with the content exposed as Modules. With EW, new additions to the page or rearranging the content would be simple drag and drop actions.
This is a crude example, but it demonstrates where we want to go with EW. We ultimately want to provide a catalog of rich content and applications across multiple portals and systems from which our end-users and business units can build meaningful Personal and Shared Workspaces. This will give them the ability to design their own pages and roles within the portal and to organize content in a way that streamlines their work and reduces their navigation across systems. …Power to the People!