I have to admit, I have not worked a lot with the portals. It’s always been occasional. But every time I turn to them, somehow it feels like the concept itself is almost foreign to Dynamics. Not because there is no need for the portals – there has always been, and there is still a need. More because it’s a completely different area, and, it seems, there are some natural limits to where the portals(as they are now) can reach.
As in.. Before you even start developing a portal, you need to get Dynamics. You need to learn how Dynamics works, you need to learn how it works with the portals, how to configure the portal in Dynamics. You can do no portal development without Dynamics.
When did Dynamics become a content management system, though? Are portals, even remotely, the reason for buying Dynamics in the first place?
Besides, the portals are so tightly coupled with Dynamics, that there is simply no way to use them without it. Not only from the configuration perspective.. even on the data level, there is no separate storage, there is no independent database. The whole architecture of this solution assumes that Dynamics will serve as a back end, all the time. When did it become normal to create this kind of tightly coupled architectures? I can’t name a single CMS system that would be successful in that – they are all built independently, even though, once they have matured, they do start providing connectors and integrations to other systems.
That’s not everything, though. What’s probably even more interesting is what has been happening to the portals in the last few years.
Not that long ago Microsoft acquired ADX Studio only to split that solution into 3 a year later and, essentially, to give one of those versions back to Adoxio (which is, technically, a former consulting arm of ADX Studio). We may call it community edition, but, with all due respect to the portal developers, I think there will be only so many contributors outside of Adoxio.
No, I understand that something had to be done to support on-premise clients, but, eventually, we ended up with 3 different versions of the portals, and this is at the time when even the main “branch” is still nothing but a nuisance in the CMS world.
Either way, here is what we have according to Adoxio itself:
Here is a question, though.. How does the future look like for those 2 non-Microsoft versions of the Portals? Are they seriously going to compete with the version from Microsoft? I don’t think so. Are they just intermediate solutions which had to be delivered to support all those transitional customers? But there is even no guarantee that the upgrade path will be provided from the community edition to the MS edition in a year or two, so this is just delaying the inevitable. Why bother?
I would understand it if the main scenario for the portals was to integrate them into the existing web sites, but it does not seem to be the case either. It actually takes an effort to create that kind of integration, so it does not look like the portals have been developed with that goal in mind.
In other words, in terms of the vision, and as far as the portals are concerned, it all seems to be a little blurry to say the least. And, yet, there they are, the portals, with quite a bit of activity happening around them. Is it just me feeling a bit confused about what the future holds for the portals?