Building Corporate Portals with XML

Authors: Clive Finkelstein and Peter Aiken
Publisher: McGraw-Hill, 2000 (ISBN 0-07-913705-9)

In Building Corporate Portals with XML, Clive Finkelstein and Peter Aiken entice the reader to understand the business criticality of integrated enterprise meta data. They build their case by
reviewing the goals of strategic business planning (Decision Early Warning), an in-depth definition of meta data and its uses, and by demonstrating that the union of business reengineering and
systems engineering is meta data. Corporate portals built using HTML with meaningful metatags (EXtensible Markup Language) are the delivery mechanism of choice for this integrated meta data from
both structured (e.g. databases) and unstructured (e.g. documents, email) data. There is some discussion of portal products and the role of XML as a technical integration tool, though the emphasis
is on strategic portal architecture. The book utilizes architecture and engineering philosophies of John Zachman, Richard Hackathorn, and Clive Finkelstein’s earlier Information Engineering
work.

The book is organized in three sections, Enterprise Portal Design, Enterprise Portal Development and Enterprise Portal Deployment. Section 1, Design, offers concepts and terminology, ties strategic
business planning into the goals analysis of the corporation, looks at the key concepts of data modeling and how they play into strategic data modeling for the enterprise’s Portal. Section 2,
Development, offers a comprehensive look at meta data: meta data types, meta data dimensions, and meta data quality. In the dictionary definition of the word meta- they highlight, “…At a higher
state of development…” which is clearly the author’s emphasis with meta data. They show how to decompose meta data from components, data structures, and information structures. They
characterize a Sales Enterprise Portal project which includes a requirements analysis and a meta data user CRUD matrix. Section 3, Deployment, focuses on the internet and XML, reengineering, and
the roles of Enterprise portals.

There is some technical discussion of XML, and many references (web sites, books) for further XML exploration.

I like the fact that the book quickly and creatively capitalizes on an emerging trend in Information Technology, Enterprise Portals, which bring together Content Management, Data Warehouse,
Business Intelligence, and Data Management technologies. The estimated market for EIP (Enterprise Information Portals) is approximately $14 billion by 2002. By linking meta data with the EIP, they
make Corporate meta data initiatives more compelling. The Business Strategy discussions and the sections which show how to decompose meta data are invaluable to professionals involved in meta data
projects. If only there could be a mind-meld between this book and I.T. executives …

I would recommend this book to I.T. managers, designers, and analysts interested in Enterprise Application Integration (EAI), architecture, meta data, data management and/or strategic business
planning. Developers may use it as a reference to visualize the XML big-picture, and to understand application/data integration.

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About Leslie Harris

Leslie Harris is a Principal and Consultant at Mariposa Systems. She has designed and developed software for leading hardware and software companies, as well as the Fortune 1000. Her focus is on data enablement using intelligent design, data and application architectures, and tools for department through enterprise projects. She speaks nationally and internationally at industry conferences.

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