Information Technology Projects Course

Professor Arthur Goldberg
NYU
Spring 2004
Project Proposal

MetLife Inc.

Company Description

As it says on their web site, "MetLife, Inc., through its subsidiaries and affiliates, is a leading provider of insurance and other financial services to individual and institutional customers. The MetLife companies serve approximately 12 million individuals in the U.S. and provide benefits to 37 million employees and family members through their plan sponsors. Outside the U.S., the MetLife companies have insurance operations in 12 countries serving approximately 8 million customers."
We will be interning with the Corporate Systems eBusiness IT Portal Project.  This  team is involved in delivering the vision, strategy and implementation of a corporate portal and content management solution for the various internal businesses it serves.  The group's mission also includes setting and spearheading the technical standards for the corporate systems portal architecture, implementation, development frameworks and deployment, in line with applicable industry and MetLife enterprise standards.

Proposal: Experimental JSR 168 Compliant Portlet Applications

Technically, a 'portal' is a Web site that provides access to multiple applications, as Yahoo! does.  A portal server is like an operating system for developing and running portal applications, which are known as 'portlets'. 
At MetLife, a portal is a strategy for building and leveraging the dynamic working relationships within the MetLife culture and environment. It embodies the technologies to aggregate and integrate various kinds of information and content from different sources for users, provide the personalization capabilities to tailor content to individual users and groups, allow their  community of users to collaborate towards a common set of goals, and present and deliver content in one or more channels in the most expedient and appropriate manner.
There are several major vendors (e.g. IBM, BEA, Plumtree, PeopleSoft, Oracle, etc) that have developed and marketed their own portal technologies.  These technologies are still evolving.  However, the industry has made tremendous strides in moving towards standardization of the portal technologies that allow more interoperability and cross-functional capabilities to be leverage across differing products, platforms and infrastructure.

The products of some of the leading vendors are:
BEA: Web Logic Portal 4.0 http://www.bea.com/products/weblogic/portal/index.shtml
IBM: WebSphere Portal 2.1 http://www-306.ibm.com/software/genservers/portal/
Oracle: Oracle 9i Portal http://www.oracle.com/solutions/enterprise_portals/
Apache Software Foundation: Jakarta JetSpeed (open source): http://jakarta.apache.org/jetspeed/site/index.html
The interfaces between portal servers and their portlets are being standardized in Java Specification Request (JSR) 168 (a final standard is expected in 2/04).  (An excellent reference on JSR 168 and WebSphere is at http://www-106.ibm.com/developerworks/websphere/library/techarticles/0312_hepper/hepper.html.)  Web services interfaces have been standardized in the Web Services for Remote Portlets (WSRP) standard.
MetLife wants us to investigate these standards and build some portlets to help them learn
what it takes to apply these standards in a true production implementation.  To conduct this investigation we will build some industry-standard based JSR 168 portlet applications that covers collaboration functions such as discussion forums and real time IM with dynamic logging features. The portlets must also have the capability to be remotely used as a utility portlets through WSRP technology for any portal engine supporting these new standards. The shall also be enterprise caliber implementations that can support multi-org multi-team collaboration with appropriate security and controls.

Deliverables:
Multiple demo portlets, running on at least one, and perhaps more, portal servers.
A description of a code review and QA process for determining whether a portlet is JSR 168 compliant.
A document describing your experience with building JSR 168 portlets, identifying strengths and, especially, weaknesses or problems with the spec.

This involves cutting edge R&D with real-world implementation goals. For example, MetLife uses cutting edge versions of WebSphere Portal V5.0,  WebSphere App Server V5.0 and Vignette V7.

Students will need to sign an NDA to participate in this project.  Students that work for a MetLife competitor are not eligible.

Intern Address

MetLife
2 Montgomery St, 5F
Jersey City, NJ 07302
Visitors
All building visitors must sign in with the security guard. After-hours visitors must enter at main lobby entrance so as to be identified by the security guard.

JC Building Security = 201-395-8111

Directions:
A. Take the PATH to Exchange Place.

A1:
- Take the PATH train from Midtown/Downtown Manhattan (6th Ave and 33rd/or 23rd/or 14th/or 9th)
- Take PATH going towards Newark
- Get off Grove St. terminal to transfer
- Take PATH again, this time to Exchange Place (towards World Trade Center)

or A2:
- Take the PATH from the WTC to Exchange Place.

B. From Exchange Place:
- Get off the Exchange Place terminal, go up to street level
- The MetLife 2 Montgomery building is literally on the corner of Montgomery/Hudson

Company Web site

www.metlife.com

Authorizing managers

Dave Ditillo, VP - Corporate eBusiness IT, dditillo@metlife.com, 201-395-7706
Bernard Ong, Director - Corp Systems Portal Project Team, bong@metlife.com, 201-395-8215

Project manager

Scott Roth, Technical Project Manager, stroth@metlife.com, O=201-395-7703,C=609-234-7573

Meeting hours

It is preferable that all meetings will be held outside of business hours, and kept to a minimum.

Resources that will be made available to students

The necessary software tools and data.  By the end of the project students will need to access MetLife's computing environment, either on-site or via a VPN.