Educause09 – Day one

Educause is in Denver this year. Despite the fact that it snowed last week here, this week the sun is out and it’s hitting the 70s during the day – beautiful weather. Not that I’ve seen much of it, being busy running around the convention center.

It’s nice to see a lot of folks who I haven’t seen in over a year and renew some relationships – Lev Gonnick, Hae Okimoto, Joan Gettman, Kathy Christoph, Jim Phelps, Greg Jackson, Terri-Lynn Thayer, and loads of others.

Started off last night at the opening reception at the exhibit hall. Got a chance to chat with some folks from MediaSite about our questions about using external storage with MediaSite servers – the answer is MediaSite doesn’t care as long as it looks like a Windows drive. I also got a chance to meet Alex North, one of the Google Wave developers from Google’s Australian office.

Then we were off to a reception with Microsoft. Spent a bunch of time talking with some folks from Louisiana State and then yakking the night away with Frank Lobisser about Microsoft, UW, our kids, and skiing.

This morning started off with the keynote address by Jim Collins, author of Good To Great. Some insightful leadership insights, and I can see why he’s a high-paid, in demand speaker – he’s very effective.

I met with David Lipari and Andrew Petro from Unicon to chat about uPortal and LifeRay portal software and the future for portals in general. Andrew made a nice observation that web portals serve both as an initial discovery point for resources and as a default interface when you can’t use your highly configured device.

I learned that uPortal is better than Liferay at dynamically reading users & groups from external sources (Liferay wants to store that data within its system). The permissions system within uPortal is replaceable, so you could theoretically just use an external permissions system instead of the internal one.

uPortal 3.2 will have a mobile theme, based on detecting the mobile user agent from the browser. It is possible to pass the user agent string to portlets so they can also configure themselves differently for mobile devices

Liferay has more content management features within the portal.

uPortal has a more developed story for accessibility than Liferay does at present.

Shibboleth access is built out for uPortal with user attributes. Unicon did a project with the University of Chicago using Shibboleth and the web proxy for delegation of authentication, which might be of interest to us.

I had lunch with Kent Wada from UCLA, where we talked about various policy initiatives around privacy, e-discovery and the like.

This afternoon I attended a session given by Sayeed Choudry from Johns Hopkins on the Data Conservancy project, which is a NSF Datanet project.

David Morton and Jim Loter and I met with Jason Ediger from Apple to chat about iPhones in higher ed. He’s got a great glassy stare he gives when asked about Apple’s future plans.

I then attended a session by David Staley, Lev Gonnick, and Adrian Sannier on “Leading the University as a Platform”, where they differentiated the role of the “platform” from the old style command and control environment. Lots of good thoughts in this one.

Next was a discussion group on ITIL in higher ed. A group of people from some schools had done some implementations of ITIL, mostly around incident and problem management, which was interesting to hear about. Everybody recommends starting with small steps, mostly around the service catalog (which we did!).

I closed out the afternoon at a session on Google Wave, which featured two Wave engineers actually building waves in real time. That was quite a useful session. I think Wave has the potential to be a very significant tool as it grows up.

Went by the Google reception at the Public Library, but it seemed like the Google student representatives outnumbered attendees, so I left and went and had dinner with David Morton.

Tomorrow – Lawrence Lessig, and I’ll be on a panel about research support at the net@edu cyberinfrastructure meeting at 3:30 – come on by!


3 thoughts on “Educause09 – Day one”

  1. We’ve done a uPortal integration with Shib – some 4 years ago. Works very well, can pass person and group attributes. Good to know your finds about uPortal’s points over Liferay. It’s important for a portal to read its data points from the IAM rather than cache its own copy. The main issue so far with uPortal is our inability to federate content management out to groups and get out of their way.


  2. Thanks, Asbed – forfot to mention you in my list of people it’s good to see!

    Can you say more about the inability to federate content management to groups?


  3. We want to allow people and groups the ability to update their own content, aggregate their own feeds, etc. eg: public relations, or schools, etc. We want to give them a tab, or something, and let them run. With uPortal our model is that they always have to work with someone at ITS who has special privved access to the portal and helps the work get done. I haven’t gotten my hands on Liferay, but I understand that we should be able to delegate content specific privileges/roles to people who are not portal admins.

    But again I’ll need to look into what Liferay wants to cache and keep in sync with the enterprise directory.

    If you want to dig into some details I can certainly ask one of our portal gurus to join the discussion.


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