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Building A Platform – Farmville Should not Take Down Facebook

I am joining a project at work that will revamp our intranet architecture and allow us to continue to bring innovative and cutting edge capabilities to our workforce. One of the issues that we’ve seen over the past few years had been that rich applications that have integrated with our portal have been too tightly integrated. In several cases, they have the capability to hog resources or even take a server offline due to a catastrophic fault. This is one of the areas that we want to prevent in the future and are working with our partners to articulate this desire.

This week, one of those partners was in town to talk through our needs and the analogy I came up with was that “Farmville should not take down Facebook”. That is to say the Facebook is an application platform that provides base services (demographics, content, wall updates, etc) to applications that can then use them to do interesting* things. This is similar to a corporate intranet that knows who a user is, what permissions they have, and what their demographic information is and then exposes those to applications and portlets based on their permission. In my current environment, there are some of these constituent applications that use the same resource sets as the portal platform and thus, they could negatively impact the performance of the intranet. In V.Next this should not be the case.

*Pre-emptive snarky comment: I do not consider Farmville or any of those games to be “interesting things”. In fact, I’ve never played a Facebook game. It’s merely illustrative of the type of Platform as a Service (PaaS) model that we are striving for.