Along with the Portal team at Sun, we are proud to announce the start of a new protocol for communicating with portlet repositories.
The idea for a standard repository protocol came after discussions with Sun over the interoperability of disparate portlet repositories with many portal vendors (as you know, they also have a portlet repository), and how we could offer a standard medium of communication between all players involved. So the idea was to create a Web-Service-based API that would allow any portal vendor to browse repositories, view individual portlet meta-data, and be able to download/update portlets from any repository... much like developers are accustomed to browsing/installing/updating plugins in their favorite IDEs.
The standard is not a specification at the JCP. ;-) It is an open standard, so that anyone may take part and voice their opinions in its future development.
What this means to portal administrators, is that one day they will be able to install/update/demo portlets from a myriad of repositories from within their portal itself. It also means the portlet world will get a lot smaller, in view, as where those portlets are coming from is transparent to the user.
For information on the project, joining the mailing lists, and reading through the early documentation of the standard, go here. Any and all input is appreciated on the mailing lists.