The topic of library portals has generated many metaphors, but few concrete examples the vision for search portals is one that entices. We know what we want to do; provide users with streamlined access to multiple resources and create a user centered customizable electronic presence that enables them to fully utilize the resources available to them. At Macquarie University Library we have realized, using Fretwell Downing's ZPortal software, an academic library search portal. During the process of that realization we were able to identify gaps between the enticing vision and the practical realities of implementing and maintaining such a search portal. This paper will explore these gaps in the context of the common vision held for library search portals and Macquarie University Library's experience focusing on the challenges we encountered during the process of creating a user-centered search portal. As an early adopter of this search portal approach our goal is to share the lessons we learnt in order to facilitate the development of future academic library portals.