Mastering Mashups in the Enterprise

Michael Vizard

The good news about giving end users the ability to bring disparate sets of data together inside a custom application, otherwise known as a mashup, is that it's never been easier. The bad news is now that a lot more end users are mastering how to create mashups, there needs to be some structure in place to manage the process.

A good example of the type of structure that IT organizations are going to need to put in place is the IBM Mashup Center, an online service that allows users of IBM software to publish and share their mashup applications with others. Most recently, IBM has added Cognos support for the service and included the ability to access data using REST frameworks alongside the ability to pull data from Microsoft SharePoint portals and applications that make use of IBM's MQseries software.

As handy as the IBM Mashup Service may be in terms of supporting IBM application environments, chief technologists are likely going to be asked to provide similar capabilities across a wide range of application environments. What's driving mashups is that as end users become more proficient with creating their own Web 2.0-style applications, the organization wants to first share these applications easily and then, for compliance reasons, keep track of who is accessing this information and for what purpose.

Finally, there's also a governance issue in terms of making sure that all the data in these custom applications is synchronized with the official data that sits in back-office applications managed by the IT department.

As complicated as all this sounds, the best news of all is that by giving end users the ability to quickly build their own mashups, the IT organization is also moving to substantially reduce the application development backlog. There will always be a need for more complicated composite applications that require professional developers to build. But when you look at the bulk of most application development requests, they tend to be relatively simple applications that end users could create themselves if they spent the time to master the fundamentals of Web 2.0 mashup technologies.

Unlike the public Web, corporate information isn't yearning to be free in order to support advertising revenue. But it sure does, within certain limits, want to be a whole lot easier to use. The job of the CTO is to make that happen because there is a direct correlation between making it easier for end users to collaborate and increasing the overall productivity of the entire organization.

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