Much of the talk about shifting paradigms in IT involves infrastructure, with folks focusing on software-as-a-service and its newer variants such as cloud computing.
Meanwhile, a fundamental shift is also occurring at the application level. As IT Business Edge blogger Carl Weinschenk wrote in March, mashups are emerging as one of the biggest challenges -- or opportunities, depending on how you look at it -- for traditional IT departments.
The trend is no fluke, as evidenced by IT Business Edge blogger Loraine Lawson's recent coverage of two mashup-related announcements. A company called JackBe is inviting vendors to build a mashup ecosystem to ensure they are simple to use and secure. And IBM rolled out a portfolio of mashups containing components for both business users and IT. According to IBM, early testers used it to personalize sales data by mashing up their ERP and CRM data with business applications.
By giving business users a way to build their own tools, mashups free the IT department to devote itself to mission-critical systems, says Steven Mitzenmacher, vice president of corporate development at Serena Software, in a recent Knowledge@W.P. Carey article. He says:
This can make your developers 10 times more effective, give them more resources to work with.
Some folks already use rudimentary versions of mashups at work without even realizing it, says Mitzenmacher, mentioning RSS feeds, spreadsheets and data mining dashboards. Unlike the employees who came before them, those just now entering the workforce -- the so-called Milennials -- will expect to be able to create their own applications.
Sun Microsystems engineer Todd Fast, speaking to developers at the recent JavaOne conference, concurs with Mitzenmacher. Fast posits that folks who have dabbled with applications in MySpace will take over much of the existing software development work at companies as they enter the workforce, reports InfoWorld. Formally trained developers will be called on for the more complex task of creating foundational Web development platforms.
A software engineer attending the conference tells InfoWorld that while he thinks Fast's vision is on-target, he thinks it will be at least another decade before business users begin routinely creating applications. The resulting business agility will be one of the biggest benefits of this shift, says another engineer.