One day, according to the mashup marketers, business users will be able to pull together a few widgets and find the corporate data they need -- all without IT lifting a finger. The Promised Land of Enterprise Mashups will overflow with the milk of integration on-demand and the honey of easy answers.
It's a beautiful ideal -- and totally mythical, according to Chris Marino, CEO of SnapLogic, a Web 2.0 company specializing in integration.
"The vision of some business user writing SQL is complete fantasy; I just don't see it ever happening," Marino said in a Q&A with IT Business Edge.
OK, so we're not going to be able to offload integration onto business users anytime soon. That doesn't mean 2.0 technologies can't help you out. For instance, SnapLogic's solution offers integration using, of all things, HTML commands. Basically, it gives data a unique url and you can access it -- or search it -- from a browser.
What this means for IT is you can offer the data as an HTTP end point and then let the business user find it, rather than fulfill all those requests you get each week to extract data from your data warehouse or master data management hub, Marino said.
What we're trying to do by offering the data as essentially an HTTP end point is promote the notion of a self-service model to data. So, the IT person can do the work once, and actually will be better able to use that effort and then can expose the HTTP end points just like they would put up a Web page. Then the consumer of that data, whether an analyst or an IT department in a regional office, can access that data through whatever means they are best suited to, and they can actually help themselves, if you will, to that data.
Marino goes into greater detail about his company's solution. He also also discusses other open source integration offerings.
SnapLogic is one example of new and existing companies that are offering innovative, Web 2.0 approaches to accessing information within the enterprise. Companies showed off their offerings last week at the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco, the first in a series of international expos.
IDG covered the event, reporting the enterprise mashup market is running 18 to 24 months behind consumer mashups. At this point, there are tons of questions and concerns --- service levels agreements are just now appearing, for instance, and there's always the security and regulatory questions. But some big-name vendors -- including IBM, Tibco Software, Serena Software, and Nexaweb -- are offering mashup tools.
After you've read the IDG report on mashups, why not experiment for yourself. By starting now, you can play around with the technology and get a good feel for what's possible. As a starting place, try Baseline Magazine's just-published "how-to" on enterprise mashups.
The article walks you through seven steps, starting with viewing a few online mashup sites and guiding you through building your first one. It talks specifically about the top five mashup platforms, as well as what it calls "premium tools," including SnapLogic, Kapow and Worcsnet.