Articles about Web 2.0 and the enterprise tend to focus on software and business: What/how can enterprises learn from/use Web 2.0?
But recently, Lori MacVittie, who writes a blog called "Two Different Socks" on DevCentral, offered a different take on this much-discussed topic by examining what Web 2.0 can teach the enterprise about infrastructure integration.
Naturally, she calls it "Integration 2.0" because-well, how could she not?
Part of the reason this discussion is worth reviewing is that the network is facing new challenges as more companies use on-demand, cloud-based architecture. It's packed with useful information, although I'll warn you it's a bit more technical than pieces I usually reference. But if I could follow it, you certainly can.
What intrigued me was her explanation of where APIs fall short. Now, as I've pointed out before, Web 2.0 seems to be obsessed with the power of open APIs. MacVittie points out that there are a lot of infrastructure solutions that are API-enabled, but-just as with Web.20 and social networking-no two APIs are the same. That's largely fine...until you start to move an application that requires multiple support from infrastructure-and what apps don't? - from one environment to another:
"You can't automate the migration via the API because the product in one environment may be different than the next, and therefore such a method would be useless. The answer is, of course, to somehow just share the configuration data, but today that is just as tightly coupled to products as APIs."
Suddenly, APIs-the great integration solution of cloud vendors - have created a migration headache for you.
The solution: A standard, but extensible, method of sharing metadata, which is essentially what carries the configuration information, argues MacVittie. You may remember yesterday when I shared what the telecoms were doing to standardize their networks? If so, you'll recall they suspected the answer would be in the metadata.
MacVittie explains how APIs and metadata could be used together to simplify infrastructure integration, an approach that is working for Web 2.0, she adds:
"Both metadata integration and API-based integration will be required to build out a truly portable, dynamic infrastructure. And if we look at what's happened in the web application space, we see that it, too, has compromised on a combination of metadata (standardizing on XML and JSON) and APIs to enable the cross-application sharing of data and functions that essentially today make up the 'social networking web.'"
Web 2.0 companies have already figured this out, so you don't have to. All-in-all, that's not a bad way to learn.