It's getting increasingly hard to tell where one Web application ends and another begins. Everywhere you turn these days some provider of a Web application is announcing another application programming interface (API).
The latest example is Producteev, which offers a task-management application as a service. As much as Producteev CEO Ilan Abehassera would like people to use his service online, he's more interested in having other application providers embed Producteev inside their application services. After all, task management probably is better as a subset of another application rather than a stand-alone app.
As Web applications evolve, they are becoming as borderless as our Web sites. The average Web site today is a collection of modules delivering content from who knows where. The model is now being applied to Web applications that are taking advantage of custom and de facto industry standard APIs that essentially allow customers to customize and integrate these applications with just about any other Web application.
The rise of these new borderless Web applications will present some interesting security and data-management challenges. But what was once a relatively simple mashup concept involving the sharing of data between two applications rapidly is becoming a never-ending series of composite applications that are always connected.
From an end user perspective, this capability presents all kinds of possibilities for mass customization as part of the general trend toward the consumerization of IT. From an IT manager's perspective, however, mass customization currently equals mass confusion.
There's no doubt we're seeing the rise of a new era of applications of the Web; then only real question at this point is how are we going to manage them?