This long Network Computing article takes a look at mashups and their viability in the enterprise. The piece goes into great detail, but the theme is that there is a place for these Web 2.0 mixes of voice, video and data in business. The idea of enabling non-technical employees to throw together different elements to create their own applications -- which presumably will be better able to serve the user's specific need, since he or she built it -- is compelling. It is fair to note, however, that some doubt mashups are ready for big business.
The story says that Google Maps was the first mashup, and its AJAX application programming interface (API) remains popular. Evidence of this is the fact that Google mapping and search is part of more than half the corporate mashups built by respondents to the survey accompanying the article.
The story adds that some companies -- particularly in the shipping industry -- are offering mashups that cross corporate lines and link to business partners. Large companies, the story says, want to use mashups to leverage their internal applications. Making internal applications available for mashups is more difficult than using elements that are on the Web. Service-oriented architecture (SOA) vendors, the writer says, are using mashups as the "last mile" in linking their wares available to end users.
There is anecdotal evidence that mashups will have a big impact in the enterprise. This ZDNet blog posting is a reaction to comments made by Alfred Chuang, the chairman and CEO of BEA Systems at the opening of BEAWorld in San Francisco. Chung said that SOA and enterprise mashups are transforming enterprise computing and that dynamic business applications (DBAs) -- which the blogger characterizes as "sort of like SOA composite applications" -- are the driving force. DBAs, which face both the employees and customers, are being developed within a BEA project called Genesis.
The positioning is being accompanied by product announcements. BEA and Adobe used BEAWorld to announce that they will bundle Adobe Flex Builder 2 with the BEA Workshop Studio Java development environment. The result is the ability to create "cross-platform rich Internet applications integrating SOA and Web 2.0 infrastructure" -- precisely the outcome suggested in the Network Computing story. The results can be interactive dashboards, consumer and employee self-service applications and business-to -business systems, the story says.
vnunet.com describes the Serena Business Mashup Suite, which enables employees to create their own mashup applications without the involvement of the IT department. The story offers links to six enterprise mashup-related stories that the site has posted. Big Blue is in on the act as well. This blog posting tracks the involvement of IBM in Enterprise 2.0, and links to YouTube videos that the writer says are good introductions of enterprise mashups.
All of this is very confusing and, luckily, there are folks whose job it is to understand how to take existing elements and fit them together in order to achieve some new purpose. The bottom line is that this new generation of Web 2.0 tools that can combine voice, video and data can be leveraged into powerful enterprise tools -- and do so without the IT department's intervention.