Business-Ready Mashup Platforms

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Even if you think mashups are too cutting-edge for your organization, check out this list from Dion Hinchcliffe, author of the blog Enterprise 2.0 at ZDNet. It's a fantastic round-up of 17 leading mashup platforms, with an eye toward what's useful for enterprises. Many of these platforms are designed to provide data integration, even with your CRM and ERP systems. Several also offer a strong mashup-SOA tie in, naturally. You may find you're pleasantly surprised when you see what's being offered and who's offering it.


In fact, only three of the 17 mashup platforms on Hinchcliffe's list use an open source license, suggesting this is so far a game for proprietary vendors.


Mashups are already making headway in organizations. Mashups were a major topic at Enterprise 2.0 this year. And 21 percent of organizations are using or plan to use mashups, according to a McKinsey Web 2.0 in business survey cited by Hinchcliffe. Frankly, I thought it would take longer for businesses to show interest, especially since the mashup community can't seem to make up its own mind whether it's ready for business or not.


Hinchcliffe makes a case for what mashups offer businesses and business users:

Mashups could theoretically allow business users to move -- when appropriate -- from their current so-called "end-user development tools" such as Microsoft Excel that are highly isolated and poorly integrated to much more deeply integrated models that are more Web-based and hence more open, collaborative, reusable, shareable, and in general make better use of existing sources of content and functionality. ... Tools that could let thousands of workers solve their situational software integration problems on the spot themselves, instead of waiting (sometimes forever) for IT to provide a solution, is indeed a potent vision.

My question is: Could this lead to silos of applications and data? After all, we're still dealing with the data silos created by Excel users who've squirreled away corporate information on self-created Excel spreadsheets hidden on their PCs. Is it such a stretch to imagine the same problem could happen with mashups?


I suppose the main barrier would be that it's easy to create an Excel spreadsheet and store it on your PC, where the network may or may not have access to it, whereas mashups are out there and meant to be public. But I could still imagine a problem years down the road where companies discover end users are running mashups on hosted servers, personal servers or somewhere deep on the corporate Intranet.


Hinchcliffe identifies five barriers to mashup adoption within the enterprise. Obviously, there's the security problem. But he also identifies problems that are pretty hard-wired within the business, such as the fact that most end users do not have "deep access" to enterprise services or information repositories.