Google Wave's Potential for Enterprise Integration


"Could Google Wave be the holy grail for internal integration of enterprise apps, with two-way real-time updating?"


Hutch Carpenter, the director of marketing for Spigit, asked this last week on Twitter. (Sorry-I refuse to use Twitter as a verb.)


My first thought: I don't know, could it?


My second thought: Wait. What?


Google Wave, for those of you who might have missed it, is what happens when brothers Lars and Jens Rasmussen, the original creators of Google Maps, ask: What would e-mail look like if it were invented today?


<Insert Google development team and tons of work.>


And the result?


Well, the result is complicated, and best read about elsewhere-check out Ben Parr's Google Wave: A Complete Guide or Tim O'Reilly's detailed look at Wave. But, to give you a 1,000-foot look, it's a tool that borrows a bit from instant messaging, e-mail, wikis and content management systems. Google anticipates it will be released later this year.


To me, it looks a lot like someone pasted Facebook onto Gmail. Unlike Facebook, however, your friends/subscribers/co-workers can edit what you've written-in real time. To be honest, it's a bit frightening, particularly when you think about all the problems caused by more simplistic sharing tools -- "reply all" and "forward." So, user beware.


But what about Carpenter's question-could this innovative communications platform be a 'Holy Grail' for enterprise application integration?


Obviously, it's too soon to tell-Wave isn't even available for the public yet -- and the use of "Holy Grail" always reeks of hyperbole, but there are others who believe there are enterprise integration possibilities.


O'Reilly briefly mentions the enterprise integration potential, pointing out Wave's open APIs mean developers could embed waves in other Web services, but ZDNet's Dion Hinchliffe goes into more detail in his assessment of Wave's enterprise implications.


He calls Waves "natural integration" points for many enterprise services, and "one of the most natural environments" for the convergence of internal IT and Web 2.0 he's seen in awhile:

Waves are a natural integration point for many enterprise services including ECM, SOA, mashups and more. By defining a strong protocol for continuous server-side processing of live conversations, Google has enabled an entire world where our IT systems are connected to the work we do every day. Literally while participants are busy typing and collaborating, a wave can be receiving support from back-end systems such as HRM, CRM, ERP, and so on to provide data, context, and other just-in-time support. Many businesses could benefit enormously from seamless business data integration such as customers, orders, and so on, never mind the deeper possibilities of contextual business processes leveraged directly in the collaborative activities of workers.

Finally, blogger and project manager Andy Brandt, who runs an agile software development company based in Poland, says Wave is the first solution he's seen that really could challenge "MS Exchange's reign in corporate communication."


Brandt offers two reasons why enterprises will love Wave. First, enterprises can use it behind their firewalls, unlike Google Apps.


"But even more important," writes Brandt, "is the ability to integrate almost everything with Wave through extensions and bots. Here lies the real strength of Wave as a corporate solution."


As an example, he points out that right now, large companies have several siloed systems -- CRM, accounting, ERP, logistics and order tracking-and they communicate about those systems primarily through e-mail. Brandt believes companies will use Wave to integrate those systems and create their own customized, "corporate communication environment."


For a more detailed look at the extensions and bots Brandt's talking about -- as well as a discussion of the APIs -- check out ThinkVitamin's recent post, "Six Ways that Google Wave is Going to Change Your Business, Career and Life."


Of course, we won't know for sure how Wave can be used for integration until it's released. As our Dennis Byron writes:


"The 'product' - said to be 'available as a developer preview; - reads to me like more unalpha'd demoware that has only barely made it off the test bench. In my day (I know you hate to hear that from us 60-somethings), you'd be fired for talking about it outside the lab unless the listener had signed a non-disclosure agreement."

And it's true -- most if not all of what I read was based on Google's preliminary presentation on Wave. Still, if Google can deliver, Wave's potential for enterprise integration is at least worth a look.