How Mashups, Integration and SOA Relate

Loraine Lawson

AIIM MarketIQ recently surveyed 441 end users about their companies' use of Enterprise 2.0 technology - wikis, mashups, social networks; you know, the usual Web 2.0 stuff, but scaled for the enterprise. The press received a copy of the report, "Enterprise 2.0: Agile, Emergent, and Integrated" before an online media conference, which is now available for online viewing.


In general, the survey shows companies are pretty vague about their perspective on Enterprise 2.0 - "the topic never came up" was the most popular answer, followed closely by "a new approach to collaboration" and "just Web 2.0 for the enterprise."


When asked what they're trying to accomplish, their answers were similarly non-committal: "Increase collaboration," "raise awareness of 'what we know,'" and "increase agility/responsiveness" were all top answers.


Still, the survey showed that some companies have very specific ideas of what Enterprise 2.0 should achieve. For instance, 8 percent said the organization's perspective on enterprise 2.0 technology was that it could give them a user-centric approach to IT functionality. And 6 percent said it offered a new approach to integration.


Six percent isn't a lot, but then again, enterprises are just now starting to explore the potential of mashups for integration. According to the report, mashups provide a quick, low-cost way to integrate content with interfaces, as well as integrate - or overlay - "standalone" applications with data.


This idea of mashups as an integration tool is gaining traction in the trade press, and quickly. In fact, it's being tied closely to SOA.


For the most part, mashups are seen as a way of capitalizing on and "selling" SOA to business users. Joe McKendrick recently published a round-up of posts from those who support this view of mashups.


Occasionally, though more rarely, mashups are suggested as a possible evolution beyond SOA or just flat-out as a SOA replacement. I'd say that's wishful thinking at best, and I think this article from Manufacturing Business Technology does a great job of explaining why.


This six-page feature is a great read, mainly because it explains how various big-wig vendors are using and approaching SOA. Many of the examples talk about how SOA works behind the scene to simplify integration.


On page four, you'll find a bold sub-head, "Mashups may lend simpler alternatives to SOA." The article questions whether mashups might be stealing the SOA show. The answer is yes, of course mashups are stealing the show, but mashups lack the governance muscle and embedded structured offered by SOA.


There are a couple of different ways to understand the relationship between mashups and SOA. The Manufacturing Business Technology article notes that some view mashups as more of a "PDQ" alternative to SOA.


ZapThink Managing Partner Jason Bloomberg offered another way to understand the interplay between mashups and SOA. He recently wrote a report on IDV Solutions, which sells enterprise mashup software for use with Microsoft SharePoint. In a press release touting ZapThink's report, IDV quoted Bloomberg as saying their mashup tool lets companies leverage services while "the SOA story fades into the background, which is where it belongs."


I could probably find a thousand more written words to describe it, but perhaps this is a situation where a picture might be best. So, check out this Venn diagram synopsis of how mashups, enterprise mashups and SOA relate. It's from IT consultant Simon Wardley's blog, Bits or Pieces.

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