Making Mashups Ready for Business

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Forrester is predicting that the enterprise mashup market will reach nearly $300 million within five years -- that's not bad for a market that's both ill-defined and little-understood.


When Otto Von Bismarck declared "politics is the art of the possible" in 1867, IT and marketing hadn't been invented yet. Like most technology at the beginning of the hype curve, enterprise mashups are more about the art of the possible than any demonstrable business value.


In this month's SOA Magazine, John Crupi and Chris Warner take a stab at better defining enterprise mashups. The article is the first of a three-part series on mashups, with this article focusing on defining enterprise mashups (as opposed to consumer mashups) and explaining how enterprise mashups differ from traditional integration tools.


Crupi is the CTO at JackBe, which sells enterprise mashup software, and Chris Warner is the company's director of marketing, so, obviously, the authors have a bias. But that doesn't mean their argument is invalid -- in fact, their explanation of how enterprise mashups will fit into the existing enterprise IT landscape makes a lot of sense.


Crupi and Warner recognize that mashups probably won't work for businesses in the same way consumer mashups work in the wilds of the Internet -- pulling data from various sources and mashing them together via a browser-based widget. Because businesses have more stringent security, compliance issues and governance requirements, enterprise mashups will have to be tamed a bit, which they contend means bringing mashups somewhat under the domain of IT.


At which point, you may wonder, what's the point? The selling point all along has been that users would be able to pull data and perform their own integration, right?


Well, users would still be able to build mashups without IT -- but as Crupi and Warner envision it, those mashups would be made using formal and virtual services created by IT and made available to business users via an enterprise mashup server. The server would also be connected to all the necessary security, governance and monitoring tools.


It makes sense, and as the article points out, it's a model that's worked well for wikis and blogs -- other 2.0 tools that have more or less transitioned into the enterprise.


The article also offers a useful discussion on how mashups differ from and complement other integration-related technologies, including enterprise information integration, ESBs, business intelligence and business process management.


If you'd like to get a broader perspective on what's emerging in the enterprise mashups market, check out this ZDNet post by Dion Hinchcliffe, who attended last month's Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco. He gives you a round-up of the offerings from the leading mashup vendors. The article also includes a handy graph classifying the available solutions by type and targeted user.


For those of you interested in seeing how all this newfangled mashup stuff might work with legacy systems, check out Sandy Kemsley's recent review of OpenSpan.