Mashups Finding Their Place in Enterprise IT


Mashups seem to be finding their place in the nooks and crannies of enterprise IT.


As I shared in March, mashups-when combined with SOA-can be used for integrating legacy systems. But more recently, the discussion has turned to how mashups can be used as a replacement for enterprise portals or as a way to further your SOA investment


Joe McKendrick recently wrote a post pondering whether mashups will replace the enterprise portals. In it, he cites Michael Ogrinz's arguments that enterprise portals have been limping along, used only for company news, managing health and benefit information and tracking the holiday calendar. In other words, Ogrinz says, enterprise portals "only serve the lowest common denominator of end users."


Ogrinz believes mashups and other social networking tools are much more versatile because of their open APIs (application programming interface) which, of course, makes them easier to integrate with other systems. This allows workers to personalize portals, rather than restricting them to the static enterprise portals, argues Ogrinz.


Mashups don't happen in a vacuum, however, and Ogrinz and others are pointing out that the foundational piece is SOA.


It turns out that mashups pair really well with SOA and can be a great way to squeeze more out of your SOA investment. Mike Kavis, the CTO for M-Dot and the "Mad Greek" blogger at IT Toolbox, recently described enterprise mashups as the "icing on your SOA."


In an article for Social Computing Journal, Kavis shares what he learned about enterprise mashups while trying to figure out how to make his company's products and services more accessible without creating the usual IT backlog/bottleneck problems. Basically, he decided to add a mashup layer on top of the service-oriented architecture.


As the piece points out, most of the mashup discussion has focused on building on-the-fly applications when, in fact, the real enterprise potential lies in accessing the data. Kavis decided to use a tool-he talks specifically about Jackbe's Presto or WSO2's Mashup Server-to "present various data services in a secured and governed fashion." How they consume it, he adds, is up to them:


"Whether they want the mashup on their own intranet, as a desktop gadget, as an application on Facebook, or what ever they dream of, all I need to be concerned with is the SLA of my data services. This also makes my product offering more competitive than my competitors who have proprietary user interfaces that do not provide the flexibility and customization that the customers desire."


And really, isn't that what we all really want? Information, delivered our way-with the integration way, way behind the scenes.