Several of the IT industry's big names have released or are currently developing mashups, one of the tech buzzwords of 2007. The widespread interest in this new technology is understandable, given that mashups, web services and data source remix tools are spearheading the adoption of rich internet applications by developers and businesses alike, and addressing several needs in the process.
Mashup tools allow users to drag-and-drop software components and web services from a palette or pool and assemble these into a new content service or application. The tools available today range from developer-oriented to business user-focused.
IBM's QEDWiki is another mashup tool that is still in development but is available for testing in its Alphaworks program. It is aimed at enterprise users with form processing and database transactions needs, as well as rich web interfaces. Microsoft Popfly is a new tool, currently in beta, aimed at the non-developer for linking web services exposed as blocks that can be combined on a web page. Popfly is Microsoft's first application built on Silverlight, its Flash-like plug-in to the browser. Serena has recently released its Serena Business Mashups tool aimed at business users for incorporating into business processes. The mashup suite provides a visual development environment for building a model of the mashup, and then connects the output to back-end systems within the firewall, publishing the results to a Mashup Server, or publishing to the cloud by subscribing to Serena's software-as-a-service (SaaS ) hosted offering.
The availability of mashup builders addressing different user communities will encourage the adoption of rich internet applications (RIAs). Of particular interest are the business-focused tools that enable domain experts to put together new web-based applications or services that do not require resources from the IT department. This allows IT staff to focus on critical enterprise projects, while business users can become self-sufficient in pulling in web services and mashing these to solve urgent problems or capture new business opportunities with a fast turnaround from design to deployment.
While consumer-led mashups are designed for the open web, many of the business mashups are designed to operate behind the firewall, and to improve productivity within the organization.
The adoption of service orientated architecture (SOA) leads to traditional applications being ripped apart and re-configured as sets of web services, but the traditional user interface is also thrown out. This is where RIAs step in to provide the presentation layer and user interface. The availability of mashup builders aimed at non-programmer, business users is addressing a genuine need.
The opening up of business process management (BPM) tools to a wider market is also creating an interesting overlap as the BPM composite application builders also have a need for mashup capability. We can expect convergence in this space, and with the beta projects available today, this tools market will grow in number and capabilities.
The offering of SaaS for mashups by Serena indicates a trend, with Microsoft, Google, Salesforce, and others in the pipeline that again show how RIAs are beginning to transform the IT landscape.
Source: OpinionWire by Butler Group (www.butlergroup.com)