Mashups; Everywhere or Nowhere? – The Conundrum

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It’s been a real MashUp month back since the beginning of December with new MashUp events appearing right across the world, and seems like a good time to review progress, which is considerable, if you know where to look. And that’s my first comment, those who are into the new World of Web 2.0 work […]

It’s been a real MashUp month back since the beginning of December with new MashUp events appearing right across the world, and seems like a good time to review progress, which is considerable, if you know where to look. And that’s my first comment, those who are into the new World of Web 2.0 work and play in the Web 2.0 space, and that’s resulted in their being not much on Web 2.0, and MashUps in conventional articles etc. Think about it and it makes sense, why publish for those who don’t use or understand what you are saying?
The result of this is to really split and polarise reactions between those who say nothing is happening and those who say everything is happening. Also reminiscent of the arrival of the PC and the PC literate early users finding more and more things they could do and sharing applications, having a specialised press, etc. whilst the Mainframe and Mini boys never even saw the stuff. Remember good ole Ken Olsen, founder of Digital Equipment Corp, a huge success story in the 1980s issued his view of ‘who on earth will ever need a personal computer ….’ ? Must have really hurt when Digital got acquired by Compaq one of those PC upstarts that was never going to be of any real value to an enterprise!
So let’s start with as near mainstream as we can to help those who are still not sure if this stuff is real and can be used in an Enterprise in a serious way. So it makes sense to kick off with Serena who launched in December what they referred to as an Enterprise platform for MashUps. These guys have really got it with their web site split into two separate entry choices; Business User or IT User, and that controls the content you see and how you can play with the Serena MashUp composer tool etc. Very smart way of handling something where there are two such different interests and focuses. There are a series of standard business MashUp templates for areas such as HR etc., so it’s pretty enterprise usable stuff, plus some really interesting areas on their site such as the Serena MashUp Exchange.
Taking a different but equally mainstream route is Jackbe who declare on their website that they; “provide user driven enterprise MashUp software. Empower your users to consume, create, customize and collaborate for better business results”. Pretty much says it all, but reflect on the words user driven and think how that will sit with a conventional approach to provisioning user IT services. These guys go two steps further than Serena offering four ways through their site by adding; Systems Integrators and Industries to Business Users and Techies. Jackbe are focussed on MashUps that cross the Firewall i.e. allow external content to be mashed with internal content; just the stuff for trading markets better as an example. Again the tools, templates etc are all provided to get things started.
Jackbe and Serena are just two examples of the range of companies now looking to deliver Mashups, selected from a lot of players in this game now. Google, who can perhaps claim to have provided many MashUps with their base content from its Google maps are now offering the Google MashUp Editor to make it both easier to build a MashUp and to ensure the resulting MashUp is of sound, read Enterprise, quality. Hard to be in any reasonable sized logistics business today without seeing the result of this in the ability to track your goods.
Microsoft have entered the game, but as is increasingly common these days using a different name / brand, in this case Popfly, this is further reinforcing my point that you are either in the Web 2.0 world or not, and that means big companies changing their branding to reflect a different market place. PopFly is yet another approach to the topic and it’s also combined with a community approach to sharing MashUp elements. The Site describes it as; “Popfly is the fun and easy way to build and share MashUps, gadgets, and Web pages. It’s made up of online visual tools for building Web pages and MashUps and a social network where you can host, share, rate, comment and even re-mix creations from other Popfly users.”
Finally take a look at what you can do to add MashUps to Office 2.0 by going to see the MashUp list on the site. Btw I think this is a good site to have a browse through as it’s supported by some large vendors including SAP, Google and WebEx (Cisco using another name!), and has a large variety of contributors and content. I reckon that SAP has certainly unveiled some stuff on this site for feedback before more conventional release. Once again confirming my point that you have to know where to look to know it’s happening.
So in just four companies we can see how widely MashUps are spreading into the market; internally with Serena, externally with Jackbe; as a general tool through Google; or as a completely different environment from Microsoft. And of course this ignores so many other companies, web sites etc, just try searching on Google under MashUps to see what I mean. Oh and before you all hit me, yes I know IBM is a huge contender with a wide range of products and a pretty clear intention to be the leader in the whole Web 2.0 technology switch over. But the issue is just like the arrival of the PC, it’s only there for those who are involved, and for the others they can state perfectly accurately that in their world the MashUp hardly exists. So I will close with the wonderfully crafted remark of Mikko Kosonen the former CIO of Nokia at the European conference of CIOs in November 2006;
“most companies die not because they do the wrong things but because they keep doing what used to be the right things for too long”
Oh and btw do please feel free to post urls and details of the MashUps that you have found and can recommend.

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