Enterprise 2.0: Enterprise 2.0 Mashups

David Coleman of Collaborative Strategies ran a panel on Enterprise Mashups that included Ajay Gandhi of BEA, Rod Smith of IBM, Eric Hoffert of ShareMethods (who I had a great chat with yesterday at a break) and Lee Buck of Near-Time.

Coleman defines a mashup as something that can be working in less than a day, and declared that anything that takes longer than that is an integration project. I’m not sure I agree with that strict time definition, but it’s definitely in ballpark. He started out with some interesting slides defining mashups, since it’s likely that many in the audience aren’t familiar with mashups. His talk would have been a bit more impactful if he had taken the Bluetooth headset out of his ear, however…

Gandhi was up next to cover BEA’s mashup environment (he used the term “adhocracies” to describe some of the types of collaboration that are going on, which I love), and discussed how enterprise mashups are different than consumer internet mashups since they have to plug in to corporate data and provide some degree of security and control. He primarily covered AquaLogic Pages, which I saw at the recent BEA user conference. The nice thing about this panel is that each participant is expected to not just present, but demo, so he moved over to a Pages demo, although he didn’t do a live inclusion of my blog during the demo as we had from the stage at BEA Participate. He showed how to create a new data space, or page, which includes feeds from other sources, interactively-entered text, and other content; each page automatically has its own RSS feed. He then created a simple web application in Pages by combining a data object containing names and addresses of potential sales prospects with a map widget, where the map and data widgets interact with the map detecting any address information in the data and plotting the prospects on the map.

Hoffert gave a quick presentation on mashups as a model for building and selling applications, where revenue can be shared across the mashup participants, and the need for better standards to allow mashup components to interact. They’re involved in Open Simple Ajax Mashup (OpenSAM), which is intended to more easily allow for multi-component, multi-vendor enterprise mashups — this is another twist on the same issue being addressed by at least one other vendor by considering a sort of mashup ESB. Hoffert then demonstrated ShareOffice, one of their products, which is a mashup built on five different components for creating, editing and sharing documents amongst members of a sales team, and includes SalesForce.com data as well as document authoring and management.

We moved over to Smith, who started with some discussion of why companies do mashups, which is usually about how to reuse assets in ways that they were not intended. The emerging mashup ecosystem has to allow ease of access, have data and components be designed for re-mixability, and be ready in a corporate culture sense for the emergent behaviour and applications that will result. He demonstrated QEDwiki, which I’ve seen at Mashup Camp last year and in a few other presentations since then, although I haven’t tried it out yet. The page creation environment allows you to drag and drop components from a palette to the page, then open up properties for each component in order to create the links between them. The application that he showed, which was built in 17 hours, so fits the “less than one day” criteria if you’re a typical developer, combines two views of data about shipping vessels (a list, then a drill-down on the selected vessel) with a map of the location and relevant weather data. One of their widgets allows you to create a feed from a SQL statement, or from an Excel/CSV file, in order to integrate into their environment; this further supports my thoughts of (RSS) feeds as being the next great thing in what used to be called end-user computing. You can’t use third-party widgets, such as Google gadgets, although Smith sees that having widget interface standards is going to be essential as we move forward: essentially the same message that we heard from Hoffert about OpenSAM. It appears that this will all be part of Info 2.0, which we heard about yesterday in IBM’s Enterprise 2.0-o-rama presentation.

Last up was Buck from Near-Time, which looks at cross-organizational collaboration. He discussed “people mashups”, namely online collaboration outside corporate boundaries, where there is no single authority. They use methods such as an OpenID gateway to an internal LDAP directly as a way to help facilitate that collaboration, and provide tools for secure content sharing. Sorry guy, this is not a mashup in the sense that anyone attending this panel means, although it might be an interesting collaboration environment.

An audience member asked about process mashups rather than data mashups; Smith responded with an example about Tivoli information being available for exposure in a mashup environment, which is not really what I was looking for in response to that question.

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