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In search of enterprise mashup standards

The diversity found in enterprise mashup approaches has pros and cons: it spurs innovation but also proliferates multiple system types. This makes standards difficult to achieve. Several groups have attempted to create standards in order to improve collaboration and compatability throughout the industry.

The diversity found in enterprise mashup approaches has pros and cons: it spurs innovation but also proliferates multiple system types. Even as analysts recognize mashups as one of the top technologies of 2009, they admit the variety plays against standardization.

Not surprisingly, some vendors have banded together under a common standard, Enterprise Mashup Markup Language (EMML). Last month JackBe, the mashup specialist that created EMML, announced the Creative Commons release of the language and the formation of an Open Mashup Alliance (OMA). Already the OMA has recruited top names like Adobe, HP, Capgemini, Bank of America, and Intel.

"This is an up and coming trend," said John Crupi, CTO of JackBe. "The whole domain-specific language idea has been talked about in the past. It's tuned to be more aligned with patterns of enterprise mashups, such as calling the data from the services and doing it in real time."

Mashups are growing in popularity as a way of organizing and displaying business intelligence (BI) data, but what is a company to do when the data it needs to analyze lives out on the Web? This has been a special quest of Kapow Technologies which last month partnered with StrikeIron to provide a visual tool for aggregating and processing any data searchable on the Web.

With Web Data Services 7.0.0, users can create custom "robots" that can log in to accounts, collect information, organize and manipulate data and serve up custom-tailored figures. This configuration is done through a visual process map that does not require any coding.

This would be useful for someone who spends a good amount of time, say, researching product pricing across many sources to present at weekly meetings.

More on Enterprise Mashups
Podcast: Enterprise Mashups with John Crupi 

Podcast: Enterprise mashup patterns can make data integration easier.  

Enterprise Mashups Tutorial 
"In almost every company, there is somebody pasting data from Web applications into Excel to produce a report that they have to deliver," Stefan Andreasen, founder and CTO at Kapow Technologies. "Here you can create a robot that goes and grabs the latest numbers and populates excel spreadsheets. So basically all you have to do is click refresh."

To be clear, Kapow's new offering does not create mashups. Rather, it can provide the data needed for a mashup. Having recently joined up with the Open Mashup Alliance (OMA), the company's product can interface with the mashup builders of any other member, such as JackBe. The product can also be used to enable a Web mashup for mobile use.

Managing the mashups
"A mashup is a form of integration. Web services and more dynamic interface technology have created deeper interest in utilizing such tactics," said Sandy Rogers, independent industry consultant. Still, she adds, many enterprises will continue to create their own mashups using their own in-house technology.

"As firms look at mashup enabling alternatives, research has indicated that they often opt to use their existing tool sets rather than add yet another development environment into the mix," said Rogers.

Meanwhile, managing how mashups are done across the enterprise is an emerging issue.

"Vendors have been adding capabilities to address 'mashups', including federated information integration, business process management, portal, lifecycle management, and more, along with what has been marketed as "specialized" mashup development environments," Rogers noted.

A key element to consider, according to Rogers, is what is needed to help govern mashup oriented activity on an ongoing basis. Coordination with other Web services and IT management programs is key, she added.

Enterprise Mashups: A three-part special report.
Part 1: Tools build data integrations
Part 2: User story--Pfizer uses mashups to shape IT culture
Part 3: In search of mashup standards

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