Barely a year old as a term, the Ajax browser programming technique has received a lot of press and industry attention in the last few months. Not the least because head-turning software is being developed with it. Ajax sparking yet another big push towards Software as a Service on the Web and even the biggest software players like Microsoft are making significant investments in Ajax desktops, online business software, as well as elaborate Ajax development frameworks such as Microsoft's forthcoming Atlas product.
Enterprise Web 2.0
Dion Hinchcliffe on leveraging the convergence of IT and the next generation of the Web.
Dion Hinchcliffe is an expert in information technology, business strategy, and next-generation enterprises. He is currently Chief Strategy Officer at the digital business transformation firm Adjuvi. A veteran of enterprise IT, Dion has been working for two decades with leading-edge methods to bridge the widening gap between business and technology. He has extensive practical experience with enterprise technologies and he consults, advises, and writes prolifically on social business, IT, and enterprise architecture. Dion still works in the trenches with clients in the Fortune 1000, government, and Internet startup community. He is also a sought-after keynote speaker and is co-author of several books on 2.0 subjects including Web 2.0 Architectures from O'Reilly as well as the best-selling Social Business By Design from John Wiley & Sons (May, 2012.)
There's been a lot of interest recently in the social aspects of Web 2.0 experiences because of their tendency to alter the communities that use them. As part of tracking this, I wrote recently about McKinsey and Co.'s discussion of coming Interaction Age that discusses how optimizing for high-value tacit interactions between people will become the next major driver of productivity world-wide. A lot of folks call these pull-based interaction systems, which value reputation and trust above all other things, Social Computing.
The Silicon Valley Web 2.0 upstart, eponymously named Upstartle, confirmed today that they were recently acquired by Google. Their excellent Web-based word processer, Writely, is a gem of online software and is probably the crown jewel in the Web 2.0 software space. The rumors of acquisition had been swirling recently and in retrospect, the purchase makes sense.
No doubt it's partially due to the Etech conference but it's certainly an exciting week to be a mashup developer. The Web as a platform in its own right got a couple of significant boosts in the last few days as well as a the usual round of additions and improvements. Though the nascent world of mashups is just starting and its anybody's guess as to how significant it will ultimately become, the story looks more and more interesting as the tools really start to shape up. And more importantly, the number of high-quality, open APIs continues to flourish and that's where we start this story.
The online social software services like del.icio.us let us do a remarkable thing. They create another good reason to store our data online for all to share. I can't tell you how many times I've made terrific discoveries because of del.icio.us/popular or Blinklist. And then added those discoveries to my own bookmarks, further increasing the public pool of knowledge. These relevance engines really do make excellent use of the data that we publicly conglomerate on these types of sites. The point here is that the value of software and data online is often much greater than the value of software and information offline.
Too often cut off from direct accountability and saddled with a long backlog of user demands, IT departments frequently have little incentive or ability to be responsive to the business. And like personal computing did to the previous generation of computing, this will drive businesses to solve their own problems using simple, inexpensive alternatives. Yes, folks, I'm talking about Software as a Service (SaaS).
I've been following Dave Winer's various work for years now but none of it has been quite as interesting as watching the political imbroglios surrounding RSS 2.0. The RSS format itself is something that is still creeping onto the radar of users in the mainstream but it's something we will all get increasingly familiar with in the coming years. And Dave has been a faithful steward of the current RSS specification, which has become a platform in its own right that thousands of people have invested countless hours and financial resources in and millions of people use daily, whether they know it or not.
With all the recent coverage of Web 2.0 and the enterprise, one of the things that isn't discussed enough is the way Web 2.0 is highlighting compelling alternatives to the usual ways of producing software. One of the more recent write-ups in this vein was Stephen Bryant's Five Reasons Why Web 2.0 and Enterprises Don't Mix. Stephen's points are generally right on and capture well the impedance that many larger organizations encounter when they try to take advantage of Web 2.0 ideas for themselves.
I run into a fair number of people who are skeptical about the actual business value of Web 2.0. Sure, they usually agree it's a terrific new movement in online software that encourages social collaboration, two-way use of the Web, services that are open and repurposable, Web-based applications, and more. But can you build and grow a real business with these ideas?
As MashupCamp gets into full swing today, I thought I'd try my hand at projecting current trends forward and seeing how the mashup world might look in the near future. The fact is that the services and data available all over the Web, and inside our own organizations, are now just too tempting a target as significant new source material for our software efforts.
I believe the ongoing discussion here on ZDNet on the topic of in-house e-mail vs. outsourcing is missing some important points so I thought I'd chime in. David Berlind originally started the discussion with some speculation about Google's e-mail hosting service with Gmail. Phil Wainwright then jumped in with some useful information about the oft-misperceived TCO of e-mail as well as some decision points to use when deciding which approach to take.
It's hard to ignore the obvious contrast between the thriving and vibrant Web 2.0 software industry, rife with Ajax-powered web clients, and the too-often slow moving, ponderous Web services and SOA efforts in the mainstream IT community. Rich Internet Applications (RIAs) are getting lots of attention, turning heads with flashy graphics, immersive experiences, and roaming software and information.
Fellow ZDNet's blogger Richard MacManus wrote today about the release of Microsoft's Office Live into beta. A lot of people have been tracking this development because it seems to herald Microsoft's burgeoning seriousness about offering versions of its core products as hosted online services. The feeling being that if Microsoft puts its considerable muscle behind online business software, they just might be able to dominate this space as well. But of course, the biggest news about Office Live is that it isn't a port of its famed productivity suite to the online world.
One of the demonstrations I like to give to show the power of simple services is to use Iridesco's Suprglu to instantly wire together Web services into a new and useful service on the spot. This is the simplest possible mashup you can create but it does combine useful data from multiple sources into a single view. You can do it yourself: copy and paste a few feeds from a few sources of interest and you're off and running.
As the Web matures into a richly intertwined ecosystem of shared content and open services, what some call The Web As Platform, some innovative companies are beginning to offer potentially disruptive products that leverage the Web's growing "platformness". Increasing in popularity in particular are what some people call Ajax desktops, or personalized start pages.
The best of ZDNet, delivered
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- 5 Today's enterprise collaboration landscape: Cloudy, social, mobile