More moves in the SOA-mashup mashup space

Business may not 'get' SOA, but enterprise mashups can make SOA "real.'
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer on

Web 2.-SOA convergence is taking place on a bunch of levels. At one level, Web 2.0 collaborative tools are helping teams involved in building SOA.

Enterprise mashups represent another move into the joint Web 2.0-SOA frontier. Mashups, for all intents and purposes, are composite applications that exist within a user-friendly interface and draw in data and applications from back-end systems. Call it SOA-mashup mashups.

In a recent post, JackBe's Chris Warner suggests there is urgency behind the drive to enable SOA-mashup mashups, with this rather to-the-point headline: "Implementing SOA without Enterprise Mashups? You Might as Well Kiss Your Job Goodbye."

The issue, Chris points out, is that the business simply doesn't get SOA. Enterprise mashups -- visible to business end-users at their workstations -- make SOA real. They bring SOA to life. As Chris so aptly puts it: Enterprise mashups "can actually drag the SOA out of the proverbial IT basement and onto the end-user's desks. It's not only highly visible, but it's user-driven, giving IT a way fulfill the promise of SOA and enhance that elusive SOA ROI." Unlike SOA, mashups are something tangible that end-users can touch, manipulate, and understand. And, it's something end-users can appreciate without massive intervention from IT.

InfoWorld reports new vendor activity in the enterprise mashup space as well. According to the article, Nexaweb and Kapow Technologies are partnering (hey, let's call it "mashing up" their offerings) to help companies create Web 2.0 apps that tie into SOAs. They outlined their intentions in a recent Webcast.

Nexaweb's chief architect, Bob Buffone, is quoted as saying the prime candidates for enterprise mashups will be complex, composite applications with dynamic, non-linear workflows.

Meaning composite applications that need to draw data from eight mainframes at a time, for example. "The number-one obstacle is to get access to the data," Buffone said in the article. "A lot of enterprises have 6,000 internal Web applications with no API ... the information the knowledge workers have is only what they can personally see on their screen."

Under the new Nexaweb-Kapow mashup, Kapow will help companies implement its Mashup Server, a visual scripting tool for making Web 2.0 applications, along with Nexaweb's AJAX platform. "The idea is that companies trying to create a more efficient IT environment based on SOA could also develop online applications that tie into those systems."

Kapow CTO Stefan Andreasen said the mashups will give users better-automated tasks and the ability to deliver software programs more quickly, Andreasen said. They would in essence be what developers are calling RIAs that use APIs, such as SOAP and RSS, and offer a downloadable "offline" mode as well as an online one. And it beats cutting and pasting information into Excel spreadsheets.

JackBe's Chris Wagner also made some good points about the role enterprise mashups can play in SOA. For example, he points out that enterprise mashups can serve as a shortcut on the road to SOA. "Mashups can help create normalized 'virtual' services from sources that haven't been 'SOAed' yet. It's no secret that SOA efforts can take years. Until the formal SOA magic has been applied, a quick, standardized service can help users get started earlier than otherwise."

Plus, unlike typical corporate portals to composite applications, mashups can bring in data and applications from outside the enterprise. Mashups don't care where data comes from, and "good mashup software makes the actual location of a data service irrelevant."

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