Mashups on Enterprise

Mashups have gained popularity within the last few years, swept along with the momentum around Web 2.0. Early mashups took data from sources such as Google, twitter and combined them with mapping services or photo services to create visualizations of the data. Many of these early mashups were consumer-focused, although recently there has started to be both interest and acceptance of mashups in the enterprise.

Organizations are starting to realize that they can put their well-defined services that do discrete bits of business logic together with other existing services, internal or external to the organization, to provide new and interesting views on the data.

Because mashups use technology that you already have like JavaScript, XML, and DHTML, plus fast Internet connections to support graphical and functional richness makes it a very small investment in using it. Information Technology divisions are starting to take mashups seriously as quick, easy solutions to integration problems that previously seemed like a daunting amount of work.

For years, Web applications have dominated in-house enterprise development efforts, so integrating multiple data sources into interactive Web pages behind the firewall is nothing new. But AJAX (Asynchronous Java Script and XML) is changing the game. What sets off the lightbulb in developer’s minds is that you now have a ubiquitous platform where you can integrate components without custom applications !

That itself increases developer productivity and also makes it more fun to play around with. Graphical richness has been the big draw in this space. Historically, Web applications have been very thin, so IT departments within organizations love them because they’re easy to deploy. But users don’t like them as they are clunky and not as capable as desktop applications. AJAX lets you provide that rich interface for thin Web applications.

However because mashups are easier to create than many traditional applications, they might not get the same scrutiny for security,. A lot of mashup services rely on JavaScript, which could have potential security leaks. Randomly installing external mashup components is dangerous -- you don’t know what the applications will do, given that users want to mix and match what’s interesting to them by using third-party resources.

Although attractive for lightweight, rapidly developed applications, mashups also have obvious limitations. Mashups make sense for 80 percent of noncritical IT processes and logic. But no company would rely on a lightweight model such as mashups for critical information.

So IT should pay attention to where mashups are used, so they don’t creep into such business-critical areas. If you are interested in learning and experience more on Mashups, I suggest you download the freely available open source mashup server the “WSO2 Mashup Server” and try it out. I have a feeling you will definitely like it !

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