The tipping point was clearly when Google published its Google Maps API, says Aaron Tavistock, chief architect at Zip Realty. “Google has put a lot out to seed the mashup concept, telling developers, ‘Here, use this.’ Before that, the openness hadn’t been there.”
Graphical richness has been the big draw, says Zimbra’s Dargahi. “Historically, Web apps have been very thin, so IT loves them because they’re easy to deploy. But users don’t like them because they are clunky and not as capable as desktop apps. AJAX lets you provide that rich interface for thin Web apps. What captures people’s imagination is the client, the presentation -- but the power is the information being available through these APIs,” he adds.
SOA made sexy
With the widespread adoption of Web standards, “information access has become that much easier,” says Dan Gisolfi, an IBM IT architect who’s evangelizing mashups to enterprise customers. “Not only does it use the Web 2.0 tools, but it brings together disparate services and behaviors.”
Newer, more complex technologies from the SOA and Web services worlds -- such as SOAP, WSDL, and REST (Representational State Transfer) -- can also be part of mashups, Gisolfi argues. In a sense, mashups are the simplest form of SOA-based application. “Mashups fit very nicely around the concept of a service-oriented enterprise,” concurs Shane Pearson, vice president of marketing at BEA Systems.
Or as Jason Bloomberg, senior analyst at consultancy ZapThink, puts it: “They’re the sexy part of SOA.”
“Look around. You probably already have some mashups in place,” even if you don’t use that label, says BEA’s Pearson.
For example, Pratt & Whitney developed its first mashups four years ago, using the term “info center” for these composite applications that used the technologies now associated with mashups, notes Colin Karsten, manager of business process solutions at the company. They were a natural outgrowth of first Web service and then SOA explorations, applying the same principles of modularity and standard interfaces to discrete projects.
If your enterprise isn’t pursuing an SOA strategy, that might change after a few mashups are demoed. “Mashups expose the need for SOA,” IBM’s Gisolfi says. When decision makers see quick and easy consolidation in a single Web page of data and functionality normally spread across several apps, the benefits sell themselves.
Managing sources and services
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