Click for larger view.
The big Web players clearly have bought into this vision and are now working on the mother of all SOAs in support of emerging enterprise SOAs and mashups. Google may have been first, but Microsoft, Yahoo, and others are close behind.
Breaking out and mashing up
Although enterprise mashups are new, their solution patterns are already emerging. Broadly speaking, there are really two types of mashups: visual and nonvisual.
The Google Maps variety typifies visual mashups. The formula is simple: Take two different resources and create something that is more useful than the sum of its parts. It’s easy to see the value because it’s right there on the screen. Note, however, that visual mashups can also be intra-enterprise, without involving a public service, as in a mashup of sales figures with a graphical enterprise logistics system.
Nonvisual mashups combine two or more services to create an integration point that serves a business process. They may operate behind the scenes and never appear on screen, at least not directly, but they are mashups nonetheless.
Typical examples might include mashing up a stream of customer addresses with an address validation service and mashing up a stream of Social Security numbers with a credit check service. Each nonvisual mashup may send exceptions off to another stream or queue for processing later, or perhaps to other mashups.
More complex and valuable nonvisual mashups can be concocted easily, using either SOA services, externally hosted services, or some combination of the two. Truth be told, while visual mashups are cool and useful, nonvisual mashups will be more valuable to business in the long run, especially in an SOA environment. For one thing, nonvisual mashups can be used by multiple applications, while visual ones mash at the glass.
In the future, we could reach a point where enterprises own a minority of their mashup interfaces and construct SOAs primarily as jumping-off points for mashup solutions, whether visual or nonvisual. It may seem odd to think of an SOA as a mashup platform, but in most organizations, it will increase the value of an SOA tremendously.
Get ready to mash
The huge quantity of mashable services and content now on the Web boggles the mind. But having such resources available for the price of a broadband connection does not mean you’ll be able to leverage it properly. Indeed, it will take some time before enterprises are prepared to leverage mashups beyond the browser.