Enterprise mashups revealed at Web 2.0 conference

Oracle executive offers perspectives on newfangled, data-linking Web apps, including what they need to provide in order to succeed in enterprises

Tracing the history of mashups to the music business, an Oracle executive touted enterprise-class mashups Wednesday at the Web 2.0 Expo conference in San Francisco.

In the music space, mashups pulled together tunes that were not connected originally but can be pleasing. In the Web vein, mashups pull together data from different sources, said the executive, Vince Casarez, vice president for product management at Oracle.

To be successful, enterprise mashups need to be easy to use, have performance on par with the Web experience, and provide relevant content, Casarez said.

[ Mashups are an important trend, but do you agree with Bill Snyder that enterprise mashups aren't as prominent as the hype? ]

Mashup builders also need to know their audience, and understanding the business is crucial as well, Casarez stressed.

"If you don't necessarily spend some of the time understanding what the business [is] and what the business needs, then it's just as good as having a bad venue for what you're trying to do," Casarez said.

Interviewed afterward, Casarez emphasized that the major benefit of mashups for enterprises is the context-focused content these applications provide.

"I think what it allows them to do is kind of put that enterprise content in the context of what the end-user does," Casarez said. "[For example], I have plenty of sales figures, I have plenty of information, I just want to put it in the context of the task that I'm doing."

He listed four types of enterprise mashups:

* Back-end mashups, which tend to target a wide audience and have users filtering out the information. These, however, offer limited reusability across applications as well as limited or no end user customization.

* Business mashups, which coordinate different process orchestration events. Examples include employee on-boarding and incident management systems.

* Front-end mashups, which are typically done by technical leads in lines of business and include information embedded in the page and visualization of related data sources. Some examples of a front-end mashup are ones that overlay sales data on a map and pair inventory data with customer orders.

* Social enterprise mashups, most often built by developers. These offer social interaction as the key to tying information together and include activity streams tied to applications.

An industry survey from early last year that said only 4 percent of enterprises were ready to deploy mashups at that time, Casarez said. "I think there's some confusion as to where the right use case is," he said.

Casarez advised attendees to take a look at different mashup products from companies, such as JackBe, Kapow Technologies, Serena Software and Oracle. He also suggested taking a look at the programmableweb.com/mashups Web page, which features mashups.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.