Serena heralds 'rich interface mashups'

Users can mix in Silverlight and Flash components as part of tool to be launched with cloud service

As part of its planned hosted mashup service, Serena Software in August plans to highlight an upgrade to the Serena Mashup Composer tool that integrates Silverlight and Flash components as well as other media types.

These components, as well as Google Gadgets and RSS feeds, can become part of the company's "rich interface mashups."

"It's a mashup that allows noncoders to drag widgets into their process-based mashup," said Tim Zonca, director of product marketing for business mashups at Serena.

Serena will officially announce the new version of Serena Mashup Composer on Tuesday in conjunction with the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston. With the upgrade, components and widgets can be dragged and dropped onto the screen. Information presented in the mashups can be automatically updated. Data in a chart could be refreshed, for example, without refreshing the browser.

Components used in Mashup Composer can be mashed with business processes and data from internal applications such as, Siebel, or Oracle applications. Mashups, Zonca said, have driven productivity by coordinating collaboration across people and systems. Mashups built with Serena's software can be reused.

Serena's rich interface mashups concept differs from collocated mashups, in which a page might have related gadgets or components that do not interoperate, analyst Anthony Bradley, managing vice president at Gartner, said. With the Serena product, mashups can be mapped to a global variable such as a customer or location. Serena-built mashups also can leverage Web services strung together from a user's SOA, he said.

"They offer the ability for more gadget interoperability," he said.

But mashup use within enterprise still is not all that prevalent, according to Gartner's own figures.

"It's just beginning, really," Bradley said. In a survey of persons at 250 companies, only 17 percent were using mashups, and of those persons, only 28 percent used them for work purposes. Five percent used mashups provided by their enterprises, while the rest reached out to services such as Netvibes and Microsoft Popfly.

The rich interface mashup capability is to be available as part of Serena Business Mashups On Demand. This cloud-based service benefits users who might have a mashup that would only be used for a handful of users, such as a mashup for recruiting purposes, said Kyle Arteaga, Serena spokesman.

"In that scenario, if you took that app to IT and said, 'Go handle this for us,' they would tell you, 'You're at the end of my backlog list,'" Arteaga said. "In that scenario, it's just easier to do hosting." 

The on-demand service has been available in a beta phase thus far.

The Serena Mashup Composer upgrade is to be offered free of charge; pricing for Serena On Demand will be announced this summer. The hosted service, the Mashup Composer tool, and an on-premise mashup server all will be part of the Serena Business Mashups 2008.2 suite release.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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