Mashups combine, aggregate and remix existing data from various sources (databases, spreadsheets, websites, Web Services, RSS/Atom feeds and unstructured sources) and deliver information in a actionable format including better visualization.
Visualization is the greatest benefit derived from Mashups and accordingly most Mashups today are hosted as Internet sites, providing visual representations of publically available data. Mashups are relevant and useful both in Consumer as well as Enterprise context. Enterprise mashups are secure, visually rich Web applications that expose actionable information from diverse internal and external information sources (wikipedia).
Mashups being “content aggregation” naturally gets compared with Portals. Portals can be said to be legacy while Mashups are the upcoming ones in-line with Web 2.0 and Social Computing Trend. Typically creating Mashups do not require programming skill and can be achieved by visual wiring of GUI widgets, services and components together. Another key difference is in the type of Aggregation and the final output arrived. In Portal the content is presented ‘side-by-side’ without overlaps (“Salad bar” style) and in Mashups the content is combined in any manner resulting in hybrid output (“Melting Pot” style).
Enterprise Mashups solves business challenges by empowering the Users – by allowing the users to combine and remix different data in new ways, providing new insights into corporate data. Effective Enterprise Mashups adoption would provide significant benefits to organizations in terms of speed, agility and innovation.
IBM’s listing of the characteristics of Enterprise Mashups as given below is quite complete:
- Simple, flexible applications that solve day-to-day problems
- Can be created in minutes, hours, or days (given heavy reliance on reuse and lightweight integration techniques)
- Can be “situational” in nature – easily customized to meet an individual’s unique needs
- Mashing of functionality from different sources supports new insights
- Often supports self-service application development
- Can help make Service-Oriented-Architecture (SOA) more business-relevant and visible, increasing reuse of services and widgets
Refer to ftp://ftp.software.ibm.com/software/lotus/lotusweb/mashup/EPW14002-USEN-00.pdf for a whitepaper titled “The business case for Enterprise Mashups”. Another interesting article on business case for Mashups is available at http://blogs.gartner.com/anthony_bradley/2009/06/11/you-cant-build-a-business-case-for-enterprise-mashups/.
According to Gartner, “By 2012, one-third of analytic applications applied to business processes will be delivered through coarse-grained application mashups”. Coarse-grained mashups overlay analytical insights, such as queries, scores, calculations, metrics and graphs, onto the graphical user interface of the operational application. Standards like Enterprise Mashup Markup Language (EMML) and products like IBM Mashup Center are accelerating Enterprise Mashups adoption.