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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The use of mashups in the enterprise

mashups A mashup is a technique for building applications that combine data from multiple sources to create an integrated experience. Many mashups available today are hosted as websites on the internet, providing visual representations of publicly available data.
I have been observing a new trend in the software industry where applications are there to serve data and not the other way around. Data is at the centre of the universe  and not the application.
Take twitter for example, it is all about the data and not the application. There are so many twitter applications available to serve the data. Business Intelligence proves that when data is utilised effectively it can help organisations to achieve competitive advantage and consequently make more money. Super,markets organise the products on the shelves based on data served to them via business intelligence products such as reports from data warehouses and other. Another example is blogging which is all about what the author is saying, the data. There are many different blogging providers on the internet and many more applications that enable bloggers to create their blog posts and publish them to their website.
History of mashups
Mashups have become popular within the last few years, along with the popularity of web 2.0. Early mashups used data to combine it with maps of photos. However organisations are becoming more interest in mashups for the enterprise.
Organisations are utilising mashups to combine their data from different sources to arrive at new, more creative ways, of utilising their data. Some of the uses may include combining data from multiple sources, apply business intelligence to it and display it to information consumers in a way that can help to utilise the information in a meaningful way.
Architecture of a mashup
There are some common architectural patterns utilised to create mashups. All mashups use REST (Representational State Transfer principles)
Data is the core element of any mashup. The data does not need to be stored in a database that is local to the application, It can be anywhere on the internet, served through web services serialised as XML or JSON. RSS feeds are another source of data for mashups because they are in easy to use XML format.
Web services are also utilised in mashups. They can be used to provide extra services to the data or used to transform the data on the mashup.
Developers should think of the mashup application as a combination of middle-tier and some business logic. The client is usually traditional internet or RIA applications.
The use of mashups in the enterprise
There is really no limit to how mashup can be utilised in the enterprise. Combining internally available data with information from the internet can deliver some interesting services to the enterprise. You may create a website to help customers to find service centres, on the same page you may want tot display local weather and traffic conditions.
Another potential application is the use of mashups to lookup data on the internet that would add value to the information available in the enterprise, You can use information from your CRM application and lookup extra data available from various sources on the internet in order to learn more about your customer or potential new customer.
Mashups offer great potential to enterprises by adding value to information that was previously unrelated and serving that data to internal information consumers to to deliver services to clients.