Enterprise application mashups have been around for a while, but their progress has been stop and go. Consumer applications built with mashup techniques have become commonplace and yet enterprise mashups are still hovering somewhere just outside the mainstream. New mobile apps may drive mashups forward, but getting the business side of the organization to allocate funds for mashups can remain a challenge. There are several areas where enterprise mashups can excel over traditional application development techniques.
Increasingly, enterprise mashup are taking on a role akin to an earlier technology known as the Intranet portal. According to some enterprise mashup experts, portals can be seen as a type of enterprise application mashup, but they're really just one possible use for the discipline. Open REST APIs make it easier to create enterprise mashups with a wide variety of purposes.
Enterprise application integration has traditionally depended on IT-centric integration engines that have serious overhead in terms of time to build and maintain. Enterprise application mashups can provide application integration on a case by case basis with less work and without modifying existing legacy assets.
Enabling access to enterprise applications via mobile apps can enable a new level of freedom for mobile workers. Enterprise mashups, in turn, can be a relatively simple way to build out this functionality for existing enterprise applications. Enterprise application mashup experts would point to mobile mashups as a way to quickly improve the usability of enterprise applications, especially for remote workers.
Enterprise applications mashups are definitely one way to tap into a variety of different data sources and bring them together for one purpose. There are readily available data sets with which to work. For example, there is a lot of content available on Data.gov, the United States' site for publishing data and statistics. Enterprise data mashups can uncover and leverage potential uses of public information. There are more than 300,000 different datasets available spanning over 20 different categories.
Even with so many different uses for enterprise mashups – possibly because the uses are so various – it can be difficult to get the business side to allocate budget resources for mashups. It's been said that you have to shift focus from building a business case for enterprise mashups as a practice to building a specific mashup-centric business case each time you want to bring a mashup into the mix.
This may be why the enterprise mashups space is seen as being in a constant state of flux. Finding stability can be difficult. If you are new to applications mashups, be wary of products that might lock you into proprietary protocols and APIs. Even if you've been following mashups for a while now, you might want to check out the current state of enterprise mashups.
This was first published in March 2011