Thursday, November 06, 2008

Business Mashups are here. How do you make them work?

We have been busy consulting and even conducting a training over the past two weeks, which makes clear Gartner's prediction of Mashups breaking 10% adoption by 2012 realistic. However, when enterprise mashups are user driven, not IT. Having a few best practices in mind will save a lot of trouble in the long term for a CIO.

It is true that the primary task is setting up a Mashup Platform, such as the WSO2 Mashup Server and making sure that the underlying data sources (Web Services, REST APIs etc) are in place and available. But one should at least adopt the following best practices to make his dream of user driven innovation via Mashups a reality.
  1. Train the users on Mashups and your Mashup Platform before anything else. Make it mandatory not optional before even getting an account on your Mashup Platform.
  2. Use a platform that allows users to have a personal version of their own in their local machines. This is the sandbox they create and experiment. Once done, they can upload the Mashups to the enterprise server (either with or without the help of IT), where their masterpiece can be used by others.
  3. Always remember that Mashups are first and foremost compositions of existing data sources in new ways, which means that you need to make sure that an adequate number of data sources are available within the enterprise. If you have a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA), then those services, which make up your SOA provide good Mashup sources.
What if one doesn't have an SOA in place? Well your Mashup Platform itself should be able to help you create services out of the data already stored by your applications. The WSO2 Mashup Server for instance, comes with in-build Data Services support. Which means, if you have data in a database (even a spreadsheet), it can be exposed as a service or a data source.

These tips should be helpful for any enterprise thinking of bringing in Mashups as a Business Integration tool.