Mashing the Enterprise Service Cloud

[Cross-posted from]

In my last blog entry, I defined what I mean by a mashup. In this entry, I want to expand upon how I think mashups differ in the enterprise compared to some of the consumer mashups out there.

I mentioned in my earlier post that mashups based on maps are ubiquitous and something that the users can immediately grasp. But, once you step inside an enterprise, things can be a lot different for mashups. Enterprises are not greatly interested in map-based mashups, neither are they interested in RSS or ATOM services which I think are still not fully leveraged inside an enterprise. Over the past few years, enterprises have invested heavily in SOA and because of that, they are just about getting done with service orienting their enterprise with Web Services (primarily using WSDL). And there are many applications in the enterprise that are still very database oriented. It has become relatively easy for an IT developer to expose services as WSDL based web service. And almost every middleware product out there in the enterprise is capable of exposing services via WSDL or makes it really easy to do so. Hence if you start looking around in an enterprise, what you will find is what I call the Service Cloud.

So what you have in an enterprise is a cloud of services where some are WSDL based, some are REST based, some or XML/HTTP, some are database objects, and so forth. Now, the real challenge is how to mashup these disparate kinds of services, with different service contracts and data formats. Any respectable enterprise platform that offers to mashup services in the enterprise must negotiate these disparate contracts these services expose (e.g. while a WSDL based web service defines a service contract in a WSDL document, a REST based web service has no such contact definition). And not only that, it must be done so that that we can make it easy to access for developers and users alike, and to be able to do that securely and with high-performance and scalability. Some enterprises might regulate the service consumption of even public web services that most of us can freely access on the net (think of the ubiquitous RSS feeds for example). Enterprises might allow consumption of these services, but would like to do so with governance underneath to manage, monitor and secure such activity within the enterprise. This is why we built our enterprise mashup platform at JackBe from the ground up, to address the unique challenges of mashing in the enterprise so that we allow our users to do the following:

  • Create and customize mashups that consume all kinds of services: RSS, ATOM, WSDL, REST, DB, SDO, Java Objects, etc.
  • Securely govern the mashups: policies for who can mashup, what can they mashup
  • Share the mashups to collaborate in the enterprise

My colleague John Crupi wrote about enterprise mashups becoming the new front-tier in the enterprise. I would like comment a bit on what he said in his post. While SOA efforts have been IT driven and IT oriented, even with involvement by the business units, the outcome has been primarily IT and developer focussed. It has neglected an important stakeholder in the enterprise, and that is the User. Therefore, I view the new enterprise mashup layer as a new service layer in the enterprise application architecture that finally begins to leverage SOA from the end user perspective and to make the services layer more user-friendly (and developer-friendly) to build, deploy, share the next-generation enterprise web 2.0 mashup applications.

What do you think?

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