Introduction to Mashups in 10 questions (with answers)

October 6, 2009

I wanted to get a clearer understanding about Mashup and came by in 9 questions with a better view of this fast growing niche market.

  • What are mashups?
    • Something that combine existing pieces to build a new item. The word is used in many contexts such as music, painting, etc. In IT, mashups are also called Web applications hybrids: the whole idea is to combine existing apps or services to quickly build new services without reinventing the wheel.
  • Where can they be found?
    • Mashups are available on the net, as web sites of web services or inside enterprises. Entreprise Mashups Applications are faster to build and test compared to traditional design because they integrate existing and proven services inside the enterprise. Using Mashup Platforms provide even faster results as for some applications, the design process can be driven directly by the end-user – check the “Executive Guide to Mashups in the Enterprise” by Dion Hinchcliffe for JackBe, one of the player in this field.
  • What are they used for?
    • Web Mashups: as a good sample is better than a long description, here are a few samples available on the Web:
      • coffeeseeker.com combines GoogleMaps with brands or end user entry to locate the nearest coffee shop,
      • Pixelpipe let you upload/publish multimedia content to many social platforms in one click,
      • a.placebetween.us that help find a place to meet with your friends.
    • Enterprise Mashups: Readwriteweb reports that Forrester identifies “three distinct flavors”. Here is an abstract of this article:
      • Presentation layer mashup. This is the most simple variety. Presentation layer mashups present content from disparate sources together in a unified view. A start page like Netvibes would be an example.
      • Data mashup. More complex than presentation layer mashups, data mashups “combine, manipulate, and tie together disparate data sources to present a unified view.” An example would be Twittervision.
      • Process mashup. Says Forrester: “The most complex of the three, process mashups allow users to mashup not just data sources but also business processes themselves, customizing process design and invoking business logic across multiple applications.”
  • What about this market?
    • In a recent report Business Insights sizes current and future enterprise mashup market:
      • The enterprise mashup market was worth around $161m in 2008, and is forecasted to grow to $1.74bn by 2013“. This market “will benefit from the increasing prevalence of software incorporating SOA. Worth $1.4bn in 2008, the SOA platform market will grow to $2.77bn in 2014“.
      • Earlier last year, Forrester analysts were foreseeing this market to reach $700 million by 2013. No doubt this niche market is heating and growing fast.
      • Gartner also listed it as one of the top 10 technologies to watch over for 2009 as reported by CMS Wire in late 2008: “Gartner believes that in 2009 enterprises may be taking mashups from Web 2.0 to Enterprise 2.0 levels“.
  • Any consortium?
    • As in any niche market: each player is offering his proprietary solution and his vision. From a customer point of view, it means  that there is no easy migration from one platform to the other: no doubt this is slowing enterprise mashup adoption.
    • A few days ago JackBe co-announced the Open Mashup Alliance (OMA) with Adobe, HP,  Capgemini, Intel, …, in a effort to establish an open language for mashup portability.
      Gartner’s analysts
      are pointing at the weak spot of the initiative:

      • “OMA is led by JackBe, whose future depends on enterprise adoption of mashups… The alliance does not include the “megavendors” — IBM, SAP, Oracle and Microsoft. While membership of at least one megavendor in a standards body does not guarantee success, the lack of megavendor support all but guarantees failure.
  • Is there a connection to SOA and web Services?
    • Mashups take advantage of Web Services and from an SOA initiative. Furthermore, it found a natural fit in the SOA as it offers non-developers the tools they need to enrich business processes.
  • What is Google doing in this field?
    • They had until mid August a Google Mashup Editor (Labs). The tool allowed to create mashups with Google services. Google has pushed it’s GME developer community to switch to App Engine.
    • If GME was an initiative targeting developers, Google Wave announced last June has muchbigger ambitions: I would describe it as the collaborative tool to rule them all 😉 – Well, more seriously, it’s at the same time a mail, an IM a collaborative platform to work at documents, a blog publishing tool, it has APIs for extension and is described as a platform to integrate mashups -see pic below-. Big G is trying to shape the way we work and to give it more structure. No doubt we’ll see in a nearby future how people and enterprises will react. – The pic on the side is taken from Dion Hinchcliffe’s articles “The enterprise implications of Google Wave“, a must read.
  • What is Microsoft doing in this field?
    • No surprise there, Entreprise Mashup are addressed by Sharepoint.
    • And on the Web side, MS is was proposing PopflyPopfly discontinuation was announced for end of August 2009 on a Microsoft blog. To quote Don Campbell -click on the pic to view his blog post – a “fun, easy way to build and share mashups, gadgets, Web pages, and applications.” Focus is was on communities – Live is not far. No doubt MS is preparing something new.
  • Where to read about mashup?

Let me know if you found this useful and do not hesitate to keep the ball rolling by adding links or comments.

Edited 7th of oct.: - Tibco added to the players
Edited 8th of oct.: - Popfly discontinuation + link to MS blog added
- Mention of Gartner's top 10 technologies to watch over for 2009
- Lixto Software added to the players

Digital book, ebook and “augmented-book”

May 16, 2009

The book industry is facing a major challenge and undergoing a slow yet critical evolution.
This industry is desperately trying to avoid the pitfall taken by the music industry, that is more on the copy protection than on the content.

Amazon has taken very big steps to shape this new market by creating a reading devices -almost 3 generations shipped- and maybe more important than the reader itself, a complete ecosystem to sell the content. Due to Amazon global dominant position as a book seller, book editors are not very happy with this as they loose grounds on the price control amoung other things. Google is also playing in this field by digitalizing massively books all around Europe and providing them or free or almost free. No doubt Apple will move soon also in this area as the IPhone and IPod Touch installed based make it easy for them to become the first reader worldwide.
This reads as all the elements are there for a big change in this area, new players are entering the slow-moving and secular book world and shaking it badly with their Start-up vision and fast methods. Still editors are willing to adapt and to be creative. Many of them have understood that they can act on the future of the book by adding content to the text and by creating richer content.
No doubt we will see many interesting initiatives in the coming monthes, similar to this one driven by Anthony Zuiker (creator of the CSI TV show): the digital book “Level 26 – Dark Origins” is “augmented” with 3mn videos every 20 pages, with links to a web site. The book is scheduled to ship the 8th of September 2009 -first of a serie of 3 – and the site will go live on the 3rd of July but a few pictures are already available www.level26.com.


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