Mashups inside the Enterprise
We’re all aware of mashups. Wikipedia defines a mashup as:
"a web application that combines data from more than one source into a single integrated tool"
For what it’s worth, I don’t agree that it has to be a web application – any kind of application will do; indeed some mashups that may be possible with client side application frameworks are going to be difficult if not impossible to achieve in a web application. If you want to get an idea of the range of mashups out there, look here.
Recently, I heard someone say that the measure of how poorly an IT department is aligned with the enterprise is to count the number of spreadsheets and user-maintained databases that are used to run the business. This statement rang true, and the rise of mashups is only going to increase the disparity between what is required and what IT delivers. Unless something changes. One possible change that has generated substantial thought and buzz is the rise of the enterprise mash up: the rapid, cost-effective delivery of applications that do exactly what a user or group of users needs. This delivery may even mean enabling the user to create their own applications. What is needed is a suite of services – which provide the data and associated logic along with all the *-ilities (*-ilities being my shorthand for scalability, reliability, etc.) required – and some tooling.
Personally, I’m not sure there is any difference between the idea of a composite application and a mashup – only that in my experience, composite applications have seemed to refer to apps inside an enterprise whereas mashups live on the Web. And when thinking about the services that are available, don’t restrict yourself to those offered by your enterprise. Have a look at this example of mashing up mapping data with Outlook.