By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2007-07-15 Print this article Print

Nexaweb Technologies, in Burlington, Mass., has a potential answer. After studying the market, Nexaweb decided to partner with companies in such areas as systems integration, governance, infrastructure, service composition and business process management, and testing, said Nexaweb CTO Coach Wei. Nexaweb supports mashup assembly, development and processing. Yet mashups need governance, Wei said, and thats where the partnerships come in. "We thought about it and said that mashups by their nature are against governance, and if you apply governance to mashups, it will kill them. But mashups need governance in the enterprise space," Wei said.
So Nexaweb implemented an SOA governance strategy and is taking the next step of establishing an enterprise Web 2.0 SOA ecosystem in which the company is trying to leverage capabilities already out on the market, Wei said. "This is just the first step," he said. "In the next few months, well continue to push partnerships and integration with a variety of SOA vendors. By combining our product with the SOA infrastructure, we can provide a robust environment."
Vinod Pabba, CEO of Inkriti, a Framingham, Mass., technology consulting company and provider of Web 2.0 solutions for customer-centric e-business, said his company rebuilt a Web site for The Sports Club/LA using Web 2.0 technologies and SOA. The Boston-based club wanted to launch a new Web site to improve interaction with its 30,000 customers around the country, Pabba said. The clubs Web site communicated data to the companys Salesforce.com CRM (customer relationship management) system via Web services, and "there were a ton of Web 2.0 technologies," Pabba said. "The entire site is heavily AJAX-driven, the forms are very heavily AJAX-driven and the Web services are called via AJAX interfaces. And the AJAX pieces of the system were done with Nexawebs technology." Pabba said that in most of Inkritis Web 2.0 implementations, users are aware of key Web 2.0 trends and specifically ask about areas such as content and community. "But they dont specifically ask for Web services or SOA," he said. Eugene Ciurana, director of systems infrastructure of LeapFrog Enterprises, in Emeryville, Calif., said Web 2.0 focuses on using computing resources in more community-oriented applications rather than displaying information in a flat, disconnected format. Yet users "in the wild" are also familiar with sites such as YouTube and Digg, which provide community and interactivity features via Web 2.0 technologies, Ciurana said. Enterprises are beginning to integrate applications in mashups and following examples from the consumer world, Ciurana said. In many cases, the mashups data or information sources have incompatible formats so integration becomes a problem. "Thus, [by] applying SOA technologies such as ESBs [Enterprise Service Buses], adapters, transformers, and lookup services like UDDI [Universal Description, Discovery and Integration], it becomes possible to create enterprise mashups," Ciurana said. LeapFrogs technology platform is a mashup of commercial and open-source technologies, Ciurana said. "LeapFrog is expanding its Internet presence by enabling many of our products to be Internet-ready," he said. "The applications provide a number of services in the form of data that gets mashed up and presented to the user." LeapFrog designs, develops and markets technology-based educational products. "Our first mashup is the Fly Fusion pentop computer system. It can work stand-alone and download content and applications from the Internet," Ciurana said. Fly Fusion interacts with the Internet through a desktop computer and uses several Web services to communicate with its dedicated site, an on-line store and educational materials, Ciurana said. The site and materials are fed by a content management system. The online store is a mashup of a dedicated Wicket application, hosted by LeapFrog, and a third-party order-and-payment-processing system running over SOAP. Everything is connected using the open-source Mule ESB as the backbone, Ciurana said. "There are a few enterprises trying these things out, but I suspect itll be between 18 to 24 months before we see wide adoption in the enterprise or in the mainstream e-commerce sites," he said. "If you look at the Big 3 online retailers, for example, Amazon and eBay are already mashing up content and applications with—or for—third parties." "More conservative retailers like Walmart.com are still a single destination with few Web 2.0 features in the front end but have probably adopted SOA for their back-end systems, creating an enterprise application mashup from all the heterogeneous systems and integrating them over ESBs and other backbones rather than point to point," Ciurana said. "Its coming [but] just not quite there yet." Hal Stern, a distinguished engineer at Sun Microsystems, in Santa Clara, Calif., said he sees "a nice intersection of Web 2.0 things and the amalgamation of more classical enterprise-scale applications. You have to think about the concept of RESTful SOA. On the client side, theres typically some RESTful architecture, but there are typically multiple options there." Next Page: Governance is key.

Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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