Mashups: Innovation or IT Nightmare?

A panel of experts discuss the value of innovation versus governance in enterprise mashups.

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NEW YORK--A growing conflict is emerging within enterprises between the need to enable innovation through mashups and the need to govern the results of these new services.

A mashup is a Web application that combines data or services from more than one source into a single integrated application. The rise of Web services and mashup tools have made it increasingly easier for individuals and departmental users to built productivity-enhancing applications.

But many of those mashups are made without the help of the central IT department in an enterprise, which gives rise to the need for governance.

This perceived need was the subject of debate during the 2008 Web Services/SOA on Wall Street conference here on Feb. 11.

Jonathan Marsh, director of mashup technologies at WSO2, a Web services and SOA (service-oriented architecture) infrastructure provider based in Colombo, Sri Lanka, and Mountain View, Calif., said WSO2 is focused on Web development and making Web applications more quickly. WSO2 focuses on open-source and Web 2.0 technology as the core of its solution set.

"Soon mashups will be built into the infrastructure," Marsh said.

Miko Matsumura, vice president and deputy chief technology officer at Software AG, Reston, Va., said, "the goal of governance is you don't have to trust the people who are mashing up things like crazy. You don't have to trust people; you just constrain them in a way that benefits the enterprise."

Kelly Emo, SOA product marketing manager at Hewlett-Packard, said the use of the word governance tends to carry the notion of lockdown and control. "We don't mean it that way. The idea of implicit governance is to let IT get ahead of the curve and plan. Then you can understand how much consumption you can support. You get ahead of it."

In this way, IT departments can ensure that services are 'mashable' and consumable. "It's like being on the road driving‑you're not even aware that you're being governed," Emo said.

Both HP and Software AG sell popular SOA governance solutions. Serena Software sells a mashup tool to help less technical users in an enterprise create mashups that empower their departments.