Mashups Give Defense Department Strategic Edge

Off-the-shelf Web 2.0 mashup software from JackBe aids decisions and keeps troops safe.

To make the right decision, it's essential to have the right information at the right time. But just what information is needed, when and in relation to what other information is a subtle science that tests the mettle of IT managers everywhere.

In the armed forces, victory and defeat-not to mention human life-may hang in the balance of every decision that is made. In its ongoing effort to enable better decision-making, the U.S. Defense Information Systems Agency, or DISA, has deployed an enterprise mashup server running JackBe software to bring together strategic information from disparate sources, particularly geographic and mapping data.

"The DOD [Department of Defense] has the ability to mash up multiple data sources on the fly and display them geospatially with off-the-shelf products," said DISA CTO David Mihelcic.

A mashup is generally understood to be a Web application that combines information from multiple sources to create a single new piece of information. Enterprise mashup software, according to Mike Gualtieri, an analyst at Forrester Research, provides tools that enable users to create mashups at the application layer.

Although there are many vendors offering mashup capabilities, there are only three vendors offering enterprise mashup software: JackBe, IBM with its Lotus Mashups tools and Serena Software with its Business Mashups offering. In a report issued in May 2008, Forrester predicted that the enterprise mashup market would reach $682 million in 2013, growing from only $39 million in 2007.

Click here to read more about JackBe's Presto mashup tool.

However, a distinct mashup product market has not yet emerged, with products existing in related and often overlapping fields, such as application development and decision support. After bursting onto the scene several years ago, mashups looked like a contender for the next big thing. But Gualtieri predicts that mashup software will sooner or later be assimilated into the development tools market, often as a feature of other tools. "Mashups are really in the category of end-user developer tools," said the analyst.