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Enterprise mashups are hardly commonplace in most businesses. But they are growing in use at an alarming rate. And until recently small start-ups controlled the world of the mashup. But that is changing -- and IBM is leading the pack.IBM has released it’s very own set of web-based tools to provide businesses the means to manage and develop enterprise mashups. IBM is not the only big player to get in the game. Oracle is also getting in on the trend. IBM claims "IBM Mashup Center allows non-technical users -- anyone in a business -- to literally drag and drop mashup components from personal, enterprise and web sources to easily create, deploy and share customized web applications in minutes." So what you have is a huge tech and software player moving quickly into a fast growing aspect of the Web 2.0 world with a punch that could hurt the little guys…if it does what it says. The biggest difference is…when did IBM last release something that didn’t work? They are usually on top of their game.

A Look at the IBM Mashup Program

IBM’s mashup program actually comes in two sections. The first is the Mashup Center, which will go into beta on the 15th. The second is IBM Web Sphere: sMash, a development center using dynamic script. Mashup Center We first told you about the Lotus Mashups in January when Lotus did a pre-release demo at LotusSphere. The Mashup Center is based on this tool and the information access and transformation capabilities of the InfoSphere MashupHub. Business users work in the Mashup Center through a browser-based tool that is designed to easily create mashups by dragging and dropping components or widgets from personal, enterprise and web sources. There's a set of out-of-the-box ready to use widgets and a catalog to help find widgets and mashups. Information feeds are stored in RSS, ATOM or XML formats. This helps maximize the way information can be remixed. On top of all this, users can also take advantage of built-in Web 2.0 community features like ratings, tagging and commenting. All in an environment that enforces enterprise-class security and management. IBM Web Sphere sMash Development Center The sMash Development Center -- formally known as ProjectZero -- is an agile development environment which can be used to create widgets for the Mashup Center, It supports the latest dynamic scripting languages like Groovy, PHP and the open-source Dojo toolkit and employs the use of REST. sMash uses Domino Designer to output in the form of a standard widget. The environment includes a framework and programming model that facilitates easy data feeds for mashup creation, according to IBM. You can get a developer version of sMash for free from the ProjectZero Org. A commercial platform will be available in the second quarter of this year and is sold on a per license basis.

The Benefits of Mashups from IBM

According to Larry Bowden, Lotus vice president of portals and integration services “…there are twenty times as many people able to create mashups using these lightweight, browser-based components than there are developers to create critical departmental applications.” An example of its effectiveness can be shown in a U.S. retailer that wants to accelerate the start-up of new stores overseas. Using IBM’s Mashup Center, you can provide your overseas personnel with “…a combined view of internal SOA services, such as pricing and inventory levels, and external services, such as currency exchange rates, and external carrier shipment verifications. “

The Future of Mashups in Business

Up until recently many businesses steered clear of mashups and the development of them due to security concerns. As with any open source or widget type technology, mashups do not usually inherently come with security. But IBM offers built in security which is going to being changing the face of mashup and widget uses in business applications. However according to a Gartner analyst, mashups have yet to prove themselves widely. "It's unproven, especially in mission-critical use cases," Gene Phifer of Gartner says. "A lot of organizations are therefore still not ready to take the risk there." IBM is set to aid businesses in creating an ease of use environment that is both cost effective and provides much quicker turnaround times, opening the door for more productivity in other matters of business. With an enterprise corporation as large as this touting the business benefits of mashups, it's hard to believe organizations won't start buying into the dream.