I feel compelled to step in voice my concern over the drifting of the term mashup. I’m not sure why I felt that mashups would not undergo the typical hype expansion other terms experience when the bandwagon begins to roll. I think much of my initial belief stemmed from the fact that mashups came from a clear point of origination starting with the term taken from music track mixing and sampling and then the clear examples of google maps based mashups that drove mashup notoriety. Unlike the terms SOA, and cloud computing, and Web 2.0 (as examples) mashups at least started with a clear differentiation. Unfortunately, those days seem to be fading.
Let me address “Data Mashups.” There is no such thing. A mashup is a composite application. Like any application, it is some purposeful utilization of data and not the data itself (feed or stored). Data mashups is a term created by data integration vendors looking to jump on the mashup hype. One vendor called themselves a “data mashup” vendor without making any change to their basic data integration capabilities and initially (though it has changed since) didn’t even offer their integrated data as a Web-technology based API or feed. We already have a term for accessing data from multiple sources (XML sources included) and combining it in various permutations….it is data integration. Relabeling data integration as data mashups does not serve mashups well as it hides the differentiated benefits of mashups within the quagmire of data integration.
Now, I’m certainly not saying that data integration isn’t important to mashups. What I am saying is that data integration is not a mashup or a “data mashup.” Almost two years ago Gartner delineated the difference between a mashup platform and a mashup enabler (see “Reference Architecture for Enterprise Mashups” – subscription or fee required). A mashup platform (such as JackBe, Serena, IBM’s Mashup Center) facilitates the building, management, assembly, and publishing of mashups while the mashup enablers (such as Denodo, Kapow, Connotate, Lixto) focus on accessing existing IT capabilities and exposing them as something mashable (see #3 below). Mashup enablement is very important for enterprise mashups but mashup enablement doesn’t create mashups or “data mashups”, it enables mashups.
It is important that we stick to a clear and differentiated definition of mashups or it is impossible to capitalize on what makes them unique and delivers the potential for new application value. Mashups are:
- A type of composite application where a new application is assembled from existing capabilities (data, logic, and visualization).
- The original sourced existing capabilities maintain their essence (meaning that you as the creator and/or user know explicitly where the capabilities came from). This is crucial for governance and enabling socially-driven mashups.
- Mashups employ open Web-based technologes such as HTTP, XML, XHTML, RSS, and ATOM.
See, “Mashups and Their Relevance to the Enterprise” for a full definition – subscription or fee required.
It is the combination of these three characteristics that make mashups different from other forms of composite applications and systems integration. They are the root of the tremendous potential of mashup applications. We should not dilute that value by obscuring the definition or the IT world will miss what is different and will either ignore mashups as “the same old thing” or even worse, try and fail to achieve their promise.
Rant concluded, comments welcome.
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