The current challenges of enterprise mashups, and their promising future


When enterprise mashups made the cover of InfoWorld, actual software sales were minimal.

No doubt, any technology professional involved in the selling or deploying of enterprise mashups in the past few years has done some “navel gazing” about the lack of traction in the enterprise (thus far).  Compared to the first half of 2008, there isn’t much buzz surrounding enterprise mashups.  And many vendors have since gone out of business, and with them, there are a reduced number of platforms on the market.

Gartner’s IT Hype Cycle has a name for this current state of the enterprise mashup market:  it’s called the “Trough of Disillusionment,” which describes the period of time where technology fails to meet expectations.  As a comparison, SOAs were in the Trough of Disillusionment about three years ago, and today, they are Plateau of Productivity.

As our summer drew to a close, I had the opportunity to talk with several industry professionals about the state of enterprise mashup market, and whether or not they will regain momentum in Q4 2010 and into 2011.

In short, the answer was a cautious “yes,” as long as vendors can digest the mistakes we collectively made in the recent few years, namely:

1.  Lack of a universal definition. There still is no single, clear definition of what an enterprise mashup is each vendor has its own view of what it is and the role it plays in the business operations of an organization.  If vendors can’t clearly articulate the benefits, why should customers believe us when we say that mashups are an important component for business logistics?

2.  Learning from the failure of first-generation platforms. Approximately one dozen enterprise mashup platforms have been shut down in the last few quarters, including those from Microsoft and Google.

3.  Articulate – and deliver upon – the value of enterprise mashups. Related to #1, vendors are still challenged to articulate what enterprise mashups are and the benefits they bring to an organization, because there is no single use case, no single value proposition.  Each project, each company has different ways of measuring ROI.  The benefits to one client may be vastly different from another, based on their success-scale.

4.  Don’t bypass IT. Enterprise mashup vendors have been targeting end-users (or power users or business analysts), and this has been a huge mistake.  Selling a technology platform to a business executive is impossible when you speak different business languages.  The more effective path to selling software infrastructure is – and always has been – starting with IT executives and developers.

At Convertigo, we believe the future of enterprise mashups must focus on lightweight, service-oriented solutions for developers, helping them deal with the long tail of application development.  Architecture, design and quality APIs are key, in addition to better communication integration with other critical enterprise systems including legacy mainframe applications and Web applications with neither services nor APIs.

Speaking of quality APIs, we see Alcatel-Lucent’s June acquisition of ProgrammableWeb as another positive industry indicator for the resurgence of enterprise mashups and composite applications.  We share Alcatel-Lucent’s belief that great innovations happen when you nurture developer communities and provide them with high quality resources.

Google Trends data on the popularity of "enterprise mashups" from 2006-10.

About convertigoems

Convertigo Enterprise Mashup Server (C-EMS) is the only platform in the world that can easily bridge legacy systems information with web applications and content, helping companies reuse their existing assets to build new and exciting WEB 2.0 composite applications for a fraction of the cost and time needed to complete software rewrites or traditional development.
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2 Responses to The current challenges of enterprise mashups, and their promising future

  1. Eric Samson says:

    John,

    It is important to understand why Enterprise Mashups are less hype than they used to be in 2008.
    With regards to this, clarification from Gartner and other analysts is certainly welcome.

    The power of “business programmers” have always been overestimated in the past.
    Even with simplest visual tools, business users often feel uncomfortable with programming.
    Until now, Enterprise Mashups have been too much positioned against IT (I mean too much towards end-users).
    Anybody can easily play with consumers mashups, this is just composing simple public online services and feeds, there is no big impact on the “real” business.

    Enterprise mashups is all about dealing with critical enterprise resources, like legacy mainframe applications and pre-SOA Web applications with no services. That is why Convertigo offers different tools to different populations: one tools for developers to develop widgets connected to critical enterprise systems and one tool for power-users to easily combine internal and external widgets together. That way IT governance is enforced and users (or developers) can still quickly deploy situational composite applications.

    We think this clean separation of concerns is required to avoid transforming “Enterprise Mashups” into the next oxymoron.
    There is nothing wrong in learning from previous mistakes and clarifying positioning. Let’s refine that market and then boost it, because users (and developers) need such technologies.

    Several articles, not only from Gartner, have been recently published about the fact IT and developers should not be forgotten in the mashup world. Our customers are telling us the same story, every day. Mashups are for all citizens, enterprise mashups are a different beast.

    In conclusion: we do offer tools for business analysts and power users, but our customers and the market are telling us that in many cases these tools will be also used by developers to quickly deliver tactical composite applications.

    Best regards, Eric.

  2. John Crupi says:

    Mashups have been pitched as a solution, or the “end”. In fact Mashups are the plumbing which is the means to the end. No great surprise that the end user wants the Apps. So when we pitch mashups, we need to pitch “what” they produce. If you think mashups have to stay developer centric it’s only because you haven’t created tools for the business analysts.

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