Alex Williams posted at ReadWriteEnterprise today on IBM’s latest mash-up offering,  the Mash-up Center, which provides connections with web services including Cognos BI through the Cognos 8 Mash-up Service, and allows users to create mash-ups by dragging and dropping Google Gadgets into the Mash-up Center.

There is nothing new under the sun. IBM has been dabbling with mash-up technology for several years now.  I had seen the previous incarnations demo’d at IOD (going back to 2006 and 2007) and the Enterprise 2.0 conference (2007), among other venues. Earlier monikers included Mash-up Toolkit, Mash-up Fabric, Mash-up Framework, etc. 

Previous capabilities included:

  • a mash-up builder GUI
  • widget libraries
  • an enterprise Web Services directory
  • tools for exposing existing data and RSS feeds as services
  • various integrations (mostly around the Websphere stack)
  • visual programming (a “pipes” metaphor)
  • a wiki or portal framework for end-user access to the mash-ups

IBM even bundled partner software into previous mash-up toolkit offerings, including the JustSystems xfy client (JustSystems was a sponsor for IOD in previous years).

While it’s good to see that IBM hasn’t abandoned their investments in mash-ups entirely, their uninspired efforts to promote mash-ups (outisde of IOD), and the lack of progress over multiple years still leaves me with the impression that this is a half-hearted attempt to commercialize R&D, not a strategic product program. Mash-ups can fill a valuable niche in the enterprise, and I recommend them to clients who need data-document integration and enterprise application integration.  Mash-ups are particularly well-suited for “integration on the glass” – bringing information from multiple sources together, especially when little to no business logic is required for the end-user application.  Having a mash-up offering from IBM provides a “safe” option for enterprise architects, especially considering that other mash-up platform providers are struggling in the face of lackluster demand and weak adoption in the enterprise.