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IBM's QEDWiki Adds 'Data as a Service'

There's Software as a Service (SaaS). Now IBM has teamed up with StrikeIron to help enterprise and business customers get Data as a Service (DaaS).

The deal adds seven of StrikeIron's data services as widgets on IBM's Mashup Hub. From there, users can drag and drop the data into IBM's QEDWiki, a browser-based framework for creating mashups or links between different Web-based information sources.

In addition to the seven widgets, over 90 other business services from StrikeIron are now available via the QEDWiki.

The seven widgets include a D&B Business Prospect for salespeople, MapQuest driving directions that can be integrated into other applications, reverse business phone directories and sales and tax-rate data for shopping cart applications.

StrikeIron CEO Bob Brauer compares his company's effort to Apple's online iTunes catalog with a decidedly business twist.

"Regardless of where all these data sources originate, the idea is that, just like iTunes, we offer a platform with a consistent access format," Brauer told "In this case, IBM is like the iPod. Solutions are only as good as the fuel that drive them and that's where our data as a service comes in."

In addition to its own Web Services Marketplace, StrikeIron already provides data feed services in partnership with a number of companies, including BEA Systems   and . Brauer said customers run the gamut, from companies like Texas Instruments, Bank of America and Nike, to "two people in a garage building an e-commerce site."

StrikeIron describes its Data-as-a-Service offering as one that facilitates the consumption and distribution of live data and business functionality over the Web. The Research Triangle Park, N.C.-based company has revenue sharing agreements with various data providers, including Dun & Bradstreet.

The live data feeds are available on a paid subscription basis, though there is also a free trial period. While companies such as D&B have long been in the business of providing information directly to customers, StrikeIron brings a Web 2.0 element to the table.

"We've convinced them we're a new channel of distribution," Brauer said. "At the end of the day, we're about reducing complexity."

Dan Gisolfi, an IT architect with IBM's Emerging Internet Technologies Group, mashed up a couple of applications for in just a few minutes during an online demo. A relocation mashup connected a real estate search service with StrikeIron's tax data feed so you could locate houses for sale in a particular region and get the local tax rate as well. He then used another mashup tool, Yahoo Pipes, to add another information source about local schools.

"Mashups are for non-programmers," said Gisolfi. "It's for those individuals in the enterprise and outside looking to consume data services that they might have traditionally needed a programmer's help to get at."