RealTime IT News

IBM Loves Its Mashups

SAN FRANCISCO -- Mashups could be the next big technology push from IBM , and the company has internal deployments and customer engagements to prove it.

Unlike Google  and others, though, IBM's interest in mashups is primarily on the corporate side. The company demonstrated a Mashup Hub server application at the Web 2.0 conference here designed to help corporations manage mashups internally.

"This is big. You'll see many groups throughout IBM act on this once Steve [Steve Mills, IBM's senior vice president of software and a key director of IBM's SOA initiative] starts talking more publicly about it," David Barnes, IBM's program director for emerging Internet technologies, told internetnews.com.

Rod Smith, IBM's vice president of emerging technologies, said IBM is seeing a lot of evidence that mashups and other Web 2.0 technologies are being implemented by "shadow IT" groups, tech savvy managers who want to implement without waiting for IT approval.

But he said for the technology to gain wider, more effective use, IT, line-of-business managers and executives will have to work together in a more transparent manner.

"The line-of-business guys didn't want to tell IT what they're doing because they're afraid of hideous controls," said Smith. "It's a question of control versus collaboration. It's hard, but there has to be a dialog about how information is accessed."

Smith and Barnes discussed an internal mashup that someone at IBM built in less than a day that "mashed" a hotel search system with hotels specifically approved by the company for reservations. It's proved popular with employees as a time saver, he said.

While not yet part of a product group, Smith said IBM has done about 100 briefings with customers and helped create dozens of mashups. "When customers say they want mashable content, they're really looking for applications they couldn't afford to build," said Smith.

Barnes gave a recent example of using readily available Web services where a fellow IBMer created a mashup for an employee moving to Austin.

The employee wanted information about housing and the local K-12 schools. A site called Greatschools had the school info, but didn't offer an RSS or other feed mechanism. The IBMer used a tool from a site called Dapper to create a "Dap," a way to scrape  the information.

Then he mashed that with real-estate search site Trulia.com, used another service, Yahoo Pipes (an interactive feed aggregator), and created a "pipe" that brought all the relevant information together.

Some IBMers are taking it upon themselves to promote these Web 2.0 technologies. Barnes said he created in his living room several demo videos of IBM's QEDWiki project and posted them on YouTube at no cost to the company. QED stands for Quick and Easily Done.

Smith is planning a "Web 2.0 Summit' this spring that will bring together various IBM groups from around the world to compare notes and talk about their plans going forward.

"Internally at IBM, Web 2.0 is exploding," said Smith here at a conference session. "Let's face it, it's much more fun than traditional IT."