IBM Pitches Mashup Suite to ‘Enterprise 2.0’

IBM plans to announce today a new multi-tiered mashup portfolio for companies to create new business applications cobbling together data drawn from disparate sources.

The IBM Mashup Center will bundle Lotus Mashups, a drag-and-drop tool geared for non-technical workers, and the InfoSphere Mashup Hub, for more advanced users.

Additionally, IBM (NYSE: IBM) is introducing WebSphere sMASH, a resource center for developers supporting dynamic scripting languages in a RESTful environment.

Big Blue’s latest in a long string of Web 2.0 products for businesses comes at a time when analysts are predicting that the market for social enterprise software is poised to take off.

Sensing the increasingly collaborative nature of both the Web and the workplace, a growing number of companies are ramping up their own Enterprise 2.0 strategies, creating a crowded marketplace where heavyweights such as Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) and SAP will contend with upstart niche players like Jive Software and Socialtext.

“I have no doubt that this is a real market,” said Anant Jhingran, vice president and CTO of information management of IBM’s software group. “It’s very clear that there’s an unmet need in the relationship between [a company’s] lines of business and IT.”

In firm agreement is Jeffrey Mann, an analyst with Gartner, which predicts that the market for enterprise social software will more than double in the next three years, reaching $707.7 million by 2011.

“Enterprise social software is the most exciting area of the collaboration market today,” Mann told “Like so many innovations today, consumers start using stuff productively in their private lives, then look for ways to use it at work, too,” Mann added, citing instant messaging, desktop search and, most recently, the iPhone as examples.

The two mashup packages included in the Mashup Center, which IBM plans to launch April 15, are designed to help business users create applications that bring information in from the Web to integrate with data drawn from internal systems.

In an early deployment of the product, IBM built a mashup to manage its own employees’ travel schedules, Jhingran said. The company is augmenting its internal airline and itinerary data with reviews of hotels, notes about its customers in the destination region and other local information.

WebSphere sMASH, formerly code-named Project Zero, is built for IT managers to develop their own secure mashups and customized widgets which they can roll out to their less-technical colleagues through the Mashup Center. IBM first debuted its sMASH design — short for “secure mashup” — in March.

The twin releases are aimed at giving businesses the tools to view mission-critical data, such as customer relationship management (CRM) or enterprise resource planning (ERP) information, in the context of trusted Web applications like Google Maps or

Jhingran stressed that IBM’s efforts are centered around building lightweight, elegant solutions to real business problems.

“You don’t want this to become a major IT project,” he said. “You’ve got to start thinking about how this melds with your business operations and business architecture.”

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