Thursday, March 27, 2008

Portals and Mashups - Putting the Powr of SOA in our hands

Ray Valdes presented a session on Portals and Mashups at the Gartner conference in Baltimore.
Portals bring the personalization in the presentation of information. Mashups enable information feeds to be filtered and adapted to meet emerging needs.
Heavyweight Portal Deployments bring complexity and this leads to an "Agility Gap." If we are to create agile organizations we need the ability to adapt to business needs quickly.
Portal technology is a massively layered solution requiring extensive skills to support and leverage. However, portals are still an essential tool to enable personalization, manage access and control the delivery of information.
Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) enables composite applications but these are typically heavyweight designs using complex, over-engineered protocols. 
Web 2.0 Mashups are lightweight and often use simpler technologies, such as REST. The emerging Enterprise Mashup market, led by tools such as JackBe's Presto offer an opportunity to combine the best of SOA and Web 2.0 and deliver the results via the portal infrastructure.
The challenge is to enable mashups without unleashing anarchy. IT organizations need to apply some governance around the use of SOA to ensure consistent use of feeds that implement codified business processes.
Interestingly in this large audience over 50% are using portals and SOA. More interestingly only about 10% of those feel their SOA initiative has been a success. The usual situation is a long deployment cycle, complex environment and little benefit to be demonstrated until well in to the deployment phase - typically 2 years or more after initiating the project.
Services are autonomous, connected, contracted (typically via WSDL's), loosely coupled, independent, discoverable (via a registry such as Systinet) and built on standards.
Portals bring application modules (portlets), user and system administration, personalization, search, access control and identity management all built on an Application Integration Interface. Think of it this way. Information is delivered through a Portal, Not by a Portal.
The next evolution of portals will be to expose the portal sub-systems as services themselves. In our quest for reusability this is a good thing.
The objective of a portal should be to deliver strategic services at tactical speeds. The basic infrastructure such as access management is delivered by the portal framework.
The next evolution in the use of portals on the Internet needs to address Distributed Identity and Shared Metadata.
Web 2.0 is driving the agenda in SOA with moves in to the Open cloud, lightweight, AJAX enabled, loosely coupled and even embracing community development. 
Enterprises have had Mashups in the Enterprise for many years. It is not a new requirement. It is just that the capability was delivered using Microsoft Excel and manual cut-and-paste. Mashups provide a dramatically enhanced capability with automatic updating and the ability to merge and filter information much more easily and then deliver it wherever the user needs it.
Examples of Web 2.0 mashups included Housing Maps and Tripit. Facebook, while a social network has delivered an application platform and now has the ability to deliver applications anywhere.
A couple of great quotes:
"Organization with warped lines of communication can build systems that are fragile and don't interoperate."
"dysfunctional organizations can get stuck in constant battles with design defects, bugs and performance issues."
As we have learned with the wisdom of crowds the social architecture of the system can be as important as the technical architecture.
What did I take away from Ray's session? Portals are a delivery service. Enterprise Mashups that leverage Web 2.0 approaches and enable self-service development are a critical component in the solutions armoury if we want to build and enable an agile enterprise.

1 comment:

  1. I think Web 2.0 Mashups address a different kind of integration than SOA does. Mashups are an integration technology at the client side, whereas SOA is an integration technology at the business logic tier. I explained my vision here.

    This picture shows the integration overview.

    You also might be interested in Web 2.0 meets SOA.