Alliance Aims to Provide Mashup Interoperability
In a bid to foster interoperability among enterprise mashups, a group of 11 IT companies this week launched a new industry alliance that will promote and support a common markup language.
The founding members of the Open Mashup Alliance (OMA) have agreed to support the Enterprise Mashup Markup Language (EMML), which was created by enterprise mashup vendor JackBe. The Chevy Chase, Md.-based company released the EMML under a Creative Commons license.
JackBe CTO John Crupi described EMML as a key technology asset. EMML is free-to-use and it is supported by JackBe’s EMML runtime engine (also free-to-use). The new OMA is charged with maintaining the EMML, beginning with version 1.0, and shepherding the language specification to standard status.
"We’ve been developing this language over the past three and a half years and we’ve learned a lot from that work and from our customers and partners," Crupi said. "We believe that the best way to drive this industry forward is with a standard language -- something that’s open and neutral, and that companies come together to promote."
In addition to JackBe, the roster of founding companies includes Adobe, Bank of America, Capgemini, Hinchcliffe & Co., Hewlett-Packard, Intel, JackBe, Kapow Technologies, ProgrammableWeb, Synteractive and Xignite.
"You can see by the names on that list that this is serious business," Crupi said. "It's not easy to get companies of this size to come together on something this early. We're happy and pleasantly surprised."
Crupi said he's not surprised that some key software vendors were not yet ready to sign up. "Some organizations like to stand back and see how things work out," he said. "We certainly hope to have Microsoft, IBM, Google, Yahoo, and others join the OMA. Now that they see who's behind the alliance, I think they'll see that it’s in their best interest to participate. Even if companies chose not to implement products that use EMML, they will still want to be in touch with the spec and influence it, because it can help them to understand where their products need to go."
Mashups, Web apps that integrate information and-or functionality from different sources, are becoming more common in the enterprise, according to IDC analyst Kathy Quirk. Demand for mashup capabilities is increasingly being driven by business users who want easier access to enterprise data.
"Mashups hold the promise of widening access to enterprise data by freeing it from the application in which it’s stored," Quirk said.
From an enterprise perspective, it’s essential to establish an open standard for mashups, said Mike Ogrinz a principle architect in Bank of America’s Innovation, Research, and Shared Services group, and author of Mashup Patterns: Designs and Examples for the Modern Enterprise (Addison-Wesley Professional, 2009).
"All indicators show us that this is something that is only going to get bigger and we wanted to be on the ground floor of making sure that this technology is well-suited to the requirements of our business," Ogrinz said. "We think the OMA is the right way to go about doing that." (see more on why Bank of America joined the alliance here).
Lack of standards has been an obstacle to what would otherwise be the rapid proliferation of enterprise mashups, said Stefan Andreasen, CEO of Kapow Technologies, a founding member of OMA. "That’s why we joined the OMA," Andreasen said. "We like the EMML for a couple of reasons: one is that the EMML engine works great with EC2, Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud Web service. Mashups are definitely going to exist inside the enterprise, but we also have to remember that enterprise applications are moving to the cloud."
Kapow is a Palo Alto, CA-based provider of enterprise mashup solutions. It’s Web Data Server product is designed to wrap existing Web sites or Web apps into data feeds or API’s without requiring coding.
JackBe is best known for its Presto enterprise mashup platform, which includes The Presto Enterprise Mashup Server, Mashup Composers, and Mashup Connectors.
Given the recent spate tech-industry alliance announcements, it’s fair to ask: Do we really need another one?
"The difference here is that the OMA isn't just an alliance that says we're going to come together and make sure that we drive standards and options and openness for a particular industry," Crupi said. "The foundation of this alliance is the EMML. It has a specific core, a starting point, and more substance. We're working together to extend and innovate on the language."
It's still early days for the mashup industry, he added. "I equate where we are now with where we once were with app servers and portals. People used to say, why do I need a portal? But look at what portals have grown into."
Membership in the OMA is open to any company or individual, Crupi said, and the portal is up and running. The EMML spec and the runtime reference implementation, documentation, and sample code, are all available now on the site.