Nexaweb and JackBe Take Web 2 to the Enterprise
- By John K. Waters
Last week's AjaxWorld Conference and
Expo was a little bit on the small side, tucked into a corner of the
Santa Clara, California, Convention Center, but it had the feel of an early
JavaOne—which is to say, the place was positively quivering with possibility.
There were some great sessions and demos (IBM's QEDwiki drag-and-drop mashup tool
was my personal fav), and Jesse James Garrett (He Who Did Coineth Ajax)
was there to bless the event.
''What you have to remember about a show like AjaxWorld is that Ajax is a
technology, not a market, not a business,'' says Jason Bloomberg, senior analyst
at ZapThink. ''So a lot of the vendors
are really just hobbyists. They don't have a business model. They're just doing
But for my money—and Bloomberg's—the coolest things at this event were all
about the concept of ''enterprise Web 2.0,'' as exemplified by Nexaweb Technologies and JackBe.
''Nexaweb has been focusing on enterprise applications, which really
distinguishes them in the Web 2.0 crowd,'' Bloomberg says. ''This is a company
that is solving real business problems, and they started off with that focus.''
Nexaweb, the Burlington, MA-based pioneer of enterprise Web 2.0 tech, debuted
its Universal Client Framework (UCF) at the AjaxWorld show, and the CEO, Coach
Wei was on hand to demo the product during a keynote presentation. (Yeah, his
first name is really Coach.). The UCF is designed to allow developers
to use Ajax technology to deploy composite business applications, including
legacy code, via the Web.
During the demo, Wei compared the emergence of Web 2.0 to the transition from
mainframes to client-server. ''There's a lot of confusion about Web 2.0,'' he
told me later. ''People talk about MySpace and YouTube as the leading examples
of Web 2.0. So people haven't been talking that much about what Web 2.0 means to
the enterprise. We need to talk more about that. The true impact of Web 2.0 is
more than the consumer Web site. It's really about a better way to build,
deploy, and manage your whole enterprise's business applications.''
I like Nexaweb's definition of enterprise Web 2.0 as technology that
''embraces the convergence of Web 2.0 technologies, such as Ajax with legacy
systems, Web services, and Service-Oriented Architectures (SOA), to enable
organizations to deploy robust, reliable, and secure business applications over
''We want to bring home to people that there's an enterprise-class capability
here,'' added Nexaweb COO David McFarlane. ''Whether you call it Ajax, RIA, or
Web 2.0, it's about delivering business-critical applications via the Web; it's
about using these technologies to delivery real business results.''
The Nexaweb Framework is designed to give application developers the
flexibility to use either Ajax or Java to deploy enterprise-class, composite
business apps over the Web. What makes the UCF so cool is the way it abstracts
the client-side interface. Developers don't need to write any code to be able to
integration their applications and validate data. They can manage the entire
environment from the originating data source over the Internet.
The UCF is part of Nexaweb Web 2.0 Platform, which provides the messaging and
integration components to leverage legacy and service-enabled IT assets and
build secure business applications for a browser.
JackBe, I'm ashamed to say, was not on my radar before the show. The Chevy
Chase, MD-based company is a provider of software and services that combine Ajax
and SOAs with optimized Web connectivity to deliver what the company calls Rich
Enterprise Applications (REA).
JackBe unveiled its new Presto REA platform at the show. The company is
billing the new platform as ''the industry’s most comprehensive solution for
delivering enterprise AJAX applications based on SOA and Web services.'' The
innovation here is that the Presto platform emphasizes SOA service
governance—something that is simply not part of most Web 2.0 apps.
That governance piece is the key to the enterprise for this generation of
Web-based apps, says Bloomberg. ZapThink views the emergence of Web 2.0 as a
natural evolution of the SOA, in which loosely coupled software services provide
the business processes. The SOA infrastructure is necessary to guarantee the
loose coupling, without which, Bloomberg says, ''things like mashups are little
more than toys from an enterprise perspective.''
JackBe, apparently, agrees. The book on the Presto platform is that it
presents a secure, scalable, enterprise-grade architecture that provides for the
governance of applications and services. The platform comprises a development
tier, a client tier, an Ajax Service Bus (ASB), and a service tier consisting of
a Service Gateway and Enterprise Mashup Server.
The ASB is an interesting variation on the ESB. ''The idea there is to
support the rich Internet interface (client piece), the composite applications
(server piece), and then they the connection,'' explains Bloomberg. ''So you can
build mashups without worrying about http problems. The ASB eases the
perspective of the developer, as well as the business user, who is now able to
leverage this enterprise Web capability without having to worry about a lot of
that nuts and bolts technical stuff.''
It's impossible to say, of course, how big an impact all this stuff will
actually have on the enterprise, but it's interesting to note that Gartner
Research has listed Web 2.0 among the top technologies in its latest hype cycle
report. The ''hype cycle'' looks at new technologies that are gaining attention
and predicts a pattern of hype/disillusionment/adoption for each one. Among the
most influential models under that rubric were mashups, which Gartner expects to
reach maturity—in other words, to transcend the hype—in less than two years.
Organized by SYS-CON Media, the AjaxWorld event ran from Oct 2-4 at the Santa
Clara Convention Center. I heard a rumor, which I was unable to verify before my
deadline, that the event was successful enough that the show's organizers are
planning to hold the next one at Jacob Javitz Center in New York.
Like I said, smells like JavaOne.
John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached