Web 2.0 Event Draws the Bleeding-Edge Cloud Crowd

Tim O'Reilly woke up his end-of-the-day audience when he took the stage at last week's Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco. The publisher of the popular "In a Nutshell" computer books series declared that the Internet is fast becoming "a global platform for everything," and an "amazing tool for harnessing collective intelligence."

"Up until now, a lot of the Web 2.0 activity has been on the consumer Internet," O'Reilly said, "but I think enterprises really are starting to understand that Web 2.0 is about turning themselves inside out, about becoming network citizens, opening themselves to the world in new ways.

If the number of enterprise-oriented announcements at the event is any indication, O'Reilly might be right. Eight notable commercial releases stood out in the bleeding-edge cloud crowd at this year's show.

SnapLogic's Data Integration Approach
SnapLogic released the 2.0 version of its namesake data integration framework. The San Mateo, Calif.-based company specializes in what it calls "Really Simple Integration," which uses RESTful Web technology to provide agile data integration for company IT groups. The company derives its integration model from RSS (really simple syndication), the XML-based system for aggregating and rapidly scanning information from blogs, news and current-event Web sites. With SnapLogic's integration solution in operation, "knowledge workers use familiar tools, including Web browsers, Google and Excel, to discover, consume, transform and publish enterprise data," according to company literature.

JackBe's Enterprise Mashups
Enterprise mashup solutions maker JackBe unveiled the second generation of its Presto product series. Presto 2.0 provides enterprise-ready mashup widgets known as "Mashlets." The company describes a Presto Mashlet as "portable and sharable micro-Web applications used for common knowledge-worker activities, such as analyzing sales data and tracking competitive information." The solution also comes with the Presto Wires visual mashup creation tool, a connector to support mashups in Excel, an Eclipse mashup plug-in, and a mashup connector API for JavaScript, REST, Java, Flash/Flex, Silverlight and C#.

3Tera's Online Apps Architecture
Aliso Viejo, Calif.-based 3Tera launched its Cloudware architecture at the show. The Cloudware architecture "incorporates the fundamental building blocks used in developing today's most popular applications," the company's literature says, including storage, computing, connectivity and security. Cloudware is based on the company's AppLogic grid operating system, which is designed to enable utility computing for deploying and scaling online apps. Cloudware is intended to be vendor agnostic. It will initially support Linux, Solaris and Windows operating systems.

Sprout's Widget Tools
Sprout launched a new software development kit (SDK) at the show. The company is a provider of an online platform for creating, publishing and managing Flash content on the Web. The platform enables the creation of "Sprouts," which are widgets, mini-sites, banners, mashups and other forms of rich media content. The SDK is designed to provide developers with a range of property types and editors for manipulating and customizing components.

Backbase's Web Apps
Backbase announced at the show its Customer Engagement 2.0 product, a suite of AJAX-based rich applications designed "to ease and expand customer relationships," according to company literature. The Rich Dashboard application unifies content and functionality in a single personalized start page. Rich Forms lets users create online forms. A Co-browse & Chat feature can be used to increase conversion rates through collaborative browsing.

Symphoniq's End User Monitoring
Symphoniq released the 2.0 version of its TrueView user monitoring solution for RIAs, a tool for customer Web application management. It relies on Symphoniq's TRUE technology to provide visibility into a range of Web apps, including AJAX, Flash/Flex and Silverlight, to monitor how usage and performance are affecting the end user.

Socialtext's Enterprise-Grade Wikis
Socialtext showed its enterprise-oriented Socialtext Dashboard and Socialtext People solutions at the Web 2.0 event. The Palo Alto, Calif.-based company makes wiki-based social solutions for businesses. Its namesake products, currently in beta, are expected to become commercially available later this quarter.

Kapow's Mashable Data
Kapow Technologies, an enterprise mashup provider, rolled out its new OnDemand Service at the show. Kapow falls into a category that Gartner calls "Mashup Enabler," which defines products that provide data that is "mashable." OnDemand is a Web-based hosted service designed to enable an automated, high-volume collection of Web intelligence and market data "to help companies make more informed business decisions, sooner," according to company literature. The service is aimed at financial and business analysts who need to incorporate Web-based data into their business analysis on a real-time basis.

Collaboration Driving Business Web 2.0
The enterprise aspect of Web 2.0 technologies is getting emphasized partly because of a growing need of companies to integrate geographically dispersed teams while operating complex business processes, according to researchers at The Butler Group. Organizations are reexamining their corporate communication and collaboration strategies to better support business activities and objectives with key Web 2.0 technologies in mind, according to "Communications and Collaboration Report -- Laying the Foundations for Business Process Flexibility," which was recently published by the analyst firm.

AJAX-based technologies are typically used to enable these Web 2.0 applications, according to Gartner analyst Ray Valdes.

"In the current climate in the Web 2.0 sector, every new Web-oriented startup company looking to break into the market will utilize Web 2.0 technologies, especially Ajax, to present a desired level of technical competence," Valdes observed.

O'Reilly himself is widely credited with coining the term "Web 2.0." It came into popular usage after his publishing company, O'Reilly Media, organized the first Web 2.0 Expo in 2004. Today it serves as an umbrella term for such next-generation Web technologies as social networking, wikis, blogs, sharing sites and social bookmarking tools. Together, these technologies are sometimes seen as evidence of a second generation of the Internet (thus the Web 2.0 moniker) that is much more collaborative and dynamic.

Consumer use of Web 2.0 technologies may help spread their adoption in the enterprise, according to the Butler Group's report.

"There is pressure on the IT manager to provide enterprise presence functionality due to the availability of consumer instant messaging," the report states. "Social networking techniques and Web 2.0 functionality used in the consumer environment will be demanded by the enterprise workforce, which will come to expect these new tools and technologies to be readily available at any location, as well as being able to use any device."

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at [email protected].