IBM rolls out tools for non-techies, developers

IBM Mashup Center to enable business users to drag and drop mashup components from personal, enterprise and Web sources to create new customized Web applications

IBM unveiled two mashup products this week, one aimed at allowing nontechnical business users to quickly build new applications by melding data from various sources, and a mashup development environment for technical users.

The new IBM Mashup Center is aimed at enabling any business user to drag and drop mashup components from personal, enterprise and Web sources to create new customized Web applications, IBM said. Planned to launch in beta on April 15, the Mashup Center also includes the management, security and governance features that IT departments usually require for the corporate use of mashups.

The new software stores information feeds from enterprise sources in RSS, ATOM or XML formats so that users can access and mix a wide variety of information. The tool also includes a set of ready-to-use widgets, as well as a catalog for finding and sharing widgets and mashups and a development environment to create new widgets.

One IBM user already has begun using the tool to combine core enterprise ERP and CRM data with a line of business applications to show accounts by region, sales history and customer service incidents and to show a projected sales pipeline by product line, IBM added. Sales representatives can then upload their own planned travel data and spreadsheets of account forecasts into the Mashup Center, which generates feeds aimed at allowing them to plan their most effective strategies for working with customers.

"The power of the Web is now in each person's hands," said Kristof Kloeckner, vice president of strategy and technology in IBM's Software Group, in a statement. "And businesses are made up of individuals who can be innovators and problem solvers on their own, without waiting for, and straining IT support."

The second new product, IBM WebSphere sMash, a development environment for the technical developer, is aimed at supporting dynamic scripting languages and allowing for the rapid aggregation of disparate services and feeds. It also can be used to create widgets for the Mashup Center. A company could, for example, use the development tool set to combine a view of internal SOA services with external service like currency exchange rates and carrier shipment verifications, IBM noted.

A developer's version of sMash is available as a free download, while a commercial version will be available in the second quarter.