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Originally published 2 April 2008
Declaration of Independence
Within this article, I will occasionally refer to products and use screenshot examples of various products as an aid to communicating specific points. These examples are chosen at random and in no way represent any endorsement on behalf of the author to any product in the marketplace.
End of Declaration
In my first article of this series, I highlighted several Web 2.0 technologies. These include:
So far, we have discussed all of these with the exception of one. In this fourth and final article in my series on Web 2.0 and business intelligence (BI), I will address this last Web 2.0 technology. This is the issue of mashups.
The whole idea about Web 2.0 is to use the web itself as a development platform. What does that mean? Well, if you take a step back and look at the forces at work here, we are seeing a number of things emerging. These include:
The last question remaining in this Web 2.0 series is: What is a mashup and how does it relate to business intelligence?
The idea of mashups is very simple. Combine data from multiple services to provide more valuable information. Figure 1 shows a retail example of a BI mashup that combines geographic map information with business intelligence on particular retail stores. In this case, the user can see inventory and order value for each store in the San Francisco geographic area. Each store location is visible on the map, and as the user rolls his/her mouse over the store, the business intelligence is displayed in a simple concise graph to show the required information.
So how does this work? This kind of visual output can be served up by a custom built mashup server or by a purchased mashup server. Either way, the mashup server can take data feeds from multiple services and combine them. If you wanted to build a custom mashup yourself, an example architecture that might be considered is shown in Figure 2.
The other way to create mashups is the buy option (i.e., to buy a mashup server from vendors like Kapow and IBM). Other mashup editors include Microsoft PopFly, Yahoo Pipes and Google Mashup Editor. Also, EII vendors such as Denodo are also pushing into this space. Figure 3 shows an example of the IBM Mashup Hub. This server takes data feeds and mashes them together to provide richer information. Note here that mashups separate the mashing of data from the presentation of data. Therefore, the data can be presented using a variety of mechanisms once it has been mashed. In the case of the IBM Mashup Server shown in Figure 3, the data is presented to the user using a presentation component called QEDWiki. When I first looked at this product all I could think about was that it looked similar to ETL workflows. Essentially, data such as RSS feeds and XML data from remote web services is taken in by the mashup server, any necessary filters applied, and the ‘mashed’ output made available for presentation.
This completes my four-part series on Web 2.0 and business intelligence. I would be most grateful for you feedback as to how you are using Web 2.0 and business intelligence in your organisations – and for what business gain (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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