Several vendors are already delivering concrete examples of the possibilities: Zimbra can host enterprise-class e-mail; Amazon’s s3 can do offsite disk storage; Basecamp can perform project management; Concur can track expense reporting; Ajaxwrite can do word processing; and Google Spreadsheet can handle number crunching. Thanks to published APIs from the various vendors, IT developers can combine these online tools to develop their own solutions, using bits and pieces of open-source code as glue between tools that all talk to the same set of Web services (Zimbra, for instance, can scan e-mail content and automatically link street addresses to Google Maps.)
The benefit for IT behind the “mashup” trend is flexibility. If business changes, it is easier to replace a particular piece of mashed-up code rather than rewrite an entire application. And unlike internal object-oriented and service-oriented development efforts, the Internet is a vast code repository, with plenty of self-help, expert communities and samples to get developers started. For a quick tutorial on creating mashups as well as a long list of online resources, visit www.programmableweb.com/howto.