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IBM, BEA Mash Up Line-of-Business Employees, Developers

Boston—Almost every keynote, presentation or sales pitch at this week's Enterprise 2.0 conference eventually gets round to the same theme: The consumerization of enterprise IT. We've all become accustomed to RIAs and new ways of communicating in our personal lives, and people just now entering the workforce have never known a world without the Web.

Yet too often, enterprise apps remain mired in the 20th century. If IT doesn't adapt, users will either route around it, with possible security and compliance implications, or the organization will miss out on newer, more efficient ways of collaborating.

But some vendors are going further, saying Web 2.0 is about more than just employee satisfaction and better communication. Startups including JackBe, Coghead and LongJump see employees as a rich source of IT innovation, and in response have aimed their mashup platforms at regular people, not developers. They've now been joined by giants IBM and BEA Systems, both of which used the show to demonstrate tools designed for line-of-business staff.

Collectively known as Info 2.0, Big Blue's mashup suite is due to enter free beta next month, with general availability in about six months. IBM demonstrated two main components at the show: The Info 2.0 development platform itself, and a Mashup Hub, which is aimed at centralizing management of mashups and mashable components—usually RSS feeds and Ajax widgets, either developed in-house or found on the Internet.

The idea is that employees create applications using the Hub's drag-and-drop interface, while IT catalogs, manages and secures the apps in the Hub. According to IBM, this setup is intended to make the relationship between IT and staff less adversarial: Individual users and business units do what they want with their own data, while IT can still assure security and regulatory compliance.

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