January 11, 2008

Web 2.0 and Enterprise Architecture

Web 2.0─”a perceived second generation of web-based communities and hosted services — such as social-networking sites, wikis, and folksonomies — which aim to facilitate creativity, collaboration, and sharing between users. The term gained currency following the first O'Reilly Media Web 2.0 conference in 2004. Although the term suggests a new version of the World Wide Web, it does not refer to an update to any technical specifications, but to changes in the ways software developers and end-users use webs."

“Web 2.0 websites allow users to do more than just retrieve information. They can build on the interactive facilities of "Web 1.0" to provide "Network as platform" computing, allowing users to run software-applications entirely through a browser. Users can own the data on a Web 2.0 site and exercise control over that data. These sites may have an "Architecture of participation" that encourages users to add value to the application as they use it. This stands in contrast to very old traditional websites, the sort which limited visitors to viewing and whose content only the site's owner could modify. Web 2.0 sites often feature a rich, user-friendly interface based on Ajax, Flex or similar rich media. The sites may also have social-networking aspects.”

“The concept of Web-as-participation-platform captures many of these characteristics. Bart Decrem, a founder and former CEO of Flock, calls Web 2.0 the "participatory Web" and regards the Web-as-information-source as Web 1.0.” (Wikipedia, including Tim O’Reilly and Dion Hinchcliffe)

From a User-centric EA perspective, Web 2.0 has implications for all perspectives of the architecture:

  • Performance—enterprise’s results of operations will be enhanced by the ability to do more (in terms of automation, applications, and collaboration) over the web.
  • Business—they way organizations conduct their process and activities will be simpler and more collaborative through a more user-friendly web and participatory web (for example, many business are developing in-house blogs, wikis, and web portals, like SharePoint.).
  • Information—the web is transformed from a source of information to a mechanism for controlling, updating, and even analyzing information (for example, viewing financial information, updating account information, and running portfolio analysis tools).
  • Services—applications are available on demand on the web and are available as interoperable services rather than monolithic stovepipe systems (i.e. SOA); additionally, user can participate in the development of the applications themselves (for example, Linux).
  • Technology—while Web 2.0 itself is not based on new technologies, the new participatory uses of the web are spurring technology advances in accessing the web and its more profound social networking and collaborative capabilities (for example with mobile media devices such as PDAs and cell phones).
  • Security—with greater user participation on the web and the ability to control data and applications, there of course is greater security vulnerabilities (for example, identity theft).

Architects need to recognize and build the power of Web 2.0 and its participatory and collaboration capabilities into their target architectures and transition plans.


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