This latest development in the world of mash-ups and composite apps is more proof that big IT companies are pushing heavily into the world of Web 2.0.
Google Gadget Portlet will bring employees access to a searchable database of almost 4,000 applets that can be added to an employee's portal page with a click of a button. For example, a marketing manager may have upcoming customer visits and wants to make sure directions to their offices are easily available within the portal. WebSphere users will be able to access the Google Gadget catalog and download a mapping gadget to WebSphere, enter those addresses directly into the gadget and keep the directions right on the page. In another example, customer service workers might want to keep track of part shipments to customers who have broken products; they'll be able to employ a package tracking gadget to do that job.
Consumers are getting more and more savvy with technology, and increasingly want to bring the tools they use in their home lives into work. That can cause headaches for IT workers, but Google Gadgets cuts back on that a bit by eliminating the need for IT to write code to bring the applications together.
"If you would have had to build these things alone and build them into an environment, it can add up to significant expense and a lot of time," says Larry Bowden, VP of portals and Web interaction services for IBM. "If we can show that you can get to it for free in a minute or two, it's very advantageous to both the administrator and the user."
Administrators will also be able to control what gadgets are actually available for employees, who might not need to use daily horoscopes or an animated cat that moves depending on where the mouse cursor is on the screen.
WebSphere Portal 6 and Portal Express customers can get Google Gadget Portlet for free starting in April. Don't think this is a one-off product, either. IBM says that though it isn't making any specific additional announcements today, the whole Lotus line is now built partially on the concept of composite apps, so we might expect that this type of thing could eventually make its way into Lotus Quickr, Connections and even the new version of Notes, especially with the emergence of standards like XML.
"As companies support the standards in the marketplace more, the barriers between consumer technologies and enterprise technologies will continue to break down," Bowden says. "This could change the whole dynamics of the way things get constructed because you no longer care where services come from."