Serena to ship enterprise mashup platform

Serena Business Mashups 2008 allows business users to build simple apps to solve everyday problems

Serena Software will ship its enterprise business mashup software Monday with the goal of enabling quick deployment of simple applications that solve everyday business problems.

The Serena Business Mashups 2008 platform consists of Serena Mashup Composer, which is a visual design tool to connect applications and automate business processes, and Mashup Server, a runtime engine that runs the "Business Mashups" and provides security. Mashers click the "publish" button in Mashup Composer to send mashups to Mashup Server.

Users could build mashups like one that automates sales discount approvals without writing any code, Serena said. "Typically, these are processed-based applications, such as a vacation request process or a change request process," said Nathan Rawlins, Serena senior director of product marketing.

Underlying application parts are linked together to build these mashups, with linkages done via Web services and SOA interfaces, Rawlins said.

"The main impact [of Serena's mashup platform] is that typically these are the sorts of applications that never get touched by IT because they just don't have the time. By making it possible for non-developers to create these applications, IT organizations -- enterprises -- can reduce the application backlog without hiring new staff," said Rawlins.

With Monday's release, the Business Mashup products are ready for on-premise deployments. "Early next year, they will be generally available for on-demand deployment. We'll have a SaaS offering where the Business Mashups can be deployed in the cloud" and hosted by Serena, said Rawlins.

Serena on December 18 plans to release 13 free, pre-built mashups for applications, such as one that links cases to Salesforce.com and others for change approval, employee time-off, hardware and software change requests, and travel approval. Also featured are mashups for issue defect tracking and incident management.

Serena's products reveal a trend in which software companies are responding to demands fueled by customer frustration with existing applications, said analyst Jeff Kaplan, managing director at Thinkstrategies. Easier solutions are being sought, he said.

He also noted Serena's on-demand efforts. "It represents part of a [trend] that's going on in the market, and that is the movement toward and more on-demand alternatives that make it easier for businesses to get their work done," Kaplan said.

Serena offers strong capabilities in change management from the application lifecycle management perspective, which can benefit mashup builders, said analyst Melinda Ballou of IDC.

"This means that organizations that are looking at doing mashups that are typically undisciplined in the way in which they go about creating that software have the opportunity to leverage that functionality that Serena has for change management," she said.

Serena's tools for building Business Mashups are free; users pay for Business Mashups when they are deployed into production. Pricing for an on-premise, departmental implementation starts at US$10,000.

Mashup Composer was evaluated by more than 1,200 people in more than 50 countries, Serena said.

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