All mashed-up: Cisco and IBM

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11/07/2008
Hip-hop fans (hi, both of you) in the security industry should be familiar with the concept of the mash-up, where a DJ takes tracks from, say, the Beatles and Jay-Z, and layers them on top of one another and splices them up to create a whole new song that may or may not be enjoyable. Now, IBM is allowing users to do something similar with web applications. These mash-ups take two different applications, like Mapquest and a restaurant reviewing site, for example, and provide you with a combination that gives you something new, like a site that not only reviews the restaurant, but shows you where it is and provides directions. This week, Cisco and IBM built a video surveillance mash-up: Cisco Systems used IBM's Mashup Center to build a mashup that lets users convert feeds from a physical video surveillance camera into an app that security personnel can manipulate by clicking a mouse. I prefer mash-up to mashup. The latter reads like a Massachusetts-based Native American tribe, but maybe that's just my New England roots. Anyway, this kind of IP surveillance design on the fly is pretty intriguing, no? The IBM-Cisco mashup, which took eight hours to build, also enables users to execute instant messaging chats via IBM Lotus Sametime so that security workers can communicate in real time. In short, Cisco exposed an API to its devices, IBM created a widget representation of it and put it into Mashup Center. The idea, which IBM and Cisco landed on a month ago, is to take something from the physical realm, digitize it and render it more actionable in a business context via a mashup, a composite app made up of other apps. IBM happens to have a boatload on such technologies and is widely considered a mindshare leader in the space. Mindshare, not market share, because the enterprise market for mashups has yet to take off. To wit, there are no current plans to productize the mashup. One wonders whether there is even a call for such technologies in the surveillance industry. What would 007 say? Well, 007 really doesn't have anything to do with modern security, of course, but I guess there is a new Bond movie coming out (love the new theme song, actually - that Jack White can do no wrong), so maybe that's a product placement? Anyway, if integrators get hip to this kind of customization, just think of the way they can solve problems for end users and tie themselves to their customers. "What's that? You wish you could have something pop up in this situation that would demand the operator send a message to his superior? Yeah, I can make that happen." It would take away the need for manufacturers to put so much time into functionality ahead of time, and just leave open lots of possibilities for what the end user actually wants to be able to do. It's a very cool concept.