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OpenSocial and a move toward Enterprise

More than 2 years after Google announced with OpenSocial the creation of standards and APIs that allow exchange of profile information, activities and other data between social network systems, Myspace – one of the largest Social Media platforms – hosted the “State of OpenSocial” event yesterday in SF with 80+ attendees. While OpenSocial itself is well accepted in the social media community, less known are the Enterprise OpenSocial activities that focus on features for integrating OpenSocial functionality with enterprise applications.


The relatively new Enterprise OpenSocial (EOS) initiative includes companies that are ranging from small startups like Atlassian, Jive or Ning to big companies like Cisco, Oracle, IBM and SAP and participants as diverse as from British Telecom to Yahoo!


Now what’s required from OpenSocial for enterprises? OpenSocial itself provides a number of APIs that allow to retrieve and expose information as well as render gadgets. OpenSocial also relies heavily on a number of additional standards like OAuth,, OpenAjax or REST, but for the enterprise world’s requirements, more is necessary. The discussion with the audience members in yesterday’s meeting focused around security and privacy, performance, pubsubhubbub, portability and others.


I want to talk about a few of those topics that will help companies to use and integrate social media more effectively and efficiently:


Security/Privacy:the delicacy of this topic can be seen with each update of the Facebook-privacy agreements. Not only people are very sensitive and rightly “paranoid” about exposing their personal information to others or what is done with it, it is as important for companies as well, who are keen of closely controlling access to classified project/product/organizational information to third parties or even within the company itself. Standards like OAuth and OpenID to access information is one thing, but better defining people and groups and giving the latter one an independent life of their own with their own level of security will be one of the focus areas.


Shindig: this project focuses on enabling intranets or company websites to host OpenSocial apps. In its version 1.0 it is now an official Apache Foundation project with an impressive number of contributors (49) and hundreds of thousands of lines of code. This project is a big leap forward in integrating social networks. It reduces the pain to run a variety of social networks in your IT landscape. The team leads especially asked for test kits (for different social networks), test containers, support in testing and generally invited new contributors.


Pubsubhubbub: publishing and subscribing to the right information in time becomes an important part when the sender and recipient of information from social media are enterprise systems. Think CRM systems sending status updates or needing to react to such from social media. You can either get easily flooded with information or being informed too late or both. That’s why a smarter and faster distribution and subscription mechanism is delivered tiwh Pubsubhubbub.


Mobile: a big discussion followed around “mobile”. While the definition of mobile seems to become even more fuzzy, thanks to smartphones and iPad, it dawned upon the attendees that the way we use computers is changing. Not so much laptops will be the predominant tools to access social and enterprise systems in the midterm, they will me more and more replaced by smart mobile devices. Therefore rendering gadgets for mobile devices needs to be addressed in an even more urgent way than it was so far.

OpenSocial Development Environment: Who wouldn’t like to have that? No commitment, no roadmap, but the plea to all to provide their testkits and tools and hopefully with some magic having it transform into a OSDE.


The next steps are to create a specification draft and cut prototypes for early September, have a GA of Shindig 1.1 in Q1/2011 and plan a OpenSocial conference (together with a Google I/O event) in Asia for September.


A collection of more Enterprise Social Systems related materials and getting started tours can be found on the Enterprise Social Systems Wiki

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