IBM has unveiled technology to secure mash-ups for businesses. Analysts say the technology will help companies merge data from websites or corporate systems to create rich Internet applications (RIAs), without the risk of exposing proprietary information.

Big Blue has also donated the technology to the OpenAjax Alliance, an organisation promoting AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) interoperability.

"We've been working for quite a few years around Web 2.0 and mash-ups," said Rod Smith, a vice president with IBM. "This technology will allow people to create a mash-up without worrying that it will go phishing for personal data or financial information."

IBM calls the technology Smash, which stands for "secure mash-up" and says it keeps mash-ups secure by separating the code and data from the two applications that businesses want to combine. Once the code of the two applications has been separated, it merges the apps by opening up a secure communications channel.

IBM offered a hypothetical example of a business mash-up that could benefit from the service. If an inventory manager for a hardware store company needed to decide how many snow shovels to distribute to various locations, he could mash his inventory data with an application that monitors the weather, and allocate the shovels accordingly. Since the inventory data is proprietary, however, it's important that a service like Smash secures it.

Smith says that business users, not just developers and technologists, will be able to use the mash-up tool to create their own applications. He adds that they can be pushed as widgets onto corporate workspaces on the intranet or over the web.

"They can create and manipulate them," he says. "They can grab snippets of information, or parts of applications. They need the flexibility of assembling information based on their current business needs."

Jeffrey Hammond, a Forrester analyst, agrees with Smith partially, noting the technology has the potential to serve as a way for business people to create mash-ups, but that developers must do some additional work with the code to make Smash more accessible to the novice user on the front-end.

"The technology provides the framework or the basis for users to do it on their own, but [developers] will need to build on top of it first," he says.

The need for Web 2.0 technologies such as mash-ups in the workplace falls in line with a recent Forrester report, which noted 40 percent of large enterprises plan to buy Web 2.0 technologies in 2008.