The Middleware Muddle

    The problem with middleware these days is that it’s everywhere. It seems like every time that more than two applications need to be integrated, a piece of middleware has been deployed to handle the task. The trouble is that this has led to a lot of middleware sprawl because most of these middleware deployments are tactical, as opposed to being part of IT strategy.

    Middleware comes in a lot of forms these days. Developers deploy it on servers to integrate applications on the same server. IT organizations deploy it to integrate applications across multiple servers. Packaged application vendors bundle middleware with their applications. End users access various middleware services in the cloud, and now we’re seeing new classes of integration software that leverage underlying middleware to allow business users to create composite applications by graphically linking pre-existing sets of code.

    The folks at Stone Bond Technologies say the time has come for IT organizations to take a more strategic approach to middleware that will not only reduce licensing costs, but also make middleware services more accessible. Stone Bond makes a middleware stack that developers can access to integrate code. But the company takes the middleware concept one step further by leveraging the metadata it gathers to allow the modules of code to be manipulated by business users to create composite applications without having to modify the actual code created by developers. Todd Brinegar, senior vice president for marketing operations at Stone Bond, says this is all accomplished using a common stack of middleware, versus requiring IT organizations to deploy middleware for developers and then another middleware stack to meet the needs of business users.

    This week, Stone Bond extended its Enterprise Enabler Virtuoso middleware to support Big Data types, which are starting to put a lot of stress on existing middleware technologies. Brinegar says the advent of Big Data will eventually force IT organizations to look for more efficient middleware platforms, which should be the catalyst for a wave of middleware consolidation in the enterprise.

    Stone Bond is probably not going to be the only middleware vendor to realize this, so don’t be surprised to see a lot of vendor activity related to creating true middleware platforms in the months ahead. In the meantime, IT organizations would do well to take an inventory of the middleware they have deployed in their organization already with an eye towards not only what it costs to license it, but also the total cost of managing it.

    Mike Vizard
    Mike Vizard
    Michael Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist, with nearly 30 years of experience writing and editing about enterprise IT issues. He is a contributor to publications including Programmableweb, IT Business Edge, CIOinsight and UBM Tech. He formerly was editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise, where he launched the company’s custom content division, and has also served as editor in chief for CRN and InfoWorld. He also has held editorial positions at PC Week, Computerworld and Digital Review.

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