Middleware in the cloudFor as long as there have been applications, the need to integrate them has driven demand for middleware spanning everything from connectors and application servers to messaging and enterprise service bus technologies. In fact, without those technologies the opportunities to deliver any kind of service would be limited indeed.

But the focus of middleware technologies is changing as more applications get delivered via the cloud. A new survey of enterprise IT organizations conducted by The Aberdeen Group on behalf of Liaison Technologies finds that 84 percent of all middleware will be replaced in the next four years and that 30 percent of the respondents are even considering deploying that middleware in an on-premises environment.

A number of forces are driving middleware into the cloud, and one of the most important is agility. IT organizations don’t know from one day to the next what will need to be integrated with what. Instead of wasting months deploying middleware themselves, it is much simpler to invoke middleware-as-a-service. Sometimes that middleware-as-a-service will be set up by a vendor or the internal IT organization. But increasingly managed service providers are discovering that middleware services hosted in the cloud can drive a range of new opportunities.

A hybrid approach to middleware

As a general IT rule, the movement of data is evil. Once data is moved, costs rise, and the attack surface that needs to be defended increases. That’s why many organizations take a federated approach to deploying middleware. Multiple classes of middleware will be deployed both on premises and in the cloud to make sharing data as efficient as possible. After all, if all the applications trying to access specific sets of data are co-resident with the application housing that data it doesn’t make sense to access that data via an external cloud service.

What IT organizations will require is a new generation of middleware that can be deployed as close as possible to the locations where most of their data is stored. More data than ever is being generated in the cloud, but the vast majority of data is still stored on-premises. The Liason survery found that only 30 percent of respondents are considering an on-premises solution, but in reality the future of middleware technologies will be as hybrid as the cloud computing environments they span. In fact, the Liasion survey notes that while 66 percent of the respondents need to integrate data from cloud applications, 63 percent also need to integrate data from on-premises applications.

Middleware opportunities for MSPs

Naturally, some organizations will have to manage those federated deployments of middleware to maintain consistency across a hybrid cloud. This creates a significant opportunity for MSPs that have real application expertise. After all, the number of application programming interfaces (APIs) that will need to be mastered in what vendors such as Microsoft are describing as a new era of edge computing will be nothing less than phenomenal. Most internal IT organizations simply won’t have the internal expertise and resources required to keep pace.

When it comes to generating business opportunities, middleware has always been good for IT service providers. In fact, the Liaison report notes that 46 percent of the organizations surveyed already rely on a managed integration service. Going forward, the number of organizations relying on managed integration services will only get higher.


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Mike Vizard

Posted by Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard has covered IT for more than 25 years, and has edited or contributed to a number of tech publications including InfoWorld, eWeek, CRN, Baseline, ComputerWorld, TMCNet, and Digital Review. He currently blogs for IT Business Edge and contributes to CIOinsight, The Channel Insider, Programmableweb and Slashdot. Mike blogs about emerging cloud technology for Smarter MSP.

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