Will Cloud-Based Integration Solutions be the Demise of Middleware?

It seems as though the impending death of traditional middleware has been predicted since before the start of the New Millennium. So, is its demise imminent or will it simply fade over time as organizations increasingly adopt cloud-based integration solutions?

There’s no debate that traditional middleware is declining as organizations increasingly move from on-premise to cloud-based systems. In its worldwide forecast of enterprise software markets worldwide, Gartner forecasts only an increase of eight percent for traditional middleware through 2016. In contrast, Gartner’s cloud services forecast projects 35-percent growth for integration platform as a service (iPaaS) through the same time period.*

It’s inevitable that cloud services, including iPaaS, will put an end to middleware as we know it. Not only can iPaaS solutions make it much easier and more affordable to move applications to the cloud, customers are discovering a powerful platform that can address on-premise and B2B integration as well, while also helping them reduce their dependencies on legacy middleware.

At last week’s Enterprise Data World conference in San Diego, LinkedIn described how they adopted iPaaS for application integration to transform how their customers hire, market and sell. During a session entitled, “Cloud Integration in a Hyper-Growth Environment,” LinkedIn’s Andres Bang, head of global sales and operations; and Alex Lai, senior manager, sales systems, detailed how the company integrated Salesforce.com and Oracle eBusiness to automate their lead-to-cash process while improving business agility.

Integration in the cloud era changes everything as it decentralizes the IT landscape. This renders traditional integration architectures based on “hub and spoke” models obsolete since forcing all integration of the application traffic or “spokes” through one central “hub” simply won’t work. Instead, integration must occur near the target applications and data sources. In this scenario, the new hub becomes the development environment, which enables organizations to develop, manage and administer all their global integrations from one central location.

An important lesson from LinkedIn’s story is that it’s possible to integrate on-prem and cloud-based applications without totally disrupting existing environments and tossing out all legacy middleware. A better approach is to take advantage of a cloud-managed integration solution that augments existing installed middleware. Then, over time, the older middleware can be replaced as those traditional integration endpoints are replaced by cloud applications.

Over time, middleware as we know it will take on a new form as companies continue to modernize their applications and embrace cloud architectures that create loosely connected services spanning the organization. Today, cloud apps are being built on top of web services that let them be accessed in a way they couldn’t before. As a result, companies will discover unprecedented opportunities to increase business value without incurring undue cost, administrative overhead or compliance risk.

Such was the case with Novartis Pharmaceuticals, which chose iPaaS over slow and expensive legacy middleware to expand its integration efforts. At next week’s Gartner Application, Architecture, Development and Integration Summit, which takes place in London, May 16-17, Thomas Barton, head of integration services for Novartis, will address the company’s decision to phase out its legacy integration middleware in favor of our Dell Boomi iPaaS solution. In its quest to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of connecting internal Novartis data with Salesforce.com, the company embarked on a iPaaS proof-of-concept project—and discovered a 10X cost savings over its traditional tools and processes.

This is another stellar example and compelling proof point of how traditional integration methodologies are giving way rapidly to more flexible, centrally-managed cloud-based capabilities. In future posts, I’ll offer straightforward advice and real-world insight into this new breed of cloud integration solutions that are changing the IT landscape and helping organizations of all sizes reach new heights of business agility and innovation.

Feel free to comment, question or share your story about the demise of traditional middleware or the best way to integrate applications in the cloud.

*Gartner, Forecast: Enterprise Software Markets, Worldwide, 2010-2017, 1Q13 Update, March 14, 2013; Gartner, Forecast: Public Cloud Services, Worldwide, 2011-2017, 1Q13 Update, March 26, 2013.

About the Author: Chris McNabb