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Web services pressuring middleware makers

XML Web services and Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) are challenging the survival of traditional integration middleware vendors, contends Ron Schmelzer, senior analyst at ZapThink LLC (www.zapthink.com), Waltham, Mass.

"It is quite likely that the entire category of integration middleware as a separate product market will disappear by 2007," he told XML Report.

As an example of how makers of middleware integration technologies are trying to reposition themselves for the Web services SOA world, Schmelzer pointed to the new product roadmap announced this week by Tibco Software Inc. The Palo Alto, Calif.-based software supplier disclosed plans to extend its offerings to support what it calls the "next level of real-time business" with upgrades that add support for "enterprise management" as well as integration. Tibco officials added that the firm is working closely with Hewlett-Packard and Intel on the so-called "predictive enterprise," an information management technology for providing real-time data for businesses.

Schmelzer predicted corporate strategic realignments as a trend that will continue as integration vendors seek to reinvent themselves over the next four years or so.

Smaller integration middleware developers "are seen to be struggling amidst the emerging trend to solve integration at lower, infrastructure levels," said the analyst. "Companies like BEA, IBM and Microsoft, as well as an onslaught of start-ups focusing on Web services and SOAs, are eating away the opportunities for [such] companies and as such, [they have] to make significant strides to position their products as more than just integration middleware."

Schmelzer told XML Report that the traditional integration middleware vendors are increasingly finding themselves in an IT world where "integration is increasingly being solved through architecture and build-to-integrate technologies like Web services and SOAs.

"As integration becomes increasingly built-in to the platforms, end-user applications and solutions provided by an increasing set of vendors, the need for integration 'middleware' will substantially diminish," Schmelzer said. If not exactly facing immediate extinction, middleware vendors will find themselves under pressure to lower prices in an increasingly competitive market where IT customers have a growing number of choices to solve integration problems, he added.

As Web services and SOAs come into wider use, Schmelzer said, integration middleware developers will have to move "up the stack" from products for connecting disparate systems to higher level products, such as business process integration software.

About the Author

Rich Seeley is Web Editor for Campus Technology.

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