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Study Shows Huge Middleware Shift to the Cloud Amid Lack of Trained Developers

A new report from Liaison Technologies reveals a massive shift of enterprise middleware to the cloud, driven by an explosion of cloud applications and data sources coupled with increasing demand for integration between business applications. What's more, a lack of expert integration developers hinders in-house transition efforts, the research indicates.

"The numbers are staggering," said the newly published report about "The Great Middleware Transition" (free PDF download upon providing registration info).

"IT organizations are about to undertake one of the most dramatic infrastructure shifts in the past 20 years," said Aberdeen Group analyst Michael Caton, who authored the report commissioned by Liaison Technologies, a cloud-based integration and data management specialist. Caton said the research revealed 76 percent of organizations will at least partially replace their integration middleware platforms.

Furthermore, 84 percent of all middleware will be replaced in the next four years.

"IT organizations are about to undertake one of the most dramatic infrastructure shifts we've seen in 20 years, and the transition will be to the cloud," Caton said in a news release. "This shift makes sense as companies look for greater flexibility, scalability and predictable cost models."

Caton said the aforementioned need to integrate business apps is the primary driver for the shift away from systems that may have been adopted more than 20 years ago. Facing pressure to lower integration costs, many surveyed enterprises are resorting to do-it-yourself (DIY) cloud-based approaches, which Liaison referred to as Integration-Platform-as-a-Service (iPaaS) offerings.

That approach, however, is hampered by a lack of trained developers with integration expertise, Liaision said, along with the great number of apps to be integrated and stringent data compliance requirements.

Top Pressures to Replace Middleware
[Click on image for larger view.] Top Pressures to Replace Middleware (source: Liaison Technologies/Aberdeen Group)

Another alternative identified in the research is to use cloud-based middleware platforms that provide such integration as a managed service. Liaison's ALLOY Platform takes just such a managed services approach, the company helpfully pointed out.

Other highlights of the report include:

  • 44 percent of organizations cite increased demand for application integration as a key driver to replace their integration platform.
  • 35 percent of organizations run more than 200 business applications, and 36 percent have three or more integration platforms.
  • 66 percent need to integrate data from cloud applications.
  • 63 percent need to integrate on-premises applications.
  • 30 percent need to integrate data from IoT devices.
  • 36 percent of organizations have three or more integration platforms.
  • Organizations cite ensuring all IT activities meet industry and government regulations as their top strategic initiative.
  • 46 percent of organizations use an integration managed service to improve the productivity of developer resources.
  • While 78 percent of surveyed organizations plan to replace their on-premises middleware within three years -- with 84 percent of middleware being replaced within four years -- only 30 percent will be replaced with another on-premises solution.
  • Almost half of organizations cite a desire to free up developer resources as their top reason for picking a cloud-based integration managed service.

"The current shift in integration technology will be profound for the industry," the report concludes. "With so many organizations planning to partially or fully replace their existing platforms and move to the cloud, IT groups will be dramatically changing the way they manage data integration across their enterprises."

In view of that conclusion, the report offered the following advice for enterprises undergoing the great middleware transition:

  • Evaluate both iPaaS and cloud-based managed services to see if they can free up IT resources for more strategic projects.
  • Fully understand their regulatory compliance requirements, and determine if they can better meet those needs by moving to the cloud.
  • Find partners that provide not only a rich set of connectivity options, but also staff that can meet a wide range of needs.
  • Look for ways to improve not only operations and save on licensing costs, but also to evaluate the impact of consolidating platforms on other performance areas, such as uptime and internal support.
  • Alleviate some of their budgetary issues by moving to more predictable pricing metrics, and move from capital expenditure to an operating expense model.

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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