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Middleware is dying -- and for good reason

Sacha Labourey, CEO of CloudBees | March 11, 2013
As acceptance of platform as a service (PaaS) cloud services continues to accelerate, companies are increasingly free to bypass underlying in-house IT infrastructure and OS requirements, focusing instead on the type of services required and service level agreements (SLA). And that spells the beginning of the end of having to deal with the cost and hassles of complex middleware.

Middleware will become nonexistent simply because to developers the middleware services are provided to them without having to worry about dealing with the middleware layer themselves. Although you can think of PaaS as "middleware in the cloud," the reality is that PaaS delivers the functionality of middleware through a set of services that are simply consumed by the developer.

While the features provided by middleware are still part of the features exposed by PaaS, these solutions will provide much broader functional and lifecycle coverage, handle all infrastructural and operational aspects and integrate and deliver these best-of-breed capabilities as a unified, fully managed service. Furthermore, PaaS vendors also act as the support organization for any issues encountered during software development, helping to avoid figuring out where to route help requests.

Future with PaaS

The bottom line is that for a developer using PaaS, the notion of "middleware" is not very visible or interesting. While this might seem like a semantic change at first, it is actually a fundamental shift in how developers work and where they are spending their time. And as with any paradigm shift, it must be experienced to fully understand the implications. As IT moves to a service-oriented world, much of the friction we have been accustomed to in our daily activities will disappear. We are entering a new world of efficiency -- one that eliminates the need to worry about middleware and intensifies the focus on creating value.

But IT vendors won't be the only ones impacted by these changes. The cloud has already helped companies increase their competitiveness today and will play an important role in ensuring it tomorrow. Those who continue to reject cloud solutions as not being flexible, secure or good enough will fail under the weight of their own IT costs and lack of agility. As of today, any company creating new IT assets that does not consider the cloud in some form is increasing the legacy burden that will make their eventual move to the cloud more painful and their business less competitive.

The cloud represents one of the most significant shifts that computing has gone through. As we continue to move to the cloud, we are welcoming a new service-based world, where many common terms in the average IT shop, such as servers, data centers, OS, clustering and, yes, middleware, are quickly dying away.


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