Middleware Takes Off into the Cloud

One of the lesser-discussed aspects of the cloud is its impact on middleware. With many organizations still actively pursuing application integration strategies, middleware stacks have grown increasingly complex as they struggle to keep up with a growing cadre of messaging formats.

By Arthur Cole | Posted Aug 18, 2011
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One of the lesser-discussed aspects of the cloud is its impact on middleware. With many organizations still actively pursuing application integration strategies, middleware stacks have grown increasingly complex as they struggle to keep up with a growing cadre of messaging formats.

Over at CTO Edge, Michael Vizard notes that the proliferation of middleware is in many ways as troublesome as server or virtual machine sprawl: Eventually you get to the point at which management systems can't cope, resulting in latency or even denial of service. Adding the cloud to the mix merely exacerbates this problem as management systems are tasked with providing cohesive environments on internal and external infrastructure.

 One solution is to move the Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) into the cloud as well, but as readwriteweb.com's Scott Fulton points out, this is kind of like "cramming a live snake into a glove compartment." This is why management firms like BMC Software are rapidly updating their management stacks. The newest version of the firm's Middleware Management system offers improved drilldown and other features designed to highlight message transaction paths wherever they may lead, as well as automated troubleshooting and performance evaluation. The goal is to provide a unified middleware environment regardless of any architectural differences between in-house and external architectures.

Another way to ensure a cloud-friendly middleware environment is to host it on the very cloud that it's intended to serve. WSO2 recently launched a PaaS version of its StratosLive platform, as well as a new version of its Open Source Cloud Middleware with the intent to deliver a scalable designtime and runtime platform for app developers working in private or public clouds. StratosLive Paas includes all the components needed to operate a fully functional middleware stack, including the application, identity and portal servers, as well as the ESB, database, business process manager and governance registry.

For open source developers, extensibility into the cloud is becoming a necessity, as evidenced by the newest JBoss release from Red Hat. JBoss Application Server 7 provides a lighter-weight version of JavaEE and a new Context and Dependency Injection (CDI) framework aimed at improving app deployment over physical, virtual and cloud infrastructures. The company promises a 10x improvement in startup time coupled with reduced memory usage.

With the middleware layer acting as the glue holding application environments together, it stands to reason that it should receive just as much TLC as any other enterprise tool that is heading to the cloud. The ability to traverse disparate infrastructures is a valuable asset to all data center functions, no matter where they lie on the stack.

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