The Middleware Advantage: Three ways a flexible, integrated software layer can deliver a competitive edge
by Trevor Naidoo
Today, customers interact with organizations through an increasing number of technology interfaces—including mobile, cloud-based, and on-premises applications. Most companies build these interfaces individually and reactively, making it difficult to respond rapidly to business changes brought on by fluctuating customer, market, and regulatory demands. Middleware technologies can help by providing a flexible layer between applications and technologies.
Middleware is a layer of software that creates a common platform for all interactions internal and external to the organization—system-to-system, system-to-database, human-to-system, Web-based, and mobile-device-based interactions. Modern middleware is based on a service-oriented architecture, which uses prebuilt services that can be shared and reused by multiple systems. Smart leaders who have intelligently implemented middleware in their enterprises have reaped three major benefits.
It’s a major challenge to deliver services across mobile, cloud, and traditional application platforms. As services converge, customers expect a common user experience. The current IT landscape needs to be agile to accommodate these requirements. Middleware technology can help rationalize legacy IT systems into reusable, general-purpose functionality blocks that facilitate quicker changes to business processes. As a result, the business is better supported for changes in products and services as well as the introduction of new channels. A survey of Oracle customers has shown a range of 30 to 60 percent faster time to market for products and services where middleware aided the process.
Smart managers are streamlining the way they do business by automating their business processes with middleware technology. The automation of processes—such as the ordering and configuring of products—decreases costs associated with a staff member performing the setup manually. It also reduces the cycle time and ultimately increases the total volume of business due to increased simplicity of customer interactions. An Oracle public sector customer was able to achieve a 30 percent improvement in cycle time by using middleware technology to automate a tender process involving multiple systems and stakeholders.
A survey of Oracle customers has shown a range of 30 to 60 percent faster time to market for products and services where middleware aided the process.
Product development cycles need to be shorter to introduce new, innovative products before competitors. An IT landscape of reusable software services will help the business roll out new products and services faster while maintaining lower development costs. Oracle Fusion Middleware customers have seen a 15 to 50 percent reduction in total cost of ownership for their existing environments—freeing up valuable resources to invest in new product development. For example, a hotel chain used Oracle Fusion Middleware to provide room availability and rates directly to users on Google Maps with up-to-the-second accuracy.
To get the most out of middleware, business and IT managers should choose best-of-breed middleware that is complete, integrated, and hot-pluggable. Business leaders should work with a single strategic middleware partner to simplify processes. IT managers should require certified integrations between middleware, database, and applications to reduce costs.
In addition, they should be able to implement the middleware products right into their existing environment. The right middleware technology enables an enterprise to create and run agile, intelligent business applications while maximizing IT efficiency through full utilization of modern hardware and software architectures.
Trevor Naidoo is a senior director of industry strategy and insight at Oracle, and adjunct professor at the University of Pennsylvania and Widener University. Additional reporting was by Neela Chaudhari, product manager in the Oracle Middleware Group.