Why Middleware Matters in a Mobile First World
As with every disruptive innovation that hit the enterprise in the last two decades, mobile technology is about to change the way enterprises engage with customers, transact with partners, and empower their employees. This time around, the transformation is occurring even more precipitously with mobile devices becoming the central computing hub for both our personal and professional lives.
You’ve probably seen the studies stating that mobility is the most critical IT priority for enterprises:
- According to research firm Gartner, “The rise of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programs is the single most radical shift in the economics of client computing for business since PCs invaded the workplace.”
- In recently completed Accenture survey of more than 400 global IT executives, 73 percent of the participants said that mobility will impact their business as much as or more than the Web did.
- One-third of IT executives surveyed by Accenture cited mobility as one of their top two priorities and 75 percent put it among their top five.
As mobile technology takes center stage in the enterprise, mobile middleware will quickly become the glue that brings it all together – just like client/server middleware in the 1990s and Web application servers a decade later.
What is middleware and why does it matter?
Middleware is a layer of software that lies between an operating system and applications. It provides services, such as messaging and data exchange, that make it easier for software developers to write applications that communicate with other applications in a distributed computing environment.
The origin of the term middleware dates back to 1968 where it was first mentioned. Since then, middleware has manifested itself in myriad forms, most notably as the ‘slash’ in client/server and Web application servers. BEA Systems became the undisputed enterprise middleware market leader in the mid-1990’s until the company was acquired by Oracle in 2008 for $8.5 billion.
If you’re old enough to remember the 1990’s, you may recall that open systems – based on client/server technology – were a driving force within the enterprise. As the technology evolved from a simple 2-tier client/server model to a distributed 3-tier architecture powered by transactional service-oriented middleware, enterprises built modern systems that outperformed legacy mainframes at a fraction of the price. Companies that took advantage of these innovations outclassed their competitors.
Web Application Server
A decade later, the Web took over our desktops and the network became the computer. While households upgraded from dial-up to broadband, new business models emerged and a new generation of “Web first” companies took the world by storm. Amazon, eBay, eTrade, and Google forever changed how we search for information, consume content, buy and sell goods and services.
The impact on enterprises was no less disruptive. While the legacy mainframes and client/server systems were still at the center of many corporate IT infrastructures, Web-based applications, powered by Web application servers, quickly became the heart and soul of new system architectures, as they allowed companies to change the way they engaged with customers, partners, and employees. Companies that adapted to this new world order came out stronger.
Enterprise Mobile Middleware
As smartphones and tablets take a more prominent role in our daily lives, mobile technology will change – again – how enterprises engage, transact, and empower people. If you were to draw parallels from the past two decades, it is clear that a new class of middleware will emerge and help enterprises fuel this transformation.
Call it enterprise mobile middleware. Call it a mobile app platform. Either way, a new generation of “mobile first” enterprises will leverage this technology and outperform the laggers again. While it may be too early to tell who will come out ahead, one thing is certain: as with client/server and the Web, middleware is going to fuel this transformation.
We’re not talking about the same old middleware that’s running today’s client/server or Web applications. Envision a new generation of middleware designed for a mobile-first world. Mobile middleware that will address problems that are unique to a mobile customer base and mobile workforce.
- Embark on a Seamless Journey from Web Applications to Mobile Apps
- Enterprise Mobile Middleware Blog
- LinkedIn Mobile Middleware Group
- Mobile Middleware: Enabling a Trusted and Contextual User Experience
- The DNA of a Mobile-First Middleware
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License by Paul Tocatlian.