Which scenarios justify the procurement of middleware?
There are three general dimensions which can be used to define your scenarios.
Endpoints – Which protocols do I have?
The systems you need to integrate run on-premise, in the cloud, on mobile end-devices or on smart devices. Typically in each case differing communication protocols will apply. SQL, iDOc, EDI and FTP run on-premise. In the cloud you will find SOAP, REST or ODATA and AMPQ for your smart devices. If middleware is now used, the complexity of your protocols is hidden. The systems to be integrated can simply be connected with your protocol in the middleware.
Deployment – Which network topology do I have?
If the systems you need integrating are distributed across a complex network – on-premise, cloud or mobile devices – the middleware creates transparency. It provides connectors that allow a “local” connection for your systems. The result is that aspects such as firewalls and DMZ are no concern for these systems.
The middleware must naturally be operated somewhere. Ideally, your integration platform should be located close to your systems. Appropriate solutions therefore are on-premise installations, operation in the cloud as IPaaS, embedded solutions or a mix of these models.
Integration patterns – what do I want to integrate?
Here we differentiate roughly between four variants: data integration, process integration, application integration and B2B scenarios.
Data integration is about the synchronization of data across multiple distributed systems. For example product master data between ERP and online shop or ETL scenarios with corresponding monitoring.
Process integration is about the integration of a customer order across the distributed systems: online shop, ERP. Logistics, payment, CRM and the monitoring of the overarching process.
Application integration is about the seamless integration of distributed applications. For example the provision of on-premise ERP functionality or data on demand for a tablet app used by technical field staff.
B2B scenarios such as the integration of systems of record with those from B2B partners by means of electronic data transfer (EDI).
Each of these scenarios carries within it differing challenges and each challenge justifies the use of middleware. Should you even have a crossover at multiple points with your scenarios then middleware is a worthwhile investment for your company.