Today I read a rather interesting and profound statement in the book recently released “BizTalk 2010 Recipes” by Mark Beckner

It was so interesting that I’d like to share it with you, it speaks of the future of which I’d tend to agree with, “in the decade ahead, middleware will be more important and relevant than ever before.”

“Why does middleware like this have such staying power? You’d think that newer advances in technology like web services, SOA, and software as a service (SaaS) would render applications much more inherently interoperable and that the pain and complexity of systems integration would be a thing of the past.

The truth is that enterprises of all sizes still experience tremendous cost and complexity when extending and customizing their applications. Given the recent constraints of the economy, IT departments must increasingly find new ways to do more with less, which means finding less expensive ways to develop new capabilities that meet the needs of the business. At the same time, the demands of business users are ever increasing; environments of great predictability and stability have given way to business conditions that are continually changing, with shorter windows of opportunity and greater impacts of globalization and regulation. These factors all put tremendous stress on IT departments to find new ways to bridge the demanding needs of the users and businesses with the reality of their packaged applications.

This leads back to the reason why middleware-certainly not sexy as technologies go-continues to deliver tremendous value to both businesses and IT departments. As the technology’s name suggests, it sits in the middle between the applications you use and the underlying infrastructure; this enables IT departments to continue to innovate at the infrastructure level with shifts like many-core processing, virtualization, and cloud computing. Instead of having to continue to continually rewrite your LOB applications to tap into infrastructure advances, you can depend on middleware to provide a higher level of abstraction, so you can focus your efforts on writing the business logic, not plumbing code. Using middleware also helps future-proof your applications, so that even as you move ahead to the nextgeneration development tools and platforms (including the current trends toward composite applications and platforms as a service), you can still leverage the existing investments you’ve made over the years.

So, in the decade ahead, middleware will be more important and relevant than ever before. “

Burley Kawasaki

Director of Product Management, Microsoft Corporation