IT Management

Many companies have made the decision to scale out to the cloud to achieve increased agility and lower costs. It’s important to ensure you maintain the same level of visibility into middleware infrastructure performance, whether the services are in the cloud or on-premise. You should manage middleware in the cloud the same way you would in an on-premise environment. This is where middleware management technology matters.

Think of middleware as the link between business applications and the increased capacity of the cloud. When you move your applications and middleware infrastructure to a cloud, middleware management technology provides the visibility needed to monitor and measure their performance. This insight helps reduce risk and improve decision-making so you can maintain desired service levels while achieving cloud computing benefits. Read on to learn how middleware and middleware management play an important role in the cloud.

Drive Business Growth

Ideally, the cloud should extend your mainframe and distributed systems environment, providing the elastic capacity required to respond to market changes or opportunities. For example, assume a company is developing a new product and a change occurs in the market related to that product that requires intensive computational work. The data associated with that work gets moved to the cloud over the middleware infrastructure—without changing the associated applications. The company uses that extra capacity whenever needed and pays only for what’s used. If the data needed for that processing doesn’t get moved to the cloud, the company’s ability to release a new product—such as a new special financing offer—could be delayed and the market opportunity could be lost.

Connect Data

Middleware is critical for the integration of on-premise and cloud applications. If you plan to deploy a new application into the cloud, how will you connect that data to the environment that’s already running in your data center? That connection is typically done efficiently with middleware.

When you scale your middleware into the cloud environment, you need middleware management to provide the same level of control as you would have with your own data center. Your IT environment is diverse, even more so when you move to the cloud. So, your middleware management needs to be flexible enough to address the complexities of the environment such as the high level of automation and dynamic nature of workloads.

Address Business Impact 

Anyone who has explored the adoption of a cloud strategy knows the inherent challenges of cloud computing. It’s even more critical to have visibility in the cloud because you don’t have the same control as with your on-premise infrastructure. When you’re scaling out to a public cloud, for example, you rely on the controls of the cloud provider, which may leave you more vulnerable.

If a user orders an item on your Website, many activities happen on the back-end of that order and they’re all connected to create the user’s experience. Some of these activities include a credit authorization, account verification, and an inventory check. Some of these actions might be occurring in the cloud and some in your data center.

As a transaction moves into the cloud, it’s important to be able to troubleshoot problems as if that transaction were in your own data center. So, if the transaction is slowing down—whether the connection is between your data center and the cloud or between your data center and elsewhere—you must be able to isolate the problem as quickly as possible. If you have a slowdown with orders coming from Websites, for example, middleware management will help you identify where a problem is occurring in the flow of events that impact the user.

Being able to identify a particular user who is affected by a problem can greatly improve customer satisfaction and your company’s reputation. If you can monitor from the time your Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) calls out to the target and comes back to you, even when you don’t have control of the back-end servers, you can measure performance. Then, you can use that information as a guide to measure the effectiveness of your service.

Middleware management lets you look at how service levels are still being addressed in the cloud and ensures you can still meet and exceed your Service Level Agreements (SLAs) as you scale out—without additional risk.

If your business wants to make a new acquisition or target a new market, you need to know whether you can support those new customers at the required service levels. When you provision services in the cloud, middleware management gives you the visibility and control over the data you need to understand the business impact.

Solve Problems

Managing middleware in the cloud isn’t much different from managing on-premise because you have the same requirements and goals. Here are some examples of how middleware management has impacted the bottom line.

A bank using traditional CICS applications was trying to expose these common services through new channels—Web and mobile networks—rather than only branch offices and was routing the services through the ESB. The ESB is a model for designing and implementing interaction and communication between software applications. Being able to determine that a transaction came from a certain user and actually called to a particular target in the back-end is a critical step for the bank. It helps them understand who is impacted when an application isn’t performing correctly.

Another bank outsources its credit card processing to a provider that does credit card scans. By being able to track transactions going through the middleware and knowing the response time for particular transactions going out, the bank was able to prove to the scan company that it wasn’t getting the expected response time. Conversely, the credit card processor was able to prove that one of the banks was sending in more transactions than they had claimed were being sent. Middleware management gave both companies the ability to exchange objective information in reports from the same management tool to prove their cases. The reports provide service-level monitoring and have the potential to offer information on the real-time allocation of resources. For the bank, this meant a refund. For the credit card processor, it meant the ability to charge accurately based on the number of users of a particular system.

Look Ahead

Five years ago, did you expect to be able to access whatever you needed from your phone? Now and in the future, your users will increasingly expect applications to do more and perform better, just as they expect more from their personal technology. These high expectations are putting more pressure on the business, regardless of complexity and infrastructure deployment choices, to deliver excellent performance and availability.

People expect to be able to access the information they need at any time and customers don’t know or care if your business service is on-premise or cloud-hosted. Businesses must prepare to meet these high expectations. When problems do occur, they must address them aggressively and proactively. “Good enough” availability or performance will soon be a thing of the past, if it isn’t already. The most successful enterprises will be those that meet these high expectations before their competitors do. Ensuring that middleware management is an integral part of your cloud strategy will help make this possible.