Application Middleware - A Challenge?

by Sunil Kumar    May 05, 2006

Application middleware constitutes one of the most important and evolving challenges that CIOs face on a consistent basis. In the current scenario the question is whether the CIO is a change management agent and how exactly can a CIO tackle the information infrastructure challenges.

To answer this and much more, CXOtoday came up with an event, “Leveraging Middleware Applications for Enhanced Customer Contact Management with Immediate RoI”, geared towards addressing the needs of enterprise IT heads across the country.

Ivor Soans, Editor, started the event by encouraging the gathering of CIOs to discuss the importance and relevance of application middleware in the prevailing scenario.

Vikas Gadre, CIO, Rallis India stressed on an objective and comprehensive understanding of middleware considering rapid, drastic and ongoing changes in the country and worldwide. Data warehousing per se and the growth of predictive analytics has led to a situation where middleware has to be a facilitator for effective real-time online transactions and orchestrator of disparate systems considering changes in the retail scenario across the country.

Srinivas Eranki, Sr. VP/ CIO-Polymer Business, Reliance and S.B. Patankar, Chief Technology Advisor, BSE deliberated on the prevailing middleware scenario and bringing added value to the customer. Considering the exponential and constantly increasing data in the enterprise, bringing value to the customer would be a combination of understanding flaws in the current system and rearchitecting the prevailing systems in conjunction with the growth of technologies such as SOA, changes in anti-money laundering solutions and IT stakeholders needed to build future-proof and build flexibility into systems.

From an RoI perspective and the growth of patented technologies, converting and adding more value to middleware would be combination of considering diverse eclectic scenarios and IT professionals drawing from differing domain expertise.

Manageability for the CIO would be being domain-specific and handling expectations in terms of data processing and getting tangible returns across the enterprise.

Applications ranging from insurance to costing for document delivery, which is around 15 to 20%, requires optimal use of CRM and systems for data analysis.

Diverse applications across verticals needed an effective RoI benchmark. Commoditization of technology and stationary distribution costs in an enterprise need systems for effective tracking. The commoditization of technology in general is also having an impact in the application middleware segment. CIOs emphasized that customers across segments needed to invest in results.

The gathering of IT heads stressed that factors like generation of internal reports, to sharing of information would lead to effective BI for customers. Other notable factors included changes in the B2B scenario and the challenge of multi-layering in application middleware, some of the facts CIOs need to consider, rethink and thereby add value to the enterprise. Problems included faster turnaround time in application middleware and the importance of a single sign-on mechanism for middleware and the enterprise. Core banking applications also needed extension and integration of application middleware.

Other problems related to middleware in the organization included manageability and data processing. Pre-processing problems related to application middleware and controlling of inefficiency were some of the problems related to application middleware. Business Process Reengineering was also essential in terms of handling legacy systems and ensuring that application middleware was used optimally.