This is one of the common questions that circling around in every enterprise IT sponsors. Somehow they would have been convinced to invest in leading middleware products (like IBM, Oracle, Software AG, TIBCO and IBI) to establish enterprise scale integration backbone or simply for applications integration. However the reality may be different. Even though IT invested heavily for purchases, infrastructures, implementation and continuous maintenance, many of them are still stressed to realize the ROI out of middleware investments. Some of them are still struggling to stabilize the middleware environment itself due to various factors. Few of them gave up saying that these products may not work for them as they are too complex to adopt.

Here is the answer all the above situations. Either an enterprise adopts expensive middleware product or cost effective open source middleware tools, in order to achieve stable middleware, higher maturity and better ROI, we should focus on 4 key areas. Until we give importance to the below key areas, whatever the result that IT operations gain out of middleware should not be actuals.


Architecture plays a major role in realizing better results from middleware investments. Fundamentally, middleware products are built to achieve all kind of integration needs. Even SOA middleware products are also built to achieve either SOA based approach or simply Point-to-Point approach. We should understand here that it is implementation team’s responsibility to design mature architecture to achieve strategic goals or shorter needs by not compromising long-term goals. None of the SOA products simply apply SOA principles by default and it should not. It is all SOA enabled not enforced. When we talk about mature architecture, there are various areas that we should consider to justify integration architecture as mature. There are various non-functional requirements (like service based, reusability, layer based, development framework, common system behaviors) should be considered to design mature architecture. So middleware architecture is the first key to realize better results out of middleware.


This is the second most important area that middleware implementation and governance team should define before kickoff any major integration projects. Middleware projects are different animal than general application development or implementation projects. Especially SOA implementation required well defined process and practice to identify the services need, define service scope, documentation, development, testing and rollout. If the entire lifecycle of services are not defined and followed, the IT should have ended up in investing more and more rather than gaining returns. In order to establish such mature process and practice required good ground work and design before kickoff the development. Therefore defining mature processes and governance are playing key role in streamlining the implementation and maintenance of middleware platform. If we follow such mature processes, obviously it will cut down all unnecessary efforts which will directly results in cost benefits.


In order to achieve highly mature architecture, process and governance required strong competency within the implementation. Many cases, many of the enterprise failed in defining mature architecture and processes due to lack of competency in middleware. Again middleware implementation is completely different animal than other application implementations. The entire middleware implementation team should look at all functional requirements, architecture, processes from middleware dimension. Many enterprises ended up in hiring vendors or consultants to implement or consult the architecture and implementation but ether failed during implementation or post implementation. Regardless of that establishing the highly competitive team of resources is highly required investment to truly understand, enforce the architecture and processes which will result in lower maintenance. If the operational efforts reduce significantly during post implementation will obviously reduce ongoing operational cost.


Okay, what is the role of assessment in gaining high ROI out of my middleware investment? Here is the answer for that. Regardless of your architecture capability, mature processes and competency, it is always recommended to have third eyes reviewing your middleware investment by assessing all details. Many cases, the middleware implementation would have been under heavy pressure to meet the deadlines and business targets. It is obvious that they would have missed or tailored some of the best practices, so instead of going with assumption that everything is accurate, it is highly recommended to pull some third party assessment team to review the overall implementation. Many enterprises failed to do this as part of the process due to various factors. However it is always important review the overall implementation to realize the level of maturity achieved and gaps.

When enterprise follows better architecture, processes, governance and competency it’s all should enhance the goals to achieve better ROI. Obviously having third party assessment will facilitate to measure the readiness of the middleware to generate cost benefits. There are many enterprises which focused on the above areas and reviewed by third party, ended up gaining higher returns out of their middleware investments.