Cloud Middleware: A Reference Architecture

June 2, 2013

“Cloud Middleware:” A Reference Architecture

As mobile devices and social software continue to reengineer the space of B2B collaboration and B2C engagement and enlistment, CIOs are under mounting pressure to develop and deploy company-specific applications involving both domains.  At one end there is the end user being accessed through a system of engagement, where a primary design criterion is quality of the user experience.  At the other end are the enterprise’s applications and databases, its systems of record, where the primary concern is data integrity and security.  Yoking these two endpoints together creates a recurring set of challenges that warrant middleware solutions, which by virtue of this domain will almost certainly be located in the cloud.  What CIOs want to know is, what does that set of middleware look like, and who are the leading providers in that space today?

To answer these questions, we need to develop a checklist of services that is what McKinsey calls “MECE”—that is, “Mutually Exclusive and Collectively Exhaustive.”  Below is a first cut at two such checklists, one for mobile applications, the other for social. 

At the present time, we have two goals with respect to these lists.  The first is to add, delete, and change the items below until a consensus develops that each list is truly MECE.  The second goal is to annotate each line item with credible reference competitors currently in the market that CIOs could evaluate for their specific needs.

Middleware for Mobile Applications

  • Application development and testing tools and services
  • Application Interfaces and connectors to market leading systems of record
  • Application provisioning and mobile device management systems
  • App stores suitable for enterprise use cases
  • Security, identity, authentication and authorization products and services
  • Policy, governance, alerts and incident management systems
  • Performance, availability, user experience and quality of service monitoring
  • Big data management and analytics for extracting insights from monitoring log files

Middleware for Social Applications

  • Social application development facilities, including registration, rating & ranking,         gamification, etc.
  • Interfaces and connectors to market leading social applications
  • Interfaces to provide limited access to systems of record data
  • User generated content management and file sharing services
  • Social listening, sentiment analysis, and alert management systems
  • Socially appropriate presence detection and privacy and security systems
  • User-managed identity, authorization, and communication preferences services
  • Integration with one or more suites of online meeting services
  • Metrics systems for engagement (time, interaction) and enlistment (likes, shares, NPS)