API Management

What is a Middleware as a Service (MWaaS) Suite?

Middleware as a Service

As most traditional software products have progressively turned into an “as a Service” model, this is interesting to see how middleware solutions have evolved and are now also available “as a Service.” This is what we call “Middleware as a Service Suite.” We use the “Suite” term to designate the set of tools needed to provide a fully operational middleware solution aiming at integrating internal systems together. As a reminder, “middleware” is a family of products helping integrate different systems together, as they are originally built with different technologies and are not able to share information easily with other systems.

Middleware as a Service

If you want to learn more about the Middleware as a Service (MWaaS) market, Ovum published a recent Decision Matrix comparing the different “Middleware as a Service Suite” vendors.

A comprehensive Middleware as a Service suite combines different technologies:

Cloud integration

Cloud integration is provided by iPaaS, Integration Platform as a Service. This allows to easily integrate both on-premise and SaaS applications for a seamless IT architecture, regardless of the location of the app.

The different integration patterns are: “on-premise-to-on-premise application integration,” “on-premise-to-Saas-application-integration,” “SaaS-to-SaaS-application-integration.”
iPaaS provides different connectors/adaptors to multiple applications and tools such as CRM and ERP applications, marketing automation tools, messaging systems (MQ, JMS …), databases, collaboration applications, CMS (Joomla, Drupal …), Cloud storage applications (AWS S3 …). If the connector doesn’t exist, iPaaS provides a connector development kit for developing new connectors.

In terms of hosting infrastructure, leading iPaaS solutions provide the flexibility to switch between different IaaS – Infrastructure as a Service – providers, which means that you can host the solution on any Cloud providers (AWS, MS Azure, IBM Bluemix …). To obey regulation rules, they should also provide the ability to select the regional data center.
Last but not least, leading iPaaS solutions to offer a free trial version in self-service mode or free access to a basic plan.

Cloud-based API Platform

Cloud-based API Platform is provided by apiPaas which stands for API Platform as Service: this enables users to develop, run, manage and secure APIs.
\It’s a unified approach enabling API providers to manage the full API lifecycle by creating new APIs, designing new interfaces for existing APIs and securing those APIs.
apiPaas is not limited to the capability of generating APIs against a range of back-ends but it’s a holistic approach to the rapid composition of APIs and subsequent management of their lifecycles and operations.

In terms of API creation, apiPaaS offers a “zero-coding” or configuration-based approach for building APIs, such as Axway API Builder.

apiPaaS comes along with an API developer portal to facilitate developer engagement. Key features of an API developer portal need to be considered before selecting any vendor.

All APIs are centralized and managed in a cental API catalog. In order to create useful APIs, apiPaaS should make it easy to create dummy APIs to get user feedback prior to developing the API for real.

DevOps is also key, apiPaaS allows distributed teams to participate in API design and collaborate in the development process.

Incorporated API testing is nice to have to test APIs without writing any code.
Last but not least, an advanced API monitoring component is paramount to run the platform and offer the best service by tracking latency, SLA compliance, transaction rate and time and API availability.

Cloud-based B2B integration

Cloud-based B2B integration consists in offering additional services than APIs, such as EDI and MFT integration. I invite you to read a previous article explaining why APIs love MFT.
For B2B integration, the solution needs to offer an easy way to onboard trading partners, ideally automatically via an online registration form and onboarding workflow.
The monitoring capabilities should encompass both API, EDI and MFT in order to monitor all possible B2B flow types. Axway AMPLIFY is, for example, a leading cloud integration platform that meets those needs.

Mobile backend integration

Mobile backend integration is provided by an MBaaS solution that is part of the MWaaS Suite. Major features are described in this article about MBaaS definition and features.

IoT integration

IoT is getting traction on the market and a Middleware as a Service Suite should take this new type of connectivity into account.

Check out those IoT integration videos to better understand which modules MWaaS vendors can offer in this domain.