Intelligent middleware is starting to usurp the database as the means of gluing heterogeneous systems together to create a coherent IT infrastructure.
But, while the move to middleware is being driven by the arrival of object/relational databases onto the marketplace, which are mostly based on both, the database suppliers need to clarify their positioning and how they see the two technologies fitting together, if they are to prosper.
They must merge their database and middleware strategies to help users understand what competitive advantage the technology can offer them and are the best candidates to educate the market because they have the experience and size to move from a database-centric view of the world to a middleware-focussed one.
The middleware players themselves are too small and narrow in their outlook to have much sway, according to the Ovum European Software Markets Service report, dubbed the ?European Database Market 1996/1997?.
Laurent Lachal, analyst at Ovum, said: ?With the increase in heterogeneous and distributed systems in the IT architecture, database-centric models are now becoming increasingly less important and the middleware element is growing. People need to glue things together more and more. The ironic thing is that middleware started as a database connectivity product, but it?s grown out of its database-centric role to become more function-centric, connecting applications to applications. The glue has become the main technology for IT architects, but the market has not quite realised it yet and the database vendors haven?t acknowledged it.?
He added that the database suppliers still had time to sort their positioning out because middleware technology was still too limited to move into the mainstream and did not pose a direct threat because it co-existed easily with databases.
But, he advised them to market cohabitation possibilities with DCE, message-oriented middleware such as IBM?s MQSeries and distributed transaction processing monitors such as IBM?s Encina rather than hype object request brokers, which were tomorrow?s technology.
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