Leveraging Modularity Principle for Agile Middleware Migration Solutions
Pethuru Raj
DEC 26, 2012 08:00 AM
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There is one distinct trend getting more visibility these days. It is none other than the aspect of middleware migration as some established middleware solutions such as Sun JCAPS, are getting discarded or dropped on the way due to various reasons. In particular, Oracle has bought up Sun Microsystems and since Oracle has a comprehensive middleware suite, it discarded the Sun's JCAPS). Also more compact and comprehensive middleware solutions such as Oracle Fusion Middleware, IBM ESB, TIBCO AMX, are coming up fast as the middleware market is steadily growing up. Some niche integration solutions are being bought by bigger companies to strengthen their middleware product offering portfolio. Oracle is one of those buying companies. Also most of the existing middleware products are continuously revisited and refurbished to be solidified and stabilized to anticipate and tackle new requirements quiet efficiently. Business enterprises are planning to embrace open source integration solutions in order to cut the IT budget. All these trends directly and indirectly insist on the need for smarter solutions for automating the growing middleware-migration needs. Product vendors, service organizations and individuals are grasping this grand opportunity to come out with sophisticated solutions.

Service Oriented Integration

There is no iota of doubt on the universal truth that information technology (IT) has been termed as the most visible, vigorous and valuable partner and provider of business automation, acceleration and augmentation. The business trends, sentiments and requirements are fast changing and highly unpredictable and hence all kinds of noteworthy IT improvisations and innovations have to be decisively and precisely leveraged in order to cope up with the pace in which the global business scenario and situation emerges and evolves. Integration standards and solutions are one key ingredient in the business-aware and aligned IT space. Integration standards, approaches, and mechanisms are becoming very popular and deeply penetrative in order to enable enterprise-wide and end-to-end integrated solutions. Such an arrangement ensures seamless and spontaneous interactions among different contributive and constructive IT modules by decimating all sorts of inhibiting dependencies, risks and constrictions. Specifically speaking, middleware is the most prominent and dominant software solution for fulfilling the varying degrees of integration needs. With proprietary technologies, integration challenge becomes a big task, which has to be attended through a host of sophisticated and smart middleware standards, concepts and best-of-breed implementations.

Middleware Products and Platforms

Middleware products and platforms are very critical and crucial for the survival and success of business IT with the constant expansion and extension of business boundaries and horizons across the globe. That means the underlying IT has to be made competent, connected and compatible for the wider diversity, distribution and decentralization of business entities. Another peculiar yet pervasive trend in the IT domain is that the arrival and articulation of both standardized as well as proprietary technologies. Heterogeneity undoubtedly rules the IT space and spikes the IT complexity due to the persistent rise of diverse IT elements and entities. IT systems, solutions and services need to be interoperable to be beneficial and sharing their specific and sharable competencies. Connectivity at network level and integration at application and data levels in order to ensure purpose-driven interactions are very important in order to have highly strategic integrated environments. In a nutshell, multiplicity and heterogeneity lead to IT complexity and choking. Middleware solutions in the form of integration containers, buses, hubs, fabrics, appliances, adaptors, and engines have made a greater and deeper mark on the integration front.

In the recent past, the much-discussed service paradigm has become a silver bullet for all the ills of enterprise IT. For minimizing the escalating complexity and for enhancing the agility, affordability, autonomy, and productivity of enterprises, the service science, engineering and management aspects have come out as a boon and blessing in disguise. The prominent and dominant component realizing the ideals of the service paradigm is enterprise service bus (ESB), which is the message-oriented service middleware for application integration, service composition and legacy modernization. All the leading middleware software solution vendors are renovating, refactoring and even re-architecting their older middleware products to be amazingly fit for the impending service-sponsored, cloud-enabled and knowledge era. That is, middleware products are constantly getting updated and upgraded to be functionally worthy and to pack extra power and value for new sorts of business and IT requirements. As everything in IT is getting presented as a service, ESB is the most prevalent and powerful middleware instrument and tool for systematically and simplistically establishing integrated enterprises. Further on, services and messages cooperate cogently in order to facilitate real-time and dynamic enterprise, business-to-business (B2B), multi-sites enterprise and multi-enterprises IT.

The Modularity Principle for Middleware Migration Solutions

In the hot and happening IT field, complexity mitigation has been a goal as the IT complexity is consistently on the rise. There are architecture, design and development principles, divide and conquer techniques, risk or regret-minimization frameworks, key guidelines, best practices, etc. Especially for bringing some sanity and clarity in software engineering, experts and researchers have vociferously pitched in for the modularity principle in order to offset the unbridled growth in the engineering complexity. Conceptually modularity means loose coupling and cohesiveness. That is, all kinds of software building-blocks such as classes, components, services, agents, aspects, composites, events and models need to be loosely coupled as well as cohesive. Loose or light coupling means that the participating modules need to be clearly delinked from one another. That is, the dependency level between any two modules in a system is very low and hence replacement or substitution of modules with advanced ones is inherently activated in a risk-free manner. Another point to make here is that any change in one module does not have any cascading and constriction effect or impact on other adjoining modules in its vicinity or in the neighborhood. In a delinked environment, testing can become smaller and simpler especially there would not be any need for regression testing.

Cohesiveness means that all the logically connected functions or procedures need to be placed together in order to avoid any kind of latency or risks. Modularity has been the key engineering principle for building mission-critical, dynamic and real-time applications. Migration solution can be built as a growing collection of independently developed and maintained modules that support easy configuration. Other inspiring principles for implementing next-generation middleware migration solutions include the following. The modularly designed migration tools have the following competencies.

  • Ensures minimal interdependence within components
  • Ensures reuse across versions
  • Standardization in Migration
  • Reduced complexity in tool internals
  • Ensures agility in migration
  • Ensures faster adaption

Crafting a Common and Technology-Agnostic Representation — The migration tool parses the source middleware manager and creates a technology-independent model of all the identified components of the source applications. This is a kind of reverse engineering process in order to create a reusable, configurable, customizable and generic abstraction of the source middleware solution. This common and logical model is a fertile foundation for realizing a physical and technology-indicated target application that is readily deployable and executable. That is, reverse and forward engineering techniques are very much contributive and critical for middleware migration automation requirements.

There are several guiding principles to take us towards the envisaged target. The most visible and valuable phenomenon in any middleware migration process is the automation. The migration task needs to be accelerated by utilizing scores of competent hierarchy-based tools and a well-defined and developed componentized framework. Such a generic and principles-driven solution is capable of handling vendor-agnostic middleware migration quickly and easily.

The Middleware Migration Process

The dominant steps [Figure 1] in the middleware migration activity are enumerated below.

Figure 1

Figure 1 — The Middleware Migration Process Steps

The Modules of a Typical Middleware Migration Solution

The integration product group within Wipro Technologies has conceived and concretized a robust and resilient middleware migration tool to automate the complicated migration tasks on any middleware to any other middleware. The migration solution is fully built on the proven modularity principle, middleware patterns and service paradigm. The major modules of the solution

  • A Middleware migration Process
  • A Middleware Migration Framework that comprises the following
    • A Collection of Migration-Automation Tools
    • A Bevy of Simplification Templates / Checklists / Best Practices
    • A Compendium of Expert Guidelines based on the vast Implementation and Migration Engagement Experiences across the business verticals
    • A number of highly configurable and flexible Modernization, Migration and Transliteration Tools

The Key Characteristics of Middleware Migration Solutions

  • A natural migration path from the current environment
  • A short learning and implementation curve
  • A reduced impact on implementation and operations staff
  • A lower total cost of ownership (TCO) and higher return on investment (RoI) than the existing solution
  • The same or enhanced behavior, features and functionality of the current solution

The lightweight solution suite comprises a number of enabling and synergizing tools in the form of assessors, parsers, translators etc. in order to automate the various tasks associated with the migration from one middleware to another one. The suite comes out with a competent middleware migration framework and methodology in order to speed up in accomplishing the migration task systematically without any visible as well as invisible risks.

The Key Benefits

There are several companies showing immense interest in utilizing for risk-free, optimal and affordable middleware migration. A couple of business enterprises have already embarked on the migration journey using this automation tool and could benefit in multiple ways. All the painful points and bottlenecks are factored out and suitable automation tools are in place in order to alleviate any difficult activity pre as well as post-migration. The key ones include

  1. Up to 30% Effort Saving in the Migration Task
  2. 20% Reduction in Migration Cycle Time
  3. Ensures Predictability and Consistency During and Post Migration
  4. Reduces Risks During and Post Migration

Instead of code-based software engineering, tool-supported and standards-compliant configuration-based software building gains wider prominence in these days. Componentization has been the dominant and decisive mechanism in order to establish easy-to-develop and modify software packages. Decomposition and composition are the ultimate formula for software engineering. The framework idea is a proven one for speeding up software construction and maintenance without much risk. Open and standardized tools are made available in plenty to simplify and streamline software implementation. For deriving middleware-migration solutions, we have consciously selected the proven and promising techniques, tools and tips. In this paper, we have illustrated on the long-standing modularity principle as the stimulating and sustainable foundation for building and leveraging next-generation middleware migration solutions.

Pethuru Raj

Pethuru Raj PhD is working as an enterprise architecture (EA) consultant in Wipro Technologies. He has been contributing book chapters for a number of technology books (BPM, SOA, Cloud, EA and the Internet of Things (IoT)) being edited by internationally acclaimed professors and professionals and published by leading book houses. He has authored a book with the title Cloud Enterprise Architecture.

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