Copying and pasting is one of the most monotonous tasks and, for some years now, also one of the most superfluous tasks that is part of everyday life in many companies. Just a simple example: a contact form is filled out on your website, you are notified by email and the first thing you do is copy the contact data into your CRM or a database.
Why are the contact details not transferred directly to the application?
This small step is particularly effective when numerous contact forms are filled out every day. The automatic transfer of data saves a lot of time and grows with your processes.
But of course, this also requires connections. One software must be connected to the other so that data and information can be exchanged independently. This is exactly what so-called middleware is needed for.
The explanation lies in the name: Middleware is software that acts between two other applications. In other words, middle software. These two applications can be very different, whether operating system, ERP software, CRM, website, database, mail programme or industry software:
The middleware sits in between. Yet it only rarely appears. It acts in the background and is an invisible translator that constantly translates data from A to B around the clock.
The question might now be why not simply connect the applications used directly with each other. The answer is: because it is sometimes not that easy. Because not every application used is compatible with the others. Middleware then acts as a translator to mediate between the applications or two languages.
Middleware can handle data management, transfer, messaging, authentication or API management. Conversely, this means that data or even databases can be shared between two applications. The middleware translates these into the respective language of the application.
It is therefore no wonder that there are now numerous middleware providers who develop middleware either completely individually or partially standardised. Middleware has established itself particularly in e-commerce, where huge amounts of data sometimes have to be transferred.
But there is one thing to bear in mind: If a middleware is custom-developed and thus optimally connects two applications, this can not only be expensive, but also inflexible and rigid.
A later change of one of the two softwares then becomes doubly expensive: because the middleware also has to be adapted at great expense or even becomes obsolete.
Therefore, middleware should always be flexibly adaptable, not only to the amount of data, but also to changing requirements. Ideally, when software is replaced or changed, this should not lead to the middleware having to be adapted at great expense.
This is exactly where the term Middleware as a Service comes into play.
Middleware as a Service (MWaaS for short) means nothing other than that the programming of a middleware is carried out in the cloud instead of on-premise. MWaaS is increasingly replacing older middleware platforms that are located on mainframes, servers or both. MWaaS is often offered as part of a cloud-based suite.
The goal of Middleware as a Service is to flexibly provide prefabricated packages of different automation services. In this way, complex, composite connections can be quickly deployed.
MWaaS makes use of various technologies: cloud services, API integrations, API management, Internet of Things (IoT) applications or the integration of data sources. In this way, digital business processes, customer journeys and employee journeys are automated and supported in the best possible way.
So: Middleware as a Service is a mixture and a package of various cloud automation services and services that are quickly and flexibly ready for use for a wide range of scenarios, companies and processes.
The advantages of Middleware as a Service are:
To illustrate the above advantages, a project that we were able to realise recently is suitable. The task was to replace an existing middleware. The old middleware was based on an Automation Anywhere RPA. The purpose of this was to automatically create contracts for the HR department based on modules from an email.
For this, the email programme was connected to Word. As soon as an email was received in a specific mailbox, the RPA grabbed building blocks from an email, searched a database for the appropriate contract building blocks and then created a Word file. A relatively simple process. But why use RPA middleware when middleware as a service is faster, cheaper and more flexible?
This allowed us to map the existing process via MWaaS: The HR tool Workday was integrated into the process. As soon as a new team member is recruited and hired, this information is stored in Workday. Subsequently, the contract details are defined via an Excel list, on the basis of which the text modules for the contract are generated.
The advantage of Excel in this process is that everyone in the team can use the table and no developers are needed to make adjustments. The contract is then automatically sent to the new team member for digital signature.
We used Make to link all the applications. As an automation platform that makes use of API integration, Make is excellent as cloud middleware.
The savings per month amount to €50,000. More importantly, if the HR tool, the email programme or Excel need to be replaced, the reconfiguration takes only a few hours. This is because Middleware as a Service works via interfaces and is therefore particularly flexible to adapt.
Middleware as a service, i.e. cloud middleware, is ideally suited for long-term yet flexible integration and automation. As an intermediary between different applications, it enables software to speak to each other.
Cloud middleware benefits from the growing cloud market: turnover in cloud computing has been increasing for years. T This also means that more and more applications have interfaces that can be linked to each other. Middleware as a service will therefore probably replace on premise solutions in the future. fewer and fewer companies have their own in-house server.
Cloud Integration, iPaaS, SaaS, BPA… Ough, hard to keep track of all these terms. They are currently used frequently (and increasingly) in the context of automation, and it is sometimes difficult to make a clear distinction and distinction. We have already written blog posts on the terms iPaaS, SaaS and BPA, but we’ll take them up again here to make the difference.
But let’s start with cloud integration, because that’s the central umbrella term in which we embed all the other technologies in this blog post.
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To illustrate these advantages, an example is suitable that we know well from our everyday work as an automation agency:
The central data to be used here is the data of a major customer. This can be the simplest information, such as the address. This address is required in numerous but completely different processes in the company: on the one hand, for correct invoicing in accounting. On the other hand, in the CRM system, where all the data of the large customer is also stored. But the address is also important in sales, for example, when employees go to the sales meeting on site.
Now the customer announces that the address of the company has changed after a move. This information will reach you by e-mail. There are now two options:
01. The e-mail is forwarded to all affected departments, accounting, sales, customer service, marketing… All persons open their corresponding program, CRM, accounting software, marketing tools (such as newsletter marketing) and change the data already stored there of the customer. This means that in multiple applications, different people do exactly the same thing: change one address.
02. But there is also an alternative: By connecting your applications, thus by integrizing them, the customer’s e-mail, or rather the information it contains about the address change, is automatically passed on to all affected applications: CRM, accounting, marketing, ERP. This does not require any clicks, because the cloud integration detects a trigger, i.e. address change, and thus automatically starts the process.
What sounds unimpressive in a single process becomes more effective when such a process occurs several times a day or weekly. Because there is a lot of data that is available in different applications and should always be correct. If these applications are cloud applications they are suitable for cloud integration.
But cloud integration doesn’t just happen. There are now a variety of applications that enable and implement this. Such tools usually allow us to link the relevant cloud applications on a central platform and define clear rules on when, how, where, how much data should be passed on and what happens to them.
To realize cloud integration, there are various applications and technologies that are sometimes used interchangeably.
We have made a first distinction between iPaaS and BPA here.
We explain the term SaaS in more detail here.
Cloud integration is rather an umbrella term that includes numerous technologies, such as SaaS, iPaaS and BPA, and this is also absolutely necessary. Cloud integration is a concept that is made possible by appropriate technologies.
However, all terms share the commonality that they are cloud-based and thus offer enormous potential for growth and scaling. In addition, they are often cheaper to implement and maintain because changed requirements are easy to implement.
As an independent automation agency, we implement cloud integration according to your requirements. We use a variety of SaaS tools and iPaas (strictly speaking BPA) software. Together we find individual solutions that are flexible and scalable.