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Enterprises today are looking beyond the simple operating system to satisfy
their IT infrastructure needs. In today’s increasingly complex business
environment, enterprise customers need an infrastructure that is open,
accessible and able to support complex integration, both inside and outside
the organization. At the same time, this framework needs to provide
optimum security and should allow IT departments to make the most out of
previous technology investments. Even though, in theory, the operating
system should provide all these functions; in reality, organizations are
taking an alternative approach.

The Windows platform is pervasive on the desktop and many enterprise
customers continue to select it as their platform of choice. However,
rather than using the Windows operating system alone as the basis for their
infrastructure, enterprises are instead combining it with a middleware
layer that provides them with the added confidence of enhanced integration,
security and support for high volume transactions. By opting to combine a
proprietary platform with an open middleware layer, customers are also able
to make sure that their systems can interoperate with others, provide a
common basis for development, and link back to legacy systems, regardless
of vendor.

All of this seems to be a logical sell for the enterprise that can’t afford
to take a technology gamble. But what should organizations look for in a
middleware layer in order to make all of these promises a reality and get
the most out of their Windows operating system performance:

  • Open standards: Combining the Windows platform with a Java 2 Enterprise
    Edition (J2EE)–based middleware layer provides enterprises with far more
    extensive use of open standards within their IT infrastructure. This
    enables customers to set their own destiny by changing systems, vendors,
    and development strategies as needed to control scalability, reliability,
    security, connectivity, and all other critical aspects of core business
    software. J2EE enables web sites to run transactions across all kinds of
    systems and helps IT departments to separate the programming disciplines of
    application writing from those of managing the overall IT infrastructure.
    Through this separation of operating system from application programming
    interface, IT administrators are able to make changes to the network
    without rewriting all of their applications and vice versa. This also
    removes the need for customers to “rip–and–replace” by enabling them to
    reuse existing software that has been acquired over decades of investment,
    and bring those assets into the world of Web services. In addition,
    running Windows in conjunction with an open standards-based middleware
    layer means that customers can be sure that their Windows platform will
    interoperate with other operating systems, regardless of vendor. This
    allows customers to select their business partners based on business
    criteria rather than technology compatibility.

  • Scalability: Enterprise customers need to be able to scale their Windows
    platform up and down at a moment’s notice as their business needs shift.
    The middleware layer should provide a critical piece of this, allowing the
    Windows platform to manage high volume transactions and customer data of
    all kinds as well as centrally automating the management of IT
    environments. Rather than relying on the basic application server function
    built into the Windows platform, many enterprise customers are demanding a
    more sophisticated application server to help scale and manage high volume
    transactions. By selecting a middleware layer that includes strong
    application server capabilities, customers can be sure that their
    infrastructure can scale as their application needs or transaction
    requirements change day–to–day or minute–to–minute.

  • Security: Security continues to be a top concern for enterprise
    customers. Enterprises cannot afford to open themselves up to
    vulnerabilities and increasingly need to control and protect access to
    their systems. Many middleware layers provide for enhanced security
    through the standard J2EE specification for Servlets and EJBs which is, in
    turn, backed by an underlying security–manager architecture of the base
    J2EE platform, the Java Authentication and Authorization Service (JAAS) and
    the Java Cryptographic Engine (JCE). All of these features in J2EE–based
    middleware are optimized and fine–tuned to provide for an extra layer of
    security on the Windows platform. The Java-based middleware security model
    is independent of Windows and provides a consistent approach to security
    resources across all platforms used in an enterprise. It can be used to
    avoid some of the persistent flaws of other platforms.

  • Integration: Integration is a critical component of the enterprise
    platform. Business integration provides the foundation upon which companies
    build or
    transform their business. It is not a quick fix or a ‘one size fits all’
    solution. The option should be there to take integration as far as may
    be required, including business process modeling, integration, connection,
    monitoring, and management both within and outside the enterprise, as well
    as tailored, industry–specific options.

Through the adoption of the right middleware layer, enterprise customers
are provided with the tools to best optimize the performance of their
Windows operating system.

# # #

Rob High is a Distinguished Engineer and the Chief Architect for the
WebSphere Application Server product family at IBM.

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