Consider this: when you are booking a trip through an online travel site, do you care whether their back-end system is running on Windows or Linux? No, you care about the value – the service – you are getting from the agent.

As the move to the cloud and, specifically, Platform as a Service (PaaS) accelerates, developers and enterprises will stop caring about the underlying application infrastructure. They will care about the quality of services that the PaaS delivers to them – but not how those services are implemented.

Since moving to a service approach relegates software to an “implementation detail,” what impact will PaaS have on traditional middleware?

Historically, middleware vendors had to win over two very different audiences: development and IT operations. On the one hand, developers want technology that makes application development faster. On the other hand, IT operations teams demand software that is rock solid, scalable, resilient and easy to monitor and manage.

Though their respective roles required development and IT operations to work together, the relationship is a consistently high-friction one. The IT operations team doesn’t have resources to build and maintain the development environment. Development teams end up spending a lot of time and resources setting up, maintaining and extending their environment, all of which comes at the expense of actually developing software.

Middleware in the cloud era: what changes with PaaS?

PaaS is all about providing a set of services that will allow developers to create, test and run applications without having to care about the underlying infrastructure and operational aspects. PaaS becomes the new engine developers use to establish and maintain their application environment. In this way, PaaS acts as a major friction-killer. Infrastructure and operational aspects are now owned by the PaaS provider and are delivered to the developer as a service.

Consequently, middleware becomes transparent – simply because no one has to worry about it anymore! Obviously, middleware is still very much present.

It is tempting to pitch PaaS as the “middleware of the cloud,” but this analogy is too simplistic. While the features provided by middleware are part of the features delivered with PaaS, PaaS solutions provide more: much broader functional and application lifecycle coverage, infrastructure, and integration and delivery of best-of-breed capabilities as a unified, fully managed service.

The bottom line is that, for a developer, the notion of “middleware” is pretty much invisible with PaaS. While this might seem like a semantic change at first , PaaS is actually a fundamental shift in how developers work and where they spend their time. As IT moves to a service-oriented world, much of the friction between development and IT operations disappears. We are entering a new world of efficiency with PaaS – a world that eliminates the need to worry about middleware and one that focuses on creating organizational value.