This is part 1 in a 10 part series: 10 reasons for the growth in middleware appliances. The series summarizes what we’ve learned from our clients about what they value in appliances and why they selected Solace.

Messaging middleware isn’t just another widget in corporate IT’s toolbox, it becomes the backbone of data flow between applications and users across the enterprise. And no surprise, it tends to be priced accordingly. Whether you’re using MQ or JMS for moving data between applications and databases or implementing high-volume pub/sub messaging to stream lightweight information like market data, messaging software and related expenses can add up fast. Solace offers considerable capital and operational savings compared to software-based middleware solutions.

Messaging software on servers:
death by a thousand cuts

The cost of messaging software seems reasonable if you’re looking at the license costs for a single node. When you put it into production though, you often have to scale horizontally or factor for high availability, and before you know it, most deployments have dozens, hundreds or even thousands of nodes. That’s a helluva multiplier when you consider that middleware software licenses can run many tens of thousands of dollars per node, even when heavily discounted.

And software is just one slice of the total cost pie…

  • You have to procure servers to run all that software – usually with a hidden multiplier, since most messaging software licensing is “per core.”
  • Each server consumes network ports, storage or SAN links, an operating system, additional software for high availability and fault tolerance, etc.
  • All those servers need need rack space, power, and cooling.
  • And then there’s the human costs of installing, connecting, tuning, and maintaining all those servers, including frequent patching of operating systems and other supporting software.

Appliances deliver low, predictable total costs

Depending on the application, a single Solace appliance can handle the work of 10-30 servers running messaging software. Solace appliances are priced with a simple per box cost and a low annual hardware maintenance stream – more like buying an IP switch or router than buying middleware software. There is no software to buy, no operating system and because there are many fewer nodes, you need fewer network ports, SAN links, less power and less people to configure and run it all.

Let’s spend a minute on manpower costs to make the point. Upgrading a Solace router is just like installing a new software version on an iPhone. You upload one file, execute a single command, and all firmware upgrades are applied — pre-certified and guaranteed to work as expected. Compare that to how much time it would take to upgrade 10 times as many software nodes on 10 times as many servers, frequently including the need to patch your O/S before you start, and always requiring regression testing to make sure your environment doesn’t introduce a wrinkle the vendor didn’t expect.

When all costs are factored, Solace saves our customers money—lots of money. The calculations are slightly different for each customer, but typical savings based on total costs are between 70% and 90%. This is not news to the software vendors, they get this disparity. Watch for the bead of sweat on their forehead when you bring up TCO, followed by an attempt to dismiss the cost question by equating one software license vs one Solace router. Or my favorite, the cost of one Solace “server” vs one HP server. The picture at right does a good job of visually communicating how much hardware, software and other resources a single Solace router can eliminate. Once again, the specific calculations vary by customer specifics, but it’s easy to see how the appliance solution can save 70% or more of total costs.

There are some savings multiplier effects that come into play when the 2nd and 3rd applications are deployed on the same Solace message routers deployed for application 1, but we’ll leave that discussion for another one of the top 10 reasons.

Saving Money is Great, but There’s Nine More Reasons!

You may be thinking “Customers primarily buy Solace/Appliances to save money? That’s news to me. We are looking at them for [insert other reason here].” The whole point of this 10 part exercise is to describe the many factors our customers tell us made a difference in their decision, not to say that any one reason is the reason Solace appliances are selected. We encourage you to follow along by subscribing to this blog, or following us on Twitter.

On to Reason #2…

Larry Neumann

Mr. Neumann is responsible for all aspects of strategic, corporate, product and vertical marketing. Before Solace, Mr. Neumann held executive marketing positions with TIBCO and Oracle, and co-founded an internet software company called inCommon which was acquired by TIBCO. During his tenure at TIBCO, Mr. Neumann played a key role in planning company strategic direction relating to target markets and candidate acquisitions.