Middleware is the software layer situated between the operating systems, and the applications. It handles all the technologies such as messaging, data management, API management, application services, and authentication.
It helps the developers for building the applications more efficiently. The software is used in the distributed systems where it simplifies the development via these steps:
- Hiding the heterogeneity of the hardware
- Providing high-level and uniform interfaces for making portable applications
- Providing common services which minimize the duplication efforts
- Hiding the intricacies of the distributed applications
The Middleware software even helps in:
- Intelligent business automation: Middleware can help the developers, business leaders, IT, and architects for automating manual decisions.
- Comprehensive integration: The tools connect the critical external and the internal system. Integration capabilities such as the enterprise messaging, transformation, composability, combined with the SSO authentication make it easier for extending capabilities across different applications.
- Application programming interfaces: Many of the middleware services can be accessed through the APIs, the set of tools that allows applications for communicating with each other.
Some different types of middleware:
- Object middleware: Object middleware which is also called the object request broker provides applications the ability to send the request services and the objects through an object-oriented system. It helps to manage the communication between the objects.
- Database middleware: This middleware allows direct access to the databases, providing the direct interaction.
- Embedded middleware: This middleware allows the integration and communication services with an interface of the firmware and the software.
- Transaction middleware: This middleware includes applications such as the transaction processing monitors. It even encompasses web application servers.
Middleware technology can be used to perform requests such as submitting the forms on the browser or allowing the server for returning the dynamic web pages based on the profile of the user.
Some of the benefits of middleware technology are:
- Real-time access to information
- Maintains the integrity of the data across multiple systems
- Helps developers in creating the networked applications
- Improved agility
- Increase in innovation
The limitations of the middleware technology are:
- High development costs
- Too many platforms have to be covered
- It threatens the real-time performance
- They are not mature
How should one evaluate a middleware product?
The middleware platforms have evolved with time for meeting the challenges and business requirements during the deployment stage. Choosing the right middleware product is challenging due to the complex design. One should check both the functional and non-functional requirements, which include development time, performance, and interoperability, while deciding a middleware product.
Some of the popular choices for the enterprise middleware are: