Infrastructure blog

What is Middleware, what are the advantages and disadvantages?

Oracle Fusion Middleware Presentation - Infrastructure Blog Post

 

What is Middleware?

Have you been hearing industry insiders use the term “Middleware”? What is Middleware, in plain English, really?

Middleware is something that’s referred to by software developers as “software glue.” Technically, Middleware is a kind of computer connectivity software  that supports software applications in ways that go above and beyond the operating system itself.

Designed to support a number of application architectures, its overall function is to eliminate the difficulty of integration. Simply put, Middleware programs act as messaging services, making it possible for data management and communication in distributed applications.

Simply put, it functions much the same as plumbing does. It provides the “fixtures,” “pipes” and “joints” to enable what’s important to pass through.

It is the software that bridges the gap between applications and the operating system that lie on either side of a network’s distributed computing platform. As a bridge, it makes it possible for two distinct systems to communicate as Middleware programs move data from one application to another, enabling seamless connectivity. This makes it easier for developers to carry out both input/output and communication, enabling them to focus on the primary function of their application.

This systematic linking of contrasting applications is known as Enterprise Application Integration (EAI).

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Examples of Middleware include procedural middleware, message oriented middleware (MOM), enterprise service bus (ESB), data integration, and object request brokers (ORBs), among many others.

There are two categories of Middleware:

  • Those that supply human-time services, like web request servicing, and
  • Those that carry out their functions in machine-time, such as middleware used in telecommunications and defense systems, and the aerospace industry.

Many systems and networks across industries do make use of Middleware because of its advantages.

What are the advantages of middleware?

  1. Middleware enables the flow of real-time information access within and among systems in a network.
  2. In business, it helps streamline processes and improves efficiency in terms of organization.
  3. Since it facilitates communication between systems, it is able to maintain the integrity of information across a multitude of systems within a network.
  4. Middleware is also advantageous because of its range of use in a wide array of software systems, from distributed objects and components, to mobile application support, to message-oriented communication, and more.
  5. Middleware is the manna of developers as it helps them to better create different types of networked applications.

What are the disadvantages of middleware?

  1. Because of its prohibitively high development costs, not every business can afford to maintain and grow the potential of Middleware.
  2. There are few people with actual Middleware experience in the market today.
  3. Benchmarks for Middleware haven’t been set, thus there are hardly any standard marks for Middleware performance levels.
  4. Most Middleware tools have not yet been fully developed for optimal operations.
  5. There are too many platforms in existence today that are not yet covered by Middleware.
  6. In some cases, Middleware often jeopardizes some systems’ real-time performance.

 

As a connectivity software, Middleware is mostly invisible. It provides a more standard way of doing things, it ties together complex systems and allows developers to concentrate more on the functionality of their applications.

Would you use Middleware in your business? Tell us in the comment section below.

Photo courtesy of Oracle EMEA PR.[/expand]

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