What is Middleware?

October 18, 2021

Middleware is often referred to as “software glue.” It’s a category of software designed to provide communication or connectivity to other applications, tools, data, and databases that are outside the operating system. It makes it easier for data and apps that weren’t designed to work together, to do so with intelligent functionality and speeds up and helps DevOps streamline the application development process.

Enterprises use middleware to integrate data and applications and support interoperability across cloud and on-premise environments. There are multiple types of middleware software available.

Examples of middleware:

  • Web application servers. A web server is a subset of an application server. A web server delivers static web content in response to HTTP requests from a web browser. An application server also does this, but it’s main job is interacting between end-user clients and server-side application code. Typically, it supports business logic transactions, decisions, and real-time analytics.
  • Message-oriented middleware (MOM). A MOM solution enables systems, applications, and services (like microservices) to communicate and exchange information by translating messages between formal messaging protocols. It enables communication regardless of different languages or platforms. MOM helps software developers standardize the flow of data between an application’s components. Message queues and message brokers are MOMs.
  • Database middleware. Database-oriented middleware allows access to databases, regardless of their model or platform (SQL, noSQL, graph, distributed, etc.). Access is typically created through a single common interface like ODBC or JDBC. Information stored in different databases can be accessed through a single interface and this allows integration to be far easier.
  • Enterprise service bus (ESB). An enterprise service bus (ESB) is an architecture that allows communication between environments, such as software applications. Different software components (known as services) run independently to integrate and communicate with each other. This happens as each application talks to the bus, which modulates the communication, ensuring it arrives in the right place and says the right thing in the right way. An ESB is typically implemented using a specialized integration runtime and toolkit.
  • Integration platform as a service (iPaaS). An iPaaS is a platform that simplifies and automates the integration process, enabling technical and business users to easily create integration flows between data, SaaS, PaaS, or on-premise applications, without having to worry about coding. It standardizes the integration process and provides API management (application programming interface) to make enterprise application integrations and data integrations easy and fast across the organization and ecosystems.

How middleware works

Middleware lets developers build apps without having to create custom integrations every time they need them. This speeds up the development process. By enabling different applications and services to communicate using JSON, REST, XML, SOAP, or web services, it facilitates a common way for components to talk to each other, regardless if they’re written in different languages, such as PHP, Java, C++, or Python.

Middleware enables interoperability and empowers developers to more easily configure and manage connections and integrations, to establish security in the process when connecting front-end applications to back-end data sources with network security protocols and authentication, and to dynamically scale and manage traffic across distributed systems as needed.

What is enterprise application integration middleware?

Enterprise application integration middleware enables businesses to standardize integrations across the entire enterprise and ecosystem. Enterprise service bus (ESB) was the standard method until cloud computing and cloud-based middleware technology emerged. Today, integration-platform-as-a-service (iPaaS) is the leading cloud-based enterprise middleware for integrating apps, data, processes, services, and legacy systems whether on-premise, or in public, private, or hybrid clouds. An iPaaS removes the work and cost of installing and maintaining integration middleware. It enables automation and digital transformation in modern enterprises.

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