Mary G. Stokes
What Middleware Is And How It Works
Updated: Dec 22, 2021
It is predicted that global IT spendings will grow up to $4 T by the end of 2021. Well, it seems that the digital transformation wave covers companies daily. And if so, then the unstoppable wind in this process is definitely middleware. This software type makes most of the innovations reachable. In what way? We suggest you find out in the next 5 minutes.
The middleware's name fully describes the nature of this software tier. It provides interaction of two or more components with each other within one distributed system. The middleware's task is to connect completely different and seemingly uncombined applications and ensure their well-coordinated work.
How does middleware work?
Middleware is a kind of intermediary between core systems. It cannot act as a stand-alone tool. The way it works always depends on the business purpose.
For example, if you need to integrate two applications, the middleware will become a buffer between them. It will provide data exchange and manage their interactive operations.
If the business plans to offload any core system, like CRM, the middleware will take over the entire scope of the hard work, providing the system with the initial result.
And, sure, when it comes to migration, the middleware will become a connecting link between new and legacy apps, ensuring their fruitful interaction.
Three reasons why you should use middleware
This year, the global middleware market will grow up to $ 39.9 B. In 2025, the cost will reach $ 51.8 B. In a crisis, it's a skyrocketing development. It proves the popularity of middleware usage. Here are 3 more reasons why you should think about investing in middleware.
Appropriate middleware architecture provides system efficiency with no expiration date.
Middleware can support any innovation and ease the transition to new ways of working.
Without middleware products, it would be impossible to integrate apps based on different technologies. The only way in that case - the development of all systems using one tech stack.
Common Types Of Middleware
Message-oriented middleware (MOM):
Description: MOM provides both communications between components of the same application and between different apps.
It translates messages into a language understandable for the receiving side using messaging APIs.
The process requires a message processing server or two different functions: routing and delivery. There is also hybrid message-oriented middleware containing all the above features.
Examples: Amazon SNS, IBM MQ, Google Cloud Pub/Sub, Oracle BAM.
Remote Procedure Call (RPC):
Description: The system contains APIs that require other applications in the network to perform specific operations. To achieve it middleware doesn't delve into the app working details. PRC exists on a client-server basis and provides the ability to send multiple requests simultaneously.
Examples: GRPC, Krilltech B2B Custom Database, DRb.
Integration Platform-as-a-Service (iPaaS):
Description: The middleware platform acts in the cloud or on-premise areas, simplifying the connection between different apps. It ensures flawless data and services exchange between integrated components. Using iPaaS, a company doesn't need any additional equipment or middleware except the existing one.
Examples: Zapier, MuleSoft Anypoint Platform, Celigo, Appy PieZapier, MuleSoft Anypoint Platform, Celigo, Appy Pie.
Enterprise Service Bus (ESB):
Description: It’s one of the most ancient among middleware categories. ESB provides a complex integration between apps, creating a centralized network and running it. The enterprise service bus requires special hardware and an operating environment.
Examples: IBM App Connect, Peregrine Connect, Azure Service Bus, Apache ServiceMix.
What's Middleware: Example
All applications are a bit middleware. But there are products whose purpose is to be exclusively a catalyst for some processes.
Let's say you've been selling home appliances for 10 years. Things are going uphill, and you have more and more customers. Meanwhile, you have never modified the ERP system. It proceeds with each customer order. Due to the high probability of order updates, you need to find a way to reduce the load on legacy ERP. In other words - to provide it with only 100% accurate information about the order. It is where middleware comes into play.
Here, it is advisable to apply an order management middleware (OMM). It will take the blow for the analysis and order data processing before their confirmation.
The OMM will be the intermediary between the Contact Center and ERP. The Contact Center sends the order details to the order management middleware. They are hosted there until final confirmation and then - transferred to the ERP.
So, using middleware here, you'll get:
an efficient interaction between the contact center and ERP;
reducing the burden on legacy ERP;
cutting the number of staff errors;
positive customer experience.
Thus, now we understand the true middleware nature. Why not talk about its origins?
The software market is full of ready-made products from industry giants. IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, Salesforce - we bet you've heard about them. Their middleware is robust, reliable, and worthy of attention. But it does not mean it will suit your business. Here are some signs that you need custom development:
your company has a non-standard structure where core systems should be integrated/ updated;
data security is a vital priority for your business;
middleware is a crucial link in your transformation strategy, and you cannot find an appropriate solution in the market.
Why Is Middleware Important
The importance of middleware can be explained using one example.
If a company decides to embark on a digital transformation path, it can't change all the systems at once. It is costly and arduous. So, here it's better to move step by step. Middleware products will act as core points in this process. Due to them, management can stretch the transformation for years without losses. The products will ensure the integration between new and existing components, reduce the load on legacy elements, etc. Thanks to middleware, the transformation procedure is painless and low risk. In today's competitive environment, it is a crucial advantage.