Middleware is defined as a software solution located between the application layer and the operating system (OS) layer in your infrastructure stack to enable a communication channel and data flow between these two components. This article explains the concept of middleware in detail, along with recommendations for the best software platforms in this section and their main features.
Essential Features of Middleware
Middleware is a software solution that sits between the application layer and the operating system (OS) layer in your infrastructure stack to enable a communication channel and data flow between these two components.
Middleware is an essential part of any computing environment. In a consumer-facing environment, middleware comes built into the operating system so that users can easily install and run compatible applications on their devices. However, organizations are somewhat more complex – there are various operating systems and different hosting environments to consider, including the cloud, on-premises servers, and virtual machines. Companies also have dynamic application needs and must be able to build, deploy, and adapt their applications for optimal performance. Robust and flexible middleware is what makes this possible.
With the acceleration of digital transformation, the demand for middleware is growing in tandem. Between 2020 and 2027, the global application infrastructure middleware market is expected to grow so fast that it will exceed $3.58 billion by the end of the forecast period, according to industry research.
If you are looking to deploy or update your middleware systems in 2021, here are the five main features to look for:
1. Interoperability support
The middleware should communicate with as many applications as possible and allow a degree of interoperability between them. It should enable the flow of data between different systems so that you can benefit from automation and analytics. Ideally, middleware should include pre-built integrations and ready-to-use application programming interfaces (APIs) that facilitate building a connected enterprise.
2. On-premise and cloud compatible
This is an indispensable feature of modern middleware offerings, which are deployed in cloud-based or hybrid environments. Traditionally, middleware was for in-house hardware and servers so you could open your enterprise landscape to a variety of applications, including third-party applications. However, only on-premises environments are becoming scarcer as investments in the cloud increase. According to IDG’s 2020 Cloud Computing Survey, 59% of organizations say they plan to be mostly or entirely in the cloud over the next few months. Your middleware must be able to support cloud-based applications and processes.
3. Developer readiness
Technical users should be able to take advantage of middleware to build your application landscape. Middleware solutions may include software development kits (SDKs) as well as APIs for custom configurations and development. It should also support enterprise application delivery frameworks such as Jakarta so that developers can build applications in the language of their choice. You can also look for open builds that make it easy to modify the middleware to your exact requirements.
4. Reduce IT effort
A good middleware should be able to connect the operating system to multiple applications and simplify how to manage this fully connected environment. For example, it can give you a unified view of your applications and processes through a central dashboard. Some software solutions may include security features, while others may include workflow automation to reduce IT efforts. This will play an important role in helping you choose the best middleware for your organization.
5. Support the middleware community
Finally, businesses need an active community to support and get the most out of middleware implementation. Middleware is almost like the digital backbone of your organization, connecting your central nervous system or operating system to the operating peripherals or your applications. A community of experts, users, and developers can help you improve the capabilities of middleware and drive innovation. You may also be able to use open source tools that help maximize the capabilities of the middleware technology.
With these features in mind, let’s now take a look at the leading middleware solutions available in the market today.
Middleware is an essential cog in your IT infrastructure because it enables interoperability, application development, and ultimately, digital transformation. Here are the top ten software platforms you need to consider in this section, in alphabetical order.
Disclaimer: This list is based on publicly available information and includes vendor sites that sell to medium to large organizations. Readers are advised to conduct their final research to ensure the best fit for their unique organizational needs
1. Flow Middleware platform
summary: Flow is a New Zealand-based software company that provides middleware for application integration, Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) and Application Programming Interface (API) management. Organizations can use Flow Middleware to set up connected processes with data interoperability.
Features clues: Key features of the Flow Middleware platform include:
- Interoperability support: Flow enables interoperability between all of your organization’s systems, including legacy tools, industry-specific software, web services, and databases. You can also connect to external systems and partner technologies.
- On-premises and cloud compatibility: Flow is compatible with cloud-based systems and legacy environments, allowing you to synchronize and automate processes.
- Developer readiness: Flow is primarily intended for business users and offers powerful technology capabilities such as customizable process automation and an API layer.
- Reduce IT effort: It reduces IT efforts by integrating web and data management and integration from a single platform, with real-time data flows.
- Middleware community support: The company has a modest-sized middleware community and mostly provides support through its professional services.
USP: The USP of Flow Middleware is that it is easy to set up and use. Moreover, it can support the needs of every industry, and the company will help you customize middleware for your existing device and data environment.
Editors Comments: Flow is an ideal middleware solution for medium-sized enterprises. You can achieve an integrated IT landscape with optimized efforts and schedules.
2. IBM WebSphere Application Server
summary: Enterprise technology giant, IBM, is among the world’s leading middleware companies. It has several products to drive integration and interoperability such as IBM API Connect, IBM MQ (messaging middleware) and WebSphere Application Server, its main suite of middleware solutions.
Features clues: The main features of the IBM WebSphere Application Server include:
- Interoperability support: It connects workloads in multi-cloud environments to provide you with a unified view and awareness of applications.
- On-premises and cloud compatibility: There are several versions of WebSphere designed for containers, cloud runtime environments, hybrid environments, and environment-neutral deployment.
- Developer readiness: Your technical team can work closely with IBM and benefit from a complete IBM Cloud Pak solution to build new applications and update legacy applications.
- Reduce IT effort: It includes a management console to analyze application performance, generate reports and monitor logs in real time.
- Middleware community support: IBM has a vast community of middleware professionals, users, and thought leaders, including clients such as Amway and Canon.
USP: IBM allows you to deploy a purpose-built version of WebSphere to your environment. You can also take advantage of IBM’s full suite of application management and development products.
Editors Comments: Global organizations and large organizations (including governments) can rely on IBM WebSphere and the full suite of IBM cloud solutions to manage their application infrastructure.
For more options.
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