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Middleware: The Glue for Modern Applications

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Management Summary Middleware is the software "glue" that helps programs and databases that may be on different computers work together. Middleware is crucial to the success of modern applications because most computing is now distributed computing. Most application systems, including all client/server and Internet applications, divide processing and/or data across two or more computers connected by a network. More than 95 percent of new applications use some type of off-the-shelf middleware to facilitate communication among their component parts. Most early client/server applications (circa 1986-1994) were aimed at low-end or moderately demanding business applications. They generally used two-tier architectures, and middleware was not much of an issue because it was embedded unnoticed in the database management system (DBMS) or in a network operating system. The most widespread forms of middleware still are remote file systems, such as those in Novell's NetWare, Sun Microsystems' NFS and Microsoft Windows; and remote data access middleware that is bundled into DBMSs such as DB2, Oracle and SQL Server. However, the more-demanding, mission-critical enterprise applications have long required multitier architectures and more powerful program-to-program middleware such as transaction-processing monitors (TPMs), e.g., Customer Information Control System (CICS) and Tuxedo. Moreover, a variety of business pressures and technological advances are driving major changes in middleware use. The newer generations of distributed applications, particularly Web-based systems and integrated systems that combine multiple applications from different sources, are bringing the need for friendlier, richer and more flexible middleware. In response to escalating requirements, the traditional file-oriented, data-oriented and TPM middleware products are evolving, and other forms of middleware are emerging. Enterprises are accelerating their use of middleware forms such as: o...


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