What is Middleware?
Middleware is a type of technology that sits between software applications and the underlying operating system. It is also known as a software integration solution. Effectively, it allows for communication between two distinct entities, such as an application and a database. Think of it as the glue that keeps all your programs talking to each other.
2 Ways to Apply Middleware
There are two categories of middleware. Enterprise application integration middleware, which we will refer to as enterprise middleware, and platform middleware.
Enterprise-level software integration helps to allow various software programs to communicate with each other. It allows your applications to seamlessly interact without the need to create custom integration solutions for each component of your overall system.
Platform middleware provides a runtime hosting environment for your application to run on. A runtime hosting environment is a configuration of hardware and software. It ranges from web servers to content management systems. This scalability allows creators of applications to have one product to meet their needs.
The 6 Types of Middleware
Software integration through middleware fits into two broad categories. However, middleware includes six different function types. While they may overlap in their application, they often fit comfortably in these six types.
1. New Application Development
A software integration solution like middleware allows developers to work across multiple platforms. They use standardized runtimes (pared down software versions) and frameworks (generic functionalities). Using these runtimes and frameworks they develop new custom applications for your business.
By creating middleware, a software development agency is able to help your business save money on time and labor. Developers are able to do this because software integration solutions supply ready-made common requirements. Ready-made common requirements are things like web servers and Single Sign-On (SSO) functions.
2. Existing Application Optimization
As technology advances, software applications can quickly fall behind and struggle to meet the requirements placed upon it. This is particularly notable as businesses make the move to a cloud-based architecture.
Middleware helps your business continue to use familiar applications. The software integration solution helps you because it can supply cloud functions that some newer SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) applications offer. You can use these familiar applications instead of subscribing to something new or building a completely new system from scratch.
3. Comprehensive Integration
Using middleware to connect internal and external systems allows for a wider range of communication between applications. Through functions such as SSO, developers can ensure that various applications work together as a single system.
This function helps businesses to better perform their duties in a variety of ways. Software integration of this form can help to link data collection applications like Excel spreadsheets into applications that offer better reporting features without the need for human interaction.
4. Application Programming Interfaces (APIs)
APIs are sets of tools that allow communication between applications. Middleware is often accessed via APIs, allowing it to act as a common link between the different programs using the API.
Often many software-as-a-service applications offer APIs to allow for middleware development of newer tools to help businesses better receive and report on the data they are receiving from the SaaS application.
One example of this would be taking API data from an air travel company and using the Application Programming Interface within a new application that integrates travel data with your business’ expense reports.
5. Data Streaming
Middleware such as Apache Kafka offers an alternative to APIs in the form of data streaming.
A data streaming software integration solution helps your business succeed by streaming data to a server-based data store. Your applications can then access and download the data from the server. This ability will help your business to not only do tasks more easily but will save countless hours in labor. Saving labor hours will help improve your business’ operating costs.
6. Intelligent Business Automation
Common tasks such as ordering and configuring products can be automated using middleware, allowing for increased efficiency and time-saving.
For example, middleware can monitor inventory and ensure that commonly required items are repurchased when stocks run low. It can also be used to quickly install default software onto products without the need for supervision by a technician.
How Middleware Works
Now you know what Middleware is, but how exactly does it work in practice? Creating a comprehensive software integration solution can be an important step in reaching your business’ goals. The following four steps simplify the process that software development agencies take when creating a custom software solution for your business.
Step 1. Identify Systems to Integrate
Before you do anything else, the first step is always to identify requirements.
Using middleware for integration combines the functions and data from multiple sources together into an organized whole. When thinking of a middleware solution you should ask yourself: which systems and data are core to your business requirements?
Step 2. Connect Systems to Network
After you have identified the systems you need to integrate, they will need to be connected to the network. This is done to allow your network-based middleware integration solution to link them together.
This is essentially the same procedure as standard network setup, with things changing from what you’re used to after this point.
Step 3. Create Middleware to Integrate
Now that the systems are on the network, they need to be linked. Middleware is created to allow them to communicate, share data, and otherwise meet the identified requirements.
After you have had a developer program your software integration solution, it needs to be installed into the network. When your middleware is installed into the network, it joins the different apps together for increased information sharing.
Step 4. Use Systems Seamlessly
With your middleware handling connections and communications, you are now free to use your systems efficiently and conveniently. Your software integration solution will help to make tasks easier to complete.
For example, you may have to enter data into a Microsoft Excel sheet just to export and import it elsewhere. With a software integration solution, you can easily join the data.
No longer will you have to export data from one system into another. Your data will work with multiple systems or applications automatically. Everything happening in the background.
5 Benefits of Middleware
While software integration solutions are simple to deploy, you may be wondering why you should integrate your software using middleware. You should implement middleware because it can drastically improve your business in many ways.
1. Efficient Connectivity
The real-time flow of data between different applications in a system means less time spent on manual transfer. Software integration allows you to import data from one system to another.
With seamless integration, you are able to insert information into one system. The software integration solution will allow data to transfer to other systems without any extra effort. This can help your business to improve its productivity.
2. Innovative Solutions
Using middleware to provide key and core features in a pre-packaged solution is an innovative way to increase productivity. With your software integration solution, you are able to now focus your time on producing better results for your clients and customers. It can help you to get ahead of your competition.
Using middleware allows you to use enhanced features without having to develop a new system. Using APIs as part of your middleware solution gives you the opportunity to plugin new features. This allows developers to focus on the presentation of the features instead of integration. Software integration also helps developers to focus their time on developing new features that enhance productivity.
3. Improved Transition Periods
During a transition period, new and legacy systems will be running at the same time. Using a software integration solution will make sure that your data is shared between both new and older, legacy systems. This solution allows you to keep both systems updated and synced until it is time to completely stop using the legacy system.
You may be wondering how to transition from an old system to a new one without reentering data. Using middleware technology you avoid the hassle of reentering data because you can integrate the information easily. No longer will you have to hire data entry temps for tasks like this.
Re-entering old data can cost many hours of labor which can be expensive. With middleware, the program does the job for you saving money on operating costs.
4. Improved Access to Tools
With SSO implementation, all users can have access to the tools necessary for their jobs. SSO helps your users because they will no longer need to remember multiple passwords and login details to do their job. Once again, improving productivity.
With middleware, you can greatly increase efficiency, save costs, and reduce development times. Instead of using a collection of various applications, your software integration solution will seamlessly share data between applications. It will also centralize operations and automate repetitive tasks that have cost your business thousands in labor hours.
5. Cost-Effective Solution
Using a system integration solution will allow you to save money in many different ways. It can be cheaper than many SaaS products that offer the same integration solutions using subscription pricing. It is also cheaper than developing an entirely new platform for your business.
Another way that middleware is cost-effective is that it improves productivity by reducing additional tasks but achieves the same results. With this solution, you can reduce operating costs far beyond the cost of creating your middleware technology.
Looking for Middleware? Let Idea Maker, an Orange County software development agency, create your middleware today. Contact Us Now or click the link to see our portfolio for examples to better show you what is middleware.
What is Middleware Infographic