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Cloud & Integration / Websphere Middleware is software that connects applications together over a distributed network. It’s often referred to as software glue and compared to plumbing where it connects two sides of an application and passes data between them.

It is frequently used to connect legacy systems together to share data, while the use and consumption of APIs is driving demand and the need for robust scalable solutions.

What is Middleware?

Websphere Middleware is any “behind-the-scenes” software that enables communication between a device’s operating system and any applications that run on top of the operating system.

It’s the glue that binds the two together and enhances their capability.

Examples of Websphere Middleware software include:

  • Content management systems
  • Application servers
  • Web servers
  • Tools that support the development and delivery of applications

Middleware concepts also underpin modern integration infrastructure such as enterprise service bus (ESB) and API management software.

Common Use Cases of Middleware

Websphere Middleware is often used to do the following in modern solutions development:

  • Develop new apps
  • Optimise existing apps
  • Integrate critical internal and external systems
  • Automate business processes

Middleware and App Development

Websphere Middleware makes app development easier by:

  • Helping distributed elements work together in harmony to provide a unified user experience.
  • Allowing different hardware, operating systems, and communication protocols to work together, while masking their differences. This ensures app developers have uniform and standard high-level enterprises that can be used to build applications to be run on different hardware and operating systems, while working with each other.
  • Providing a common framework for performing various general-purpose functions, that avoids duplication and enables compatibility between applications.

How does Middleware work?

Data and communications are crucial to all businesses today.

Modern organisations simply wouldn’t be able to function without network applications involving enterprise and database functions, whether to update orders, communicate with customers, facilitate payments or enable customers to track shipments. The list goes on.

For these functions to work seamlessly and ensure each business is as efficient as possible, the real-time transfer of data between different devices is essential. It’s also fundamental for multiple devices to be able to access the network – catering for the varying degrees of processing power, bandwidth capabilities and visual display capabilities between devices.

Websphere Middleware provides the unification capability enabling all these systems to communicate and interact.

While this may appear seamless, in reality it relies on the ability for middleware to communicate with a whole host of systems. That means that it’s often essential for middleware to be cross-language.

Key Middleware components

Websphere Middleware uses the following key components to support app development:

Database Software
When a multi-tier system requires a database, middleware acts as the link between the client and server. This enables client requests to be accepted and passed onto the database server, with a response then passed back to the client.

 

Application Server
The part of the app that holds the business logic.

 

Portal
Providing a selected audience with access to business apps, key information, instant messaging, forums and specified company resources, through an interaction tool.

 

Service Oriented Architecture (SOA)
The framework used to design, develop and deploy loosely coupled apps quickly and easily.

 

Web Server
By processing and delivering client requests, web servers are one of the most flexible and simple options to integrate different systems.

    The business benefits of Middleware

    If data is central to your business operations, Websphere Middleware enables you to integrate data across a variety of systems and apps.

    Specifically it will enhance the ongoing effectiveness of your business by:

    Improving agility
    Middleware provides a framework that enables changes to be made easily to business processes. This improves the speed at which you can adapt to customer requirements, thus providing a seamless user experience.

    Automating business processes
    Save time and cost by implementing essential automation for manual and time-consuming processes. Customer interactions become smoother, quicker and able to be scaled up much better, while essential cost-savings are made.

    Underpinning innovation
    Middleware technology makes the innovation process frictionless and faster, shortening product development cycles. Products can be brought to market quicker to gain a competitive edge.

    Making legacy systems more adaptable to change
    This removes the challenge of relying on tired and outdated legacy systems. Middleware technology is also reusable as it contains common components that can be repurposed in multiple environments and across multiple platforms.

    Reducing time and resource needed to build apps from scratch
    The use of common components means that apps developed on top of middleware reduce development time and project cost.

    Simplifying information management
    Middleware technology provides a simple framework on which an information management system can be designed, built and deployed.

    What are the different types of Middleware?

    Some of the common broad categories of middleware include:

    Message-Oriented Middleware (MOM)
    Message-Oriented Middleware (MOM) is a software product based on a message-oriented architecture that requires a client/server environment and a message broker program.

    When a message is sent to the message broker, it is forwarded to the appropriate server application and the middleware produces a communications layer that overcomes the different operating systems and network protocols.

    MOM is used in mobile applications to store and forward data between handheld devices and host applications, as well as between trading partners to securely transmit information such as orders, customer data or information about products between parties. There are many other examples which include being the messaging and information backbone between business systems on corporate networks.

     

    Remote Procedure Call (RPC) Middleware
    A client-server interaction that enables the functionality of an application to be distributed across multiple platforms. Local programs can request a service from a program located on a remote commuter without network details. RPC is most often used to execute synchronous data transfers, where the both the client and the server need to be online at the time of the communication.

     

    Application Programming Interface (API)
    A set of protocols, tools and definitions for building apps. APIs allow a secondary app or service to communicate with the primary app or service – this is done without the need to know how the primary app or service is implemented.

     

    Object Middleware
    Controlling the communication between objects in distributed computing, enabling one computer to make program calls to another through a computer network.

     

    Transaction Processing (TP) Middleware
    Reinforcing the function of electronic transactions by controlling transaction apps in line with the database and enforcing the business rules and logic of the transaction.

     

    Integration Middleware
    Providing an integration framework to monitor and control operations, executions and runtime services from several apps. A useful option to enable data from multiple sources to be combined into a unified platform that can be accessed and manipulated by users.

     

    Application Framework
    Offering the basic structure to build apps for a particular environment, acting as a server for the app and providing the backbone for its development.

     

    Device Middleware

    Providing a set of tools to build apps to be run in a specific hardware environment.

     

    Content-Centric Middleware
    Most often used in content-oriented web-based apps, it makes it possible for developers to extract a piece of content without knowing how the system obtains the content.

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