by Adrian Bridgwater SYS-CON Media
When we ask “wherefore art thou middleware?”, what we really want to know is why do we need middleware? What pressure points upon our software application lifecycle cycle does it address? … and, perhaps most crucially of all, are the full cadre of ‘stakeholders’ sitting under the CIO’s purview all fully cognizant of its function, importance and role in day-to-day operations?
What is middleware?
As much of many of us now understand the term, HP hosts a seminal paper by Philip A. Bernstein written in 1993 that serves as an arguably quite pivotal definition for middleware that we can go back to again and again.
“To help solve heterogeneity and distributed computing problems, vendors are offering distributed system services that have standard programming interfaces and protocols. Standard programming interfaces make it easier to port applications to a variety of platforms, giving the customer some vendor-independence. Standard protocols enable programs to interoperate. These distributed system services are called middleware, because they sit ‘‘in the middle,” layering above the operating system and networking software and below industry-specific applications,” wrote Bernstein. So middleware performs functions including:
- accessing databases and handling input/output requests at various levels
- connecting software to an array of different hardware components
- forming the relationship required between application code and the run-time infrastructure in computer simulation systems
- scaling an application and/or integrating its various component parts
“The reason we have middleware is that some of this stuff is really hard to do,” argues Red Hat UK head of middleware Steve Gaines. “Experienced developers create ‘engines’ in the form of pieces of middleware code that can perform these tasks.” ….. Article