Middleware is a software that links other software or applications together and allows the passing of data between them. In essence, it is software that sits in the middle of application software and provides an interface between them, even if they work on different operating systems. It allows data found in one database to be accessed in another database. It also allows applications to be free from network services. Middleware was first used to provide a link between old legacy systems and new applications. Today, many companies use middleware as a tool to integrate Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Customer Relationship Management (CRM ), and Supply Chain Management (SCM) applications together. Several other reasons why businesses use middleware are to work with suppliers, serve customers, and improve business processes to speed up process time. It can also be used to link business information together from different departments such as finance, research and development, sales, marketing, and so on. Furthermore, middleware can be used to process transactions that take place on the web or computer. Middleware is one component that makes up a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA). Because if it's ability to integrate data from multiple databases and operating systems, middleware software has become a necessity for businesses around the world.

Types of Middleware:

  • Database Middleware: Provides a connection between a query and one or more databases which allows data to be condensed from a number of sources.
  • Messaging Middleware: Links applications together such as client and server applications. This type of middleware can store data in the event of a system overload or failure. It normally uses a message queue system, however some use broadcast or multicast systems instead. Messaging Middleware can be compared to sending an email.
  • Application Server Middleware: Web based software that connects a large number of applications. This can be installed on a laptop or desktop computer in order to run other applications.
  • Embedded Middleware: Middleware that provides an interface between embedded applications and the real time operating system.
  • Object Request Broker: Allows applications to request services and send objects.
  • SQL Server: Provides a link between database servers and applications.
  • Transaction Processing Monitors: Guarantees that all databases are adequately updated by connecting them with requesting client programs.
  • Enterprise Application Integration: Allows data and business processes to be shared between applications in the enterprise.

Major organizations that provide middleware software: