The term middleware is sometimes considered a buzzword

Middleware is computer software that connects software components or applications. It is used most often to support complex, distributed applications. It includes web servers, application servers, content management systems, and similar tools that support application development and delivery. Middleware is especially integral to modern information technology based on XML,SOAP, Web services, and service-oriented architecture.

Middleware Overview


Middleware is the enabling technology of Enterprise application integration. It describes a piece of software that connects two or more software applications so that they can exchange data.

ObjectWeb defines middleware as:

"The software layer that lies between theoperating system and the applications on each side of a distributed computing system in a network.


Middleware is a relatively new addition to the computing landscape. It gained popularity in the 1980s as a solution to the problem of how to link new applications to older legacy systems, although the term had been in use since 1968. It also facilitated distributed processing – the connection of multiple applications to create a larger application, usually over a network.


In addition to the existing vendors updating their wares to address the newly expanded vision, vendors such as Mercator, Vitria, Fiorano andwebMethods were specifically founded to provide Web-oriented middleware tools. Groups such as the Apache Software Foundation and the ObjectWeb Consortiumencourage the development of open source middleware.

Types of middleware:

Hurwitz's classification system organizes the many types of middleware that are currently available.These classifications are based on scalability and recoverability:

  • Remote Procedure Call (RPCs) — Client makes calls to procedures running on remote systems. Can be asynchronous or synchronous.
  • Message Oriented Middleware (MOM) — Messages sent to the client are collected and stored until they are acted upon, while the client continues with other processing.
  • Object Request Broker (ORB) — This type of middleware makes it possible for applications to send objects and request services in an object-oriented system.
  • SQL-oriented Data Access — middleware between applications and database servers.

Other sources include these additional classifications:

  • Transaction processing (TP) monitors — Provides tools and an environment for developing and deploying distributed applications.
  • Application servers — software installed on a computer to facilitate the serving (running) of other applications.
  • Enterprise Service Bus — An abstraction layer on top of an Enterprise Messaging System.