What is middleware?

Middleware is software that lies between an operating system and the applications running on it. Essentially functioning as a hidden translation layer, middleware enables communication and data management for distributed applications. It’s sometimes called plumbing, as it connects two applications together so that data and databases can be easily passed between the “pipe”. Using middleware allows users to perform such requests as submitting forms on a web browser, or allowing the web server to return dynamic web pages based on a user’s profile.

Common middleware examples include database middleware, application server middleware, message-oriented middleware, web middleware and transaction-processing monitors. Each program typically provides messaging services so that different applications can communicate using messaging frameworks such as simple object access protocol (SOAP), web services, representational state transfer (REST) and JavaScript object notation (JSON). While all middleware performs communication functions, the type a company chooses to use will depend on what service is being used and what type of information needs to be communicated. This can include security authentication, transaction management, message queues, applications servers, web servers and directories. Middleware can also be used for distributed processing with actions occurring in real time rather than sending data back and forth.

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