What is middleware? How can I use enterprise application integration tools with middleware?
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First, middleware is not a magic bullet. What it offers is, quite simply, a mechanism that allows one entity (application or database) to communicate with another entity, or entities. That's it. The idea that a middleware product can be installed within an enterprise, or a trading community, and information can suddenly - magically - be shared is simply not so.
If middleware is nothing more than just another tool, why use it? The answer is as simple as middleware itself: It is the only solution that allows applications to communicate with one another. Middleware technologies are able to hide the complexities of the source and target systems, freeing developers from focusing on low-level APIs and network protocols, allowing them to concentrate on sharing information.
There are many definitions of middleware. Ultimately, the definition that works best is the one that defines middleware in terms of its function. As we noted above, middleware is a mechanism that allows one entity (application or database) to communicate with another entity, or entities. In other words, middleware is any type of software that facilitates communications between two or more software systems.
Because of middleware's importance in the sharing of information, its importance to the EAI solution is growing more and more evident. Although it was a tool for moving information between systems within a single enterprise, we now look to middleware products to allow us to move information between multiple enterprises. This new demand on middleware presents vendors with a significant challenge, since middleware products were conceived for, and built exclusively for, intra-enterprise integration.
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