I first encountered the concept of middleware some years back. My editor at the time was speaking very earnestly about doing an article on the rise of middleware.
Back then I knew even less about technology than I do now, and thought that he was referring to some sort of waistcoat. What I thought of his idea of a SoHo supplement doesn’t bear thinking about, though I do remember offering to review the restaurants.
In IT land, middleware isn’t about waistcoats, it actually refers to an application or software agent that sits between applications or application components. This is often to support the smooth running of large distributed applications. It is commonly used when talking about database management solutions or Web & application servers.
Middleware is not a new term - in IT terms it’s practically ancient - but it does have a new resonance in the world of large scale distributed computing. It is the glue that holds everything in place and helps disparate applications work with each other.
Middleware often provides the common ground for other applications to talk to each other. This is crucial when information and processing is being pulled from different sources. It is not too much to say that without middleware there wouldn’t be anything like the amount of functionality on the Web as we know it today.
For a better explanation of middleware than I can probably give you, check out this site.