On Middleware

As corporate year 2000 projects draw to a close -- or at least near completion -- IT managers must quickly tackle the problems caused by the disparate, unconnected systems running their companies. The rapid emergence of Internet commerce demands that data in once-standalone systems be consistently available to clients in a corporate network and beyond. And that requires middleware, a product designation created early in this decade to describe software technologies that link applications and operating systems.

In this issue of Application Development Trends, we try to help define the state of middleware in our Special Report "Making sense of middleware." Despite varied interpretations of the category by sup- pliers, analysts and top IT managers, we think middleware technologies have split into specific categories, such as object request brokers (ORBs), message-oriented middleware (MOM), trans- action monitors, publish-and-subscribe systems, and a more recent class called application servers. And everything, of course, is described as fitting into the newer, more hip category of enterprise application integration (EAI) systems.

We sought out a group of experts -- JoMei Chang, Tom Laffey, John Mann, Les Yeamans and Ron Zahavi -- in specific middleware categories to help define the term and discuss the importance of each piece of the puzzle. Each member of our expert panel made some interesting predictions about how the various technologies will evolve and what that means for traditional, large IT organizations. As you might expect, the responses are varied; nevertheless, we found some key models emerging. For example, middleware will become even more important as a platform or "plumbing" for EAI systems as the number of those projects explodes through the next decade.

The Special Report also includes coverage of application server technologies, electronic commerce systems issues, an interpretation of persistent object caching, and a look at coupling CORBA and Enterprise JavaBeans.

ADT has been at the forefront of middleware reporting for several years, and the stories and comprehensive product listing in this issue is only part of that effort. The need to connect disparate systems will only grow for corporate IT managers. We will continue to evaluate middleware technology and show how it can and is being used by your colleagues around the globe. We, and our growing team of expert writers and advisors, will seek out the latest intelligence on middleware and the growing demand for EAI solutions.

Best Regards,

Michael W. Bucken

About the Author

Mike Bucken is former Editor-in-Chief of Application Development Trends magazine.