"Something goes in somewhere and something comes out somewhere" - this could be a very simplified definition of middleware. But unfortunately it is not quite that easy. We clarify what middleware is, what it is good for, the significance of cloud middleware, what the advantages are and how it is used.
So, let's jump right in.
The name says it all: a middleware issoftware that works between two other applications. These two applications are an operating system or an application on one side and other running apps on the other. The middleware is therefore a middleman that provides services and functions for these apps. However, users usually do not notice this, as middleware acts invisibly in the background and is to be understood as a glue.
Because unfortunately that is not always possible. Like interpreters for people, middleware is sometimes needed as a translation tool to mediate between two languages or applications. In this way, applications become compatible that were not before. Middleware can handle data management, data transfer, application services, messaging, authentication or API management. In short, data or entire databases can be shared by both applications, and the middleware translates them into the respective language of the application.
Middleware builds bridges between other applications, databases or tools to provide users with a seamless application experience.
As a service provider for cloud automation, we deal with these seamless customer and employee journeys on a daily basis. Middleware is therefore essential, especially for the world in the cloud. By connecting applications, whether through middleware or other technologies, we save time, create simpler, more efficient workflows and increase productivity. All by letting applications communicate directly with each other, rather than having people in between.
Cloud middleware is a particularly efficient and cost-effective way to connect the execution of applications and makes them enormously scalable. This means that even as your company grows, the middleware grows with it.
To illustrate what I have just described, here is an example from our work as a cloud middleware service provider. Here we worked with Make.
In the first place, there is an interface from which the relevant data for this process are drawn. This data is then evaluated (according to certain criteria) and modified if necessary. If certain defined conditions are met, the data is enriched by further interfaces, which is structured in detail like this:
Data runs into the process and is checked for a value, for example, whether a customer number is present in the data supplied.
If there is no customer number, then this is added through another interface.
The next step is to check whether the customer number already exists. If not, a new customer is created (this can be seen in the upper part of the first branch).
If the customer number already exists, further data is fetched and added via a third software (the lower part of the first branch).
The next check refers to the number of products.
If only one product was ordered (lower part of the second branch, highlighted in purple), a certain variable is set that indicates that the customer can cancel the product at time X or that the product will expire at this time. This information is then sent to another app.
If several products have been ordered, information about the different cancellation dates, billing periods and variants is provided. These are obtained via another interface. Finally, the data is transferred back to the original tool.
If necessary, all data obtained and processed are stored in another database.
Other examples of middleware applications include:
Many websites have ready-made contact forms. When these are filled out, the data is "translated" by middleware and then stored in a database. This means that the data is immediately visible to the company and can be used in the right place.
Cookies are used to create individual user experiences. YouTube, for example, uses middleware to present an individualised homepage to all users, depending on their preferences and history.
One form of middleware that accompanies us every day is a programming interface or Application Programming Interfaces (API). This interface is usually provided by applications and thus enables the integration of a wide variety of applications on a specific operating system. In this way, apps communicate with each other and a wide variety of services and products are linked together.
APIs are indispensable in the digital world. They enable us to use external offers, i.e. services, applications or devices, in the company and, conversely, to link the offers and services of companies with external platforms such as Google and thus reach a broader target group.
To our delight, the integration of a wide variety of applications by means of middleware is increasingly taking place in the cloud. Cloud middleware adapts flexibly to the requirements of the company and is thus enormously flexible and versatile.
The term Middleware as a Service (MWaaS) is thus becoming increasingly important in this context.
Integration platform as a Service (iPaaS) is certainly no longer a niche trend and, following it, Middleware as a Service is also becoming an increasingly used term. What is meant by this?
The provision of middleware as a service means a prefabricated package of cloud-based automation services to be used for complex, compound automations. This results in a MWaaS suite.
This includes various cloud services, API integrations, API management, B2B integration and the integration of data sources. Thus, iPaaS, apiPaaS, mobile backend as a service (MBaaS) and other cloud-based integration services are combined in a MWaaS suite. The goal is to automate and support digital business processes, customer journeys and employee journeys in the best possible way.
So: Middleware as a Service is a mixture and a package of various cloud automation services and services that are quickly and flexibly ready for use for a wide range of scenarios, companies and processes.
As already mentioned, middleware takes on a variety of tasks that are fundamentally based on making data and databases available to countless applications and translating them if necessary.
In this way, middleware acts as a link between applications, data and users without being visible.
Creating a high-performance and scalable software architecture in a company can become increasingly difficult due to countless developments. More and more different tools, languages or frameworks are being used and make ever new demands. Nevertheless, the software architecture is expected to perform efficiently, guarantee low costs and make the entire company more productive.
To meet all these requirements and the increasing complexity of such environments, middleware can provide a fast and cost-effective solution for integrating all applications, services and systems. Middleware supports smooth, reliable operation of all relevant applications, regardless of their environment.
The advantages of cloud middleware are the same advantages that cloud applications generally bring with them:
Cloud computing is a growing market. More and more cloud services and suites are being developed and offered, so the choice for businesses is immense
Cloud solutions are mostly cheaper, easy to implement and agile to use
Thus, cloud middleware creates a fast and flexible integration of applications
Cloud solutions are more scalable and less sensitive to change, innovation or restructuring
Cloud middleware is future-oriented:
IPaaS and MWaaS are fast growing markets and cloud middleware is increasingly the first choice for middleware as opposed to in-house middleware. Investments for iPaaS are steadily increasing and especially in the international market there is no way around middleware
Middleware is essential for high-performance integration and automation. It is the glue and intermediary between the most diverse applications and thus opens up countless possibilities to let applications talk to each other.
The demand for cloud middleware, its possibilities and its market potential are constantly growing, which is why we use cloud middleware directly or indirectly in almost every customer project.
Cloud middleware and MWaaS also offer the greatest agility and flexibility in everyday business and even if the terminology is not yet 100 per cent understood and there is still a lot happening in the market, these technologies are fundamental for cloud automation, business process automation and all things digital.
Last but not least, MWaaS, as a further development of iPaaS, offers a short time-to-integration, low operating costs and an increase in productivity throughout the entire organisation.
That was quite a lot of technical input? Are there still some questions left unanswered or have completely new questions opened up? We are happy to support you in uncovering potentials, illuminating possibilities and implementing automation. Click here for a free appointment for automation & IT consulting. We are happy to help.
Cloud Integration, iPaaS, SaaS, BPA… Ough, hard to keep track of all these terms. They are currently used frequently (and increasingly) in the context of automation, and it is sometimes difficult to make a clear distinction and distinction. We have already written blog posts on the terms iPaaS, SaaS and BPA, but we’ll take them up again here to make the difference.
But let’s start with cloud integration, because that’s the central umbrella term in which we embed all the other technologies in this blog post.
Arrange a free cloud integration consultation now
Arrange a free cloud integration consultation now
To illustrate these advantages, an example is suitable that we know well from our everyday work as an automation agency:
The central data to be used here is the data of a major customer. This can be the simplest information, such as the address. This address is required in numerous but completely different processes in the company: on the one hand, for correct invoicing in accounting. On the other hand, in the CRM system, where all the data of the large customer is also stored. But the address is also important in sales, for example, when employees go to the sales meeting on site.
Now the customer announces that the address of the company has changed after a move. This information will reach you by e-mail. There are now two options:
01. The e-mail is forwarded to all affected departments, accounting, sales, customer service, marketing… All persons open their corresponding program, CRM, accounting software, marketing tools (such as newsletter marketing) and change the data already stored there of the customer. This means that in multiple applications, different people do exactly the same thing: change one address.
02. But there is also an alternative: By connecting your applications, thus by integrizing them, the customer’s e-mail, or rather the information it contains about the address change, is automatically passed on to all affected applications: CRM, accounting, marketing, ERP. This does not require any clicks, because the cloud integration detects a trigger, i.e. address change, and thus automatically starts the process.
What sounds unimpressive in a single process becomes more effective when such a process occurs several times a day or weekly. Because there is a lot of data that is available in different applications and should always be correct. If these applications are cloud applications they are suitable for cloud integration.
But cloud integration doesn’t just happen. There are now a variety of applications that enable and implement this. Such tools usually allow us to link the relevant cloud applications on a central platform and define clear rules on when, how, where, how much data should be passed on and what happens to them.
To realize cloud integration, there are various applications and technologies that are sometimes used interchangeably.
We have made a first distinction between iPaaS and BPA here.
We explain the term SaaS in more detail here.
Cloud integration is rather an umbrella term that includes numerous technologies, such as SaaS, iPaaS and BPA, and this is also absolutely necessary. Cloud integration is a concept that is made possible by appropriate technologies.
However, all terms share the commonality that they are cloud-based and thus offer enormous potential for growth and scaling. In addition, they are often cheaper to implement and maintain because changed requirements are easy to implement.
As an independent automation agency, we implement cloud integration according to your requirements. We use a variety of SaaS tools and iPaas (strictly speaking BPA) software. Together we find individual solutions that are flexible and scalable.