In computer science, systems are typically divided into two categories: software and hardware. However, there is an additional layer in between, referred to as middleware, which is a software pipeline—an operation, a process, or an application between the operating system and the end user. This article aims to define middleware and reflect on its necessity, as well as address controversies about when and where it applies. It also explores the application of middleware in emerging technologies such as cloud computing and the Internet of Things (IoT), as well as future middleware developments.
The term was introduced in the early 1980s. It encompasses complex software solutions that modernize legacy systems—typically mainframes—through new features such as software and application components. Initially, it was solely used to expand the layer separating the network and application layers. Subsequently, its use expanded to serve as the layer above the operating system and network layer, and below the application layer. This means that middleware could now facilitate the generic communication between the application component and the distributed network.
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