Saturday, March 31, 2007

Middleware is in Disarray

Middleware conference 2006, took place in Melbourne, Australia. The University of Melbourne was the organizer and my supervisor Dr. Shanika Karunasekera was general chair to the conference. Thus I had a chance to look at the current status of middleware from a close distance as a local organizer.

What is Middleware?
Middleware is a software enabling technology that connects two or more applications so that they can communicate each other. Middleware hides not only the distribution but also the complexities lie in different hardware and software level. It provides uniformity in messaging and high level interfaces to the application developers so that application can be easily composed and made interoperate. Web Services, CORBA, RMI, DCOM etc. are various kind of middleware.

Middleware are here to fulfill the above mentioned goals. However if we quote from the proceeding of the conference, it says:

Middleware is one of those topics in computer science for which it appears difficult to reach consensus on its exact meaning

In other words, my personal observation is that middleware community yet to come out with a proper definition for middleware. That certainly instigated disarray in the middleware world. To add to this plight, vendors those implement the middleware and the standardization bodies of these middleware are the prime source of disarray. Race in order to grab the market share among the vendors have been influencing the standardization processes. As a result same middleware comes out with different standards and implementations. Thus middleware is losing its primary goal of universality. If we look closely to CORBA’s rise and fall we will realize the reality. That reality has been revealed here by Michi Henning, who was a core part of CORBA.

Right now web services are flying high. However, this report from Network Computing describes web services are also following the same path as CORBA did with their standardization. Will web services embrace the same fate as CORBA? That’s a question to be answered. Moreover, now it seems more interesting to talk about these different standards rather than CORBA vs. Web Services.

Middleware is here with noble goals. It should exist. Hope it will march forward towards its goals smoothly. But, who is going to help it?


Shahana said...

thanks. i liked this post, the way u had explained.

Chingri said...

Agree about the middleware muddle/disarray. Middleware and frameworks have spectacularly failed to deliver. Humorous but apropos take on frameworks:

- shrimpy at