The application infrastructure middleware market was estimated to be USD 38064 million in 2020 alone and is likely to reach a value of USD 59708.5 million by 2026. The infrastructure middleware market witnessed a CAGR of 7.31% over the period 2021 to 2026. The application infrastructure middleware market has been evolving simultaneously with the help of technology trends. This includes a list of migration to cloud platforms and services, increased demand for real-time data analysis, a quick enhancement of Internet of Things (IoT) endpoints and the rollout of Artificial Intelligence.
What is middleware?
Middleware is a software that allows one or more types of communication between multiple applications or app components in a distributed network. Middleware helps to streamline the app development process by connecting app components easily and by offering functionality to connect them in an improved way.
There are different types of middleware for different applications. For instance, message brokers or transaction processing middleware for communication purposes. Web app servers or mobile device middleware for a wide range of communication and connectivity features required to develop a specific type of application. Others like a cloud-based integration platform as a service (iPaaS) providing an enterprise service bus and works like a dedicated integration hub to connect multiple components in an enterprise. There is a type of middleware to build your own custom middleware.
The very first middleware acted like a mediator between an application front-end, or client and a back-end resource. For instance, a database app or special hardware device from which the client might request data. This is the reason it was named Middleware. Having said that, today’s middleware offers a lot more options.
How middleware works?
Along with that, middleware also comprises of services that assist developers in a number of ways including:
- Configure and control integrations and connections. Depending on the information offered by a client or front-end app request, middleware can tailor the response from the back-end app or service. In a retailer’s ecommerce app, middleware app logic can sort product search results from the inventory database by the closest store location depending on the IP address or location information in the HTTP request header.
- Protect connections and data transfer. Middleware generally builds a secure connection from the front-end app to back-end data sources using Transport Layer Security (TSL) or another network security protocol.
- Handle traffic dynamically across distributed systems. When app traffic increases, enterprise middleware can escalate to deliver client requests across different servers, on premises or in the cloud. Moreover, processing abilities can forbid issues when various clients try to access the same back-end data source at the same time.
What are the different types of middleware?
There are various types of middleware. Some focus on the connectivity, while others focus on particular apps, application components and devices whereas some mix the middleware abilities for a particular development task.
Some of the widely used middleware software are:
- Message oriented middleware (MOM) allows application components using various messaging protocols to engage. Along with translating or transforming messages between apps, MOM handles message routing of messages. Hence, they always get to the appropriate components in a convenient order. For instance, message queues and message brokers are a type of MOM.
- Remote Procedure Call (RPC) middleware allows one app to initiate a procedure in another app on the same device or on an alternate device or network. This works as though both are part of the same app or same device.
- Data or database middleware streamlines access to, and interaction with, back-end databases. A database middleware is very similar to a SQL database server.
- API (Application Programming Interface) middleware offers tools that the developers can leverage to build, expose and manage APIs for their applications. This is done so that other developers can connect together. Certain API middleware comes with tools to monetize APIs – which allows other enterprises to use them by paying a premium cost. For instance, API middleware consists of API management platforms, API gateways and API developer platforms.
- Object Request Broker (ORB) middleware functions like a broker between a request from one app object or component, and the execution of that request by another object or component on the shared network. ORBs work with the Common Object Request Broker Architecture (CORBA), which allows one software component to make a request of another object without knowing where the other is hosted.
- Transactional middleware offers solutions to sustain the execution of data transactions across a shared network. Some of the best transactional middleware are transaction processing monitors (TPMs), which makes sure that transactions begin from one step to the next till the completion. These include data exchange, adding/changing/deleting data where necessary and more.
- Asynchronous data streaming middleware duplicates a data stream in an intermediate store, allowing data sharing between different apps. Apache Kafka is an ideal example of middleware for real-time data streaming.
- Device middleware offers a dedicated set of integration and connectivity features to build applications for a particular mobile OS.
- Portal middleware offers tools and resources for integrating content and abilities from different applications to build a single, uniform application.
- Robotics middleware streamlines the robotic hardware integration, firmware and software from various locations and manufacturers.
Enterprise Application Integration Middleware
Enterprise app integration middleware allows an enterprise to establish an enterprise integration hub. It is a simple way to link all apps, app components, business processes and back-end data sources in the extended enterprise.
Till a decade ago, the most predominant enterprise app integration middleware was the enterprise service bus (ESB). It acted as the integration hub in a service oriented architecture (SOA). Currently, a cloud hosted model known as integration platform-as-a-service or iPaaS allows an enterprise to connect apps, data, processes and services across multiple on-premises, private cloud, and public cloud environments. This can be done without the additional work and cost of investing, installing, handling, and maintaining the integration middleware in its own data center.
Platform middleware or application platform middleware can bolster app development and expedite application delivery by offering a runtime hosting environment like a Java runtime environment (Java RE), or containers, or both for app or business logic. Platform middleware can entail or merge enterprise application servers, web servers, and content management systems along with different middleware types listed in this section.
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Middleware and cloud-native applications
Cloud-native is an app development process that uses profound cloud computing technologies, with the primary objective of offering seamless development, deployment and management throughout on-premises, private cloud or public cloud environments.
Currently, cloud native apps are apps developed from microservices, and deployed in containers coordinated via Kubernetes. Microservices are app components that include their own stack, and can be deployed and managed independently, and engage with one another with the help of REST APIs, message brokers and event streams. Containers are lightweight executables that package app code like microservices with the OS libraries and dependencies required to run the code on any cloud infrastructure.
Together, the related technologies build a significant, build-once-deploy-anywhere platform to deliver net-new hybrid cloud apps. This is done to improve the conventional legacy systems to be used in the cloud. However, they also lead to an intricate development environment that incorporates more software apps, data sources, programming languages, tools and distributed systems.
Middleware can eradicate this complexity, though running containerized apps with conventional middleware can include complexities of its own along with infrastructure overhead that containers were designed to remove. Due to this reason, prominent cloud app development platforms like Cloud Foundry and Red Hat OpenShift improved to add containerized middleware.
Why is there a growing demand for the Infrastructure Middleware Market?
Mobility for users along with businesses is a current trend towards improving employee-consumer interaction and increased operational efficiency using various devices. Around 70% of the workforce is predicted to adopt its own devices for work which will increase the requirement for mobile middleware for data security and remote data access management.
The rising acceptance of IoT in the user and business landscape along with adoption of the 5G network in 2021, the number of IoT devices is expected to increase rapidly. As per Ericsson, the global smartphone subscription was USD 5.6 billion in 2019 and is expected to reach USD 7.4 billion by 2025.
As public cloud becomes a normal deployment solution, more businesses are likely to adopt the public cloud to migrate, build or rebuild their crucial customer-focussed apps and assets which will increase the need for middleware solutions.
Though, a significant challenge to the middleware infrastructure market growth is the presence of open-source software along with the failure of important vendors to offer PaaS offerings to enterprises.
The current COVID-19 induced pandemic is slated to induce a short-term rise in demand with the rising use of API and other services from collective infrastructure. However, in the next few years, with the rise in demand, the number of businesses shifting to digital infrastructure is going to rise significantly.
Important Market Trends
Cloud Deployment is predicted to hold the biggest share in the coming years.
- The current cloud app infrastructure has changed to offer improved efficiency and scalability than on-premise deployment. The evolving trend towards cloud services and the innovation in IoT help boost investments in modern app infrastructure and middleware.
- App infrastructure and middleware is used in the reference of private, public, and hybrid cloud computing for cloud enablement of current and future apps. For example, it is possible to turn the current apps into Software as a Service app with all the complex software architecture handled by platform middleware.
- The solid rate of adoption of cloud services is generating a new challenge for businesses around the world using obsolete on-premise services, like enterprise service bus (ESB) and BPMs, as they were not created to manage cloud integration.
- But, among major organizations, the sections are now being authorized to purchase, install, and use their own software on an ad hoc basis. This is true in the case of SaaS solutions which need real-time integration to move the market forward.
- Cloud-based solutions including iPaaS consists of microservice architecture which offers high scalability, low latency, and high performance. But, the growth of this segment is slated to be quicker than the on-premise category. Apart from that, it is understandable that after the COVID-19 pandemic, demand for cloud infrastructure services and spending on niche software is slated to grow exponentially.
The application infrastructure middleware sector is definitely competitive and it seems to be integrated as the market landscape is typically controlled by IT giants like Oracle, IBM, and Redhat. These organizations hold a lion’s chunk of market share when compared to other companies. The supremacy of these players in the market is slated to continue due to their strong branding and trust in the demanding areas of apps. Cloud is a consistent factor that separates market share giants from share losers.
- In January 2020, TIBCO and Enfo formed a strategic alliance by reselling exclusivity in the Nordics and Baltics. TIBCO bestows its users to connect, unify, and predict outcomes to solve the world’s most complex data-driven challenges. Merging knowledge and the customer base in the Nordics with TIBCO’s major software solutions and network will help Enfo and TIBCO clients.
- In March 2020, Software AG revealed Swift Labs, a Canadian wireless and IoT product design company, to collaborate with PowerUp Partner Program. To assist simplify and quickly deploy IoT projects with the help of real-time, customer-focused operational dashboards and analytics.
Having discussed middleware, its importance in the industry and the market trends and competition amongst the tech giants, we come to the final part of this article. If we talk about the countries that have welcomed the technology with open arms, North America is a leading region. Industries in the United States and Canada are moving towards cloud computing to boost their digital transformation. For example, Bank of America collaborated with Microsoft Cloud as a part of its digital transformation to assist customer needs efficiently. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation, other countries are witnessing the rise in demand due to the rising use of API and other services across different industry verticals.
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Karan works as the Delivery Head at Conneqtion Group, a Oracle iPaaS and Process Automation company. He has an extensive experience with various Banking and financial services, FMCG, Supply chain management & public sector clients. He has also led/been part of teams in multitude of consulting engagements. He was part of Evosys and Oracle’s consulting team previously and worked for clients in NA, EMEA & APAC region.