Web-based middleware that assists with browsing uses interfaces
It provides authentication service for a large number of applications and interprocess communication that is independent from underlying OS, network protocols, and hardware platforms.
Some web-applications are tightly bound to this middleware. These middlewares are called application servers because they improve the performance, availability, scalability, security, information retrieval, and support of collaborative administration and usage. Middleware may circumvent HTTP and connect directly to the application when this gains better communication between the server and client.
According to one author, this middleware can be divided into two categories: client and server. The web-aware client middleware allows links to be developed for Java applets and ActiveX controls to connect to remote databases. Examples of the client middleware are XDB Systems Inc.s JETConnect and Borland Software Corporations JBuilder. Thin clients on the web appear fatter by adding services such as caching, history mechanism, bookmarks, multiple views, SSL-based (Secure Socket Layer) security, and versioning.
The server middleware products can connect the web server to a database server. This allows information to pass back to the client from the database and allows the mapping of database attributes to web pages for development of the application. Some server middleware products include WebDBC by StormCloud Development Corp., IDC by Microsoft Corporation, and ActiveWeb by Active Software Inc
The web middleware can be divided into several main two categories are
Mobile or Wireless Middleware
The term e-commerce pertains to the communication between two or more businesses or patrons and businesses performed over the web.
This middleware controls access to customer profile information, allows the operation of business functions such as purchasing and selling items, and assists in the trade of financial information between applications.
This business middleware can provide a modular platform to build the next generation of web applications.
In 1999, The Yankee Group (a market research firm) reported that the e-commerce business had grown to a value of $138 billion. They estimated this would increase to $541 billion by the year 2003. The need for security, quality of service, cost-effective and speedy transactions, and transparency over diverse environments is essential. These transactions should be conducted so that they eliminate paper trails, duplication on data processing, and re-keying of information.
The technology standard, XML (eXtensible Markup Language), is used to integrate, transform, and stream data over the Internet. HTML (HyperText Markup Language which is another web mark-up language) is used to define how elements will look, whereas, XML defines data element contents and identifies their structures (essentially data about data).
XML describes documents containing structured information such as e-Business transactions, relational databases schemas, object metadata and APIs. XML is used for business-to-business (B2B) documents or web pages and will be a dominant force in business dealings for the beginning of the 21st century.
The XML-based middleware helps integrate XML into the business solutions by assimilating existing or legacy systems that may not be XML-aware. In addition, it ensures the transformation of data between various formats including XML and creates a transparent, organized, and easy to use system. This allows companies to achieve the full potential of XML data exchange and integration. This middleware can incorporate a wide range of business applications including enterprise application integration (EAI), electronic data interchange (EDI), enterprise portals, and web services.
The strengths of e-commerce middleware are:
It enables the fast integration of various computing systems into a web-based business solution.
It makes communication between businesses easier, cost-effective, and more secure.
It allows customer service representatives to access data from multiple customer information systems.
The weaknesses of this middleware are:
The current e-commerce middleware still has some web inherent problems such as security (authentication, certification, confidentiality, integrity and access controls), session drops, load balancing issues, timeliness of responses, availability, and accuracy.
Even though this middleware is built to convert many data sources to allow for communication, no one middleware can cover all the different types of platforms, networks, data sources, or operating system.
Some of these middleware products are expensive and small companies have to consider the cost factors (price of product, training, and maintenance) when (and if) they purchase these products.
MOBILE OR WIRELESS MIDDLEWARE
Mobile or wireless middleware integrates distributed applications and servers without
Permanently connecting (through wires) to the web.It provides mobile users secure, wireless access to e-mail, calendars, contact information, task lists, etc.
Some key issues of the mobile computing environment include bandwidth, reliability, delay, latency, error rate, user interface, processing power, interoperability, and cost. The mobile middleware would resolve these problems by first resending the lost packets and then continuing the communication at the previous rate. Some mobile middleware also filters and compresses the data to save on bandwidth. The location of the mobile user, the users profile, and the current users state should be available to the middleware as well.
According to one author, there are three major mobile services: user virtual environment (UVE), mobile virtual terminal (MVT), and virtual resource management (VRM).
The UVE offers users a uniform view no matter the location or the transmitter of the signal. The MVT works to preserve the terminal execution state at different locations. Finally, the VRM automatically re-qualifies the bindings and accesses to resources and services at the new location as well as supporting load balancing and replication services.
The strengths of mobile middleware are:
It provides needed protocols, tools, and methods to handle the connection of a mobile device to the web. It takes care of changes in locations and sudden disconnects in service.
It can provide services such as profile management (the communication device used and information services available), mailbox management (e-mail, fax, voice mail, etc.), cross-media translation (speech-to-text, text-to-speech, e-mail-to-fax, etc.) and others.
It (in the form of a proxy) may convert high-required bandwidth information into a lower bandwidth to save on transmission time and battery life. An example of this is the conversion of a picture initially in color to black-and-white
The weakness of wireless middleware is:
In some developing countries, there is little or no means of collecting transmission from wireless devices. This may be rectified by using Wireless Local Loop (WLL). WLLs can provide several MHz of bandwidth for high-speed data transfer, Internet access, and basic telephone service.