What is integration middleware? Here’s what you need to know
As organizations adopt an ever-growing number of applications, they’ll have a hard time connecting them in-house as well as maintaining these connections at scale.
Similarly, as organizations look to offer customer-facing integrations, they may struggle to keep pace with clients’ integration demands over time.
To help you address either scenario, you can look to invest in an integration middleware solution.
We’ll break down everything you need to know about this type of solution by covering its definition, use cases, benefits, drawbacks, and more.
Integration middleware definition
It’s a 3rd-party platform that facilitates communication and data exchange between disparate systems and applications, typically by using their APIs.
Integration middleware provides a set of services and capabilities that allow for the efficient and effective integration of applications, databases, and other systems. These services include data transformation, routing, message queuing, and application connectivity. By abstracting the underlying complexities, middleware enables developers and organizations to focus on business logic and value creation, rather than getting bogged down in the intricacies of system integration.
Related: What is external system integration?
Examples of using integration middleware
Here are several examples across numerous industries:
- Recruiting: Imagine you offer a candidate sourcing tool. You can integrate your product with clients’ ATS solutions to sync candidates in, or near, real-time. You can also sync all of the fields that your clients’ recruiters care about, all but ensuring they have all the context they need to reach out to the candidate.
- Lead management: Your ability to respond to leads quickly can ultimately determine whether you’re able to convert them successfully or not. To help facilitate a fast “speed-to-lead”, you can integrate your marketing automation platform with your CRM and build a sync where once a candidate reaches a certain lead score in the former, they’re automatically added to the latter.
- E-Commerce: Integration middleware can play a pivotal role in connecting an online store with various back-end systems, like inventory management, CRM, and supply chain management systems. Inventory levels and customer orders can be synced in real-time across these systems.
- Healthcare: You can integrate patient data from various sources (like electronic health records, lab systems, and imaging systems) to provide a unified view. This is critical for healthcare providers in making informed decisions and offering personalized care.
- Banking and financial services: In banking, middleware is often employed to integrate various banking applications and databases for smooth transaction processing, risk management, and customer service. Middleware enables banks to offer real-time banking services and ensure compliance with financial regulations.
- Supply chain management: Middleware can integrate various components, like inventory systems, shipping and logistics applications, and vendor management systems, ensuring a smooth flow of goods and information across the supply chain.
Related: Examples of Software integration
Why organizations turn to middleware
Organizations turn to integration middleware for several compelling reasons.
As organizations grow and evolve, their IT ecosystems become increasingly complex. Middleware helps manage this complexity by providing a unified platform for integration, reducing the need for custom-built integrations for each new application or system.
By reducing the need for custom integrations and providing out-of-the-box connectivity options, middleware can significantly lower integration costs.
Agility and flexibility
Middleware allows organizations to be more agile and responsive to changing business needs. It enables quick integration of new systems and applications, supporting faster innovation and adaptation.
Data consistency and accuracy
Middleware ensures that data remains consistent and accurate across different systems, which is crucial for decision-making and operational efficiency.
As businesses grow, their technology needs change. Middleware platforms are generally scalable, allowing for the addition of new integrations and capabilities as the organization expands.
Where traditional middleware platforms fall short
Despite their advantages, traditional middleware platforms have certain limitations:
Long learning curve
Traditional middleware solutions can be complex and may require specialized skills to deploy and manage effectively. This complexity can lead to a steep learning curve for IT teams.
Rigidity and lack of adaptability
Many traditional middleware platforms are not designed for the dynamic and fast-paced environment of modern businesses. They may lack the flexibility needed to integrate with newer technologies or adapt to changing business requirements.
Traditional middleware solutions can be expensive, not just in terms of initial investment but also in ongoing maintenance and operation costs.
In scenarios with high volumes of data or real-time processing requirements, traditional middleware might struggle to meet performance expectations.
Cloud integration challenges
With the increasing adoption of cloud services, traditional middleware often falls short in effectively integrating cloud-based applications and services with on-premises systems.
As the integration point for multiple systems, middleware can be a critical point of vulnerability. Older middleware platforms may not be equipped with the latest security features to protect against modern threats.
Related: Challenges of SaaS integration
As you explore middleware integration solutions for customer-facing use cases, you’ll likely come across unified API solutions, which essentially offer a single, aggregated API that lets you offer a whole category of integrations (e.g. HRIS).
This approach offers scalability, as you can offer dozens of integrations through a single integration build, and through Merge, you’ll also be able to maintain and manage your integrations easily and effectively.
You can learn more about Merge by scheduling a demo with one of our integration experts.