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Middleware has a variety of qualities, such as size, cost, complexity, flexibility, and performance. For each application, different qualities are more important than others. Choosing the right middleware means first determining the qualities that matter most for your application, and then evaluating different types of middleware to see how well they meet your requirements. Sounds simple, straightforward, and perhaps even obvious, right? In reality, however, properly evaluating middleware in this fashion can be a nontrivial project that can cost much more time or money than allotted in your budget. It also can require skills and experience that nobody on your staff possesses. Because of the difficulties involved in thoroughly and accurately evaluating middleware, consumers routinely take shortcuts. Perhaps most common among these is avoiding the issue altogether through supplier loyalty: they simply buy or adopt middleware systems based on recommendations from their current middleware supplier. This approach tends to work reasonably well, because it avoids the switching costs associated with moving to a new supplier. Obviously, it requires that you select a supplier that can supply viable middleware systems that survive across the life cycles of multiple technologies, rather than going with a "one-trick pony" that is tied to a single technology. It also works only as long as your supplier's middleware systems actually fulfill your requirements. Of course, supplier or brand loyalty is a general market phenomenon - one that's certainly not limited to middleware.