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We introduce a middleware infrastructure that provides software services for developing and deploying high-performance parallel programming models and distributed applications on clusters and networked heterogeneous systems. This middleware infrastructure utilizes distributed agents residing on the participating machines and communicating with one another to perform the required functions. An intensive study of the parallel programming models in Java has helped identify the common requirements for a runtime support environment, which we used to define the middleware functionality. A Java-based prototype, based on this architecture, has been developed along with a Java object-passing interface (JOPI) class library. Since this system is written completely in Java, it is portable and allows executing programs in parallel across multiple heterogeneous platforms. With the middleware infrastructure, users need not deal with the mechanisms of deploying and loading user classes on the heterogeneous system. Moreover, details of scheduling, controlling, monitoring, and executing user jobs are hidden, while the management of system resources is made transparent to the user. Such uniform services are essential for facilitating the development and deployment of scalable high-performance Java applications on clusters and heterogeneous systems. An initial deployment of a parallel Java programming model over a heterogeneous, distributed system shows good performance results. In addition, a framework for the agents' startup mechanism and organization is introduced to provide scalable deployment and communication among the agents.