Sunday, June 16, 2002

Then There's That Stuff in the Middle. One of the biggest challenges in designing, building and implementing an enterprise-wide system is the middleware component. Enter The Complete Book of Middleware, which is a collection of papers divided among eight major topic areas, each on a specific middleware category. The main value of this book is the wide range of technologies and vendor solutions, and the fact that it's up to date.

I like the complete coverage of both transaction and queuing approaches, and the vendor-specific information that includes Microsoft's .NET and Sun's Java, as well as everything in between. The sections database middleware and middleware performance are especially valuable because they are more generic and applicable to a wider audience than the MS- and Java-centric sections.

While individual papers have a slight vendor bias, the book as a whole is vendor neutral. This is not a book for learning about middleware as much as a good description of what's currently available and their strengths and weaknesses. If you are looking for a more general book I recommend Chris Britton's IT Architectures and Middleware: Strategies for Building Large, Integrated Systems for the fundamentals, and David Linthicum's B2B Application Integration for a detailed text on how to employ middleware in practice. However, this book will give vendor-specific details and a more up-to-date view of middleware that are missing from Britton's and Linthicum's books. If you're a system architect or consultant this book is an excellent desk reference.

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