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Middleware made easier

Makers of middleware software are reaching out to partners to make their products easier to install and manage.

Makers of middleware software are reaching out to partners to make their products easier to install and manage.

This week, Sybase (SYBS), IBM (IBM), and BEA Systems (BEAS) said they were linking up with other software vendors to extend their reach into big companies.

While, for years, middleware has been crucial to companies like Visa International and American Airlines, it will become even more important as a growing number of businesses tack ubiquitous Web interfaces onto transactional systems, and open up vital business systems to millions of potential new users.

Middleware--in all of its various forms--is becoming increasingly important as more companies expand existing client-server, mainframe, and simple Web-based information systems into new electronic commerce and order-entry applications.

Sybase said it is adding to its Jaguar CTS component server new features for load balancing, fault tolerance, and component-based access to back-end transaction and messaging systems.

The company is partnering with two companies, HydraWeb Technologies and Insession, for the new services.

IBM said it is partnering with Candle to package Candle's testing and management tools with IBM's MQSeries messaging middleware. The package, due this summer, will be called the Candle Command Center Admin Pac for MQSeries. Pricing starts at $250 annually for Unix and other systems, and at $10,000 annually for mainframe systems.

BEA said it is building an add-on for its Tuxedo transactional middleware to link it to Microsoft's Windows NT-based clustering software, code named Wolfpack. The add-on is scheduled to ship later this year.

Transaction processing (TP) systems like IBM's CICS and BEA's Tuxedo are traffic cop-like software layers that sit between client systems and corporate servers, making sure that new data entered by users, such as a sales order, gets recorded in the correct database. TP monitors, in conjunction with message queuing software, also make sure that all data is recorded and that no orders get lost.

Even Microsoft has discovered the value of middleware as it moves upscale into large businesses. The company late in 1996 introduced Microsoft Transaction Server, a Windows NT-based system for handling component transactions.