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September 23, 2020

Should You Be Paying for Middleware Tools?

Open Source

The modern enterprise landscape is a hybrid of diverse technologies and disparate endpoints. Unifying these systems has traditionally been difficult and both commercial and open source middleware solutions have emerged to solve these challenges. Which are the best middleware tools, and do you need to pay for them?

The Best Middleware Technologies

The best middleware technologies tend to be based on the needs of the user, but our team has a few versatile favorites when it comes to middleware – Apache Camel, ActiveMQ, Apache Kafka, and Tomcat are all open source middleware that effectively connect your apps.

Looking to get started with a new middleware tool? Connect with one of our enterprise architects to learn what solution is best for you.


Apache Camel

Apache Camel is the industry standard for reducing boilerplate code for complex integrations, all while maintaining features like automatic error handling, redelivery policies, and the ability to handle complex aggregations. Apache Camel is a domain-specific language that’s an implementation of the Enterprise Integration Patterns (EIPs) and helps organizations solve a range of very specific problems.

Apache Camel provides a configuration syntax and runtime to configure EIPs within your application federation layers.  By normalizing message data, providing easy transformation mechanisms, and giving developers pre-built components that manage message exchanges, nearly any endpoint imaginable can be integrated.

For developers interested in learning Apache Camel, OpenLogic offers in-depth, expert-led Apache Camel training courses. For an example of how Camel can be applied, this banking company case study is a good place to start.


ActiveMQ is a mature and well-adopted messaging platform, with thousands of companies using it, and is by far the most flexible OSS message broker available. As if that’s not enough, it also ships with an internal implementation of Apache Camel and shares developers and committers with the Apache Camel product. This gives it a tremendous level of sophistication in terms of designing complex messaging patterns.

Though not the only free messaging solution available, Apache ActiveMQ stands out for balancing its versatility with enterprise-readiness. Businesses can adopt ActiveMQ quickly, and its familiar concepts will be accessible to anyone comfortable with JMS. ActiveMQ’s prolific community will ensure the products continued viability, and ActiveMQ 6 promises to extend this usefulness into the next generation of enterprise messaging solutions.

Want to see how ActiveMQ is used in the real world? This webinar looks at five examples of how ActiveMQ can be applied.

Want to get more hands on? OpenLogic offers expert-led ActiveMQ training courses.

Apache Kafka

Apache Kafka is a stream processor and can be used as a message broker as well. If architecture or software requires low end-to-end latency with exceptional durability (persistence), Kafka is the piece of software to provide this and other functionality.  Whereas traditional message brokers focus on a pattern of allowing consumer applications to work on one piece of data at a time, Kafka allows for the analysis of lots of individual pieces of inflight data. 

This makes Kafka an ideal candidate for implementing streaming analytics and big data applications.  Designed at LinkedIn to scale to hundreds of millions of messages, though not as lightweight a solution as ActiveMQ, it is ideal for working on astronomically large data sets.


Apache Tomcat is an open source Java application server that is capable of powering enterprise-scale web applications.  Though not a full-fledged JEE server, Tomcat was originally conceived as the reference implementation for the Java Servlet and Java Server Pages specifications.

Tomcat remains a fast and lightweight implementation, even relied upon in new “serverless” frameworks like SpringBoot as a runtime container because of its thin profile.  For simple and lightweight Java web applications, as well as the emerging world of Java microservices, Tomcat remains the top choice for deployment.

Getting Started with Middleware 

Ready to learn the ropes on open source middleware? This webinar looks at the top open source middleware technologies, and how they can replace — and outperform — existing paid solutions.

Watch the Webinar

Make Our Open Source Experts Your Open Source Experts

When middleware is correctly implemented and backed by the experts at OpenLogic, you'll be confident in your ability to also boost IT security, system performance, and overall efficiency. OpenLogic understands open source middleware. We provide expert advice on critical requirements such as federating systems, proxying encrypted traffic, and extending legacy investments with web apps.