Say what you want and get it with Cloud Pak for Integration 2021.2.1

June 22, 2021

As the saying goes, “If you don’t ask, then you don’t get.” It’s generally true, but when it comes to your business integration needs, just asking has never been enough. You need a rich set of skills and an understanding of how to use them to create the right integration for the job. That is, until now.

Introducing Flow Creation with Natural Language Processing

With the latest release of IBM Cloud Pak for Integration, you can simply ask for what you want. Describe the integration you are looking for, by typing in ‘natural language’ and the Designer tool will offer you the integration flow you are most likely to need.

How is this new innovation provided? Cloud Pak for Integration comes with a set of pre-built templates for integration flows. These can be further extended with customer-built workflow templates. Now, when you use natural language to describe what you want to do, the product will match the request with a set of templates and suggest the most likely workflow option. There’s even an autosuggest function that will provide options as you type! This will not only help to accelerate flow creation but also make it possible for users with no integration experience to build integrations flows. Imagine the possibilities that open up with true citizen integrators.

Mapping Assist Enhancements

Additional new features that help accelerate the building of integration flows include enhancements to the mapping assist feature that helps suggest transformations. The transformation generator is a new capability to intelligently build the mapping expression suggestions based on sample data. And the previous integration flow mappings for each user now provide closed loop operational feedback to help improve new mapping suggestions.

Event Endpoint Management

Another new feature is an extension of an innovation first introduced in the previous release of Cloud Pak for Integration – Event Endpoint Management. This capability allows use of AsyncAPI as a method to make application programming interface (API) calls against Apache Kafka topic history, making it easier to get value from your Kafka event streams.

In this new release, you can now select this capability and deploy it as a distinct feature rather than selecting API Connect as the deployment component. Self-discovery is also now possible, making it easier for developers to use the portal to discover the right Kafka data and generate their own credentials to get started faster.

Additional new enhancements

In addition to these innovations, there are multiple enhancements and improvements delivered in this release of Cloud Pak for Integration. An enhancement to the API Test Generation feature helps simplify and automate analyses for new API tests based on API calls and their ongoing use.

Another improvement is when customers are utilizing multiple integration capabilities for a single integration use case. These can now be pulled together for deployment as a single instance without the need to create a custom image of the deployable integration solution. This makes building these solutions much simpler and helps you to deploy them faster.  

New and enhanced Smart Connectors

Each new release of Cloud Pak for Integration has included new or enhanced smart connectors, allowing for contextual connectivity into applications or technical services to exchange data more simply. This release is no exception.

The newest Cloud Pak for Integration release includes the following list of new connectors:

  • flexEngage
  • Azure Blob storage
  • Salesforce Commerce Cloud
  • MQ
  • OpenAPI 3
  • Gmail
  • Box
  • Trello

These connectors help users extract key business data more quickly from these endpoints and be put to quick use. It should also be noted that some of the additional new features available in this release are described in this blog.

IBM App Connect V12

Also available as part of this Cloud Pak for Integration release is IBM App Connect V12 software, which adds multiple new features.

These features include:

  • Restyled and updated integration tooling
  • No-code RESTful integration services
  • A new simplified API authoring tool
  • Flexible integration patterns
  • Broad deployment options.

These new integration capabilities, together with the new features of Cloud Pak for Integration, facilitate the ability for users to obtain these products for faster and simpler integrations than previously available anywhere.

Now why wouldn’t you ask for that?

You can also read another version of this blog here.

Something to think about during Think. An upcoming release of Cloud Pak for Integration.

May 11, 2021

This week is the week of IBM Think 2021. Unlike in past years this isn’t being held in Las Vegas or San Francisco, but is, as it was in 2020, a virtual event. This time it is condensed to be just 5 hours long, being held on May 11th for the Americas, and May 12th for AP and EMEA. As Think is a chance to share both current and future plans about our products with our customers, we took the chance to do an early announcement letter for our 2Q release of Cloud Pak for Integration (2021.2.1).

This early announcement letter ensures that as we have announced there will be a 2Q release, that we can talk about it more freely, given we try to only talk about products and capabilities that will be definitely delivered. And this announcement ensures we can talk about a known deliverable. Given we are still early in our quarterly delivery cycle, there isn’t much included in the announcement letter at this time, so expect another letter later in June and closer to our actual availability date. This future letter will confirm some of the content we weren’t able to include in this letter.

What specific new features and capabilities were announced on May 4th when we released the announcement letter? At this point there were 3 new features or enhancements called out, and one of them has already been delivered.

The feature already available can be described as Integrated API Authoring. Let’s consider a requirement to build a new API to expose access to a business application or data. You need to define and build the API, but it needs access to the application and data it is designed to provide access to. And then in order to publish the API for use, you would need to apply security policies to it. In late April the App Connect Designer component of Cloud Pak for Integration was updated with a new Operator. This brought together the ability to perform all these steps in a simple and linked approach meaning you not only can do all these steps quickly and simply, but you can actually be done and ready in literally minutes, all from within the same tool. We can even show this working if you watch the webinar found at this link.

What else was in the letter? We also stated there are updates in the Automated generation of API Tests. The previous release (CP4I 2021.1.1) included new features to automatically generate tests to run against the APIs being built based on analysis of the OpenAPI calls. This automatic generation of test coverage speeds up deployment and can improve quality of deployed APIs. There will be further enhancement in this area to boost the generation and relevance of the tests for APIs.

And finally in this letter we talked about Storage. An important enhancement in the CP4I 2020.4.1 release was the inclusion of a limited entitlement to IBM Storage Suite for Cloud Paks. This provided an amount of Software defined storage for customers with entitlements to Cloud Pak for Integration. This type of storage can be helpful for customers who are deploying in Kubernetes environments to help ensure that their storage is able to provide the right quality of service when used in support of containerised deployments. The entitlement provided access to 12TB of OpenShift Container Storage, as well as a total of 12TB of storage provided by Spectrum Scale, Spectrum Discover or Spectrum Virtualise. Which storage environment is best suited to which component can be found in the CP4I documentation. In Cloud Pak for Integration 2021.2.1, this offer is being enhanced with the addition of 4TB of IBM Spectrum Protect Plus. As data is increasingly seen as critical, it becomes important to ensure that data is not only secure and available, but can be protected and resilient in case of disaster recovery, cyber security issues, and also meets data retention and compliance regulation needs. Spectrum Protect Plus is designed to protect your data in hybrid cloud environments, where you might need it most.

As mentioned, we can expect a further announcement letter later in June with more content to be announced as being delivered in Cloud Pak for Integration 2021.2.1. For now, I recommend you catch some of the sessions at IBM Think 2021. Maybe check out a couple of other webinars here (Smart Mapping) and here (new MQ innovations). Maybe even try out Cloud Pak for Integration today.

Then you can explore other interesting aspects of IBM Think, like IBM Quantum

Change to do business better with IBM Cloud Pak for Integration

April 29, 2021

For more than a year now businesses round the world have had to adapt and change faster and more extensively than many would have believed possible. Some businesses were impacted hard even if they were able to change their IT processes and services to meet the new reality. Other businesses were able, through extensive changes, to find new ways to engage with customers, to deliver and provide goods and services and to make the most of the opportunities.

Now we are starting to see the world slowly looking to move to a new future, with the worst of the pandemic hopefully behind us in some geographies, and those areas where there are still terrible impacts, there is the promise of a better time ahead. But how to seize the opportunities provided by this ebbing away of the pandemic? Maybe by striving to effect change to exploit the new environment with as much focus as some businesses did to ensure they could respond to the challenges of the pandemic?

Historically, integration, while essential has been seen as an obstacle to success. The traditional, systematic and manual approach was blamed for slowing down new deployments. Even though the integration in place might deliver high quality outcomes, the integration department lacked the pace and innovation of other business teams. Recent innovations in IBM Cloud Pak for Integration have been changing that experience for businesses which have already seen success in deployment.

Every business is different and so sometimes reading about another company’s success isn’t helpful. Maybe your challenges are different? Maybe your industry faces different pressures? My experience is that no matter the industry, or the specifics of a business, there are many similarities of experience that mean most customers are more alike than they would expect.

The recurring needs in terms of integration can be broken down into 3 broad categories:

  1. Rapidly enabling the creation and deployment of new engaging applications in support of new opportunities and changes in business behaviour
    1. API driven integrations presenting timely and updated data to customers through seamless interactions with back-end applications and data sources
  2. Enhancing integration outcomes by reducing time to build, deploy and update integrations, and lowering costs by removing and reducing the barriers of skills and resources needed to create and manage integrations
    1. Tooling built for low-code or no-code integrations, with smart connectors to back-end applications, repositories for asset reuse and AI powered smart mapping
  3. Ensuring that integrations are secure, reliable, scalable and available
    1. End-to-end secure gateways and messaging to protect your data and business, with cloud native scaling and high availability to keep your data and transactions moving and completing.  

If these are common themes that seem familiar to you then you should see benefits from Cloud Pak for Integration. What benefits might you expect?

Maybe like Helsinki Regional Transport Authority you want to transition from traditional VM deployments to microservices architecture to provide scalability, disaster recovery, faster production deployment and faster testing?

Maybe like Sura Peru you are hoping for Application deployment up to 90% faster and 5x faster response times?

Perhaps like Tabadul you would like the time taken to develop new features reduced by 2/3?

The many capabilities of Cloud Pak for Integration can help address every aspect of integration and drive your business forward. With automation, and even AI helping to improve each step of the integration lifecycle, from design and deployment, to operation and updates, your business is primed for improvements as described in the case studies above. Maybe your experience will be the next to be written up?

If you want your business to make changes, and to move forward successfully as the world opens again; If you want to stop doing ‘business as usual’ and to start doing ‘business better’ then talk to your IBM rep or business partner today about Cloud Pak for Integration. Listen to one of our many webinars. It’s time to change your integration for the better.

Automatic for the People: Announcing Cloud Pak for Integration 2021.1.1

March 23, 2021

One of the best selling albums of 1992 was “Automatic for the People” by R.E.M. The title came from the motto of a local soul food restaurant Weaver D’s meaning it was “ready, quick and efficient”. Announcing on March 23 and available on March 26 2021, the latest release of Cloud Pak for Integration delivers not only new and enhance capabilities but builds on IBM’s Automation Foundation to offer new ways to solve business problems to achieve faster and better outcomes. In many ways the same sentiment as Weaver D’s but with fewer pieces of fried chicken.

Integration is critical in addressing every aspect of IT business infrastructure. Creating a solution to address a new business opportunity? You need integration to ensure it works with the other parts of the business. Looking to connect different parts of the business together to add new value? You need integration. Looking to improve your existing business functions to be faster, and more efficient? You need integration. The list continues.

What also continues are the improvements being made in each new release of IBM Cloud Pak for Integration. In the 2021.1.1 release, thanks to the Automation Foundation businesses can now choose to take advantage of Robotic Process Automation, allowing them to integrate with applications in new ways that would have been complex, expensive and time-consuming to do previously.

Also part of the Automation Foundation, Process Mining can be used to review how existing integrations are performing and suggest improvements to the flow and design of integrations.

There are also capabilities enhanced in this release that deliver exciting additional benefits to customers. One of these allows businesses to exploit the growing amount of valuable data that might be distributed by Kafka brokers. Many organizations see the benefit of using Kafka to distributed data reflecting business events and other data updates. This data is held in stream histories. In this new release of Cloud Pak for Integration, a new multi-form API management feature allows these Kafka data stores to be accessed through a new Asynchronous API. This extension to the API Management capability in Cloud Pak for Integration will allow businesses to make far more use of data moved using Kafka by making it much faster and easier to access it for valuable business needs.

The API management capabilities are also further enhanced through additional automated API test generation, based on analysis of OpenAPI usage. The creation of these additional test cases will enable better test coverage and help businesses make more productive use of new APIs.

For businesses that use MQ and are planning to deploy in containers on OpenShift there is the initial availability to try out a new approach for High Availability designed for container deployments of MQ. This new MQ Native HA feature, available at this time only for evaluation purposes and unsupported at this time, enables MQ to replicate persistent messages and log data to other passive MQ Queue Manager instances running in other containers using only MQ, and not relying on external storage replication or network storage locking.

There are further enhancements also that enable Cloud Pak for Integration to be deployed isolated in a separate Kubernetes namespace. Additional storage options, available in the included Storage Suite for Cloud Paks are now included in the list of supported options in the Knowledge Center. And even more Smart Connectors are now included for additional connectivity to 3rd party and IBM systems and applications.

Finally, there are new additions to the set of add-ons available to Cloud Pak for Integration. This list previously already included Cloud Pak for Integration Operation Dashboard add-on and the Confluent Platform add-on for Cloud Pak for Integration. In this release there is the option to purchase IBM Aspera Enterprise add-on delivering the High Speed Transfer Service running at 10Gbps, but also other tools and capabilities enhancing the Aspera function. And there is a new Cloud Pak for Integration API Calls add-on, which allows businesses to deploy out API Management capabilities but purchased based on the number of API Calls rather than the number of processor cores used in the deployment. This can provide an option for more cost-effective deployment.

While it might be a while before I can visit Weaver Ds in Athens Georgia to try some soul food, you can try Cloud Pak for Integration today. Visit either Red Hat Marketplace or get trial entitlement here.

There are regular IBM integration webinars here and you can read a slightly different version of this blog here.

Applying Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle to understand the need for Cloud Pak for Integration

March 5, 2021

Sometimes is only takes a small step to change the world. But that small step is likely the outcome of a longer journey. The Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle states (roughly) you can either know where something is, but not where it’s going. While it is designed to apply to wave equations, you can try to apply it to other aspects of life.

Let’s start with the car market. Today all around the world there is a change going on. Reading the statistics, the European market today shows Petrol/Gas cars with 52%, Diesel with 30%, Hybrid at 10% and Electric at 6%. We therefore know where something is from these numbers, but not where it is going. Indeed, you might say this is good news for the Petrol and Diesel car market.

However, if you look at a different set of statistics, you see a different story. You see where the market is going. New car sales were 80% electric cars. We are seeing a huge shift. Taking a snapshot from one set of information isn’t enough. Bear in mind the car market can’t completely change overnight. People might run their cars for 5-10 years between new updates.

Now let’s consider the market for IT infrastructure and specifically integration. What are customers using today? The vast majority of businesses today run most of their infrastructure in their own data center. They run on bare-metal, or VMs. And their applications are probably complex, tightly coupled with where and how they are installed and deployed. Many applications and integrations would be around 5-10 years old, and if the business was advanced enough at the time, the integration architecture would be built to use SOA principles and connect together using an ESB.

If we looked at the integration market today, we would certainly see this as an endorsement of SOA and ESBs as the dominant way to connect applications. But let’s switch views now. Let’s consider what happens when you want to make a change, just like when you make a change of car, you are thinking about what’s right for now, and for the future. What would you consider? You want to think about using this as an opportunity to take advantage of the latest in new technologies. For integration that is exploiting the capabilities of Kubernetes and the power of DevOps to make your business more agile than ever.

For applications using integration, by being forward looking in your choices you can exploit APIs to engage with customers while still seamlessly connecting with back-end systems and data. And you can update your systems of record securely and at scale, while ensuring that updates trigger new information flows rapidly throughout your business.

Just as today’s electric cars don’t make you learn new skills in driving, Cloud Pak for Integration from IBM builds on your existing integration and application skills. It can exploit what you have previously learned from SOA principles and deploying ESBs, but it represents a change to a completely modern integration creation, deployment, operation and maintenance approach.

If you are a business user of integration reading this, I don’t know exactly where you are today, but I have a good idea of where you are going. Because the best choice for integration is IBM’s Cloud Pak for Integration. Exploit the power of Red Hat OpenShift, along with multi-style integration enhanced by automation and smart connectors.

You might look at your old car and think it’s time to upgrade. You need to look at your integration deployment today and think if it might be time for Cloud Pak for Integration. Check out the demos today 

Applying Moneyball to Integration. Time your IT played to win with IBM Cloud Pak for Integration.

January 28, 2021

“Are you going to sell sugar water all your life, or come with me and change the world?” This was how Steve Jobs was supposed to have persuaded John Sculley to leave Pepsi and come and help Jobs run Apple. It’s quite the compelling pitch. Change the world. And the world was certainly changed by the technical advances that Apple took advantage of.

Are you going to sell sugar water all your life or come with me and change the world?

So, what if you were given a similar offer today? Change the world? Ignore the wisdom and practice of the last 20+ years and look to take advantage from doing things differently. Let’s look another example – Moneyball.

Since I first watched Moneyball on a plane, I have re-watched it a number of times, and each time I am inspired. Is it a story of baseball, or is it a story about statistical analysis? It is not about either of those things. It is about changing the way you do things. The movie tells the story of a team that couldn’t compete with the bigger richer teams but chose to find a different way to match them. It did this by figuring out a new way to identify value in baseball players in order to win games. They did this so well they not only competed more effectively than before (the Streak), but ultimately changed the game of baseball forever. There are dozens of clips from the film – and this is one of the ones that helps to explain it, showing the resistance of the player scouts

What does all this have to do with integration or the wider aspects of IT infrastructure? One of the most consistent issues I have encountered in my decades of working with clients is the inability to make rapid changes in deployed integration solutions. It doesn’t matter if I have been at a client with swanky city offices and huge teams supporting each product, or a somewhat shabby building on the outskirts of a small town with a couple of hard-working IT specialists running a highly effective and efficient integration deployment. No matter what the approach, the deployed integration solution is always so complex and interdependent that a request from Line of Business to make changes is a major task. As is the recurring need to migrate to new versions, because one change anywhere impacts every connected system. This leads to businesses looking at 18-24 month upgrade cycles. And making an integration change to respond to a Line of Business request would be 3 months, at least.

You would think throwing money or resources at the problem might help, but no matter the size of the team, the system complexity would always defeat the effort. This is similar to the Moneyball story. A small team couldn’t compete with the bigger spending teams in terms of trying to buy players, so they figured out a cheaper way to win games without depending on expensive players. Instead, in Moneyball they depended on a team of cheaper players who would be good at a key area, that could help get more wins.

 Cloud Pak for Integration enables your business to change your entire approach to creating, deploying and updating the critical integrations that enable every aspect of your business and IT infrastructure. Instead of requiring your business to throw increasing amounts of resources at teams with specialist skills in different technologies that deploy in unique environments and create interdependencies, you can change the game, and change your experience of how integration delivers value for your business.

By taking the leading integration offerings available, and enabling them to be configured, deployed, managed and updated through Kubernetes OpenShift Operators, a simple, repeatable deployment pipeline can be put in place. Your business could deploy new integrations in minutes. You could move to new versions of the integration offerings in days, and all with potentially zero downtime. Wouldn’t it be good to knock it out of the park sometimes?

Did the Oakland A’s win the World Series with the Moneyball approach? No. But they were able to compete better. And the Boston Red Sox used this approach to win the World Series 2 years later. With Cloud Pak for Integration, you don’t just get a cloud-native designed integration platform. It is also critical that the integration capabilities included in the Cloud Pak are excellent, and better head-to-head against other integration offerings. As such choosing Cloud Pak for Integration isn’t like choosing to be the scrappy underdog. You get to be the team winning the World Series.

So, are you still trying to buy players, or are you trying to buy wins? Isn’t it time your business realized that change is coming? Your integration deployment needs to be more responsive so your business can be more responsive. Is your existing planning and strategy focused on the wrong thing?

Every business today has a lot invested in their existing infrastructure. It is likely that there are many people in your organization with a lot of time and effort in the current approach. There may even be a plan to move to a container-based infrastructure, but it is possible the business doesn’t understand why, or truly consider the benefits they will get if they do this move in the right way with the right tools. If your business doesn’t adopt Cloud Pak for Integration and gain the agility and responsiveness possible, your competitors will be happy to take advantage.

What’s a good first step? There is a great redbook on Agile Integration here

Your IBM rep, or accredited business partner will be happy to discuss the potential of what Cloud Pak for Integration can do for your business with you including reviewing a possible ROI. We even have skilled Garage Services teams who can help you get your first Cloud Pak for Integration MVP up and running on Red Hat OpenShift.

You can access a trial of Cloud Pak for Integration here on Red Hat Marketplace, or here on IBM Cloud and there are some great demos here. Don’t get left behind.

“Are you going to deploy and manage complex integration infrastructures all your life, or come with me and change the world?”

To update or not to update? That is the question. A discussion on Extended Update Support for Cloud Pak for Integration 2020.4.1

December 21, 2020

Sometimes it is easier to see the tipping point when you are not at the tipping point. When you are some distance past the tipping point it might become obvious as progress tends to accelerate from there. But as you just go past the tipping point, it might not be obvious.

What tipping point might I be talking about? The expectation of installing a system in production and, other than installing fixes, leaving that version installed without changes for months, or more commonly, for years. That has been the natural way of things in enterprise computing for decades. Certainly, it has been for integration solutions. They were treated as critical business infrastructure which it was too risky to update without years of planning.

However, at the same time as treating integration as critical infrastructure, it was also would build ever more complex integration instances. Each instance would be highly specialized and unique, tailored for a specific application configuration. It would be these overloaded implementation and deployment details that would create a massive problem for maintenance. Years of experience would be spent to create, deploy and update these instances and the critical skills needed to do so would then be a bottleneck in trying to move faster to respond to new opportunities.  

Some businesses proliferated this approach by going around the integration teams who were seen to be the cause of this problem and by implementing their own different integration solutions, but these rapidly would fall prey to the same issues of production code becoming legacy as soon as it is deployed.

The growing move to container deployment in Kubernetes environments, leveraging a DevOps CI/CD pipeline offers the promise of change. When customers build their applications, and their integrations to be cloud-native, designed for container deployment, this cycle of slow updates and integration team bottlenecks could finally be broken. By redesigning integrations to be more generic, then updating a single instance can then be pushed through a pipeline to update every instance. And if the applications have been designed to not expected tailored and custom integrations but rather a common, standardized integration instance, it is much simpler to test any update and to be sure it will work for all.

We are still in the early stages of this journey, even though Cloud Pak for Integration has been available for nearly 2 years now. Although some customers have adopted and adapted to this new way of working and are able to keep updating along with the quarterly availability cycle of new releases, most other customers want the assurance of deploying a release and staying on that for longer than a couple of months.

That is why the Cloud Pak for Integration 2020.4.1 release was built around the OpenShift 4.6 Extended Update Support release, which enabled IBM to offer support and updates to that 2020.4.1 release until March 2022. This allows customers who are not yet ready to move to a rapid CI/CD pipeline model to deploy with the assurance of a longer support lifecycle.

We can be certain we are not yet at the tipping point in terms of customers ready to update their deployments on a quarter-by-quarter basis. And that’s why this Extended Update Support release is so important. By installing Cloud Pak for Integration 2020.4.1 into Red Hat OpenShift 4.6 EUS, and not changing the versions of the integration capabilities or OpenShift, except for applying fixes, then support will continue to be available, and fixes available until end of March 2022. This provides a critical window of opportunity for customers to get used to running in production on containers in OpenShift without the pressure of updating the system while they are still gaining early experience.

Who knows, by the time of the next Extended Update Support release, we might be much closer to a tipping point of customers who don’t expect to stay on the EUS release for the longer time and will instead be ready to move forward when the next release ships. But for now, this is the release to deploy and gain experience with to get the most out of Kubernetes and OpenShift, as well as Cloud Pak for Integration.

An alternative version of this blog can be found on the IBM Community Middleware site

Go forth with the announcement of Cloud Pak for Integration 2020.4.1

December 2, 2020

Good news as 2020 comes to a close with the announcement of Cloud Pak for Integration 2020.4.1 and you can read the announcement letter here. The release date is December 11th 2020. 

With one release of Cloud Pak for Integration every quarter, you are never far away from good news. And just in time for the end of year holidays, there are lots of glad tidings to be had when you read the latest updates about what has been improved.

The first item to cover is that this release is built on Red Hat OpenShift 4.6 EUS. We should explain what that means. Red Hat’s support lifecycle is primarily built around a continuous delivery model where releases are delivered rapidly, but the support on a particular release ends after there have been 2-3 follow on releases. Their lifecycle is explained here. The exception to this rapid cycle is the EUS (Extended Update Support) release which is supported for around 18 months. As Cloud Pak for Integration 2020.4.1 is built on the OpenShift 4.6 EUS release, IBM have announced that the 2020.4.1 release will be supported by IBM for a longer period, with fixes being made available until the end of March 2022.

Another major change in this 2020.4.1 release of Cloud Pak for Integration is the inclusion of entitlement to a limited version of IBM Storage Suite for IBM Cloud Paks. For offerings like Cloud Pak for Integration which are deployed on Kubernetes, there is a need for software defined storage to support storage which can be used for container deployments. Storage Suite for Cloud Paks includes a range of different storage options, and as part of the Cloud Pak for Integration entitlement some of these capabilities are included. There is entitlement, at no extra cost, to 12TB of allocated storage with Red Hat OpenShift Container Storage, and also 12 TB of allocated storage that can, in aggregate, be used in IBM Spectrum Scale, IBM Spectrum Discover and IBM Spectrum Virtualize for Public Cloud. These storage allocations can be used for 36 months, starting when the License is first accepted for the Cloud Pak for Integration 2020.4.1 release, and is limited to one period per customer ID. Should additional storage capacity be needed, or if the storage is needed beyond the 36-month time period, then customers should purchase additional entitlement to the Storage Suite for Cloud Paks offering, which also includes additional storage options.

There are other enhancements to Cloud Pak for Integration 2020.4.1. The DataPower Gateway Virtual Edition now also includes the Integration Module which was previously only available to standalone DataPower deployments. And there are further enhancements and additions to other features such as improvements to the Operators, more connectors including a Kafka Connect. Along with this Kafka connector, it is fast to create Event Driven flows in App Connect Designer and then deploy them.
As part of the continuing investment in Kafka that IBM is making, the choice for Kafka has been extended with a strategic relationship with Confluent having been announced.

Finally, for deployment on AWS, there is now Quick Start for Cloud Pak for Integration on AWS available to help deploy a highly available instance of Cloud Pak for Integration on AWS in minutes.

As we contemplate the end of 2020, which has been an unusual year, we can at least see the benefits of the ongoing enhancements to the Cloud Pak for Integration, with plenty more to come in 2021.

Another version of this blog is available on the IBM Middleware Community site here

Plenty of Zs but no need to sleep with Cloud Pak for Integration 2020.3.1

September 22, 2020

It is easy to imagine, should you assemble the right set of technical people, an argument breaking out about what’s the best technology for the enterprise? You would have a group of people confident that their preferred solution – containers, Kubernetes and CI/CD devops pipelines as the best solution.

Then you have another set of people confident that the best solution is the enterprise mainframe with the promise of rock-solid security, complete resilience, and fantastic scaling.

If you had a face-off between these 2 groups, who would win? This doesn’t need to be the Sharks vs the Jets, or the Montagues vs the Capulets. It’s an interesting question, but not a tragedy. Why do you need to make a choice? With the latest release of IBM Cloud Pak for Integration 2020.3.1, announced today, there is no need to make a choice. Read the announcement letter here.

One of the key new features available in this latest release is support for deployment on IBM z hardware – specifically those running Linux on z. As Red Hat OpenShift is also supported on Linux on z, it is now possible to run some of the components of Cloud Pak for Integration on this platform. Many customers choose to deploy applications and integrations on Linux on IBM z to take advantage of the many benefits, such as co-location with other z applications and data, along with the security, resilience, performance and management benefits.

In the previous release, 2020.2.1, Cloud Pak for Integration moved to an Operator model, enabling far more simple, consistent and powerful approach to configuration and deployment. In the latest release additional work has been done to improve the Operator experience.

Achieving good outcomes from using Cloud Pak for Integration is likely to be a key goal from any user. To assist in making the best use of Cloud Pak for Integration, there is now access to a repository of demo assets, not just to allow the demos to be run, but to allow any user to see how to build and recreate the demo in their own environment.

While Cloud Pak for Integration provides a rich set of capabilities for integration, customers might want to make differing choices in storage providers to use with their integration deployments. In addition to OpenShift Container Storage, in the latest release Cloud Pak for Integration now supports Portworx as a storage provider. Customers can now choose the storage provider that meets their needs.

If you are keen to learn more, you can of course visit our website, or learn about some of the benefits of Agile Integration from this redbook. But a great place to visit is Red Hat Marketplace here. Not only could you learn about and buy monthly licenses for Cloud Pak for Integration, but also here you can get access to a free trial. That’s right. Look no further to get entitlement, for a 45-day trial, to both Red Hat OpenShift and Cloud Pak for Integration. Start your integration journey today. No need to stand under the balcony and wait for Juliet to call out “where for art thou Romeo?” when you can be deploying Operators on OpenShift.

A slightly edited version of this blog can be found on the IBM Middleware Community site here

Is being consistent the same as being equal? Changing how your business works with IBM Cloud Pak for Integration

September 8, 2020

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds” is an interesting turn of phrase by Ralph Waldo Emerson. What does it mean, and how can we learn from it today?

Imagine trying to do calculations without an equals sign. What is on one side of the equation is the same as what is on the other side. But does being equal mean the same as both sides being consistent?

Things might seem the same but be different. Are they consistent? Are they equal? It depends how and why they are being used.

In the world of integration, solutions have been crafted, sometimes over years, to be works of art. Beautiful but complex. Valuable but fragile. However, this leads them to become slow and expensive. You can only afford to have a small, limited amount of these integration solutions. In today’s fast-moving world that’s not enough. Your business needs more. And now. It is no good working for months to connect 2 systems together as the business need will change and evolve over that time. The business needs to respond rapidly with a solution as possible as quickly as possible. Does it need to be a work of art? It needs to be consistent, producing reliable results, but it doesn’t need to be equal to a work of art.

Let’s look at Andy Warhol’s picture of a can of soup. His original canvas paintings are hugely valuable. But one of the reasons it is famous as art is that prints were made to replicate it. Are they the equal of the artwork? No. But they are consistent, both with each other and with the original. This is much the same decision that many businesses face around deploying integration as containers. A business might want some art on the walls, but it would seem hugely foolish to spend millions of dollars on the original when the print can do the job, and be replicated around the corner and in the next building, spreading new joy, happiness and meaning to each person that sees it.

With a modern agile deployment of integration in containers as enabled through Cloud Pak for Integration, a business can rapidly deploy containers, on Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform to run integration consistently anywhere needed, and to address any need. The integration available to your business will transform from being that unique and expensive work of art, accessible only to a few parts of the business, to be a widely available, consistently valuable asset, used and cherished by all parts of the business. Additional integration can be added or changed quickly and cheaply as needed. Need different integration? Deploy it. Need a new picture? Hang it.

A modern IT infrastructure can be re-thought to allow integration to be provided by a consistent set of highly available integration capabilities, quick to scale up and down. Easy and consistent to add value to meet new needs. Equality is making something available to all, not making everything the same. This change in integration will drive a change in mindset, allowing new problems to be overcome, and new opportunities to be addressed like never before.

Not a hobgoblin, but a new path through the wilderness, where none existed before.