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.

Feast on more than a potato with IBM Cloud Pak for Integration

August 27, 2020

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The humble potato might not look like much, but it is certainly a reliable food item for many around the world. There are even a number of instances of people eating nothing but potatoes as a diet. I have been reading a fascinating book (Rory Sutherland, Alchemy), which as part of an example looked at eating potatoes. Imagine being only able to eat 1 food item for the rest of your life. If you can only eat one thing, then it can do the job, although you would likely get pretty fed up. However, if you could choose, say, 6 or 10 items of food, then you would get a far more varied and balanced diet. You could have combinations of foods and eat an enjoyable feast every day. You might well still include the potato, or you might not. You would have a choice.

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Now let’s consider integration software. There can sometimes seem to be as many choices of integration software and solutions as there are food choices. Certainly as many as you might find in a restaurant menu (Cheesecake Factory, I am looking at you).

And in the same way that you might have different menu sections with Salad, or Pasta, or Pizzas or Burgers, there are many different styles of integration, depending on what and how you are trying to integrate.

Sometimes the choice can be confusing. But it is good to have a choice.  With some integration vendors, they have a single style of integration. They will insist that is always the best way to solve any integration problem, including whatever integration need you might be trying to solve at that time.

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The old joke goes, if all you have is a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail.

With integration, you need more than just a hammer. Sometimes you need to stream events at scale. Kafka would be great at that. Sometimes reliable delivery with once-and-once only is key, as well as needing a high volume of messages. That might be a good time to use the leading enterprise messaging offering like IBM MQ. Perhaps, to drive new business opportunities, you need to publish and manage API calls and protect your business as requests are made through the firewall. Then a solution such as IBM API Connect and IBM DataPower would be ideal. You need to connect different applications together, enriching and adding value to the data between these applications? IBM App Connect would be a great choice. Or perhaps you are looking to ensure that different sites or different clouds can work together more efficiently, with more data exchanges faster using an offering like IBM Aspera.

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Hence the attraction of IBM Cloud Pak for Integration. Different integration needs call for different approaches. Of course, you can hammer in a screw with a hammer. But it is better to use a screwdriver. So why limit your choice of integration by listening to that vendor who will tell you their single approach is all you need? You always want the right tool.

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The right tool for integration gives you everything. Except a potato. You will need to provide that yourself. In the meantime, check out Cloud Pak for Integration. Here is a previous blog about the most recent release.

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Power to the Pak. Understanding the flexible license of IBM Cloud Pak for Integration

July 14, 2020

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I like to think everyone has a supply of batteries somewhere in their home. They are essential items yet taken for granted. TV remotes, torches, clocks. All items we need to use daily without thinking of them. We just expect them to work. And when we buy a new item, we tend not to think too much about it. “Oh, it needs batteries” we think. And we grab some from the drawer (called the man-drawer in our kitchen as it is a mess of junk). We keep a supply of batteries as we never know when a new item might need batteries, or when an existing item needs more power.

A similar scenario exists with integration common in every business. Integration itself is one of those daily essential items in the IT environment. You need it, and just expect it to work. And when you want to add more of the same integration, or even add another item of integration, wouldn’t it be great if this was available in the same way, and with the same ease as pulling some spare batteries out of the drawer?

This benefit is available to those businesses who choose the Cloud Pak for Integration. With this Cloud Pak, you are not only getting an integrated platform, built to be cloud-native and deployable through Kubernetes Operators from the OpenShift Container Platform catalog, but you get access to the leading integration tools within the common, flexible licensing model. But what does this mean?

When using batteries in devices, the devices themselves were different, but the power packs they used were the same. You could use both devices separately as they both are designed to do different things. But also, you could use one device more than usual because you could use additional batteries. The power delivered is the same, and the way in which the power is made available is the same. The same can even be true of cordless garden tools.

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With Cloud Pak for Integration, all the components and functions are accessible from the Platform Navigator, and deployable using Operators from the OpenShift catalog. But all provide different capabilities and meet different use cases. With Cloud Pak for Integration entitlement, you get access to all the components. And using any of them, at any time requires license entitlement. But like the battery packs in a huge range of devices, the license entitlement is completely interchangeable.

License entitlement in Cloud Pak for Integration applies to the components using ratios. This would be like the number of batteries needed for a device. A small torch might need 2 AAA batteries. A more powerful torch might be 4 AAA batteries, or even 3 AA batteries. The Cloud Pak for Integration ratios different for each component, and also are different depending on whether the deployment is for production or non-production use. Whichever the component, and whether for production or non-production, all the license entitlement needed is the right number of VPCs of Cloud Pak for Integration. In the same way, whether you are going to use the torch for 10 minutes or the game controller for 25 minutes, the battery is the same. You just need to plug it in.

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Supposing you had entitlement to 30 VPCs of Cloud Pak for Integration. You were looking to deploy some API Connect, both production and non-production, to create and manage some APIs. The minimum size deployment for API Connect in Cloud Pak for Integration is 12 cores, and the ratio is 1:1 for production, and 2:1 for non-production. This means 12 cores of API Connect in production is 12 VPCs of Cloud Pak for Integration, and for non-production you would need 6 VPC of Cloud Pak for Integration. You still have 12 VPCs of CP4I, which allows you to deploy 4 cores of App Connect to allow you to connect and integrate diverse systems together, as this needs a 1:3 ratio, so 4 cores of App Connect need 12 VPCs of CP4I.

Now imagine it is a busy time for your infrastructure and you need to push more workload through your App Connect instances. You can remove the deployment of the non-production API Connect deployment (6 VPCs of CP4I) which would allow you to deploy 2 more cores of App Connect. Just in the same way that if I am looking for the cat in the garden at night, and I need extra light, I take the batteries from the TV remote, put them into another torch, and we have more light. Obviously you can’t then use the TV remote without the batteries, but it is easy to put them back when your additional use is finished.

It is important to note that the flexible licensing doesn’t magic something out of nothing. You have the same maximum deployed capacity based on the number of your CP4I VPCs. Just as with the devices, where I can’t use the same batteries in the game controller if I am also using it in a torch, you can’t use CP4I VPCs for more than one component at a time. Hence why it can be important to have spare batteries in a drawer, or to have extra CP4I entitlements to provide more flexible deployments to meet your business need.  You can read the IBM Cloud Pak for Integration Knowledge Center about licensing here.

What flexible licensing does allow you to do is to try out new components without risk. Because in Cloud Pak for Integration there are multiple different integration components all accessible under the same entitlement, it gives you more choice. In the same way that you rely on your home devices using a predictable set of batteries. You know you will easily be able to plug in and go. That’s power to the Pak.

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Icing on the cake – making Cloud Pak for Integration 2020.2.1 even better

June 26, 2020

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In the UK version of ‘Who wants to be a millionaire?’ there was a section where the host offered the contestant a cheque for the prize money they had won so far, and then pulled it away saying “We don’t want to give you that” to encourage the customer to play on for more prizes. This week we are doing the same with Cloud Pak for Integration 2020.2.1, which is the latest release with a GA date of June 26th 2020 by doing an additional announcement to highlight additional features made available in this release.

We have already seen a blog about Cloud Pak for Integration 2020.2.1. This was announced back in April, but with a GA date that was a couple of months away at the time.

Modern software offerings are often tremendously powerful. They typically have many features that never get used, not because the features aren’t useful, but because it would take too long to understand the feature, and users don’t have the time to spend to learn how to use them, when the improvements might be minimal or not directly needed to get value from the offering.

The challenge with an offering like Cloud Pak for Integration is therefore not to add new features, but to add smarter, better features. To focus on features that deliver something not just essential but offering such an improvement that it becomes a core part of using the product, with the benefits flowing clearly and easily.

A reminder that in this release, we see the availability of Kubernetes Operators which are designed to help provide cloud-native style of operation, and by taking advantage of these, customers can start to exploit the power of Kubernetes for automated deployment and operation activities to enable customers to make their CI/CD pipeline goals a reality. IBM Event Streams was able to take advantage of the Strimzi operator from the Cloud Native Computing Foundation.

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In addition to the Operators the new announcement, available to read here,  calls out some additional features now available in the 2020.2.1 release that will provide real benefits. An innovative new feature is the introduction of ‘Mapping Assist’ for App Connect Designer. App Connect is our leading integration tool to enable different applications, systems and data to connect and exchange value. However, to do this, the data must be mapped between the source and targets. This can be not just time consuming, but also complex.

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Years of experience and sample data have allowed IBM to add AI assistance to this task and can provide suggested mappings. This rapidly accelerates this complex task, helping achieve value both faster and with potentially better outcomes.

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Additionally, Cloud Pak for Integration can now take advantage of IBM Transformation Advisor which was previously only part of Cloud Pak for Applications. Many customers today may be getting entitlement to the Cloud Pak for Integration, but their applications are not designed for container deployment.

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Transformation Advisor can help provide an assessment of the level of complexity of migrating these applications and also some guidance for how to modernize these applications.

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By adding these new features and capabilities into the Cloud Pak for Integration, there is increased value and it will be easier to get value from not just buying Cloud Pak for Integration but in deploying and using it as well. Not just the icing on the cake, but the fruit on the icing well.

Note a version of this blog also appears on the IBM Community site here.