WebSphere MQ, #uksnow and heating instead of plumbing

First, apologies it has been so long since I managed to find time for a blog entry. But now that I am here, what is it that I have to say. The origins of this blog topic go back to earlier in the year. We had a new wood-burning stove installed in our house – both for aesthetic reasons and to try to reduce our gas bills by heating the house using wood. Burning wood to heat your house is carbon neutral of course, and we could collect plenty of logs from the wood next to us.

So throughout the summer I have been slicing up dead trees and splitting logs, building wood sheds to build up our stock of wood, in the knowledge it would be cheaper than using our gas-fired boiler to pump water through all our radiators. Did I enjoy this? You bet I did – really makes you feel like you have achieved something, learned a skill – all that sort of thing.

And then we get to winter – and from September onwards we have been lighting the stove, and it has been great. Lots of heat – the house nice and warm. The fire looking good, and all my good work coming to fruition, with the added bonus of no heating bills with the heating off.

But then we get to proper winter as in the UK we get a cold spell with snow (currently filling up the twitterverse with the hashtag #uksnow). We found we needed the fire all day – and even though it is pumping out a lot of heat, and it sits in the center of the house, it can’t quite get all the extremities of the house warm – there are a lot of outside walls getting the heat sucked out of them, no matter how many logs we put in the stove.

So I started to think that maybe we would need to have the boiler on at least some of the time, and that maybe there was a reason that central heating with radiators has replaced fires (even efficient stoves). After all there may be a cost associated with central heating, but it is much less work, and it does ensure that the heat goes right where you want it, not spreading from one point.

Sure from an enjoyment point of view, it is less satisfying, but there is something to be said for progress, or at least a balance of solutions. And then it occurred to me that there was some similarity with the battles our customers have in deploying messaging middleware to connect and integrate applications. The programmers of course want to do it themselves, enjoy the task and it builds their skills. There is even some satisfaction at looking at what they achieve. But of course it can fail to scale up to meet the needs of the business. There might be a cost of buying WebSphere MQ, or an ESB like WebSphere Message Broker or WebSphere ESB, but the end result can be much less effort, and be more effective – at least in a number of deployment scenarios. And it doesn’t mean the programmers have to stop what they are doing – it just means that they don’t need to do all the heavy lifting – allowing them to get on with more tasks.

From a cost point of view, developers might say that it is a waste to buy a solution like WMQ, but in our heating analogy we are not talking about doing everything with the boiler, just taking advantage of its ability to heat the parts of the house the stove would find it more difficult to heat – much like WMQ can do things that roll-your-own solutions can find it difficult or complex to do. Does this seem to ring true?

In the meantime I need to put another log on the fire!

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