Finding your Yellow Umbrella

I don’t know about you but I am getting pretty excited about the upcoming final season of How I Met Your Mother (HIMYM). We have been laughing and crying through 8 seasons so far. Ok mainly laughing. And some of it has been legen—wait for it—dary. But now, as with all good programmes, it is coming to an end. Ted will finally meet the mother of his children. What do we know of her? Well one thing the writers have been using as a plot device is a Yellow Umbrella. A few seasons ago we were told the Mother had a Yellow Umbrella, and at one point Ted found it, and used it for a while, before losing it. So the Yellow Umbrella has been used to cue up this important relationship. It is used to flag something important in developing the plot and getting closer to the end. And finally, finally we are getting there.

So far, so what? I could continue about many other things that either reflect on the main plot, or the characters, but I want to try to relate the plot device of the Yellow Umbrella (and indeed the Mother), to your IT infrastructure. Maybe it’s a bit of a stretch. Let’s see. Because the thing is that in your business you will have (obviously) lots of data. Some of that data, hopefully most of it, will be important. Some of it is more important than others. Just like all the women Ted dated through the years. Some were fun. Some were nuts. One left him at the Altar. And of course there was Robin. And there were times where he nearly left New York to go to Chicago. But there was a right time and a right place for everything. Ted needed to be in New York. He needed to be in the right frame of mind. He needed the right woman. Just like it is important to get and process the right data at the right time and place. And that’s what WebSphere MQ is all about. The right information in the right place and time.

Business is becoming more and more connected. Each connection opens up the opportunity to share more data across the business, which in turn opens up the opportunity to take action in response to that data. Think of it as a tremendous speed dating opportunity. But if there is valuable data out there, how do you know you can get to it? How do you know it won’t get lost? What you need is a reliable way to move data around your business. And this is, of course, WebSphere MQ. To continue the analogy it is a way of getting all your potential dates in the room with you, and not getting lost along the way. After all with your business data, you are creating it and consuming it for a reason. Don’t just move it from application to application, or from system to system. The value is in the context AND the content of the data. Making use of it is the value to it. And to create value from consuming it, you need to get it to the right place at the right time.

After all – supposing you are building medical devices that monitor the heart beats of patients who suffer from heart disease. Timing is critical here – not just getting the data. Especially if you want to be able to take action to help save a life. WebSphere MQ is proud to be a part of the solution for a major medical device manufacturer in helping to provide time critical action.  Harking back to HIMYM, we learned some years ago that the Mother was in a lecture that Ted gave when he was a professor of Architecture at University of Columbia. The timing wasn’t right there.  

So timing is important. But it is not just about timing. It is also to be able to get the right data – there is of course a lot of data about. In HIMYM Ted dated the Mother’s roommate for a while, without ever meeting her. In your business, data is being generated all the time. Both within the corporate environment, and out in Clouds or Mobile solutions. How do you know that you aren’t losing some of that data? That it isn’t simply slipping by? Whether it is a simple query for information, that could turn into your biggest order, or a payment being processed by your bank to ensure you can make payroll. Data matters. So you need to be sure you are moving it reliably. When building a new payments system, SEB – a leading Nordic bank – made sure that WebSphere MQ was at the heart of their payments, ensuring the reliable and secure delivery of payments as they complied with SEPA to be able to exchange money across 32 European countries. 

And of course in the real world, things don’t always run smoothly. You don’t always get a scripted happy ending. And things outside of your control can make things take a turn for the worse. Things like the weather can disrupt anyone’s plans. Especially if you can be impacted by bad weather, such as in places like the Netherlands, protected by levees. These levees would need to be inspected, and more so in bad weather. IBM worked with the local flood control teams to put WebSphere MQ at the heart of new sensor based monitoring, allowing for levees to be inspected instantly, no matter the weather. And certainly without the need for a yellow umbrella. 

I could go on, but we have probably extracted enough analogies from this at the moment. Who knows what the final season of HIMYM will bring? But I know what WebSphere MQ has brought over the last 20 years to thousands of businesses. It has delivered the right information, to the right place, at the right time. Businesses could get on with their focus on their business, instead of having to build and maintain their own messaging middleware. They could simple rely on IBM and WebSphere MQ to do what needed to be done, meaning they could get on with their lives, and not get continual calls that interrupted their time outside work, giving them the chance to catch up on their TV viewing. Image

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