Posts Tagged ‘Bluemix’

MQ in the Cloud – Your messaging ‘silver lining’

May 16, 2016

MQ clouds puttenham

As the senior product manager for a product like IBM MQ, I don’t just spend my day writing blogs – but frequently get questions from both colleagues and our many customers. And recently, one of the most common questions I get is whether MQ runs in the cloud.

The answer is “Yes” – that was easy wasn’t it.

However maybe there is some more information to share, to help describe the journey to cloud and to exploit the benefits provided by IBM MQ at every step, whether you are looking for enterprise grade business critical messaging in your private cloud infrastructure, in a public cloud (hosted or not) or a hybrid cloud spanning the combination of these.

 

Mostly the cloud environment that IBM customers I have been talking to are thinking about is best described as “Hybrid”. Almost all of our customers are starting to explore some aspects of the benefits of cloud – and what it means to them. But deployment, especially of business critical applications, is likely to happen in stages. Today many customers run virtually all application workload on-premise, but typically this will be in virtual machine environments. There is a shift to deploy selected workload in the cloud. Perhaps this might start with engagement or marketing applications, but these applications and the associated workload doesn’t run in isolation on the cloud but in conjunction with the rest of the enterprise running on-premise, or connecting to partners in the wider business ecosystem. Then as businesses shift some of their critical back office applications to cloud deployment options, the hybrid nature of infrastructure will increase.

Fundamental to the success of this change is the availability of reliable and secure connectivity to allow the safe and scalable exchange of information between applications independent of whether they are running together in the cloud, on-premise or any other combination.

How does IBM MQ work in this type of deployment? Well, as has been proven for more than 20 years, IBM MQ provides a way to exchange data in the form of messages between applications, systems and services and to do so reliably, securely, rapidly and simply. Messages are moved through MQ Queue Managers that can be deployed locally to the application – wherever that application may be, or remote from the application but accessed by MQ Clients bound to the application.

In pretty much any type of hybrid environment, MQ continues to be a critically useful middleware tool. Either the application running in the cloud environment can make use of the MQ Client to connect to a MQ Queue Manager running elsewhere (such as on-premise) or the MQ Queue Manager can itself be deployed in the cloud environment along with the application. And you might use your own tools to deploy MQ, or you could use tools such as Chef to deploy MQ. Other options for deployment include a MQ plug-in for IBM UrbanCode Deploy.

MQ offers support for running on IBM SoftLayer, Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, and OpenStack cloud. It leverages a Bring Your Own Software License to make it simple for customers to choose where to deploy the IBM MQ license entitlements they may already have. For deployments of IBM MQ on SoftLayer you might choose to use the MQ Advanced pattern designed for IBM PureSystems which can run on the SoftLayer environment.

In addition to this deployment style, IBM recently confirmed MQ is supported to run in Docker environments which further extends where MQ might be deployed to meet customer needs, such as hosted PaaS environments like IBM Bluemix.

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So basically for every cloud environment, or virtualised environment, or container, your business can continue to take advantage of the benefits of IBM MQ – whether by running MQ Queue Managers in the cloud environment, or continuing to run them on-premise (perhaps as the physical MQ Appliance), or in any hybrid combination.

So what are you waiting for? For MQ on cloud – the answer is yes.

*UPDATED to add link to the AWS example – see above*

IBM MQ V9 – A fast, secure, reliable and more agile MQ

April 19, 2016

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Some of you reading this blog may recall the great athlete Ed Moses – who had a record 122 race winning streak in just about the hardest event – the 400M Hurdles. You need to be strong, fast, and agile just to compete, and to keep winning you need to be reliable. Well, this is how we view IBM MQ, especially with the latest release – IBM MQ V9. You may have seen a recent blogpost on here that had a Statement of Direction talking about a new way of delivering IBM MQ – one that provided a Long Term Support release, and a Continuous Delivery release. The aim of this model is to give customers more choice to select either highly stable releases with just fixes, or releases that benefitted from additional function in the fixpacks.

TRY IT: Click here to get a free trial of MQ

UPDATE: There is a FAQ on the new support model. Read it here.

On April 19th, IBM announced MQ V9 which is the first release that moves to this new more agile delivery model. As such at the initial release it delivers a small set of additional capabilities that will be available to all customers. Then subsequent mod-level updates will deliver even more updates to customers choosing the continuous delivery stream, but all customers moving to V9 will get the benefit of the new capabilities being delivered in this release.

As with previous releases of IBM MQ, customers have a lot of choice in where and how they may want to deploy this version. IBM supports deployment of MQ – and MQ Advanced pretty much on every commercial IT environment where business critical applications may be exchanging data reliably, securely, and at scale. This could be on-premise, deployed in cloud environments like IBM Softlayer, Microsoft Azure or Amazon AWS. IBM also supports virtualization with many customers deploying in VM images, and also in Docker containers, which can be deployed anywhere, including in IBM’s Bluemix platform. This flexibility enables customers to make use of enterprise messaging to support deployments on-premise, on cloud or in hybrid environments.

So what are the key new features of MQ V9 being delivered in this release? Well there are a number of them that are called out in the announcement letters – so you can read the MQ V9 distributed announcement letter here. And the MQ V9 z/OS MLC announcement letter here. And you can read the MQ V9 One Time Charge announcement letter here. But below I will call out a few of the features that I think will be most important to customers.

One of the features likely to be most interesting is a change to the MQ Client Channel Definition Table (CCDT), which is needed by the MQ Client application to provide the channel definitions needed to connect to the MQ Queue Manager. This file is created automatically and prior to MQ V9 needed to be distributed to the client application prior to use. The big change from this new release is that the CCDT can be a web addressable file instead of needing to be distributed out to every client, and to then need to do that with every change. By having a web addressable CCDT accessed by URI, then there are much lower administration needs, and also the MQ infrastructure can be much more dynamic as changes can be made centrally and take effect quickly and without application disruption.

 

The second big change to the new release of MQ is in MQ Advanced Message Security (MQ AMS). This feature, which is a priced extension to MQ (available either separately or as a part of MQ Advanced) provides policy based encryption at rest of the MQ message contents. By using this capability, businesses can be assured that their message contents can only be unencrypted and read by the targeted application destination, and there is no risk of exposure should any security breach take place which provides access to the system or storage where the MQ Queue Manager holds its queues. This privacy and integrity has been assured by the generation of asymmetric keys for every exchange between client and queue manager, which provides an extremely high level of security, but can introduce a high overhead in terms of the processor cost of the asymmetric key generation.

MQ AMS performance

With MQ V9, a new mode of operation is added to MQ AMS, called ‘Confidentiality’. In this mode there is an initial asymmetric key exchange then subsequent exchanges can reuse (to an extent that can be configured) a symmetric key. This still provides a high level of security and protection for the message content, but with a dramatically lower level of overhead in terms of encryption workload cost. IBM expects that due to the increasing importance of security and protecting systems and data from breaches, that this new feature of MQ AMS will help more customers protect their message contents and therefore their business and customer data. IBM expects to produce performance data for the new AMS configuration around the time that MQ V9 is generally available. But the early testing shows considerable improvement.

 

A further change for MQ AMS is the support of non-IBM JREs for use with MQ AMS. Previously applications written in Java that relied on a non-IBM JRE wouldn’t work with MQ AMS. In MQ V9 this has now changed so that suitable non-IBM JREs can be used, as well as IBM JREs, extending the ability of more customers to use MQ AMS.

 

There are a number of other new functions and capabilities available in MQ V9, such as updates to MQ Managed File Transfer capabilities – which are described in the announcement letter, and with the movement to a Continuous Delivery model customers should expect to see more capabilities being delivered in mod levels on top of MQ V9 in the future.

 

With the recent announcement of the End of Support for MQ V7.1 – announced here – along with the related end of support of the older separate versions of MQ FTE and MQ AMS, this latest release of MQ V9, along with the recent announcement of the update to the MQ Appliance provides customers with a strong set of choices of how to take advantage of the latest new releases as they plan to move off the older releases of MQ they may be using, keeping their deployment of MQ up to date and supported.

When you are taking advantage of the benefits of IBM MQ, you may not need to have to work as hard as Ed Moses did to be #1.

UPDATE: Mark Taylor has provided one of his highly useful videos detailing more of the new function in MQ V9. Watch it here.

 

IBM MQ Light – What’s in a name?

October 3, 2014

“A picture paints a thousand words”. A well-known phrase. Undoubtedly true, but a single word can be critical. Change a single word and the meaning of a sentence, a paragraph, maybe a whole book or more could be altered. So what about IBM MQ Light? Is it MQ, but Light? And what does Light mean in this case?
We see the description ‘Light’ every day. Some product advertises itself as “Light – all the flavour, half the fat”. You know the sort of thing. So does it apply to IBM MQ Light? How does this new product compare to IBM MQ itself?
Well, I would say that maybe the best way to think of it, is not IBM MQ but “Light”, but rather IBM MQ for those “Lightbulb” moments, such as when Archimedes shouted “EUREKA!”.

eureka
IBM MQ after all already delivers the benefits of messaging to millions of applications running in tens of thousands of businesses around the world. I have described some of those benefits on these pages already. It does this primarily for enterprise critical applications, written in C, Java or even COBOL, dealing with Systems of Record. These applications handle business critical transactions, moving key customer and enterprise data between applications systems and services. And it makes a lot of sense to ensure these applications, and the associated data can benefit from IBM MQ’s reliability, robustness, security and scalability. After all if you are moving and updating business transactions, you want to scale, be secure, and be highly available.
However, there are many millions more applications that don’t face the same requirements, but yet are still critically important to the business. Maybe the app helps the business interact with customers with more immediacy. Maybe it shares information more widely with partners. Maybe it is building brand awareness or promoting the business across different platforms and devices. These type of apps are written by a different type of developer, using different languages, for very different purposes to the more traditional application that works with the systems of record. These are unlikely to be updating business critical information systems or processing transactions, although they will need to interact with existing systems. So maybe they don’t need everything that IBM MQ has to offer. But does that mean they don’t need anything that IBM MQ has to offer?
Messaging as provided by IBM MQ, does after all benefit program architecture and operation. Applications can be simpler. Applications producing and consuming data at different rates can be easily buffered. And aspects of security can be built in. Along of course with the ability to connect and exchange data across different systems, even if one application is down.
If messaging can bring all these benefits, why would the programmers of all applications not use it, when there is a widespread and well proven technology like IBM MQ? We have already called out many of the reasons. The developers are a different set of people, with different skills, and code in languages that IBM MQ doesn’t natively support. And IBM MQ is designed around the needs of those critical business transactions. That doesn’t mean that it can’t handle simpler needs, but if you are not familiar with using IBM MQ, there can seem to be a lot more options in the API to deal with than maybe are needed for a different, more straightforward use case. So why not produce a messaging product, which takes everything from IBM MQ that would be useful to this new set of developers, but presents it to them with a simpler API, more in line with the restricted needs of the type of applications they are producing. This is what IBM has done with IBM MQ Light.
IBM MQ Light is a new and different messaging product from IBM. It aims to bring the benefits of messaging to a new set of developers building the latest applications for a rapidly changing world.
The goals of MQ Light are as follows:
• Provide messaging that application developers will love to use
• Help applications be responsive and scale to meet demand
• Make it easy to get access to the code and to start to use it – simply download, unzip, use
• Run on premise or on Bluemix in the cloud
• Offer simple, open APIs in a mix of popular scripting languages
• A new breed of tooling to ensure developers know what is happening to their messages
You can see by these goals, this is something new. And also MQ Light is not trying to be an alternative to IBM MQ. It is very different. It focuses on the needs of the new developers. And in keeping simple, it means that it doesn’t provide some of the key characteristics of IBM MQ. There is no clustering, no high availability, and no transaction support. If your application is likely to need those functions, then the right choice should be IBM MQ. If however your application doesn’t need any of those, but it still could benefit from messaging, allowing it to buffer and scale workload, respond to events, schedule actions or queue responses, then MQ Light may be a good match for them and their developers.
For development use, MQ Light is of course free to download, and is available on Windows and Linux for x86 or Mac OS X. Once applications are developed and ready to be put in production, they can be run on premise in the MQ Light runtime (payable per Install), or deployed using MQ Light in Bluemix (payable per Message). And in the future, as mentioned in the IBM MQ V8 announcement letter, there will be the ability to run MQ Light applications in IBM MQ itself.
All in all, enough to make a lightbulb go off in anyone’s head. If it is going on in yours – check out the MQ Light webcast to learn more. Or even better download it today and be using it in a few minutes.

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