Posts Tagged ‘Continuous Delivery’

Let your troubles float away with the IBM MQ Appliance

November 15, 2016

balloons

Sometimes you instinctively know when something is right. It just seems to fit. To all fall into place. When you solve a mathematical equation. When you put on a jacket. When you pick up a hammer. You just know it is feels right.

Since IBM released the IBM MQ Appliance in 2015, we have had a lot of customers look at it, and for many of them it has seemed to be something just right for them – just what they were looking for, as it simplified their infrastructure and reduced the tasks of configuring, operating and maintaining their MQ installs.

However, there is plenty of opportunity for improvement, both in adding new features and in improving those already there. And some of the early customer feedback about the MQ Appliance has been critical in some of the enhancements that have already been delivered and also feedback has been critical to some of the features just delivered in the latest update to the IBM MQ Appliance M2001, providing MQ V9.0.1 on the MQ Appliance. Note that this latest software update is also available for customers still running the MQ Appliance M2000.

floating

One of the key new features is the provision of Floating IP support to aid in the High Availability failover configurations. The MQ Appliance provides High Availability by connecting appliances as a pair, and individual Queue Managers can failover from one appliance to another quickly and seamlessly, with the persistent messages and logs already replicated synchronously. However, in order to support this, the MQ client used by the application needed to be configured with not just the IP address of the primary appliance but of the second appliance in the pair as well. This wasn’t always convenient for customers to require all the MQ clients and applications to have a string of IP addresses to prepare for failover.

To address this, and make the experience of using the MQ Appliance even better for our customers, in the latest V9.0.1 level of code, High Availability configurations now allow for Floating IP – which means that as the first MQ Appliance fails over, the second appliance not only starts up a Queue Manager, but it starts up the IP address from the primary, enabling the MQ applications to connect to the second appliance even if they only have a single IP address configured. This should make using the MQ Appliance an even better experience for a much wider set of deployments, without requiring too much of a change to the applications.

As already mentioned above, the MQ Appliance now ships with the MQ 9.0.1 continuous delivery release. This means that the MQ Appliance now benefits from the MQ V9 functions such as the new MQ AMS confidentiality option. This also means that all the new and upcoming features in the MQ continuous delivery stream will be available to the MQ Appliance as those releases come out, with more access to the new REST API for admin and configuration as well as a refreshed MQ Console.

 

monitoringmanagementappliance

Also, as well as some usability improvement for management of the appliance and the MQ operational aspects, this update includes s number of key features exposed from some of the underlying firmware. Key among these are support for SNMP and enhanced security, such as role based authorization, and LDAP authentication for appliance admin accounts. These, again, should make the MQ Appliance fit even better into an organization and be applicable to more use cases.

With further updates to come as part of the Continuous Delivery stream for MQ and the MQ Appliance, there will be more improvements to come to continue to make the experience feel even better. So get ready to float away from your troubles with the latest update to the MQ Appliance.

UPDATE: An excellent blog on MQDev developerWorks site by Ian Harwood. Another blog specifically on the MQ Appliance update by Ant Beardsmore.

Power is nothing without control – IBM MQ V9.0.1

November 15, 2016

power-control-image

As mentioned on this blog before, much of the modern world runs on, and depends on IBM MQ. Whether sending credit card details from a retail store, tracking a shipping delivery, coordinating stock levels at a factory or processing an insurance claim, IBM MQ is at the heart of thousands of leading businesses, keeping their business running, always available and secure.

So, IBM MQ runs at the heart of your business, helping to keep your applications simple, yet connecting them with reliability and security, highly scalable and highly available, whether processing 1 transaction per day, or 10 billion messages per day. But however it runs in your businesses, it doesn’t run itself. Half of the value of IBM MQ is not just the assured once and once only delivery but that your business has the visibility that the message was delivery successfully or not. And to help your business understand that, IBM MQ can provide lots of information about MQ itself and its activity.

For years IBM MQ has offered a number of different ways in which to configure, manage and control itself. There has been MQ Explorer, MQSC, PCF.

With the release of MQ V9.0.1 – which is the first ‘Continuous Delivery’ release to build on top of MQ V9, IBM has brought new ways for the customer to control and manage their IBM MQ infrastructure.

The first new tool is the MQ Console – this is a browser based tool to configure and manage your MQ infrastructure. You may be aware we have had the MQ Console available on the MQ Appliance since its release in 2015, but this is the first time you can use the MQ Console with MQ software installs as well.

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The MQ Console adds some key benefits for customers. One is that you can use a browser and so you don’t need to install anything – unlike the MQ Explorer. Another is that you can customize the MQ Console to show you just what you are interested in – with widgets to show you activity on a queue, or what queues are defined. IBM will continue to update it, but it shouldn’t be seen as a replacement for the existing tools such as MQ Explorer, but rather an additional option.

The MQ Console is built on top of a REST API – and another feature in MQ V9.0.1 is to begin to expose an external REST API. While initially in this release there are only a couple of verbs published, the goal is to continue to add to these in future releases such as 9.0.2, 9.0.3 etc. Many customers will be looking to take the REST API and build new custom tooling to meet their specific needs. It is possible that various 3rd parties such as the numerous skilled IBM MQ business partners may use this new API to build their own offerings, or even custom offerings for individual customers.

Additionally, there have been some updates to the IBM MQ Managed File Transfer function, available in IBM MQ Advanced. As well as limiting the number of retries when there are failures in using the FTP Protocol Bridge, there is a packaging and install change for the MQ MFT Agent. Previously this was only available as a part of the overall IBM MQ install package – and it required a full install procedure. In the IBM MQ V9.0.1 release, the MQ MFT Agent is now available separately as a zip file. This means that it is now much easier to embed this capability as part of a customer created solution which can then be distributed without the need for the full MQ package or a dedicated install just for the MQ MFT Agent component.

As you can see all of these new features, in the first of these Continuous Delivery releases for IBM MQ V9 provide new value that is specifically aimed at making it easier to take advantage of the IBM MQ capabilities – and take back control of your systems.

Don’t forget you can get a free 90 trial of MQ and see for yourself. And you should also be able to download the MQ Advanced for Developers offering for free development and test.

UPDATE: An excellent blog on the MQDev developerWorks expanding on this topic

Maybe you can now see why it reminded me of the famous series of adverts from Pirelli from maybe a decade ago – Power is nothing without control. IBM MQ gives your business the power of reliable and secure movement of data. Now we are making it easier for you to take control.

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[Having used Ed Moses in a previous blog, it is nice to continue the theme of great athletes with Carl Lewis in this one]

Setting out markers for MQ’s road ahead

February 16, 2016

2016-road-ahead

Working as the Offering Manager for IBM MQ and the IBM Messaging Portfolio, there are lots of parts of my day-to-day work that I can’t share on here until we announce it. However there are times when we can provide a small look ahead at what’s coming. This is called in IBM a “Statement of Direction”. And today IBM MQ has released a Statement of Direction for both IBM MQ and for the IBM MQ Appliance.

You can read the Statement of Direction here.
As you will see in reading it we are talking about a couple of important points. I will deal with the MQ Appliance statement first. As covered elsewhere in this blog, there has been a lot of interest in the MQ Appliance since we announced it at IBM InterConnect 2015 – just about 1 year ago. One of its key features has been about the High Availability function – the simple way to connect up two appliances and to allow for seamless failover between them benefitting from synchronous replication.
At the end of 2015, as detailed here IBM extended this High Availability option with asynchronous replication to other MQ Appliances, which could be deployed further away, offering Disaster Recovery. However, deployments needed to choose either one style of replication or another, on a Queue Manager by Queue Manager basis. So a Queue Manager on a MQ Appliance could be defined for High Availability, or for Disaster Recovery, but not both.
This created an obvious question when we discussed this with customers, who in some cases would want to have local MQ Appliances offering High Availability, but in the case of a whole site failure, wanted to then offer Disaster Recovery off-site. As giving forward looking statements can be an issue without legal clearance, we have ensured that with this Statement of Direction we can clearly state and assure customers that IBM indeed does intend to support the ability of Queue Managers to be configured for both High Availability and Disaster Recovery in a future update.

DR-phase2

For MQ itself the Statement of Direction covers less function, and more the delivery and support approach used for MQ itself. For many years IBM has released updates to IBM MQ every 2-3 years as major new versions, and sometimes with additional interim updates as incremental releases. But over the last few years IBM has been adding function into the regular fixpack deliverables where we also include maintenance updates alongside the new function.
While this approach allows IBM to add useful new functions between releases, and thus getting it to customers earlier, it can lead some customers to choose to keep their MQ implementations on older releases until IBM stops adding new function to that particular release. The concern is that adding new function in a release that will be used in production can create the need to have a major new testing cycle, even if IBM has designed that the new function is off by default.
As IBM thinks customers would benefit from being at the latest level of code, and certainly IBM wants to encourage customers to stay up to date with the latest fixpacks, IBM has decided to offer two separate code delivery and support options.

One option will be the Long Term Support Stream. A new version of MQ will be released, and from that point on, there will be no new function shipped on that code-stream. The fixpacks that IBM will continue to ship on a regular basis will only contain fixes to existing functions and no new functions will be added. As such it should be simpler and safer for customers to move more rapidly to this level of code and to then stay on it as fixes are rolled out, improving stability and performance.
The second option will be the Continuous Delivery option. Based off the same original code drop as the Long Term Support option, subsequent updates will be delivered containing not just fixes but also incremental new function. Each mod-level update will be designed to continue to add new function. And, important to understand, customers who choose to deploy the Continuous Delivery stream will have to keep taking the additional functional increments and fixes if they want to stay on that stream by moving to the most recent mod-level. If they decide they want to be on the Long Term Support stream then will need to change the MQ installed which will likely cause a degree of disruption as they will effectively be moving to a different release. While this continuous delivery of function will ensure that customers of MQ will have new functions that enhance MQ and the operation of their environment, those customers will need to be able to continue to update their environment with each update as it is delivered. For many customers this might be appropriate as they have a need for the new function or they may want to apply it only to a particular environment and set of applications.

LTS

After a number of functional updates to the Continuous Delivery Stream of IBM MQ, over probably a period of 2 years or so, it is expected that the incremental set of new functions delivered in the Continuous Delivery Stream will be released as the new starting point for the next version of the Long Term Support stream, and will reset the version for the Continuous Delivery Stream as well. The cycle them will repeat again, with fixes applied to the Long Term Support Stream and new mod-level updates with new function (as well as fixes) delivered to the Continuous Delivery Stream.

This new approach for delivering MQ may be significantly important for some customers as they make future plans, and IBM therefore thought it was important to set this out in a Statement of Direction prior to a future announcement of a new release of IBM MQ supporting this model.

As for when any new releases to backup these Statements of Direction are coming out? Well, keep watching this space.