Posts Tagged ‘IBM InterConnect’

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.

How is the new IBM MQ Appliance different from a BBQ?

February 17, 2015

MQ Appliance Image

When I am eating at home I really love to BBQ. However, living in the UK, we don’t always have the perfect weather to enjoy BBQs, especially when you have a charcoal BBQ. It mustn’t be windy, and you really don’t want it too cold, or rainy. So conditions have to be right, and then there is the issue of whether you have enough charcoal, can you start it ok, do you have the right food to cook on it? And if you are cooking on it will you have enough fuel on to cook everything you need, or will you have to add charcoal in the middle of cooking?

So although I would generally prefer to cook and eat on the BBQ, it is far simpler on the whole to cook in the ovens in the kitchen. They are there and ready, rain or shine, up to temperature in a few minutes, and able to cook pretty much any type of food quickly and simply. And you know what – once you get to understand your oven, you can get it to produce food pretty much as good as the BBQ. In most cases a lot more reliable and certainly a lot quicker and cleaner. I have a pair of ovens – so I can ‘hot-swap’ between them!

Cropped oven

If you need enterprise messaging, then maybe you are in the same dilemma? You know you need enterprise messaging – but the amount of effort you find it takes to install it and deploy it on a system if too high to think about using it everywhere. So you limit use to just your enterprise datacentre. But then there is the problem of keeping it up to date once you have it on multiple different machines, all of them running your business. What you need is a solution where you can just switch on – much like an oven.

IBM is really happy to announce today a new offering – the IBM MQ Appliance. With this you get all the enterprise messaging benefits of IBM MQ V8 – but in a state of the art physical appliance. No more having to configure and maintain a separate physical server and then install IBM MQ. The MQ Appliance is designed to be unboxed and up and running in less than 30 minutes, making it faster and simpler for new MQ messaging capacity to be available wherever you need it.

We anticipate the MQ Appliance will be welcomed in the enterprise datacentre where a highly capable appliance will be able to process high MQ messaging workloads in a single physical footprint, and with not just a simple deployment process but far easier maintenance, with fixes for both MQ and the firmware delivered together as a single firmware flash, allowing you to keep your appliance up to date quickly and simply, knowing the fixpack has been tested by IBM on exactly the same hardware.

Another anticipated use case will be outside the enterprise datacentre, such as in remote locations where there is a need for MQ Queue Managers but no local MQ skills on site to setup or maintain the MQ environment. This could be a factory, branch office, warehouse, or a business partner. Now, if a MQ Appliance is shipped out to the location, it can simply be unboxed, plugged in, and have any further administration done remotely.

Appliances can be deployed in a High Availability pair, with persistent messages mirrored from one appliance to the other, to ensure continuity of workload in the case of failure, without any complex setup or external storage dependencies. A pair of appliances work even more seamlessly than my pair of ovens pictured above – with queue managers starting up and processing work automatically, with no marooned messages.

The appliance is built using the experience of the IBM DataPower appliances to ensure that you can depend on it for your enterprise, but it focuses on delivering just an optimized MQ experience. No tuning is needed to get the best performance out of the MQ Appliance. And a new browser based tool, the MQ Console, provides a customized interface for monitoring and configuring MQ on the appliance.

The MQ Appliance will be available on March 13, 2015, and will be available as the M2000A, and the M2000B – 2 price points to meet different message throughput needs in the market. You can read the announcement letter here. Visit the webpage. And feel free to talk to your IBM rep or selected business partners about it today. Why not come and see us and the IBM MQ Appliance in person at IBM InterConnect 2015, in fabulous Las Vegas. We even have a video posted on YouTube of me talking briefly about the MQ Appliance. We don’t do that everyday!

I will admit, that as good as it is, the MQ Appliance isn’t a great way to cook ribs, burgers or steak. For that, I’ll pick my BBQ.

cropped bbq