Posts Tagged ‘MQ Advanced’

Not just the great State of Texas but the Integrate State of Texas. Learn more about IBM Cloud Integration Platform and IBM MQ at the 2019 Integration TechCon

March 15, 2019

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I have written about MQ and containers before here and here and let’s face it, I will be writing about them again in the future. Just about every customer is trying to build a modernization strategy which today means a container strategy.

Containers are a great fit for stateless objects. Things like micro-services, but also other applications. And as well as those objects, the other integration capabilities like API Connect are stateless, and thus easily get provisioned and cleaned up through a container/dev-ops approach. And Kubernetes is widely used as a deployment and orchestration environment for containers. However you might have questions about how a stateful product like IBM MQ, which holds critical persistent data fits in a container deployment strategy.

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To help with this, IBM is investing to provide modern container-based offerings, such as IBM Cloud Integration Platform, which like a number of our other offerings and platforms are based on IBM Cloud Private.

Offerings like the Cloud Integration platform are designed to not just offer containerized versions of the individual products but provide additional integrated services which enable common shared single sign-on, logging and monitoring for the integration capabilities, with more to come.

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One of the capabilities within the Cloud Integration Platform is MQ Advanced. This is delivered as an IBM Cloud Pak, providing the production ready containerized image, along with a Helm chart and full IBM support for the product and the environment.

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However, let’s review why you might be moving to container deployments of various offerings, as it could be for many reasons:

  • Faster deployment
  • Simpler provisioning
  • Faster, easier maintenance
  • Deployment in any environment
  • Lightweight images
  • Rapid version migration
  • Reduced operational costs
  • etc. etc.

 

Layered above these reasons will be some of the benefits provided by the individual integration offerings that might be deployed in containers. And then there are the further benefits that could be available if taking advantage of integrated offerings.

 

That sounds like a lot of consider. Wouldn’t it be great if there was some easy way to get insights not just into the individual products but the IBM Cloud Integration Platform? And it would be best if there was lots of technical information and not just high level content. So welcome to the 2019 IBM Integration TechCon, held in Grapevine Texas April 30th to May 2nd this year. Hear from technical experts in all the IBM integration products including multiple deep topics on MQ, MQ Appliance, MQ on Cloud and MQ Advanced, and also sessions on IBM Cloud Integration Platform.

Register today

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Banish those winter blues with IBM MQ V9.1.2

February 8, 2019

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In the depths of winter in the UK we are told that Monday 21st January is referred to as Blue Monday, when the fun of New Year has died away and it is clearly a long time to go until the arrival of the lighter warmer days of spring. But now, just a couple of weeks after Blue Monday, Big Blue IBM is trying to relieve the gloom with the announcement of the latest CD release: IBM MQ V9.1.2. You can read the announcement letter here.

 

As the 2nd Continuous Delivery release of MQ V9.1, this builds on the previous release with a number of enhancements and new capabilities.

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Probably the one that will be of most interest to people is a new capability which is the first step in what will be an ongoing series of updates to MQ. We are calling this a Uniform Cluster, and this specific enhancement is designed to make it easier to balance workload across queue managers which could be both growing and shrinking. This workload balancing will be without the need for the applications to co-ordinate changes in the MQ Queue Manager destinations. Instead MQ will itself balance the workload across the set of Queue Managers defined to be a part of this ‘Uniform Cluster’. Initially this is only for applications written in C. This area of MQ is likely to continue to be an area of focus, as further enhancements could easily be considered with a view to MQ being far easier to scale up and scale down, much as a cloud native service would be expected to do.

 

Another key enhancement is around the use of REST messaging. When this feature was initially introduced, it sparked lots of interest, as there are many use cases where it would be helpful to call MQ without having MQ Client libraries. In this release, connection pools are supported allowing for the caching of connections for reuse, which should improve throughput and reduce resource use.

 

Other updates in the base MQ capabilities include .NET core support for Linux to add to the Windows support added in MQ V9.1.1. Also improvements to scalability and availability when working with WebSphere Liberty for XA transactions.

 

Increasingly important to many MQ customers is MQ Advanced. The MQ MFT feature of MQ Advanced, which is widely used to onboard file data into MQ and then send and consume that data as MQ messages gets further REST API functions to enhance administration. This continues what we have seen in the last few releases for MQ MFT.

 

Other interesting improvements include updates to the Salesforce and Blockchain bridges, and the MQ Appliance sees errors logs integrated with system log external targets.

 

There are a number of other really interesting updates to the MQ family which have also come out at this time.

 

Probably everyone is seeing a lot of the same interest in container deployments. And IBM MQ has been supporting container deployments for many years, and recently have put out an IBM Cloud Pak to better support deployment on IBM Cloud Private. However we have now also released a container image of MQ Advanced for Developers for Pivotal Cloud Foundry. This will be available shortly.

 

The MQ Cloud offering, which provides a hosted MQ environment maintained by IBM has been seeing lots of growth and enhancement, with new data centers being added for both IBM Cloud and AWS, as well as adding functional support for the MQ AMS end to end encryption and the MQ MFT features. The latest update adds a Lite plan, allowing ongoing free use of a hosted MQ environment, without the need for a credit card, limited to 1000 messages per month. Check it out here and now!

 

And finally, something else for the developers. While MQ continues to be a robust production platform on Linux, Windows and other environments, there hasn’t been any IBM provided releases for Mac. If you wanted to develop MQ applications on Mac you would need a VM with a supported OS. However we have now released the MQ client for Mac – you can download today from here and start developing much more simply today.

 

And if all that doesn’t blow away the winter blues, what will? Maybe a trip to San Francisco for the Think 2019 Conference? I have a number of presentations there so come by and say hello. Otherwise there will be a number of other events through the year. Let’s hope for some sunny and warm weather!

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Is your business getting indigestion? IBM MQ can ease that pain by ingesting your file data into MQ including MQ on Cloud.

January 14, 2019

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Christmas and New Year is over for another year. At this time of year, it can be easy to eat and drink too much. Consuming too much can lead to indigestion and the results can be unpleasant.

 

But have you considered it might be similar when you move data through your enterprise? Data can be large. Data can be small. But once it exists, it has a purpose. And that means it has a use, and value. In that case it should delivered, in a timely way, with security and reliability, to where it can add value to the business.

 

However, moving the data can be a problem. Data can be moved by the application as it is created. And certainly, IBM MQ has a long history of being an ideal solution for this, as it is designed to connect applications, exchanging data reliably and asynchronously.

MQ messages have a maximum size of 100MB. Which is actually very large for individual application generated messages, especially if you are sending the data out as it is created, so while some use cases do use very large message sizes, mostly it is much smaller. And not only is MQ optimized for this traffic, enabling it to send millions, or even billions of messages per day through your network, your own infrastructure is likely built to meet this need.

 

But consider when data is created, or pulled in from elsewhere, and may be at rest in the filing system. It needs to move through the business to where it will add value. But this data in the filing system might be thousands, or millions of individual records, imported or built up over time. Trying to send gigabytes, or even terabytes of data in one lump is going to give your network the equivalent of indigestion. It’s going to be blocked up until it can pass through. Traditional file transfer approaches suffer from this issue.

 

Let’s think of how this might happen. You are a retailer. Some of your stores process their transactions as they happen, flying through the network as each one is small. Others instead batch them up and send them as a file. The file can be very large, and if coming from a remote location could take minutes or even hours to come through the network, because of the way that networks can slow down data transfer rates because of errors. This impacts the ability of the business to act on this data.

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An important feature of MQ Advanced (and MQ Appliance), and now MQ on Cloud is the ability to ‘ingest’ the data from files on the file system into MQ. This data is then moved as MQ messages through your network. As even the largest files are automatically broken into chunks suitable for sending as MQ messages, with all the reliability, security and assured delivery that MQ provides, your business gets the benefit of the data delivery, without suffering ill effects from the movement.

 

Moving all data, from applications and the file system, all through a single reliable high-performance pipe like IBM MQ gives your business the assurance that all data is handled with the right care and attention. And your business suffers no ill effects even when handling the biggest inputs. Allowing more of the data traffic to move rapidly and reliably through your network, without everything slowing down.

Your data is no longer getting stuck in a file, or in a remote system. It won’t even get lost moving between systems. It is moving freely between systems as it moves as MQ messages. No single message is too large for the network. And the business gets to benefit from your data now being handled and processed directly as MQ messages. It is no longer file data, so no longer stuck in the slow lane. Data ingestion is better than indigestion. Accelerate your data use by ingesting your file data with MQ on Cloud, MQ Advanced or MQ Appliance.

Don’t forget you can download and try all the features of MQ Advanced for free from this download page and you can also try MQ on Cloud in just a few clicks here.

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All aboard the 9.1.x CD train. First stop is IBM MQ V9.1.1.

November 27, 2018

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I am sure everyone knows the phrase about buses. If you miss one, don’t worry. There’ll be another one along in a minute. And while it could be said that applies to Continuous Delivery releases, I think it is more like getting on board a train. The destination is the next Long Term Support release, and you think you know what stops will be coming up. But maybe you don’t know exactly what you will find at each destination. You know there will be something new to discover at each stop. You could almost think of the train growing at each stop with the content of each new continuous delivery release, ready to be delivered finally to the Long Term Support destination.

 

Which brings us to the latest MQ CD release, MQ V9.1.1, announcing today, which is the first CD release in the 9.1.x set of releases. The experience we have of our 9.0.x CD releases is that we have seen a lot of interest from customers. Some have been able to move quickly to take up the CD stream into their environments and run them in production, at least for some of their queue managers. Others have been able to experiment with the new features in their test environments to see whether it is worth their while adopting the content early. And there seems to be a larger set of users who, while they haven’t been adopting the CD content into the production systems, the earlier availability and visibility of the new content has helped them move much more rapidly to adoption and use of the MQ V9.1 LTS release than we might have previously expected. I have personally talked with a lot of existing MQ customers who have either already started using MQ V9.1 LTS or are planning to move to use it very shortly.

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The MQ V9.1.1 release isn’t a destination in itself. It is the first part of our continuing journey. The MQ team works to accommodate a mix of strategic development priorities into releases to move the MQ offering forward, as well as other customer driven priorities, and reacting to and supporting other offerings and platforms as they change and adapt. Let’s find out how this mix has shaped the release. As well as suggesting you read the announcement content in the announcement letter, I will call out a few of the interesting new features.

 

One important new set of capabilities, driven by customer requests, is around the choice and negotiation of the use of TLS ciphers. Security of the MQ environment is hugely important in the current environment and is likely to remain a key area of focus. The importance of security and data protection is one reason customers are moving to MQ Advanced or MQ Appliance as a way to get the end to end encryption in MQ AMS. But this release focusing on enhancement to the security used in the TLS ciphers – used for encryption on the wire, not encryption at rest. As time passes, some ciphers become less secure and customers need to take prompt action in their environments to ensure the ciphers they use are updated to meet their own business requirements as well as the needs of the different systems.

In MQ v9.1.1 the choice of ciphers can be negotiated dynamically from a set or ‘whitelist’ available on each MQ channel. This reduces the potential for downtime and administrative overhead through faster movement to new ciphers when an old cipher is deprecated. Weaker ciphers can be removed from the list of allowable ciphers without needing to wait for a security fix update from IBM.

 

Another update driven by customer requests is the new support in MQ V9.1.1 for .NET Core for Windows. Customers who choose .NET as a framework for running applications on Windows environments have been looking to move to .NET Core. Following a number of requests, we have now added support for .NET Core for Windows environments to help support those customers.

 

As we have seen in the 9.0.x CD stream, one of the important set of capabilities that was added was the REST API for Admin for MQ. And at the end of that set of releases we started to look at adding REST API calls for the administration of MQ Managed File Transfer features, available with MQ Advanced and MQ Appliance. Many customers find it value to ingest and move data through MQ, even when the starting point or destination for this data is a file on the file system. To MQ, it is all just data moving in MQ messages. Therefore, from an administration point of view, it is important to offer similar features and controls for managing the movement of this data through MQ as is available for MQ exchanges of application data. In MQ V9.1.1 the MQ MFT feature gains REST API calls to list the resource monitors as an alternative to previous methods.

 

A further update is to provide support for pausing message delivery to Message Driven Beans running in WebSphere Liberty, in addition to the support previously made available for WebSphere Application Server.

 

The MQ V9.1.1 release offers a good foundation to start the journey through the various 9.1.x CD releases. There was a mix of updates driven by customer needs, wider platform and offering support as well as some functions to enhance longer term MQ strategic plans. We are now pulling out of this station and heading to the next one. Hitch up the V9.1.1 wagon to your V9.1 MQ train, hop on board and enjoy the ride.

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MQ Advanced powered by MQ V9.1 – now it’s time for business – join the webinar

September 3, 2018

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It’s early September and seasons are changing. For some, summer is turning to autumn, and elsewhere, winter is changing to spring. Despite holidays ending for some, business is never on holiday. There are increasing demands to improve availability, response times, security and agility.

 

Businesses can’t take infrastructure for granted. In fact, it is critical to the success of the business. Ensuring that IT infrastructure is delivering maximum value is a huge differentiator in an ever more competitive world. And that can mean not being left behind and taking the best advantage of what your infrastructure can do.

 

IBM MQ has been at the heart of many of the world’s leading businesses for years. And MQ Advanced allows businesses to do even more with their MQ infrastructure, moving more data, from any environment more securely and reliably. The recent release of MQ V9.1 provided even more value to customers, especially if they are using or if they upgrade to MQ Advanced.

 

On September 12th there will be a webinar covering the benefits of MQ Advanced and the advances included in IBM MQ V9.1. Simply click here to register and find out how your business can take advantage.

Ensuring your business and customers see you as Highly Available thanks to MQ Advanced

July 19, 2018

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How high is high? If you are considering climbing, then Everest is pretty high after all at 8848M above sea level. Although without the right equipment, team and preparation, trying to climb just 2M can be impossible. But ‘high’ is used in other contexts as well. Like when you are trying to keep a business running these days. If you are then it’s likely the high you may be thinking about is High Availability. Without the right approach, tools and infrastructure you may be trying to solve a problem that can seem to be the same scale as Everest.

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With business becoming more global, and being more responsive to events, and with mobile or web traffic coming direct from partners, customers or suppliers, downtime has to be avoided. How do you keep your systems up, your applications running and your data available all the time? Even when, inevitably, there are failures?

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IBM MQ is a critical part of your business connectivity. It provides a reliable, secure, scalable and robust middleware layer connecting applications, systems and services and exchanging data between them. Making use of IBM MQ ensures your applications can be simpler and more agile, yet more reliable, and also easier to shift between deployment environments. Your applications will rely on IBM MQ persisting their messages, ensuring that messages are never lost. How do you reap these rewards of simpler applications unless the MQ middleware is highly available to ensure the applications can keep running?

 

Having been around for 25 years, IBM MQ understands this need very well. As such it provides a variety of ways to configure and manage High Availability. And the most recent innovation, based on the High Availability approach used in the MQ Appliance is designed to not only offer extremely robust and effective high availability, but at the same time ensuring it is simple to set up and maintain, without additional external complexity: Replicated Data Queue Managers.

 

Many clients were facing the same set of problems: they didn’t like the costs and complexity of providing and maintaining network attached storage, which was a common way of providing high availability for MQ. The request was high availability that was more self-contained, without external dependencies. A way to deploy MQ in highly available configurations without the requirement for an environment that needs lots of setup, with highly skilled resources and additional costs.

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With IBM MQ V9.1, our new Long-Term Support release, customers can now take advantage of Replicated Data Queue Managers, which offer a 3-node configuration, making use of replicated local storage, which make the MQ messages available on each of 3 MQ systems, instead of relying on a single copy of data on network storage.

 

Instead of requiring lots of setup, and ongoing extensive maintenance, MQ itself will do almost all the setup during the initial MQ install. Then, when you are creating a Queue Manager, you simply request it as a RDQM resource, and that’s pretty much all that’s needed. And it’s not just simple in the configuration of the Queue Managers. As it supports Floating IP, when one Queue Manager fails, and another instance automatically starts up on one of the other 2 nodes, the original Queue Manager IP address will move with it, meaning the applications are essentially unaware of the move, and the workload is uninterrupted as the messages and logs had been kept up to date synchronously on all 3 systems.

 

With an additional option allowing for manual startup in a replicated pair of systems by choosing either synchronous or asynchronous replication to provide Disaster Recovery configurations, this new approach to HA really goes a long way to make it much simpler to reach the highest peaks of high availability.

 

There are already a few places to look for more information on this exciting new development. There is a technical blog entry by John Colgrave, along with a GitHub community, and of course the Knowledge Center.

 

Suitable for customers on RedHat Linux on the x86 platform, you need MQ Advanced licensing on just one system node, and MQ Advanced High Availability Replica licensing on the other 2 nodes. Also, this can’t be used with container deployments – but virtual machine images or bare metal is fine. With RDQM now part of the Long-Term Support release of MQ V9.1, you can scale the highest peaks of availability. You are not starting at base camp. You are already close to the summit. Let’s get to the top.

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Complying with GDPR and the importance of protecting data with MQ Advanced

July 11, 2018

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As a business, acquiring and keeping customers is crucial. You need to ensure that you are continually delighting them, ensuring you deliver the best value, and are easy to do business with. And one critical thing above all others is to ensure that the customer can trust your business.

 

Why is this important? A key reason is that the customer is trusting your business with their information, and you therefore have a responsibility to keep it safe. Because if a customer can’t trust you with their information, they won’t do business with you.

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And it is not just a question of customer trust. There is more and more legislation around the world designed to ensure that businesses are taking the protection and security of 3rd party data seriously. The headlines recently around this have been driven by the deadline date for the EU’s GDPR. But honestly protecting your own data, as well as customer information should have been essential practice anyway.

 

Meeting the needs of GDPR, other legislation in this area, and also customer trust isn’t just about ticking a box and can’t be addressed through a single change or product. There needs to be a comprehensive approach to ensure there aren’t gaps in the security. One of the best ways to ensure that is the thought of ‘privacy by design’ as mentioned in GDPR. Instead of having to try to protect multiple aspects of security in every system, you can ensure security is applied much more widely so that individual areas of security and multiple connected systems are protected without additional effort or overview.

 

There are multiple reasons why a business might use IBM MQ’s messaging to move data within a business, or between businesses. Thousands of the world’s leading businesses have depended on it for reliable, scalable, secure and highly available messaging for 25 years. And while IBM MQ is a secure environment, today’s connected business systems, with the challenge of regulations like GDPR requiring demonstrable protection and records of who could have had access, and the need to show removal of data requires even more security. And this is available as a part of IBM MQ Advanced or IBM MQ Appliance with end-to-end encryption including encryption of data at rest.

 

Why is this important, and how would it help protect data, as well as help to comply with GDPR and other legislation? Consider a typical connected environment with messages flowing across many different connected systems. Maybe data originating from a customer will bounce across different business systems as a message: ordering, invoicing, manufacturing, shipping, loyalty programs. Some of these might be with the enterprise, and others might be 3rd party businesses who provide a service. As messages flow, they will get persisted to disk to ensure they don’t get lost in case of a failure. But how to ensure that every system and every disk is protecting these messages without having to be in control of all these systems and disks, which might be owned by other organizations?

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The end to end encryption in MQ Advanced is policy-based and doesn’t require application updates. In fact, the applications themselves will be unaware that the messages will be encrypted between the sending and receiving applications. The messages being sent over MQ will have the MQ message contents encrypted, but the messaging header (properties) will remain in the clear. As each message is persisted to disk in a queue, the contents will remain encrypted. The messages will only be decrypted at the destination application as set in the policy. With this in place, it becomes irrelevant how many systems the message will travel through between source and destination, or even the security or ownership of each system. It can be demonstrated that the message will not be accessible except to the receiving application, therefore ensuring that there is a complete record of who has had access to every message, and therefore it is under complete control.

 

The enhancements to this end-to-end encryption in MQ Advanced V9.0 and most recently in MQ V9.1 (announced July 2018) not only provide this strong encryption that doesn’t require application changes, but also can be applied with virtually no performance impact either.

 

With your business under pressure from GDPR and other legislation, and the need to ensure your customers can trust you to look after their data and personal information, it has become essential to consider the move to MQ Advanced in order to take advantage of this cutting-edge data protection capability.

Update: For more information in detail about the security features of the IBM MQ family and how they might help as part of a GDPR approach, here is link to a presentation by Jamie Squibb on this topic, presented to Guide Share Europe earlier this year.

Get started today, by downloading the MQ Advanced trial, or MQ Advanced for developers or even simpler try out the new hosted IBM MQ on IBM Cloud .

Two steps forward, no steps back with IBM MQ V9.0.4

October 24, 2017

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Compromise is everywhere. We are told to take the rough with the smooth. The easy with the hard. The quick win and the hard slog. And with software we often have to accept compromises. Especially so these days with the drive for new function forcing some compromises with stable deployments.

Not so with the latest update to the MQ family of products. For the last 15 months IBM has been delivering updates to MQ using a Continuous Delivery stream. There have been many useful additions, but they have always required adoption of the latest version to take advantage of the new features. With the latest update moving to MQ V9.0.4, there are even more substantial updates of useful features for both base MQ and MQ Advanced. However in recognition of the need for customers to keep some systems back-level while also wanting to take advantage of new features, some of these updates are designed to allow existing deployed systems to take advantage of the new capabilities, both without being updated and without breaking the Continuous Delivery and Long Term Support principles.

In addition to this extremely useful update, which I will get to in a minute, which can be used across the entire MQ estate, there are some groundbreaking updates that will allow huge changes in the way MQ is used, deployed and managed in this update. It is more leaps forward rather than steps forward.

For MQ Advanced we have 3 key new capabilities:

  • A new ‘easy HA’ feature – Replicated Data Queue Managers
  • More flexible Managed File Transfer deployments
  • Availability of an enhanced Blockchain bridge

For MQ Base (which is part of MQ Advanced) there are a number of other enhancements

  • Additional commands supported as part of the REST API for admin
  • Availability of a ‘catch-all’ for MQSC commands as part of the REST API for admin
  • Ability to use a single MQ V9.0.4 Queue Manager as a single point gateway for REST API based admin of other MQ environments including older MQ versions such as MQ V9 LTS and MQ V8.
  • Ability to use MQ V9.0.4 as a proxy for IBM Cloud Product Insights reporting across older deployed versions of MQ
  • Availability of an enhanced MQ bridge for Salesforce
  • Initial availability of a new programmatic REST API for messaging applications

 

All of these features are called out in the new announcement letter for MQ V9.0.4 here. And there are further updates available for the MQ Appliance listed in the specific announcement letter for it here and in another blog entry here. There are also announcement letters for IBM MQ z/OS V9.0.4 and IBM MQ Advanced for z/OS VUE V9.0.4

However, let’s try and call out some details of the key points of the MQ V9.0.4 update below:

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The new High Availability feature (officially described as Replicated Data Queue Managers or RDQM) provides a significant new way to configure High Availability. It is only available for MQ Advanced users on x86 Red Hat Linux. It is designed as a 3 node system which uses replication of messages and logs between the local disks available to each Queue Manager. This style of replication of local disks was previously only available with the MQ Appliance. As moving to this new style of HA will allow customers to stop using network storage for MQ, we anticipate it will be very popular. As well as the disk level replication, Floating IP will be used to help applications move seamlessly to a failover QM. And 3 nodes help to prevent ‘split-brain’ situations where 2 nodes are simultaneously active.

The licensing of the above deployment requires MQ Advanced as already stated. However as long as all Queue Managers on all 3 nodes are Replicated Data Queue Managers, and all 3 systems are the same capacity, then only one node needs to have a MQ Advanced license entitlement. The other 2 nodes can be licensed with MQ Advanced High Availability Replica parts (these parts used to be called Idle Standby parts).

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The changes to the REST API for admin are also significant. Over the last few releases more and more ‘verbs’ have been added to allow REST API calls to configure and manage MQ. This was designed to allow more modern tools to be built as an alternative to MQSC and PCF based tooling. The latest V9.0.4 release adds more verbs and also a way to call the remaining equivalent MQSC functions within a REST API structure. However what is perhaps more interesting is that a single V9.0.4 Queue Manager can now act as a ‘gateway’ Queue Manager to allow these new REST API driven tools to configure and manage Queue Managers that are older and don’t include this new Continuous Delivery function. This is hopefully a very good way of providing the best of both worlds. Allowing the older production Queue Managers to remain deployed but still take advantage of new features.

Similar to this ‘bridge’ feature is one for IBM Cloud Product Insights, where the ability to publish deployed Queue Manager data to Cloud Product Insights was limited to releases on the Continuous Delivery stream, but now a single V9.0.4 Queue Manager enables older installs to publish data to this useful dashboard tool.

The MQ bridge for Salesforce has been enhanced to allow MQ to publish data into Salesforce, instead of simply receiving push notifications from Salesforce.

Customers with MQ Advanced who want to explore the possibilities offered by Blockchains now can deploy a bridge which enables MQ applications to query the Blockchain, and also provide data input into it. An earlier version of this was available only to customers with MQ Advanced for z/OS VUE, but this version is available to customers using MQ Advanced on distributed platforms.

MQ Advanced customers also get more flexibility in how they can deploy the file logger in MQ Managed File Transfer scenarios, as this logger can now be deployed on a different machine to the MQ Queue Manager.

And finally, feedback from customers told us that developers were looking to make sure of MQ, but with fewer dependencies, to free them up from client and language bindings. As such we have also added the first layer of support for a new set of programmatic REST APIs for messaging applications. This will replace the previous HTTPBridge function which has already been deprecated. Over the next few releases it is hoped that more functions will be supported in this REST API for messaging to allow additional messaging calls to be supported.

Counting up the advances it does look like it is more than 2 steps forward, and certainly no steps back. And with the ability to use some of these features alongside your older MQ releases, what are you waiting for? Download it from here today. Or try it on Amazon AWS Quick Start.

Want to know more. Check out the webcast. Register or replay at this link.

Buried Treasure – embedding IBM MQ clients and MFT Agents into applications

June 13, 2017

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I haven’t been doing this blog so long that I am going to repeat myself. Or at least not yet. But last year I did a blog on why you would use MQ – and that is broadly the topic of this entry as well but it comes from a specific use-case perspective. Plus – warning – it is longer than usual – sorry. Why do businesses, in their thousands, use IBM MQ – and its many different yet critical functions? Sadly, and I say this as the Offering/Product Manager for MQ, no one wakes up in the morning and decides they want to buy more IBM MQ – but they do so because of the benefit using MQ provides for the applications that run their business.

 

IBM MQ enables the exchange of data between applications, systems, services and files with reliability and security. It does this with scalability and simplicity. It has proved itself in doing this over the last 20+ years that much of the modern online business world takes IBM MQ, and its capabilities for granted.

 

The IT infrastructure is evolving rapidly – as it always is. As such there is both growth in new applications and existing applications are being updated and enhanced. Today’s applications typically have to be more resilient than ever, but also more portable – to be deployed pretty much anywhere. In most businesses applications will be extended out to business partners as the wider ecosystem is more tightly integrated than ever before.

 

These changes drive a greater need for seamless connectivity throughout the infrastructure and it makes it more important that all business data can be simply and quickly moved inside and outside the business. So how has IBM been working on IBM MQ to enable this? And will IBM MQ be able to help all customers – whether they are trying to connect and exchange data between applications, systems, services and files – not just the latest and greatest APIs?

 

IBM MQ allows for connectivity and exchange of data through MQ Clients and MQ MFT Agents and to make it easier for these to be used in many different use cases, IBM has been making changes to the packaging and licensing of these.

MFT Agents

One of the key changes was at the end of 2015, there was an update to the license documentation to allow for the redistribution of MQ Clients. IBM makes the MQ client libraries available for free download. These are then built into the MQ enabled applications to allow these applications to send and receive MQ messages. There is no cost for the MQ Clients – as they require a licensed MQ Queue Managers in order to function. However, until late 2015, the license prevent redistribution of these MQ Client files. This meant that if a business built the MQ Clients into an application, it wasn’t permitted to then distribute this application outside the business – i.e. it couldn’t share it with a business partner to allow that partner to work closely as an integrated partner. To allow this under the terms, the partner would need to either install the MQ Client library themselves or agree licensing terms to redistribute the MQ Client with IBM. This restriction was not helpful to these businesses or to the IBM MQ business and therefore it was changed to allow redistribution.

 

Now let’s look at a scenario – Company A uses MQ to exchange information throughout its business. It has suppliers (Company B and Company C) and it wants to streamline the manufacturing processes to enable them to get production statistics and thus help to plan for more efficient resupplies to their factories and warehouses. To do this it wants to provide them with a copy of their own in-house written application that uses MQ. Now that IBM allows for redistribution of the MQ Clients, Company A can simply provide their application to the partner companies to enable them to communicate seamlessly with no need to even be aware of the MQ Client embedded within the application. MQ messages can flow securely between the companies – and as only Company A has a MQ Queue Manager, they are the only ones licensed for MQ – and there is no additional MQ cost for this configuration. Note that companies exchanging MQ messages like this might want to make use of the MQ Internet Pass-thru feature to simplify passing messaging through their firewalls.

 

Now let’s imagine Company D. They are also part of the supply chain ecosystem for company A, and also many other businesses. But the stock control and distribution management systems are built mainly on files and file data. They keep these files updated with stock quantities and prices, but they find it simpler to keep using this method rather than online application updates and exchanges. They are used to sending these files to their customers using FTP but they always have a number of issues around FTP failures, reliability issues, and having to spend time diagnosing the problems inherent in these transfers.

 

Company A have a solution – the Managed File Transfer capability that is a part of IBM MQ Advanced. In place of regular FTP, the data inside the files can be sent as MQ messages from Company D to Company A, taking advantage of MQ’s reliability, security and management of data. And best of all Company D don’t need to change the way they handle data as they can still focus on keeping the file contents updated, but Company A can provide a program that can also embed the MQ MFT Agent which can run and extract the contents of the file and send it as MQ Messages to Company A. Just as with the MQ Client, the MQ MFT Agent is designed for easy embedding in an application, and benefits from also being redistributable under the license. The key difference is that MQ MFT Agents are free but only when they connect to MQ Queue Managers that benefit from the MQ Advanced license entitlement or are in the MQ Appliance. In providing this application making use of the MFT Agent to Company D, Company A is taking advantage of the recent change to make the Agent license redistributable, as well as the fact there is now no cost to embed MFT Agents and distribute them anywhere, as long as they connect to their MQ Advanced Queue Managers. Also, the packaging changed to ensure the MFT Agent was available as a standalone zip file for easier embedding.

 

As a business, your buried treasure may be hidden in your data. You owe it to yourself to ensure it is used as widely as possible and as timely as possible. But to do this you need buried treasure in your applications as well – and this time the buried treasure is the MQ Clients and MQ MFT Agents you can now embed in those applications. Hidden in your code, but providing value every day – maybe not buried treasure, but the goose that lays golden eggs?

Goose Golden Egg

Not too much of a good thing: MQ V9.0.3

June 6, 2017

After a gap of a few months I blogged earlier today about deploying MQ Queue Managers in a DMZ so it might seem a bit much to be blogging again so soon. However I will try to keep it short and snappy so you find these entries like a Japanese meal – small portions, but so many courses! And of course, delicious.

japanese meal

So it wasn’t long ago – just March – when I blogged about MQ V9.0.2 on MQ and MQ Advanced on distributed platforms and MQ V9.0.2 on the MQ Appliance. Remember that IBM is delivering MQ V9 as a continuous delivery release. This means that we deliver smallish amounts of hopefully easily consumable and usable function. And these functions, on the whole, will build incrementally to deliver eventually a substantial piece of new function.

 

One of these ongoing deliverables, that has been building over the last few releases is the growing REST API for administration of MQ. New capabilities in this release include read and update of the queue manager configuration, plus querying of the status.

 

Also, on top of the enhancements made to MQ Managed File Transfer, available with MQ Advanced or MQ Appliance, delivered in MQ V9.0.0, V9.0.1 and V9.0.2, there are even more usability enhancements in this release, focusing on problem determination when there may have been an issue in the completion of a file transfer. This is in addition to the license changes made recently that makes this far more attractive for deploying MQ MFT Agents widely through the business.

 

And for the MQ Appliance there was an update to allow an easier transition for some configurations to move to use the end to end encryption provided by MQ AMS when some MQ Clients may not support it, by doing the encryption on the MQ Appliance rather than the MQ Client side.

 

There are now announcement letters for MQ V9.0.3 and MQ Appliance V9.0.3 updates published but perhaps some of the most interesting updates of the MQ V9.0.3 releases was on the z/OS offering. There is already an announcement  letter about this – but this update specifically targeted the MQ Advanced for z/OS Value Unit Edition offering with a set of unique extensions for this delivered as a connector pack on top of the core MQ Advanced for z/OS VUE offering.

This connector pack included a Bridge to Blockchain, allowing MQ Advanced for z/OS VUE to query information on the Blockchain. Also there are changes to the licensing and deployment model of MQ Managed File Transfer components on z/OS. And support for MQ Advanced for z/OS VUE to publish information to the IBM Cloud Product Insights service.

 

There are some additional details on our development blog on MQ V9.0.3 here.

 

So that was a quick run through of the updates in IBM MQ V9.0.3. All you need now is some green tea to wash it down.

japan green tea