Posts Tagged ‘WebSphere’

The Paradox of Choice – the best Managed File Transfer solution?

March 18, 2014

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We all know the feeling – you are shopping, maybe for some food. You have a vague idea of what you want until you are confronted by reality – dozens or even hundreds of different options. Which is better for you? Which will better meet your needs? It becomes harder to make a choice if there are too many choices. When I am out for dinner at a restaurant I suffer much the same dilemma. I love Cherry Pie for dessert, but what about the refreshing creaminess of Ice Cream? It might seem a simple choice but it would be easier to make a decision if the menu was more restricted.  

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This was explored in a very interesting book by Barry Schwartz called ‘The Paradox of Choice – why more is less’. I highly recommend a read of it.

This applies quite widely in other areas. Take for example how you want to deal with files in your business. Let’s face it; you have files, filled with business critical data, on every system in your enterprise. And you need to move the files, or at least the data inside them, across your enterprise to consume the data elsewhere. So you plan to move them, only this creates your first dilemma – should you use simple FTP even though you know it can be unreliable and insecure, and you never really know what happens to your files. Or should you use a managed file transfer solution?

Well hopefully, your business cares about the files and the data enough to look at a managed file transfer solution. After all you don’t want to create a management and security headache when trying to move the files, and you certainly don’t want to troubleshoot what has gone wrong every day, and maintain hundreds of FTP scripts.

So you want a managed file transfer solution – but which one? This opens up a whole different solution set. Do you want a bespoke solution, dedicated to file transfers, or one that is maybe multi-tasking – perhaps a function built out from another piece of infrastructure that might be more adaptable for some of your use cases, even though the dedicated solution looks good for other use cases?

Many customers today might look at their existing solution providers such as IBM who has been providing middleware for this type of solution for many years. And here there has been a choice to be made:

IBM Sterling Connect:Direct, a market leading managed file transfer solution with years of expertise as a dedicated offering in this space, with a secure protocol and purpose built tooling to provide all a business needs when moving files, extended with IBM Sterling Control Center for event based monitoring of file transfers. Looks good for a dedicated solution.

IBM MQ Managed File Transfer, an extension to the widely used IBM MQ messaging middleware offering. This also provides file transfer, moving the files as messages over MQ, but also allows not just file to file transfer but also file-to-message and message-to-file transfers which can help the business make faster use of the data being moved. A highly adaptable solution, but also supported by IBM Sterling Control Center as a management and monitoring dashboard.

So even from IBM you would need to make a choice, even though you could probably adapt both offerings to meet your needs. But it would be nice to not have to choose, but to use whichever offering was best for any particular use case.

On March 11th 2014, IBM announced that it was solving this dilemma of too much choice by combining the two offerings of IBM Sterling Connect:Direct and IBM MQ MFT, and also including IBM Sterling Control Center. Now there is just one solution to buy for Managed File Transfer. And when you buy it you don’t have to choose which to use, as you get entitlement to both offerings included, as well as Control Center. No more choosing between Cherry Pie or Ice Cream, as you can have both.

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A smaller number of choices in this case is definitely better. You can read more about this offering in the announcement letter here. Dig in.

WebSphere MQ Advanced for Developers – another exciting step forward

March 19, 2013

Yes. It’s that time again. Another blog entry, so we must have something new to say about WebSphere MQ. And yes we do.

I’m very pleased that we have another announcement to make today. WebSphere MQ Advanced for Developers. You can read the announcement letter itself here. But in the meantime what are the key points you really ought to know?

1)     This is an exciting new development in that we have added a new way to buy licenses of WebSphere MQ, and indeed the entire WebSphere MQ Advanced stack, but priced for individual developer deployment and use. We continue to have both the separate WebSphere MQ licenses and WebSphere MQ Advanced licenses, which are both priced by PVU, and suitable for production and testing. But this new licensing option is priced per ‘Authorised User Single Install’ which effectively means a fixed price per developer that wants to use it for their development use. We believe that by making the WebSphere MQ portfolio more available for developers, giving them individual access we will increase their skills, improve their ability to use WebSphere MQ in innovative ways, and also speed the time to develop more productive applications. Read the announcement letter and get the new part from Friday 22nd March.

2)     As part of this announcement we are also taking advantage of the opportunity to bring everyone up to date on the enhancements we have been making to the support for connecting to M2M devices and mobiles. Over the last couple of months IBM has been publishing new Messaging Clients to support Android and iOS mobile devices. These have been published on our new Messaging Community on developerWorks. This announcement has been timed to coincide with the first fixpack for WebSphere MQ V7.5 which adds in additional function that also allows connectivity from MQTT clients over WebSockets. This creates new opportunities for building new types of applications that can connect to the enterprise over WebSockets, which we expect to be very popular, especially when combined with the new Javascript API which supports both this style of connection as well as supporting the clients on Android or iOS devices. These clients support our Worklight offering, and with IBM MobileFirst this is a very exciting time to be adding this type of support.

3)     Finally as part of this update IBM has also made some changes to the licensing to support High Availability with WebSphere MQ. In recent years WebSphere MQ added its own approach for High Availability – called Multi-Instance Queue Managers, which allowed WebSphere MQ to automatically watch itself and failover if required. An additional ‘Idle Standby’ license was required for the failover system, which was substantially cheaper than a full license. In this update we have extended these Idle Standby licenses to also apply to other configurations that provide automatic failover – such as PowerHA, or 3rd party configurations like Veritas. Now the failover systems in these environments can also be licensed with the Idle Standby parts.

Hopefully these look like a good set of updates – and they have kept us busy working towards them. Don’t forget you can download the free trial for WebSphere MQ here. And visit the Messaging Community to find more stuff, including the Messaging Clients for M2M and Mobile. And look for a webcast from me on the Global WebSphere Community on April 11th.

New post, new job role, long time passed

August 20, 2010

So just a quick note here. I changed roles earlier this year to move back into Product Management for WebSphere Message Broker after a number of years in Marketing. It is funny how both roles have similarities but also substantial differences. I am getting a lot more visibility to customers and sales reps in the new role which is really good, but am continuing to work closely with marketing to make sure we get the right material produced. Keeps me busy – and apologies to those who I respond to later than I should.

Was good talking a bit with Gartner earlier in the year on a couple of occasions – and hearing all the customer interest in cloud – not an area that will be going away in a hurry I think.

It has been very stimulating to work on strategy for both extending current offerings and looking at the opportunity in new segments. Lots I could say here but clearly not going to in public!

I plan to talk to some customers in Istanbul next month as part of a Hursley Comes to you event and there will also be more customer interactions in 4Q which i am looking forward to. All this while trying to get through all the Product Management day to day pieces of work – which I had better get back to.

Focus and prioritization are becoming the watchword….will try to write something more soon

More on Tough Questions from ESBCON8

August 28, 2009

So following up on yesterday’s first Tough Question from ESBCON8, lets move to the 2nd question

Question 2:Today’s ESBs are more business-aware, supporting critical events  (with EDA, CEP, even BPM).   How are your customers using these benefits?

First off, do I agree with the statement, aligning ESBs with Events? I would have to say yes – we have seen our customers use WebSphere Message Broker for many years as a mechanism to detect and respond to Events passing through it, making use of the processing and aggregation capabilities it provides. Although this was very powerful and a great advance to increase visibility and agility, its use tended to be restricted to more technical events. The addition to the product line of WebSphere Business Events enabled business users to determine the critical events they were interested in, greatly extending the usability of Business Event Processing. This move to an event driven architecture very much builds on the existence of an ESB, across which all data flows. This assumption of the presence of an ESB is what we discussed yesterday in the first Tough Question.

So on the basis that an ESB exists, and business is now able to see and respond to events as they take place in real-time, how are customers using these? The event processing delivered by WebSphere Business Events allows businesses in many cases to take the step step towards BPM, allowing their businesses to leverage their existing IT infrastructure to rapidly deploy business changes, streamlining processing, increasing automation and reducing bottlenecks, all while gaining better insight to what is actually happening in their business to help drive further improvements. Some customers already see this success.

As Event Processing builds on the Connectivity of an ESB they are likely to already have, they are able to quickly see benefits and then use further tools such as ILOG for Business Rules to adapt and respond to changing needs.

Tough Questions on ESBs from ESBCON8

August 27, 2009

So it has been a week since ESBCON8 went out. You can still register and listen to it here – I think you will find it worth the time. All three CTOs had a lot of interesting points to make – Although clearly the solo presentations are a core part of ESBCON, the section I enjoyed listening to the most is the “5 Tough Questions”. This head-to-head section covers a lot of different points and you get to hear a more impromptu set of answers. Lets review the first of the 5 Tough Questions from the event this time:

Question 1:Gartner recently released a study that says 70% of all enterprise SOA starts with ESBs. What do your customers find are the most popular reasons for using ESBs as a foundation technology?

Perhaps the most fundamental question for an audience interested in ESBs…The discussion today of SOA seems to be in a state of transition. Is SOA dead? Absolutely not. If anything the discussion has moved on from SOA, in the same way it moved on from the frenzy of discussion around ESBs in the last couple of years because there is no point to a discussion over whether SOA is useful or important. The answer is obvious and everywhere. SOA is now assumed – the question is what’s next?

IBM is already telling this story of what’s next – with Smarter Planet and Smart Work, all building on the solid foundation of robust reliable and agile business and IT alignment provided by SOA, with an ESB at the heart of the infrastructure. This is the reasons so many projects have an ESB as their starting point, is that an ESB is a fundamental, essential component for the infrastructure to whatever project you are looking to implement, so starting with this is a given, especially as so many parts of the business can make use of it, thus increasing time-to-value.

If projects don’t start with an ESB, they are likely to start with a Registry/Repository, trying to put SOA Governance in place before too many services escape into the wild. SOA does offer business the ability to see and respond better to events, but also provides the capability for just as much chaos as exists in architectures already.

So – SOA isn’t dead, and an ESB is fairly clearly an obvious place to start in enhancing your business infrastructure – putting in place the ability for you to Work Smart for a Smarter Planet.

I will take a look at the other Tough Questions shortly. And I am sure I will come back to Smarter Planet and Smart Work

ESBCON 8 – Looking ahead to a great event

August 20, 2009

Later today the most recent ESBCON event will go live. This long running multi-vendor virtual conference takes some leaders from the major ESB vendors and has them give brief solo presentations, as well as putting them on the spot asking them 5 tough questions.

For IBM we have Jerry Cuomo, WebSphere CTO, presenting. Other vendors Sun Microsystems and Progress Software also have their CTOs presenting at the event.

After the event I will look to give my own thoughts on the 5 Tough Questions. However as a lead in lets look at some of the Tough Questions that could have been asked but didn’t make the cut to the Final Five.

Some of the initial thinking could have included questions such as:

  • What benefits do ESBs with SCA (Service Component Architecture) offer users? What skills does IT need to tap into SCA benefits?
  • How large can I scale an integration/SOA project with a single ESB?
  • Discuss technologies and patterns for scaling ESBs, in terms of traffic load, number of nodes or even multi-site integration?
  • Discuss trends in real-time visibility and management for IT and business users?
  • How does your ESB manage integrations end-to-end (include support for Remote Integration, High-Availability, Governance, Auditing or Identity Management)

Now some of these questions got adapted to end up contributing to the actual questions asked, but they do reflect important points, even with duplication and the different technical levels being probed. The questions on scaling are clearly important – after all who wants to deploy an ESB which if successful will undoubtedly require the ESB to handle increasing traffic loads and be physically and logically deployed and managed more widely across the enterprise.

Also important is the aspect of real-time visibility for both IT and business users. This is growing in importance, with all traffic moving through the ESB it becomes easier to understand how and where to track business data as business events take place, and also for the IT side of the business to track and control the use and performance of systems. This visibility aspect is one of the key unsung benefits that can be seen from a successful ESB deployment. I will make a point of saying ‘successful’ there as it is easy to think of an ESB deployment to meet a singular need that is then not used further to extract that data that can so enrich a business.

It will be interesting to see how the CTOs fare on the real questions, and I will look forward to reviewing that after the event

Sensors, events, automation and what-not

July 21, 2009

Just time for a quick update before my next phone-call. I have been working a lot on various decks looking at industry solutions that use or leverage WebSphere MQ and ESB solutions from IBM. A number of them, certainly in engineering industries such as Chemical and Petroleum, or Energy and Utilities, already use solutions like WebSphere Sensor Events or have the potential to use them in the future. And there are also clear benefits to other industries like Retail or distribution. All sorts really – at Impact I sat in a very good session talking about how Airbus uses RFID sensors to keep track of the parts of planes they are building. After all it is so easy to lose an Airbus A380…

We have referred to this as the Internet of Things. There is a great example of this from Andy Stanford-Clark and his house that Tweets. But the more I read about this, the more interesting I can see this getting. Clearly this requires some level of investment from businesses to leverage, but the greater the connectivity throughout their infrastructure, the more opportunities will arise. The economy today drives businesses to look to cut costs and drive growth. Extending connectivity through these devices and increasing business awareness truly looks to be transformative. I will look to give more examples and cover this more going forward

Reuse, cross charging and the Cloud

July 1, 2009

One of the big topics of discussion at the Gartner SOA event in London last week was, unsurprisingly, Cloud Computing – it is everyone’s favourite hot topic this year. One session by Yefim Natis really focused on some of the implications of this – and before he started I made a couple of notes to myself to test as to whether he would answer them.

The first was whether Cloud could solve the cross-charging issue (I will explain this in a moment) and the second was whether Cloud would present a good opportunity for WebSphere Service Registry and Repository. Both of these issues were items that were nagging at me from listening both to clients in the Vendor showcase and also to other Gartner analysts.

The big one was cross-charging – Massimo Pezzini had addressed this as a critical issue to the future of SOA. There was a conflict of interest for those parts of the business who provided services. For the good of the business they were encouraged to make the business services they provided as reusable and shareable as possible. However then as their reuse grew as the uptake of SOA spread in an organization, who then was responsible for the costs associated with not just the initial work to create a reusable service but also then the increase in traffic as it became a fundamental part of multiple composite applications. The service providing department would become a cost center, faced with ever increasing costs and demands for improved SLAs. This could drive future work to be made highly specialized to avoid this issue, impacting the ability of SOA to really be successful.

Now in IBM we have always been keenly aware of the cross-charging issue, as this has always been important to our mainframe/System z customers. Our products such as WebSphere Message Broker, which functions as a highly capable ESB,  have therefore included capabilities to identify and charge users for their use of the environment. But of course in a Cloud – an elastic shared use environment – it is explicitly designed for resource allocation and tracking the user and use. Yefim in his session then proposed that deploying these shareable services in the Cloud, with its ability to track and charge for use could lead to these service providers being seen as profit centers instead of cost centers. Now being a profit center when providing internal services is one thing – moving money from one pot to another within a business does not a profit make. But combine shareable services in the cloud with a move to more dynamic multi-enterprise B2B, sharing the costs with partners, and some of the investment decisions can make sense, as well as streamlining your business connections and processes. A good thought for the future.

The other question I had was around WebSphere Service Registry and Repository (WSRR). I had talked to quite a number of clients at the show who were deploying, or starting to deploy assets connected to one or other of our ESBs – and they were trying to figure out whether this truly made them more dynamic. Of course it does simplify your connectivity to use an ESB but then are you just swapping one change regimen for another? I got a good response talking to them about using WSRR to hold each service step, and to search for the service location through WSRR rather than defining its location in the ESB flow – this allows for very simple updates and changes to services without any disruption to the running processes and ESB flow.

Now of course when the services are defined as ‘in the cloud’ this is the ultimate requirement for flexibility – they will never have a fixed location or definition  anywhere other than the cloud so use of a registry to store and locate these will be essential, as well as the other facets it provdes such as identifying rogue services and enforcing business policies. This says to me that when we are talking to our clients about using the cloud, we need to be sure to discuss the use of ESBs and also WSRR.

Lots to do. Should be interesting!

Attending the Gartner SOA/ADI event in London

June 29, 2009

It was nice to get out of the office/home office routine last week to visit the Gartner SOA/ADI conference – this was the second year I have been to this show and it is always worthwhile. The event seemed to be very busy with the keynote sessions pretty full and some very interested customers from all over Europe and beyond attending to listen to the sessions and also talk to the vendors attending – of whom IBM was one – as a premier sponsor. At pretty much the start of the event there was a vendor panel from the premier sponsors who participated in a quickfire session to review their thoughts regarding a number of Gartner predictions for the future – there was broad agreement with many of the thoughts, although there was a level of scepticism regarding whether the scale of uptake for some of the technologies would be as high as was contended. The state of the economy was judged to be a likely factor in IT change decisions – which is of course to be expected.

The other Gartner sessions I attended were certainly very interesting. A theme which seemed to run through the 2 days was the coming growth in multi-enterprise B2B driven by the need for e-invoicing. And the complexity and business risk associated with this will also drive the need for strong SOA Governance. SOA Governance was one of the key starting points for companies starting SOA implementations, but by far the most common starting point was an ESB – which of course makes a lot of sense as an ESB is a great boon to business whether it is part of a larger SOA deployment or simply looking to improve connectivity.

We had a great stream of different businesses coming to the IBM stand in the Vendor showcase. Due to the focus of the show, all were highly knowledgable about middleware and many were already WebSphere customers, involved in projects, either at early stages or deploying. I had a number of discussions with almost everyone about whether they use FTP as a part of their existing infrastructure, and whether the new WMQ File Transfer Edition product could be of benefit to them – we got some encouraging interest.

Also a popular discussion topic was our WebSphere DataPower appliances – they of course have many uses throughout the enterprise and I had involved discussions about what benefits they provided depending on the type of deployment and where they were being used. And finally an interesting topic for discussion was the brand new WebSphere Cloudburst appliance – there is huge interest in Cloud and this seems a very timely and innovative solution for customers. Hopefully next time we will have a box on display!

Back from a busy week at Impact

May 11, 2009

So back home again, having spent the last week in Las Vegas for IBM Impact 2009. Of course in IBM’s SOA and WebSphere marketing team we have been working towards this event for what seems like ages – probably because it has been ages.

What were my overall impressions of the week? Well it was another good conference. Looking at the agenda there seemed to be lots of interesting sessions, and the general sessions were well attended. One of the biggest new aspects of the conference was the social media aspect, especially Twitter. Conference attendees were encouraged to ‘tweet’ about the event with the #tag #ibmimpact, and this was then tracked on various screens around the event as well as occasionally up on the big screens in the general session. This allowed the opening guest speaker, Billy Crystal, to gently mock attendees as geeks – sigh!

So other than indulging in various food and drink, and a little light blackjack, what else did I get up to in the conference? Well mainly I was working in the Solution Center as the co-ordinator of the Guided/Walking tours of the Solution Center. The idea was that customers/sales reps would register for one or more of the seven tours that interested them and would then get a quick 30 minute tour introducing them to the topics on each ped, allowing them to come back for a longer, more detailed visit as required.

So – did the tours go well? On the whole, given it was the first time we ran these I was pleased. We learned a lot and we will hopefully do more and better next year. We had maybe 25 pre-booked tours over the 3 days we ran them, and up to maybe another 10-20 where customers turned up wanting an immediate tour, and either got guided round or used one of the tour maps to guide themselves round. Did we get good feedback? Well a number of customers came back for additional tours – in one case, three times and where we got feedback forms, there seemed to be good areas of interest. Probably our most popular tours were the Process Automation tours and the Retail tours. However as the week went on, I quickly learned that customers were sometimes interested in more than just the 7 tours I had designed so I produced some customized tours, combining the various tours, and in one case creating a bespoke 15 stop tour to meet a customer’s needs. I think where possible, this might be something to do for more customers next year, if we get enough notice of the cutomer interests. However I think what we should offer to every customer is a set of self-guided tours so that they can quickly start to discover the value in the Solution Center.

Other than working on the tours it was of course great to see my colleagues face to face for a change instead of through the phone line or over SameTime. But it was also good to talk to customers and to attend some sessions. I have to say one of the most interesting sessions I attended was about the use of RFID in Supply Chains. Businesses truly are transforming themselves by applying technology to their supply chains and even their manufacturing lines. The potential for cost savings and increases in speed are fascinating.

So, it is now back to the day job. I will be spending a lot more time focusing on creating more Industry Marketing content for WebSphere Connectivity marketing, and having met my SOA industry marketing colleagues at Impact, that should be a lot easier and we will be working together to produce better content.