by Natalie Miller • @natalieatWIS

IBM MQ Appliance designed for simplified deployment in remote locations

Published February 18, 2015


As the global economy grows, organizations work to find an optimal way to operate with remote locations. Those locations may need to run around the clock. Some may need to collaborate with partners in their industry. This week, IBM announced a new MQ Appliance designed to serve these very needs, supplying clients with a messaging product that is more consumable, faster to deploy, and easier to maintain.

This latest release from IBM’s MQ team is based on years of customer feedback, assessment, and requests, and after many changes to make the MQ product more consumable—V8 was just released last spring—it is now able to be deployed on an appliance, explains Leif Davidsen, Senior Product Manager IBM Messaging Portfolio.

These updates include changes in security and in the integrated nature of the code base, which allows for simplified optimization and deployment. The new MQ Appliance has the same functions as the MQ product, but the deployment is vastly different. The appliance makes MQ boundless through the ability to provide MQ where there are no local skills to configure, administer and maintain and environment.

IBM first launched its MQ product line in the early 1990s. It has grown to over 10,000 customers, with as many as a million queue managers around the world. For clients, namely in manufacturing, warehousing, and distribution markets, they consistently prioritize the need to set up and maintain messaging capabilities in remote locations where they don’t have MQ or MQ staff. They want the ability to have a local queue manager without the need to go set it up, and they also want to manage and maintain the servers in that environment. But they don’t want to send someone from their main office to put together and configure a server to put MQ.

This process takes a lot of time, effort, and cost, says Davidsen. Organizations that route their MQ connectivity to their main office and back out again also run into cost and maintenance issues.

For customers who collaborate with third-party business partners and use MQ to connect with their specific applications, connectivity becomes an issue when that partner doesn’t have MQ or MQ staff. This is a similar issue to the branch office issue, and all of these cases can be solved with the MQ Appliance, says Davidsen.

“The thought is you can then provide [clients] with a box that they can plug into their environment that the MQ customer will manage, but it provides the connectivity between the enterprises,” he explains. This alleviates the need for the third-party to build the skills or, in remote business cases, for the company to send out MQ staff to those areas to build and maintain the servers.

The appliance was built using the latest DataPower appliance hardware and OS and can be administered in multiple ways: through command-line interface, MQ Explorer, PCF, and a new browser-based tool called the MQ Console. The console allows for a more personalized, customizable interface for monitoring and configuring MQ, says Davidsen.

“This addresses a set of needs that our MQ customers had for a while,” he says. “They want to administer MQ, but don’t want to install the MQ explorer, which is IBM’s existing tool.”

The MQ Appliance, which includes a customized and optimized MQ V8, can be opened and powered up right out of the box, with no additional licensing or hardware to configure.

DataPower is built on 10 years of leadership in that field. “Although this is our first MQ Appliance, as leaders in the messaging market, we also are sitting on top of the leader in the appliance market. So we are delivering leadership on top of leadership,” says Davidsen.

MQ Appliance brings security and flexibility
Through MQ, organizations are constantly moving key customer data and business data throughout the company. At IBM, security is at the top of the list every time MQ updates are made, says Davidsen. The MQ Appliance is a locked-down appliance in the same way DataPower appliances are locked down. This means there is no user code that could possibly be hacked and any hardware modifications will break the box.

Another feature of MQ is its advanced message security—this provides end-to-end message encryption to prevent security breaches—and this has also been added to the appliance to ensure data is safe while being controlled by MQ, he explains.

To accommodate all clients and prospective clients, IBM has created two different models of the appliance with two different price points. These models have the same physical box, but run at different capacities to accommodate varying levels of message volume. “If you start off with reduced capacity it’s easy to move over to the higher capacity as more messages need to be pushed out,” he says.

“We have customers who have hundreds or even thousands of queue managers, and there are typically one queue manager per server,” says Davidsen.  “Logically, that’s difficult; they are all different.”

Without programmatic operation or automation for maintenance, errors can occur and deadlines can be missed. With this appliance, this workload can be consolidated into a much smaller number of machines. This is not only optimal from a footprint or energy consumption point of view, but the real benefit comes in when you have fewer things to update and can update with a single operation, he continues.

IBM also plans to improve the appliance down the line. “Particularly, one of the things that I’m interested in is the way this can provide a simpler set of operations for customers using MQ,” says Davidsen. “Along with things like security and performance, one of the things we always focus on in each new release is ease of use. Because this is an appliance, because we know the hardware, we’ve been able to get the maximum performance out of the box. As soon as it’s up and running, you don’t need to do make any configuration changes to get it to run faster. Our MQ clients are always asking if they are doing the right things to make it run faster. With this appliance, we made it as fast as we can, and we will continue to focus on it with each new release.”

Just as the appliance will be updated as more versions are released, MQ will also be upgraded based on things learnt while developing the appliance. “There will always be an MQ,” says Davidsen, as there will always be a need to run MQ on the same machines as the applications rather than remote connectivity.  

“From my point of view, I find it exciting that we can apply [MQ] it in new use cases where previously customers would have wanted MQ, but having no local skills available has stopped it,” says Davidsen. “I like the thought that we are delivering something that allows us to bring MQ where there wasn’t MQ before.”

For further information on MQ Appliance, sign up for the Global WebSphere Community March 17 webcast to hear more from Leif Davidsen.

Visit the IBM MQ Appliance webpage to learn more.



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