Tag Archives: integration

WebSphere Message Broker version 8 is out!

Hot on the heels of the latest goodness in WebSphere MQ, it’s the turn of IBM’s Enterprise Service Bus – WebSphere Message Broker – to get a major new update.

WMB v8.0 was announced back in early October and has just arrived ready for  download in versions for distributed platforms, System z mainframes, and as a Hypervisor Edition for Linux and AIX (to be provisioned via the IBM Workload Deployer appliance).

As I did with WMQ last month, I wanted to take a moment to break out and highlight some of the key things in this release that you may have missed from the announcement letter. This won’t be a comprehensive list of everything, but I  want to point out some of the cooler features that you’ll want to be aware of. So, here we go…

(I’ve included a few screenshots to whet your appetite, click for larger versions!)

A simpler development experience

Version 8 brings a number of enhancements to the development experience, but one worth highlighting is what we call “Apps and Libs” – the idea that sets of message flows may be grouped into a unit called an Application which can be deployed, stopped and started as a whole. With Libraries, there are also truly re-usable assets like .esql files, or sub-flows, which can be deployed and updated separately, and invoked dynamically at runtime. This is a key change in the way that the Broker works – previously, sub-flows were compiled into the main flow and changing one required redeployment of all flows using it… they are now dynamically linked when needed, so they can be deployed and replaced more easily.

A new standards-based parser and message modeler

A new Data Format Description Language (DFDL, which you’ll sometimes hear called “daffodil”) enables any text or binary data to be understood within the message model. The Broker has had the “MRM” for many years, so of course could already do this, but DFDL is a new industry standard which can supersede the MRM (of course, you can continue to use your existing flows and message formats – you’re not forced to use DFDL). There’s a new mapper, too.

More importantly, coming along with DFDL and the mapper is a really, really nice set of utilities for testing message models inside the Toolkit – you’ll now be able to confirm that the model matches the test data without having to go through a full model->deploy-> test-at-runtime cycle. I saw this demo’ed at the WebSphere Technical Conference in Berlin during October and was blown away by it – it would have saved me a lot of time back in my consulting days!

Comprehensive .NET support

If you have .NET applications, assemblies, or services on the Windows platform, and you want to access those from your message flows – you can. If you want to write your message flow logic using C# or VB.NET or any .NET 4.0 CLR-supported language, using Visual Studio – you can.

If you don’t know how to get started with this stuff, the Toolkit has a new .NET Pattern to lead you by the hand and get you going quickly, and project wizards for Visual Studio.So, if you want a high-performance ESB platform that connects “anything to anything”, with minimal need to learn new skills, and run it on Windows with deep .NET integration – this release is going to cover your requirements.

Web administration

Delivered in version 8 is a first stage in making the Broker more easy to administer from a lightweight client – a web browser. Whilst power users and existing administrators can continue to use the Message Broker Explorer GUI, there is now an easy way to enable an optional web interface for basic administration tasks. Continuing the theme of simplicity the product has followed for a while, no additional moving parts (app or web servers) are required! Version 8.0 provides read-only views of running Applications and access to the log – more capabilities will be rolled into this interface in the future.

Record and Replay

Sometimes, when you are dealing with a set of end-to-end flows of data between applications, you may want the capability to record what is going on, and to replay specific scenarios and sets of events. This could be the case in audit, test, and many other scenarios. Another of the massive enhancements in version 8 is the Broker’s response to this requirement – again delivered using the same simple, lightweight interface offered by the web administration tool.

This also builds on technology around monitoring that has been progressively built into the Broker over the past couple of releases, so there are some really solid foundations and it is straightforward to set up.

Richer, yet easier to use

Just as I highlighted in my piece about WebSphere MQ 7.1, the Hursley teams have been strongly focused on “consumability” (translation for non-IBM-speakers = UX) for a number of years now. WMB continues to add capabilities that make it a richer, stronger integration platform, but also smooths out rough edges seen in earlier releases and is just… well… more productive to use. There’s even a drive to reduce the jargon and make the Broker logs more easy to understand, with new Activity Logging which aims to explain what a flow is doing in plain language (“GET message queue X”, “Update DB table Z”, and so on).

Taken together, the new wizards, web interfaces, integrated testing tools, message modelling tools, reduced dependencies, lightweight deployment with apps and libs… the combination just makes it a much more enjoyable experience for developer and administrators. And there’s a new installer, too.

The “papercuts” and node additions lists are huge: new JMSReceive node; new options for the File nodes; new Connect:Direct nodes; WS-ReliableMessaging support in the SOAP nodes; ability to install without root privileges; dynamic configuration of services without the need to restart execution groups… the list just goes on! Check out the product Information Center for more details on all of the features I just don’t have space to list.

… and finally…

Huge congratulations to some hard-working development teams in Hursley, Toronto and Bangalore in getting this release out there. As I’ve said before, I’ve been using the Broker for 10 years now and it just keeps getting better, and better. These guys are a very strong set of developers who turn out a fantastic, high quality product every time. Special thanks to MGK, @mqmatt, and @domstorey for some of the screenshots in this post 🙂

Footnote: version 8.0 is friendly to developers who use Ubuntu, too! 🙂 Anton (my go-to guy on all things Debian – listen to him!) has some good advice about running WMB or WMQ on Ubuntu and Debian.

Connectivity and Integration podcasts

As well as being WebSphere Messaging Community Lead out of IBM Hursley right now, I’m also part of what we refer to as our “Connectivity and Integration” organisation (middleware… plumbing… the hidden inter-application messaging and adapter stuff, ensuring that systems can talk to one another reliably). Much of what we do in Hursley, and the software that we develop there, is part of the Connectivity space. It’s the software that joins up all the pieces of a Smarter Planet, and it’s an interesting space for a techie like me.

We thought it was about time to talk about some of the features that are in our WebSphere Messaging products – WebSphere MQ, Message Broker, and the family of software that fits around them. So, my colleague Leif Davidsen and I sat down and recorded a series of podcasts. Each episode zeroes in on a specific feature or capability, such as high availability, or telemetry, or security – you get the idea.

As we were talking, Leif and I were trying to keep the discussions bite-sized (about 10 minutes at a time); highlight things that users might not have heard about before; be interesting to administrators and developers as well as to architects; and we tried not to use too much “marketingese” – although I reckon you might spot that in some of the podcast episode titles! 🙂

You can start to subscribe to the Connectivity and Integration podcast series right now in iTunes or add the RSS feed to your favourite podcatcher. There should be some web content and show notes with links and references to follow soon – watch out for those, I’ll tweet about them and update this post when I know more.

NB did you check out my first and second columns for Sphere yet? More to come soon, and I’m hoping to join the GWC Lab Chat series for a future episode as well. Cool stuff.

Message Broker goes Hyper with new updates

I’m excited. About a week ago we released the latest update to WebSphere Message Broker, version 7.0.0.2 (also known as fixpack 2 for version 7), as well as the new Hypervisor Edition of the product.

Version 7 and “what’s new”

I’ve mentioned the new drops of WMB in passing during the year, and I’ve spoken about them in detail as I’ve visited customers and conferences during 2010. So far though, I don’t think I’ve written about it at length this year. Considering I’ve written developerWorks articles and Redbooks on the subject in the past, it’s something of an omission that I need to fix! The version 7 release has had four overarching themes: Universal Connectivity for SOADynamic Operational Management; Platforms, Environments, and Performance; and (perhaps most importantly) Simplicity and Productivity.

I said I was excited, and that’s for two reasons, I think. Firstly, as a technical integration developer, I’m constantly interested in the new function being introduced to enhance the capabilities of the product – I’ll list out a few of those in a moment, but the number of new nodes and functions that have been added to enable you as a developer to get at your information, connect to your services and endpoints, and transform your messages, is just fantastic. Secondly, under that theme of Simplicity and Productivity, the product has been hugely streamlined, and with the usability enhancements and patterns support that have been added, it is faster than ever to get going even as the function becomes richer.

There’s too much to talk about that has dropped into the product capabilities since version 7 became available just over a year ago, but to whet your appetite you’ll find that the 2 updates in 2010 included solidDB support, CORBARequest nodes, a DatabaseInput node, FTE nodes for coordinating or responding to file transfers in WMQ FTE, EmailInput and FileRead nodes, a JSON parsing domain and RESTful web service examples, performance profiling, JDEdwards nodes… this is a team that never stops delivering fantastic, high-quality content. The WMB 7.0.0.2 release notes and details are available on the IBM Support pages, you can check out MGK’s summary of the release at MQSeries.net, or you can jump to the What’s New section in the Infocenter to catch up on 12 months of enhancements!

Patterns and Communities

One of the big items that has been delivered in version 7 has been Patterns – the ability to take a predefined operation or template, fill out a few parameters to customise it for your environment, and deploy a working set of message flows. Ant Phillips has just blogged about the enhancements in patterns authoring in the latest release, and the creation of the new Patterns Community which is over at MQSeries.net. If you saw Ant at any of our conferences this year you’ll know what a great speaker he is and how cool the demos of this technology are.

I’m excited about this, as I know it can help to maintain consistency, learn good practices, and speed along development – isn’t it much easier to build something when you have a framework to follow? I know one of the first things I tend to do when learning something is to look for a good example, and then as a good citizen I like to share what I’ve done to help others, when I can. If you’re a Broker developer I hope you’ll be keen to share and learn within that community. I know Ant and the rest of the team will be eager to listen to your feedback, as they have been doing actively for the past couple of years. There is a nice introductory article on how to create your own patterns on developerWorks. Get contributing!

By the way, I love this paragraph from Ant’s post announcing the community, as it echoes and reinforces what I’ve been talking about in my role as WebSphere Messaging Community Lead. I’m sure he won’t mind me borrowing it:

With this in mind you might be interested in a new global pattern community – mqseries.net has added a pattern community where you can find, download and share patterns. We will be putting some very cool example patterns up over the next few weeks to help get it started. Why mqseries.net? Well communities are all about people, and mqseries.net is where the Broker community go to find answers.

Hypervisor Edition

The final thing I want to mention is that WebSphere Message Broker can now be deployed into a virtualised environment from the WebSphere CloudBurst Appliance. This is cool, particularly when you start to see some of the tie-ins with things like patterns and scripting which enable you to customise the broker instances. A video is worth at least another three paragraphs of waffle though, so I’ll hand over to my colleagues…

Enjoy.