Tag Archives: WebSphere Message Broker

Learn WebSphere Message Broker

A couple of weeks ago I noted that the highly talented Mr Martin Gale is allowing me to absorb his genius by osmosis, or at least by working in the same office. I also mentioned that he’s successfully learned the basics of WebSphere Message Broker, too. This is an enterprise middleware product which I’ve spent around 9 years working with – using the product, consulting with clients, writing Redbooks, and educating newcomers.

When I wrote that blog entry, I missed an ideal opportunity to mention that IBM has a trial version of WebSphere Message Broker which is available for download. It’s a great way to take a look at the product and start to develop your own skills. The Information Center and Samples Gallery (available from the Message Broker Toolkit once the product is installed) are very effective places to start, too.

A couple of additional resources that might be of interest to newcomers are the articles in the WMB Zone on IBM developerWorks (check out the “latest content” section), and an unofficial user forum called MQSeries.net which has an active discussion group about WebSphere Message Broker.

WebSphere Message Broker for the win…

The very brilliant Martin Gale joined my team at work last week. I’ve known Martin for a few years now and we had a bit of a shared experience last year going through our professional certification at the same time. He’s an unbelievably clever and talented chap, and it’s a privilege to now be sharing an office with him… I’m hoping that some of his Master Inventiveness rubs off on me! 🙂

Whilst he gets settled in, I’ve had the opportunity to seed my own technology preferences into his mind… this week, he’s been playing around with my personal favourite, WebSphere Message Broker (WMB), whilst developing his own newly-acquired interest in WebSphere Business Events (WBE). He’ll be an expert in both by, oh, 10am tomorrow…

I was very pleased that Martin has enjoyed his Message Broker experience so far! I’ve been using and consulting with the product for many years now, so I know I’m regarded as a bit of a bigot in this area, but it’s a pleasure to see someone using the product for the first time!

wmb-win
NB @martinjgale stream is private, this screenshot used by permission

The secret of success? I believe that it’s the fact that the programming model and toolkit for Message Broker have seen steady improvement and evolution over a number of years – rather than having large chunks of the model revamped between releases. It really has steadily become a stronger and stronger product.

Anyway – victory! More converts needed 🙂

Building a mainframe with nodes and wires

Last Friday, I built a mainframe. It looks like this:

message flow

Well OK. That’s a very, very big exaggeration. Let me explain. I’m doing some work at the moment that involves using some Enterprise Service Bus logic with CICS and various other systems. In one particular case I needed to be able to invoke a CICS transaction across the CICS/MQ bridge. This is actually incredibly straightforward, but at the last minute I couldn’t get my queue manager connected to the host thanks to some firewall issues, so I decided to create a stub version instead.

My own “ESB of choice” is WebSphere Message Broker, and coincidentally that was what I was using to develop logic late last week. I’ve been using the product for about seven years now, on and off. The development environment for WMB enables the user to create message flows that receive data over various input protocols, and wire together various operations which transform, route or otherwise make use of the data.

All this “mainframe emulator” flow does is receive a message with a COBOL copybook formatted body; map the values into a response message (there’s some conditional logic in the map which decides whether to return an error of some kind based on the specific account number in the incoming message, to emulate different conditions); and then just reply to the ReplyToQueue specified in the input message.

Total time – about 3 minutes (OK… a bit more, as I was fiddling with the return conditions and a little bit of XPath in the mapping node). Obviously it’s not a real CICS system, but it served the purpose I needed. Since the interface to the actual CICS/MQ bridge is well-defined, it would be a simple matter of redirecting the message traffic to the real system if it was required for some other degree of testing.

Message Brokers and Forbidden Cities

I’ve been reading a lot about the Beyond Space and Time project, which is bringing Beijing’s famous Forbidden City to life. As an eightbar person I’ve been aware of the project for quite some time, but I have to admit that I’ve not really done too much digging into the underlying technology.

According to the reports, the project has been built using the Torque engine, with WebSphere Application Server and WebSphere Message Broker on the backend, with dynamic provisioning of servers. This is awesome stuff. I frequently refer to Message Broker as “my pet product”, since it’s the product I’ve specialised in for the past 8 years of my professional life. I’m going to probe further into exactly how the middleware stack is being utilised.

As we’ve been evangelising virtual worlds within IBM (I’m not a full-time Metaverse Evangelist, but Ian and, in the past, Roo have frequently been kind enough to put me forward as a speaker on the topic when they’ve been unavailable), the question has arisen as to “why we’re even bothering with all this game stuff”. Well, as someone whose day job has been in enterprise middleware and transactional systems for the past several years, I’ve always seen some of the key connections here. The 3D Internet environment needs to be supported by a multitude of technologies, and enterprises with well-defined Service Oriented Architectures are well placed to have their systems connected to the next-generation environments. If they are going to be successful, Virtual Worlds need hardware to run on, they need some of the enterprise-quality levels of availability, security and service that we’ve become accustomed to in business, and they need to be able to connect up to existing systems. A product like WebSphere Message Broker is ideal for helping to enable this, as it essentially provides the ability to connect to any “legacy” backend and mediate requests on behalf of the avatar needing the data.

So, check out Beyond Space and Time, enjoy it, and you’ll probably forget all about the middleware that enables it to run – which is exactly how it should be. The whole project really does bear out some of the stuff that we’ve been discussing over on eightbar for the past couple of years, and I’m completely thrilled to see it launch.

Smart SOA announcements for WebSphere

I’ve been waiting for the announcement of the WebSphere v6.1 integration products (Process Server, ESB, Message Broker and Registry/Repository) for a while. Yesterday they all broke cover as part of IBM’s Smart SOA fall launch announcements.

IBM WebSphere Message Broker V6.1
http://www-01.ibm.com/common/ssi/rep_ca/6/897/ENUS207-246/ENUS207246.PDF
IBM WebSphere Service Registry and Repository V6.1
http://www-01.ibm.com/common/ssi/rep_ca/5/897/ENUS207-245/ENUS207245.PDF
IBM WebSphere Enterprise Service Bus, WebSphere Process Server and WebSphere Integration Developer V6.1
http://www-01.ibm.com/common/ssi/rep_ca/0/897/ENUS207-230/ENUS207230.PDF

I went on the beta class for Message Broker v6.1 back in the summer. I’d previously written the v5 Redbook and helped with the v6 beta program. This time I haven’t been quite so closely involved, but I’m still really looking forward to seeing the new release get out there.

Some of the key features in Broker that I think are really going to interest the customers I’ve been working with are:

  • native file-handling capability.
  • email output node.
  • built-in adapters for Siebel, SAP and Peoplesoft interaction.
  • an array of other new nodes… the approach is to provide more nodes which have configurable properties, in much the same way that the recent Transport Header Nodes Supportpac enables message headers to be modified without programming.
  • ability to support much larger messages.
  • closer integration with WebSphere Transformation Extender, WebSphere Registry and Repository, and the DataPower appliances.
  • a leaner, faster toolkit.
  • performance enhancements, particularly around XML parsing – and hey, the product is already darned fast! 🙂

I think this is going to be another great release. I can’t wait to get started.

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