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IBM MQ: 2021 deliveries in review

By Amy McCormick posted Mon January 10, 2022 04:53 AM

  

2021 was a busy year for our customers and the whole IBM MQ team would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our customers for doing business with us. Our MQ teams worked incredibly hard to deliver innovative capabilities and engage with customers, and we wanted to capture that in a blog to keep customers up to date with what's recently been delivered. This content is also available as a podcast at www.DoYouMQ.com

There were 14 fix packs in 2021 across multiple versions, and 3 Continuous Delivery releases to introduce incremental new function. MQ 9.2.2 was released in March, MQ 9.2.3 was released in July and 9.2.4 as released in November – you can search for the announcement letters, or read the blogs on the IBM community for full details. All of these new capabilities will be rolled into the next Long Term Service Release.

IBM MQ software (available to deploy in public and private clouds across multiple platforms)
As part of the Continuous Delivery releases, IBM MQ software customers have access to the following updates:

  • Streaming queues! This is one of the big releases for the year - Streaming Queues enable customers to tap into the value of data flowing over MQ. Streaming queues enable you to make message data available to Apache Kafka, AI, and analytics applications for real-time processing… without changing your architecture and without impacting the flow of data between mission-critical applications. For more information about Streaming Queues, please see this blog post or read the IBM MQ Documentation.
  • MQ Console remote queue manager support was added to enable clients to view and manage their MQ estate from a single user interface, regardless of whether queue managers are deployed in distributed, IBM z/OS®, MQ Appliance, or cloud environments. In addition, there have been several enhancements to the usability of the MQ Console to improve the overall user experience over the year too. These include the capability to download and view complete message contents from the MQ Console, enhancing the prior previewing capability. These capabilities are configurable to provide greater control.
  • Uniform clusters also received an update to enable you to connect Liberty JEE applications, transactional applications and request-and-reply applications to a uniform cluster for improved message availability and workload balancing of messaging. Also, .NET clients can now participate in a uniform cluster.
  • AMQP Queue browse support for QPid Java™ Message Service (JMS) was delivered as well as additional channel attributes to enable interoperability between systems, regardless of vendor or platform.
  • Security:
    • Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) stanza password encryption was added in addition to Transport Layer Security (TLS) 1.3 for Java 8 support.
    • A TLS-only mode is available, and users are notified when a non-TLS communication is enabled.
    • Password protection is enhanced.
    • .NET support for Server Name Indicators (SNI) over TLS.
    • Many runtime updates have been made including: MQ client support for Adoptium and IBM Semeru Java 11 runtimes, and MQ client support for Oracle and Adoptium Java 17 runtimes.
  • The Dead Letter Queue handler can now connect to a remote queue manager and is included in the client package, in addition to the server package in which it is already available. This means that the DLQ handler can now connect to either a local or remote queue manager, including an MQ Appliance or cloud environment.
For IBM MQ Advanced software customers, in addition to the updates mentioned above, MQ Advanced received many updates including:

  • Native HA. This is an embedded solution for clients deploying container-based queue managers to Cloud Pak for Integration on Red Hat OpenShift using the MQ certified container. Native HA is designed to deliver efficient and security-rich replication of data for redundancy, integrated with quorum controlled failover for safe and fast recovery from failures. Critically, this provides the same data integrity and consistency that you would expect from MQ, which is designed to provide full protection for every recoverable operation and message, to ensure that none are duplicated or lost. Native HA does not require any changes to your applications or restrictions to their behaviour. For more information about Native HA, please see this blog post or read the IBM Documentation.
  • Of course, there are other options for HA in MQ - RDQM has had some updates including the display and resolution of failed resource actions with dedicated commands. Also enhancements to help clients ensure they have loaded the correct kernel module and to improve diagnostics. A ‘last in sync’ time is reported for RDQM HA and DR when nodes are not in sync, which can help with problem determination and recovery.
  • New ordering options for non-production workloads were introduced to enable clients to deploy MQ Advanced at a reduced cost in development and test environments.
  • MQ Managed File Transfer (MFT) has had a number of updates this year – for those who don’t know much about MFT, it is a more reliable and efficient means for secure data and file transfer, outpacing and outperforming applications like file transfer protocol (FTP), hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP), secure file transfer protocol (SFTP), and other methods. MFT is enhanced with two commands to start and stop Resource Monitors. These two commands allow a resource monitor to start or stop without the need to stop/start an agent. In addition, assets to deploy the MFT agent in Red Hat® OpenShift® and Docker environments are provided, including an image published in Docker Hub with GitHub samples to enable customization. MQ Advanced 9.2.4 introduces transfer logs for MQ MFT for enhanced visibility of file transfer status. More information is provided to the user about the activities of MFT agents, including details of successful transfers and any failure cases. Transfer logs can assist users in resolving common problems and can be used to supply more detailed diagnostics if required by IBM support.
  • And finally in addition to the security items listed previously, additional enhancements to MQ Advanced Message Security can increase protection of C client passwords.


IBM MQ for z/OS
For our customers with MQ
z/OS who can take advantage of a lot of the previously capabilities, there are a number of other updates that are specific for MQ on z/OS including:

  • Ansible sample playbooks to orchestrate configuration of MQ on z/OS. They enable clients to provision new queues on a queue manager, manage existing queues, and automate backup of application structures within a Coupling Facility. The sample playbooks are available at IBM Z® Ansible collections
  • Users are familiar with SMF as the standard for IBM z/OS monitoring data and now they can reduce the interval at which MQ SMF data is collected. The interval for queue manager statistics (SMF 115 records) and application accounting data (SMF 116 records) can now be set independently. This additional flexibility can help support analytics and machine learning processing to provide operational insights and early warning of adverse issues.
  • And there have been updates around AT-TLS which is designed to create a secure session on behalf of an application and provide encryption and decryption of data based on policy statements, rather than requiring TLS to be implemented by every application that requires a secure connection. Now, additional documentation is provided on the Use of AT-TLS with IBM MQ for z/OS web page, including scenarios specifically tested by IBM.


IBM MQ Appliance

MQ Appliance M2001 and M2002 customers have benefited from 3 firmware updates this year including:

  • Streaming queues
  • HA failed resource action identification and resolution
  • MQ Managed File Transfer commands to start and stop resource monitors, assets to simplify deployment in containers, and Transfer logs
  • MQ Advanced Message Security password protection enhancements, Security enhancements
  • Broadened uniform cluster support for intelligent automated application workload balancing
  • Advanced Message Queuing Protocol (AMQP) browse support and additional channel attributes for AMQP
  • Updates to improve usability of the MQ web console
  • MQ Appliance customers can take advantage of the DLQ handler being made available in the MQ client package because it can now connect to remote queue managers, including an MQ Appliance and in a public or private cloud

SaaS: 'IBM MQ on Cloud'

For those who aren’t aware, IBM MQ is available as a managed cloud service on IBM Cloud and on AWS – in addition to other enhancements such as streaming queues, remote queue managers in the web console, as well as the security updates and the usual patches and maintenance that you’d expect from a managed service, IBM MQ on Cloud now generates metrics from queue managers that are displayed in your IBM Cloud Monitoring instances to gain additional insight in to the health of your cloud queue managers. Try it for free today at cloud.ibm.com/catalog/services/mq


Customer outreach and Developer Experience 

Outside of direct product updates there have been multiple virtual webinars and conferences to share updates, knowledge and best practices with customers and partners alike. Numerous free 'MQ Modernization' workshops were delivered by our team of in-house SMEs, assisting our customers’ journey to a hybrid multi-cloud environment. If you would like to learn more or book a modernization workshop, please email AskMessaging@uk.ibm.com

IBM MQ has an Early Access Program to enable customers to hear about releases and provide feedback on planned capabilities with a goal of making them as useful to our customers as possible. 2021 saw 185 participant organisations join us on 5 beta calls and we welcomed 22 new customers and partner organisations  onto the program. We ran the free 4 day workshop virtually this year and had around 100 enrolled attendees. In addition to the calls and the workshops, there were beta code releases for MQ/Appliance MQ  922, MQ 923 , MQ 924  and beta sample for Helmchart/Kubernetes, as well as an MQ z/OS beta code  'queue manager environment' for (smaller) partners. If you’d like to learn more about the program or register your interest, please visit https://www.ibm.com/uk-en/campaign/early-experience-programs

The Developer Experience team issued 500 new IBM MQ Developer Essentials badges in 2021 – there was also a badge workshop at University of Portsmouth and UCL. The team supported a Visual MQ project with UCL Masters students. Further university outreach projects were run and IBM MQ was invited to join the Industrial Advisory Board at University of Bournemouth in the UK. Additional learn-mq updates and Podman enablement has been added.

Customers can now describe their MQ capabilities using Async API, and developers are able to automatically generate code to integrate using provided tooling. IBM MQ Sponsored and took in the inaugural AsyncAPI Hackathon to develop an IBM MQ Java/JMS Codegen utility. This is available on IBM Messaging GitHub and currently working with the AsyncAPI community to contribute. There is also an IBM MQ Binding for AsyncAPI and IBM MQ (and Event Streams) joined the AsyncAPI TSC. Other notable deliveries include:

  • new samples for RUST, Spring and Serverless (code engine and cloud functions) under the IBM Messaging dev-patterns repo.
  • a tutorial demonstrating how IBM MQ is used with Serverless Applications, and also how IBM MQ can be run in Serverless environments such as AWS ECS Fargate.
  • new tutorials for Quarkas and Graal VM.
  • IBM MQ DevEx sessions (replays available) at IBM Automation and AI Digital Developer Conference on IBM MQ Developer Essentials + Keda + Spring.
  • TechCon 2021 presentations (replays available) where there was a track dedicated to Messaging and IBM MQ over 3 days, with the highest customer attendance.
  • MQTT Charter Clarification and community approval to develop MQTT-SN as an OASIS open standard.
  • A new IBM MQ YouTube Playlist went live with ‘what is’ videos as as well as how to tutorials.

Our teams have expanded the number and location of 'what is' blogs and 'how to' tutorials to help improve knowledge sharing and we started the www.DoYouMQ.com podcast as a new way for people to learn about IBM MQ.

There are so many exciting developments planned for 2022 and we can't wait to share these with you. Thank you again for working with us in 2021, we look forward to working with you in 2022 - Happy New Year from all of the IBM MQ team!

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