Cloud Pak for Integration

Cloud Pak for Integration 2021.3.1 announced September 21st 2021 - Falling into place

By Leif Davidsen posted Tue September 21, 2021 08:16 AM


The autumn, or fall equinox is September 22nd this year for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere. This is great timing for the announcement of IBM Cloud Pak for Integration version 2021.3.1 software on September 21st, and the release on September 24th.

The new release features the return or refresh of two key aspects of Cloud Pak for Integration software.  


One of these includes welcoming back the IBM Event Streams platform. This is IBM’s implementation of the Apache Kafka platform. While it never officially went away, there was a deprecation announcement for the Event Streams platform in March 2021. It continued to be available and supported but this announcement meant that at the time there were no plans to update this component further. However, it is clear how important it is for our customers to have a Kafka platform implementation as a core component of the Cloud Pak for Integration platform so this decision has been reversed. IBM will continue to enhance and update the Event Streams platform, starting with the 2021.3.1 release. Customers can use their Cloud Pak for Integration entitlements to deploy Event Streams software on OpenShift in the same way they choose to deploy other components of the Cloud Pak for Integration platform. IBM also continues to offer the Confluent Platform for IBM Cloud Pak for Integration as an option for customers who choose that Kafka implementation.


The second key feature falling back into place is an updated and refreshed release of Cloud Pak for Integration on the IBM Integrated Facility for Linux on System Z engines, sometimes described as zLinux. There had been previous releases of Cloud Pak for Integration on this platform, but not updated since the 2020.4.1 release. This prior release was still supported, which was based on the Red Hat OpenShift 4.6 EUS release, but customers could not take advantage of the updates to the components delivered since then. In the Cloud Pak for Integration 2021.3.1 release, this is now fixed and updates are available with refreshes for IBM MQ and IBM MQ Advanced, IBM App Connect, IBM Aspera High Speed Transfer Server and IBM Event Streams software. This provides additional deployment choice and enables customers to deploy their integration on a wider set of platforms, reinforcing the value of a hybrid cloud infrastructure based on Red Hat OpenShift.


Additional updates in this release include further enhancement for the Event Endpoint Management feature. This was first available in the 2021.1.1 release and allows users to exploit Kafka stream histories by using APIs with the AsyncAPI standard. There are two enhancements being delivered in this release. One is to allow the Event Endpoint Management feature to be launched directly rather than as a feature of the API Connect component. This helps when customers are looking specifically to use that feature. Another benefit is to separate the deployment of the event gateway service from the Portal and API Manager. This helps the customer deploy the gateway service closer to the Kafka broker cluster, which will not only reduce traffic, but also help put in place better security layers.


Another feature introduced in earlier versions of Cloud Pak for Integration but being further enhanced in this release is API testing. There have been several new features added to help in this area, including generating tests based on the OpenAPI definitions of the API calls. In this release of Cloud Pak for Integration, the OpenAPI schemas are used to generate test data, thereby helping to simplify automated test coverage for additional APIs being deployed. Now, APIs can be developed and deployed with increased test coverage but with lower overheads in terms of building out and running these tests.


In the 2021.1.1 release of Cloud Pak for Integration a new high availability feature of MQ software was introduced as a preview. In the 2021.3.1 release, this is now fully available for production use. This container-native approach for MQ software high availability is designed to be simple to configure and use, with no external dependencies. Three queue managers within the MQ software are deployed, with one active and two as standby. MQ software is used to replicate messages and log data between the systems, which can make use of local node storage rather than more complex and expensive network storage for persistent data. Using Cloud Pak for Integration licensing, the active queue manager component within the MQ software is entitled using the MQ Advanced ratio, and the two standby queue managers don’t require Cloud Pak for Integration entitlements.


Another new MQ software feature available in the Cloud Pak for Integration 2021.3.1 release is streaming queues. This is designed to simplify MQ software message sharing for additional use and customer value without disrupting the message during application sending. Many MQ software applications are designed for point-to-point communication between applications. If customers want to use the same message data to send to another application, such as an analytics engine or a Kafka network, previous options included rewriting both applications to use publish-subscribe, or having either application send another copy of the message; however, this would be different regarding Message-ID or Correl-ID. The new streaming queues feature delivered in MQ software copies the message as it flows through MQ software, preserving the metadata and leaving the message and the original applications unchanged. This frees up the message data to be reused to add new value and generate new business opportunities.


Finally, Cloud Pak for Integration version 2021.3.1 also features additional updates in the App Connect software component. As with each Cloud Pak for Integration release, there are additional new or enhanced Smart Connectors available.


This release includes the following connectors:

- IBM Sterling Order Management System

- Salesforce Marketing Cloud

- IBM Engineering Workflow Management

- Oracle E-Business Suite

- Enhancements to the MQ software connector


Further, the newest version contains the Business Transaction Monitoring feature. This was previously available in IBM Integration Bus software and is now being added into App Connect software. Some of the benefits include tracking the status of App Connect integration flows, discovering whether transactions have completed and viewing events and event data that form business transactions. This powerful feature will allow businesses to view and understand more of the critical workload flowing through their integration infrastructure, thus helping increase business effectiveness and address any issues much earlier.


If this update has made you more interested in what Cloud Pak for Integration can do for your business, try it for yourself. We have a Cloud Pak for Integration trial ready and waiting for you, hosted on the IBM Cloud. Click here to find out more and get started today.