Cloud Pak for Integration

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2021 - a year of innovation in Integration!

By Matt Roberts posted Mon December 20, 2021 05:04 AM

  

Reflecting on 2021 over the past few days I’m incredibly proud of what our teams around the IBM Integration space have accomplished – both in delivery of exciting new features across our product portfolio, but also in equally critical areas such as the relentless drive to delight our customers that is demonstrated by our Support and documentation Content teams. We hope that you are experiencing the benefits of the work we are putting in across the portfolio. 

As we announce new improvements it’s common to get caught up in the excitement of “what” we deliver, so I want to take this opportunity to reflect on the overarching themes that drive our innovation – and the value it brings to you, our clients.

Powerful integration capabilities that can be used by anyone

Successful application of Integration is critical to most enterprise projects. Whether it’s a first-of-a-kind solution or an enterprise modernization initiative most scenarios involve exchanging data between one system and another – and our Integration capabilities handle the heavy lifting so that you can focus on what’s important to your specific project.

However, the power and flexibility that comes with an Integration tool can sometimes mean needing deeper skills to use it effectively.  We hear your feedback that it can be difficult to build and maintain those skills within your organization, particularly against a backdrop of trends like “the great resignation” as staff may look to change roles.

To address these challenges, we have been working hard in 2021 to introduce features and capabilities that automate more and more of the time-consuming integration tasks so that you can deliver projects more quickly and successfully.

Many of these enhancements are achieved by applying the power of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to the Integration domain – making the machine work harder on your behalf.  In the Mapping Assist feature we are now able to auto-generate powerful mapping definitions based on a small number of concrete examples that you provide, so you no longer have to be an expert in regex or function expression writing to build advanced mappings.  In the API testing arena, we introduced AI insight driven API Test Generation which detects differences between the paths through your production API traffic and that of your synthetic test cases and automatically populates the new test cases to generate higher testing quality and coverage.

More recently we have introduced Natural Language Processing (NLP) capabilities that allow you carry out integration tasks using everyday human language. We started with natural language flow template selection that enables you to search for an existing integration template using a plain text description of what you want to achieve. We went even further in our latest v2021.4.1 release with an experimental feature for natural language flow creation – where a new integration flow is built from scratch based on the natural language description you provide.

End-to-end solutions that solve business requirements

Another piece of feedback we received from many customers this year is that integration scenarios often involve multiple different styles of interaction to deliver the full business use case, so it’s important to be able to easily combine the components together to achieve the end-to-end goal.

A key example of this is our enhanced API co-authoring experience that allows users to implement both the backend (App Connect) business logic of an API as well as the front-end (API Connect) management and security aspects of that API within a single integrated experience instead of needing to separately drive the two parts of the solution from different areas of the interface.

We also introduced Event Endpoint Management which brings API management style capabilities to the Events space, allowing an AsyncAPI document representing events on a Kafka topic to be published to a Developer Portal where it can be discovered and subscribed to by interested consumers. This enables your enterprise to treat Events as first-class citizens in the same way as we do with APIs – presenting them as endpoints that can be explored and reused easily across your enterprise or with partner organizations to generate additional value from the data they contain.

Another exciting addition enables clients to generate more value from their existing applications, where MQ Streaming Queues allows a copy of every MQ message reaching a queue to be sent to a separate nominated queue.  This second stream could be read by an analytics application or forwarded to Kafka where advanced processing tools can be run against it to generate more insight – all with no impact to the existing business application which continues to run unaffected!

Seamless paths to adoption for new and existing users 

We listen hard to the feedback you share with us to make it easier and easier for both new and existing users to adopt our latest features and form factors such as the IBM Cloud Pak for Integration. We have made significant progress this year in both simplifying the requirements for using our new capabilities, and the range of environments in which they can be used.

A much anticipated enhancement this year is the introduction of MQ Native HA which for the first time in IBM MQ’s extensive history removes the need for a replicated file system to handle data replication for high availability. In this new update MQ data is replicated directly by the queue manager itself, allowing MQ queue managers to be easily deployed in environments such as multi-AZ public clouds and cross data center on-premises deployments where replicated file storage (i.e. RWX) is not reliably available.

We also provided an alternative to RWX storage in App Connect Dashboard using S3-compatible object storage which further expands the set of components that can be deployed easily in highly available public cloud and on-premises. We see this simplified storage pattern as a key trend and are looking to continuing with more of our components in future!

We worked hard to enhance the adoption path for our existing customers with migration guides for each of our capabilities that document how to migrate from traditional software installations to our container-based deployments. We also delivered significant improvements to the API Connect migration process - providing enhanced tooling to make the migration process quicker and easier than ever before.

And last but by no means least, 2021 saw us refresh and expand the set of Cloud Pak for Integration components available on the IBM Z mainframe platform and deliver our first set of containerized components on the IBM Power platform. These updates ensure that our clients can benefit from the strength and flexibility of container-based deployments on the broadest range of IBM platforms so far.

 

Summary

As you can see it’s been a busy year for the IBM Integration teams with dozens of component releases and fix pack updates across the capabilities, and there have been many more features and improvements added than I’ve had space to list above. We look forward to continuing to work closely with you all to deliver success in your projects as we enter the new year of 2022 and beyond!

Season’s greetings, and best wishes to you all for the New Year,

 

Matt Roberts
CTO, IBM Integration


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