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Introducing IBM MQ version 9.4: Built for change

By Pradeep Sudarshan posted Fri May 17, 2024 08:02 AM


We live in a world where businesses must be able to respond to change rapidly, whether it is to meet changing customer expectations or to take advantage of technology shifts that, while disruptive, offer the ability to surpass competitors. This is often at odds with the continual pressures that businesses face around reducing risk and costs across IT operations.

To perform well against these diverse challenges, businesses must have an architectural foundation that:

  • is stable and robust to reduce risk and cost associated with outages or regular migrations.
  • has the right set of capabilities to support a diverse range of applications wherever they are.
  • integrates with new technologies while continuing to support existing business applications.
  • facilitates change, rather than inhibits it, to keep pace with customer expectations.

IBM® MQ is built for change—it connects applications dynamically, securely and reliably, enabling businesses to build loosely coupled message-driven and event-driven applications at scale. With IBM MQ as the foundation, businesses not only have assured (exactly-once), high-performance delivery of data between business systems, but they can also rapidly make isolated changes within their IT landscape to minimize the risk of affecting downstream applications. IBM MQ makes it faster for businesses to incorporate new technologies and gain insights from existing business events, empowering teams to innovate and deliver outstanding customer experiences in real-time. It can help businesses reduce costs from maintaining complex connectivity between applications; and has a flexible lifecycle so businesses can choose to take advantage of cutting-edge cloud-native technologies or to rely on state-of-the-art technology over a longer lifecycle.

IBM MQ continues to be the market-leading messaging solution for businesses of all sizes and across industries and significant investments in version 9.4 make it the future proof choice for connecting within your business and with your business partners. Read on to find out what’s new in the latest long-term support release and the benefits for your business.

New in IBM MQ version 9.4

IBM MQ for Multiplatforms version 9.4 is the follow-on Long-Term Support (LTS) release to IBM MQ version 9.3 (available June 2022). MQ 9.4 was officially announced on 14th of May, 2024 and is Generally Available on 18th of June, 2024. It will be supported until at least June 2029 with the option to extend support until 2033. It is available for clients who want to deploy software to hybrid cloud environments on baremetal, virtual machines, or in containers. MQ on Cloud is also updated to version 9.4 and is available as a managed service on IBM Cloud® or Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Release highlights:

Improved time to resolution through observability

MQ 9.4 now supports the OpenTelemetry standard to trace messages as they flow between applications, empowering administrators with real-time insights to rapidly pinpoint and resolve system issues. This capability can be used with IBM Instana® or any observability tool that supports the OpenTelemetry standard.

Additionally, the MQ Console, MQ’s graphical web interface, has had significant updates—as soon as the Console is opened MQ has analysed and distilled thousands of data points, presenting the most critical aspects clearly to save administrators vital hours sifting through data. And new time zone support simplifies management of MQ in different regions around the world.

Cloud-native security

Securing data is a top-of-mind concern for businesses. In fact, the global average cost of a data breach in 2023 was $4.45 million, a 15% increase over 3 years. MQ has always offered the highest levels of security, being the only vendor to offer true end-to-end encryption for data confidentiality and message integrity. Among other security enhancements, MQ 9.4 modernizes security practices by adding token-based authentication as an option, along with simple management and distribution of security keys. This removes the need to store and transmit passwords—which can be a security vulnerability—and further centralizes and simplifies security configuration in line with cloud-native practices to reduce time and costs.

Cloud-native resiliency

Downtime, either planned or unplanned, is one of the largest costs associated with IT operations. It is vital to make sure that data is safe and that operations can be recovered as quickly as possible in the event of an outage. Not only does IBM MQ include technical support 24x7x365, it also has a range of built-in options for creating highly available MQ networks. In 9.4, the ‘native high availability (HA)’ feature is available in Kubernetes environments for MQ Advanced users. Native HA delivers 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 expected from MQ, which is designed to provide full protection for every recoverable operation and message, to make sure that none are duplicated or lost. It is further enhanced to reduce network load (and the associated costs), automate recovery of damaged objects without the need for manual intervention and the option to increase performance of replication with LZ4 compression.

Insights into business events

Millions of business events pass through IBM MQ every second and with the fully supported, ‘exactly-once’ IBM MQ Connectors for Apache Kafka available in IBM MQ Advanced 9.4, data from core systems can flow uninterrupted—without loss or duplication—bi-directionally between MQ and Apache Kafka. This means that businesses can act in real-time on business events to deliver enhanced customer experiences and improve business processes.

Performance and scalability

LZ4 compression is introduced in version 9.4, a lossless data compression algorithm that minimizes load and increases speed of replication between MQ endpoints, delivering greater performance for highly available workloads. And MQ’s intelligent workload balancing solution, Uniform Clusters, is enabled for a greater range of applications so that they can scale in response to increased workloads. This reduces the risk of applications becoming slow, unresponsive, or crashing, resulting in negative customer experiences and potentially lost revenue.

Amazon Web Service updates

For AWS users, IBM MQ can now be purchased directly via the AWS Cloud Marketplace and a new cloud native learning path is available. Plus, the IBM MQ Partner Solution has been updated to reduce hundreds of manual procedures to just a few steps to build and start a best-practice deployment of IBM MQ on AWS Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS) within minutes.

As with all major MQ version updates, there have been a range of other features added that have not been covered in this blog that improve developer and administration experience, maintain currency with the vast range of platforms, languages, protocols and APIs that MQ supports and to update components such as Managed File Transfer. For the full list and details of what is new in IBM MQ 9.4, visit the documentation (available from June 18th 2024).

Deploying MQ 9.4 is your opportunity to truly enhance your business operations and stay competitive in dynamic markets. Don’t wait, talk to an IBM representative today about modernizing to meet your unique business needs, and see how IBM MQ 9.4 can help your business be built for change.




Wed May 22, 2024 04:35 AM

Hi Prashant, no - this is applicable only for MQ Distributed SW, MQ in Containers and MQ on Cloud. 

MQ on z/OS and Appliance would not have this for now, but we are working on it. Hope this helps.

Mon May 20, 2024 09:20 AM

Thanks for this article Pradeep.Is the below statement application for MQ(LTS) on z/OS as well ?

OpenTelemetry standard to trace messages as they flow between applications.