IBM's MQSeries update boosts reliability

IBM's MQSeries update boosts reliability

Integrating applications - whether across varied platforms or entities - can be a daunting and complicated task. Version 5.1 of IBM MQSeries neatly solves the problem by enabling dissimilar or distributed applications to communicate with one another via application messaging.

You might think of application messaging as being similar to an e-mail solution - except that applications instead of people are sending and receiving messages. Like e-mail, the application sending a message does not have to necessarily know about delivery routes or when the receiving application picks up the message. But confirmed delivery is available.

MQSeries continues to lead rivals, such as Microsoft's MSMQ and Level 8's FalconMQ, with more maturity. Microsoft's MSMQ has been available for a shorter time and is limited to Windows NT - but it is tightly integrated with the operating system. Level 8's FalconMQ expands MSMQ support to platforms and bridges messaging support to MQSeries. However, it requires NT.

Administrators who have worked with MQSeries on NT have probably used the command-line interface. IBM has added graphical Microsoft Management Console-based tools for NT, including MQSeries Explorer, MQSeries Services, and the API Exerciser. These tools enable visual management of the messaging environment and access to the programming interface.

The lack of graphical management tools has long been a weak point for MQSeries, and IBM has solved this problem - meeting competitors head on. A new Web-based administration tool works quite well compared with tests I did on the beta version last year.

IBM has also simplified the initial setup process for MQSeries by providing a default configuration facility for administrators who are less familiar with application messaging; those more experienced can customise the setup.

Although IBM has simplified MQSeries administration, developers working with the product will still need training before becoming proficient at application messaging. The included API Exerciser provides help for developers who need to learn the messaging programming interface. Remember that training costs are a budget factor.

This latest version offers new and expanded functionality that will be useful at larger sites. Added clustering and distributed workload support increases reliability during server outages while boosting performance via load balancing; also, queue size maximums have been expanded to 2GB. MQSeries has a useful publish/subscribe feature. You might use it to share information more precisely across varied entities or groups of users.

As an integration solution, MQSeries is a solid choice, provided developers obtain the necessary training. The array of platforms and applications that can communicate via MQSeries combined with better administration capabilities will ease integration woes.

The bottom line

IBM MQSeries Version 5.1

Summary: Sites that are struggling with application integration will appreciate the maturity of MQSeries. Added clustering support and new administration tools make MQSeries an ideal remedy for integration woes.

Business Case: IBM leads the market with support that includes more than 35 platforms. This mature product is ideal for linking dissimilar applications across varied platforms or locations. Application developers, however, will require training.

Pros: Broad platform reach

New clustering support provides greater reliability and load balancingPublish/subscribe feature promotes information sharingExpanded queue sizesImproved administration facilitiesEasier initial setupCons: Developer training requiredPlatforms: AS/400, AIX, HP-UX, OS/2 Warp, Solaris, Windows NT, more than 30 othersCost: Available on application from the companyIBM 13 2426

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