What's new in WebSphere Message Broker V7

WebSphere Message Broker V7 provides universal connectivity with its ability to route and transform messages from anywhere to anywhere. It is a natural fit for any user of WebSphere MQ. Through its simple programming model and a powerful operational management interface, it makes complex application integration solutions much easier to develop, deploy, and maintain. This article describes the major enhancements in V7.

Matt Lucas (lucas@uk.ibm.com), Lead Architect, IBM Integration Bus Development, IBM

Photo of Matt LucasMatt Lucas is a Software Developer on the WebSphere Message Broker Development team at the IBM Hursley Software Lab in the UK. He joined IBM in 1997, and since the release of WebSphere MQ V2.1 in 2001, he has been Development Team Leader for WebSphere Message Broker. He was responsible for the development of the WebSphere Message Broker Configuration Manager Proxy API and is now responsible for the administration architecture. In his spare time he enjoys the theatre, playing the piano, and playing far too many video games. You can contact Matt at lucas@uk.ibm.com.


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02 December 2009

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Introduction

Each major release of IBM® WebSphere® Message Broker (hereafter called Message Broker) has a set of core themes that guide the development efforts and describe the major enhancements of the release. Here are the four core themes for Message Broker V7:

Simplicity and productivity
These features make the product easier to develop for and easier to manage. Features in this theme help both new and existing users get business value from Message Broker more quickly.
Universal connectivity for SOA
Message Broker plays a critical role in SOA, and features in this theme broaden the SOA scenarios in which you can use the product.
Dynamic operational management
Features in this theme enable administrators to more effectively understand and modify broker behavior, and thus respond more quickly to business requirements.
Platforms, environments, and performance
This theme involves updating the platforms and environments on which Message Broker can be used, to better reflect current customer needs. Features in this theme also improve product performance in key scenarios.

Simplicity and productivity

Streamlined product prerequisites and components

Message Broker V7 and its architecture have been radically simplified in V7. In any system, fewer interacting components means fewer opportunities for failure. The runtime now consists of a single component (the broker), so that the product is easier to deploy into a wide range of processing environments.

One particular simplification is that tools now connect directly to the broker, and do not use a configuration manager. This change reduces the number of steps required for administrative tasks. and gives the tools direct access to more configuration information. The CMP Interface remains the strategic interface for programmatic administration, and applications that use this API now connect directly to the broker. Additional tools are now fully CMP-enabled, such as the mqsilist command, which can now work with remote brokers and report much more information.

You can enable administrative security directly on the broker, which lets you decide who can read, write, and execute on specific brokers and execution groups. This administration is handled using MQ queue authorities, so there is a single security model for both queue managers and brokers. The broker's persistent configuration is now stored exclusively on the file system, which means that you no longer need to create and maintain a system database, and no database product is required unless you want to access user databases.

Figure 1. Message Broker V7 needs only a broker and a queue manager for a working configuration
Message Broker default Configuration Wizard

Commands have been added to back up and restore broker configuration for the purposes of disaster recovery. Additionally, the migration command mqsimigratecomponents copies a configuration from the V6.0 or V6.1 system database onto the local file system.

Publish/subscribe

Message Broker V7 uses WebSphere MQ V7.0.1 to handle publish/subscribe (pub/sub) requests, which means that there is a single topic space and configuration for both products. All pub/sub administrative concepts now form part of the queue manager's configuration and are no longer exposed or managed using Message Broker tools. As a result, Message Broker no longer has, or exposes the concepts of, a User Name Server, topology, collectives, topics hierarchy, or subscriptions. Message Broker V7 and WebSphere MQ V7.0.1 can thus work closely together to provide a single, complete pub/sub solution. For example, the broker's Publication node now uses the MQ pub/sub engine, and content-based subscriptions (the syntax of which has been enhanced to support full ESQL namespaces) are fulfilled by Message Broker.

Default execution groups, which previous versions of Message Broker required in order to run the pub/sub engine, are no longer used. However, you can nominate an execution group for the handling of content-based filtering requests.

Message Broker Toolkit

The Message Broker Toolkit is the Eclipse-based tool for Message Broker application development, and it contains a number of enhancements to speed the work of Message Broker developers.

A new Brokers view lets you administer local and remote brokers without using separate tools. Integrated into the Application Development perspective, the Brokers view gives you quick access to basic administration tasks while you are developing and testing Message Broker solutions. For example, you can deploy message flows directly onto execution groups without having to build BAR files or change perspectives, and deployment results are displayed synchronously in a new Deployment log, which lets you quickly ensure that message flows are deployed and working as expected.

Figure 2. Message Broker Toolkit, showing Brokers view and Deployment Log.
Message Broker Toolkit

The Message Broker Toolkit now also includes an Impact Analysis tool, which enables you to discover interdependencies between Message Broker artifacts, such as when renaming an ESQL module.

There are additional improvements to the samples gallery, quick-start wizards, BAR Editor, Graphical Mapping Tool, and XPath Expression Builders.

Message Broker Explorer

The Message Broker Explorer is a new tool to facilitate the administration of broker environments. It is most suited to full-time Message Broker administrators and provides many features that enable advanced operational control and monitoring. As a plug-in to the WebSphere MQ V7.0.1 Explorer, it gives you a single, consistent management console for both queue managers and brokers. Additionally, many of the features applicable to queue managers also apply to brokers; for example, the ability to view and manage remote systems and the ability to group brokers in sets:

Figure 3. Message Broker Explorer, Navigator view
WebSphere Message Broker Explorer

While status indicators and QuickViews provide important information at a glance, the Message Broker Explorer is can also show an unprecedented amount of detail on what each broker is doing. For example, the Administration Queue shows a real-time list of the administrative tasks being being performed by the broker. If your broker is being configured by many people at the same time, this queue tells you what configuration changes are being requested (including deployments), and which administrators have the authority to remove specific queued tasks. The queue's icon provides a visual indicator of the current administrative load on the broker, which can help you schedule deployments.

Figure 4. Administration Queue
Administration Queue

Related to the Administration Queue is the Administration Log, which logs all recent configuration changes on the broker, including who did what and when, and includes changes initiated through any graphical, command-line, or API tool, including "low-level" commands such as mqsichangeproperties.

Figure 5. Administration Log
Administration Log

The administrator can also view real-time performance information, including both message flow performance (such as throughput rates), and the performance of the broker's resources (such as the JVM). For more information, see Resource statistics below.

Message Broker Explorer also gives you tools to easily modify and tune your brokers. For example, it lets you create, modify, and delete configurable services, so that you can customize the endpoints to which the broker is connected without having to redeploy message flows In addition, it lets you offload WS-Security processing onto a DataPower Appliance, so that you can more effectively balance workload across different systems.

Patterns

In Message Broker, patterns are solutions to commonly recurring problems, and they enable you to quickly create solutions that perform well, adhere to accepted Message Broker best practices, and are less prone to errors.

Figure 6. Patterns Explorer
Patterns Explorer

Historically, Message Broker development has been a "bottom-up" process, with low-level components such as nodes joined together to gradually create a complete application connectivity solution. Pattern-based development is a "top-down" methodology, in which high-level application parameters such as queue names or WSDL documents are described to the broker as pattern parameters to form the solution.

The Message Broker V7 Toolkit contains a Patterns Explorer, which lets you browse available patterns for ones that might be applicable to the current problem. By applying a set of pattern parameters to a pattern instance, you can quickly generate a set of Message Broker artifacts, with common algorithms for aspects such as logging and error handling. You can then customize and deploy these artifacts in the usual way.

For more information on patterns support in Message Broker V7, see the developerWorks article Introduction to patterns in WebSphere Message Broker V7.

Universal connectivity for SOA

SCA nodes for WebSphere Process Server

Message Broker V7 makes it easier for application connectivity logic to interact with WebSphere Process Server. Through a set of five new nodes, business processes can invoke message flows (using SCAInput and SCAReply), and message flows can invoke business processes, either synchronously (SCARequest) or asynchronously (SCAAsyncRequest and SCAAsyncResponse). These nodes enable Message Broker to interact with SCA endpoints hosted in WebSphere Process Server, using either Web services (SOAP over HTTP) or WebSphere MQ bindings. Implementation is made easier by the ability to kick-start development through the import and export of the SCDL file that describes the business process.

Figure 7. Creating business processes for WebSphere Process Server in WebSphere Integration Developer
WebSphere Integration Developer

PHPCompute node

Previewed in Message Broker V6.1.0.3, support for the PHPCompute node has been expanded to include all broker platforms except for Solaris Opteron. This node lets you apply general-purpose message transformation logic using the PHP language, and complements the JavaCompute, Compute, XSLTransform, and Mapping nodes. It enables the skills of the sizable PHP community along with existing PHP assets to be applied to Message Broker. The particular strength of the node is in enabling you to write connectivity logic simply and quickly. The language contains an easy-to-use syntax for addressing and modifying message elements, and works with a wide range of PHP extension libraries.

SAP, Siebel, and PeopleSoft enhancements

The SAP, Siebel, and PeopleSoft nodes that were added in V6.1 enable these Enterprise Information Systems to easily interact with the rest of the enterprise. Message Broker V7 improves these nodes by making them easier to manage operationally -- for example, by using new configurable service properties (such as the hostname, client ID, user ID, and password) that allow the reconfiguration of these nodes without having to modify the message flows and adapter components that interact with them. Additionally, the nodes support incremental discovery of definitions to let you more easily add new definitions to existing deployments.

Several SAP-specific features have been added, including the ability to specify a single program ID (which enables multiple IDOCs to be handled by different message flows without disruption), support for SCI using a new SAPReply node, and BAPI commit-wait processing.

Sequence and Resequence nodes

These new nodes in Message Broker V7 help ensure the correct processing of messages in scenarios where ordering is critical. The Sequence node causes the broker to apply a sequence number to messages. The Resequence node lets messages arrive in any order, but will only propagate messages in the correct order (which can be determined by any source, including the Sequence node). The node includes comprehensive detection and processing in the event of missing or duplicate messages.

Figure 8. Sequence and Resequence nodes
Sequence and Resequence nodes

The nodes have a wide range of options for applying and parsing sequences, including literal values, expressions calculated from an XPath predicate, and sequences bounded by a given length of time. Additionally, support for sequence groups enables multiple message sequences to be processed concurrently through Message Broker.

Dynamic operational management

Audit and monitoring

Auditing and Monitoring has been an important focus area for Message Broker since the first delivery of features in this area in V6.1.0.2. Using this function, Message Broker can emit events as messages pass through it, and there are typically three scenarios in which this is used:

  • Extraction of business-relevant information from messages, and the collation and reporting of this information in a product such as WebSphere Business Monitor
  • Extraction of fields from messages for input into products designed to detect patterns in messages (for example, for fraud detection), using a product such as WebSphere Business Events
  • Recording of each message's payload for auditing purposes, with the ability to modify, resend, or replay sequences of messages

Using the Message Broker Toolkit, or operationally from the command line, you can now specify when you want events to occur and the content of those events, which can then be used to satisfy these scenarios. Events are published on a well-known pub/sub topic using in a simple format that uses a published schema. A message-driven bean (MDB) sample is provided that subscribes to these events and makes them available to an instance of WebSphere Business Monitor.

Figure 9. WebSphere Business Monitor
WebSphere Business Monitor

Resource statistics

Message Broker V7 introduces a new framework for reporting resource utilization in the broker. This framework helps you immediately understand broker behavior, and can be used for problem diagnosis and in optimizing broker environments. The resource statistics framework is based on the accounting and statistics facility already in the product, and it enables subscribers to receive periodic messages that describe various statistics on the resources that the broker is using, such as the JVM and network sockets. Message Broker Explorer is fully enabled for this framework, and so you can enable or disable resource statistics, and also view and report the current resource utilization graphically.

Figure 10. Resource statistics
Resource statistics

Multi-instance brokers

WebSphere MQ V7.0.1 introduced the concept of multi-instance queue managers, which lets multiple instances of a queue manager sit on separate machines, thus providing a highly available active/passive configuration. It works by hosting the queue manager's configuration on shared network storage, and if the active queue manager fails, a second instance automatically becomes active by assuming the stopped queue manager's configuration.

Message Broker V7 builds on this feature to add the concept of multi-instance brokers. It works in exactly the same way -- hosting the broker's configuration on network storage -- and makes your brokers highly available in the same way as your queue managers are.

The feature works with WebSphere MQ in one of two ways. Each broker instance can be started as an MQ service, so that when the queue manager fails over to the standby, the broker is automatically started. Alternatively, the standby broker can be continually running in a semi-initialized state, waiting for the associated standby queue manager and shared broker configuration to become available.

If you only wish to make your brokers or queue managers highly available, multi-instances can save the administration overhead of a third-party high-availability solution such as HACMP. However, the multi-instance brokers feature does not make any connected resources (such as databases) highly available, so in these scenarios another product that provides high availability is still required.

Platforms, environments, and performance

The V7 broker is now exclusively 64-bit on all platforms (including z/OS), with the exception of the Windows and Linux on x86 hardware, which remains 32-bit. 64-bit support increases the addressable storage of the broker, and further reduces administrative complexity. There are no longer any dual-mode options for selecting 32-bit or 64-bit processor architecture when creating execution groups.

Message Broker V7 requires WebSphere MQ V7.0.1, in order to take advantage of features such as pub/sub, the MQ Explorer, and multi-instance queue managers. Additionally, the broker uses a Java 6 JVM. In many scenarios, the 64-bit IBM J9 engine offers improved Java performance, including reductions in start-up time and memory footprint.

Focus areas for other performance improvements in Message Broker V7 have included reducing the overall install and memory footprint, and reducing the time to perform administrative actions, including deployment times and connection time from tools.

For more information on hardware and software requirements, see the WebSphere Message Broker product site. For more information on performance characteristics in common scenarios, see Message Broker performance reports.

Migration

Direct migration to Message Broker V7 is supported from Message Broker V6.0 and V6.1. V7 coexists with previous versions, which means that V7 will run alongside and independently of your existing version, thus eliminating the need for additional hardware while migrating.

Existing message flows and related files can be imported into and used by a Message Broker V7 Toolkit workspace. Files saved in the V7 tools can only be deployed to V7 brokers, while files saved in the V6 tools can be deployed only to brokers of that version. However, unchanged V6 BAR files can be deployed into a V7 broker.

You can migrate brokers using the mqsimigratecomponents command, which moves an existing local broker to V7, while retaining its deployed configuration. The same command also rolls back a migrated broker to the previous version, assuming the broker’s pre-migration configuration. You can also migrate brokers by creating a mirrored broker environment and redeploying your message flows separately. This approach lets you migrate projects individually, although it means that client applications may need to connect to a broker with different connection characteristics.

Once a broker has been migrated to V7, the V7 tools can manage it directly. When you no longer need the ability to roll back the broker, you can delete the broker’s system database, unless it is still required for user data. Once all of the brokers associated with a Configuration Manager have been migrated, the Configuration Manager can be deleted.

Conclusion

WebSphere Message Broker V7 is a major release, and this article described some of is significant improvements:

  • Improved ease-of-use for both new and existing users: streamlining the components required, such as removing the Configuration Manager and system database; adding the Message Broker Explorer to give administrators more control over broker environments; and introducing patterns to reduce time-to-value for Message Broker users.
  • Improved connectivity options: SCA nodes for close integration with WebSphere Process Server; the PHPCompute node to complement existing transformation options; improved nodes for packaged applications (SAP, Siebel, and PeopleSoft) that broaden the choices available and make connections easier to manage; and Sequence/Resequence nodes for increased control of message ordering.
  • Better information and control for more effective operational management: the ability to emit events for auditing and monitoring; resource statistics to better understand broker behavior; and multi-instance brokers for high availability.
  • Platform, environment, and performance improvements that take advantage of hardware and software updates and more accurately reflect user scenarios, plus migration assistance to help you move to V7.

This article has described only some of the new features in V7. For a more complete description, see the topic What's new in WebSphere Message Broker V7 in the WebSphere Message Broker Information Center.

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