About two years ago I wrote a column about the dawn of a new day for IBM WebSphere DataPower SOA Appliances. I was excited about a number of breakthrough announcements, including the extremely popular Application Optimization (AO) option as well as new Web 2.0 JSON/REST and B2B features. About a year after that, I wrote a column about the latest hardware breakthrough at the time, which was the DataPower XI50B BladeCenter appliance – a new and exciting form factor for DataPower which was later (December 2010) extended to the zEnterprise™ mainframe with the XI50z blade appliance.
I’m well known for evangelizing DataPower, because, as any true evangelist, I firmly believe in these products and the huge success they have brought to so many customers worldwide: the real-world benefits in terms of more secure infrastructure; more reliable transactional processing resulting from offloading the "heavy lifting" of crypto, validation, mediation, and transformation from back ends; and certainly the staggering ROI and TCO numbers our customers have reported have always held a place in my heart – technology-wise anyway. Plus, these things are just plain fun and easy to use.
This evolution attests to IBM’s leadership, innovation, investment, and roadmap in the appliance area, as do our other appliances such as the DataPower XC10 caching appliance, IBM Workload Deployer, and DataPower Cast Iron® Appliance. IBM continues well down the road with a mature product offering and long-term strategic plan for appliances, the best evidence of which is the new hardware appliance line. With that, let me introduce you to the new generation of IBM WebSphere DataPower appliances:
The first wave of appliances announced for the new generation of DataPower hardware are all based on the same double-height (2U) chassis. These are taller than the prior appliances, but for good reason: they pack considerably more horsepower and capacity. internally and externally. Of course, the first thing that might catch your attention is the move away from the multi-color theme of the earlier appliances to good old Henry Ford's "you can have any color as long as it’s black" packaging approach. The new design is striking, though, and resonates with strength and power. In fact, these new 9005 appliances recently won a design award from the prestigious International Forum Design GmbH for 2012!
Beyond the color, the other striking visual difference is the greatly enhanced networking capacity. There is a front-facing bank of eight 1-gig Ethernet ports, along with two 10-gig ports and a pair of RJ45 serial-over-LAN administrative ports. One of these (mgt0) can be used for Intelligent Platform Management Interface (IPMI) to do things like lights-out (dark data center) remote administration. There is an LCD panel on the front (which currently displays the model, but in the future will display more information). The network bays, hard drives, fans, and power supply are all user replaceable units. The hard drives feature a new RAID controller with write caching and battery backup. The flash size, memory, and hard drive space are significantly larger than prior models, and, of course, the internal componentry are all latest-generation.
IBM’s goal going into the redesign was a 40% performance improvement, and that goal was exceeded significantly in tests of actual client production flows (of course, actual performance is subject to and dependent upon processing conditions in each individual environment). The latest firmware releases from IBM are capable of recognizing and taking advantage of these additional hardware features now and in the future.
The 9005 7199 2U chassis is currently used for four DataPower models:
- WebSphere DataPower Integration Appliance XI52
The XI52 is the 9005 model upgrade to the XI50 integration appliance, which is really the flagship of the DataPower line. It is the full-fledged hardware ESB product in IBM’s line and used in a variety of diverse use cases due to the extensive protocol and messaging support. The new hardware makes this battleship of the DataPower line even more powerful for your business cases.
- WebSphere DataPower B2B Appliance XB62
The XB62 is the 9005 upgrade to the XB60, which is the B2B appliance in IBM’s DataPower line. It has most of the XI52’s functionality and adds B2B features such as the ability to process AS1, AS2, AS3, ebXML, and EDI through its B2B Gateway service. It also features partner profile management facilities and a transaction viewer. All of this can be done securely in the DMZ.
- WebSphere DataPower Edge Appliance XE82
The XE82 is a brand new appliance. It is a DMZ-facing edge appliance with the capability to consolidate HTTP-based web applications and web service traffic, as well as integrate with the Akamai network. It is intended to accelerate web applications to global users, as well as accelerate and secure both SaaS and IaaS.
- WebSphere DataPower XC10 V2 Appliance
The newer XC10 appliance takes advantage of the 7199/9005 platform to expand the cache to 240 GB (from 160 GB) and also adds increased network performance with the 10gigE interfaces. It also now supports non-Java™ based clients through REST APIs, and can be used as a powerful side cache, WebSphere dynamic cache, and session management platform integrated with the other DataPower appliances discussed here.
IBM recently announced two additional new appliances, which are based on a new 9005 form factor, the 7198 1U. This slimmer model is more similar to the older 9235/9004 models in that it’s the same height. Although it has less internal space than as the new 2U models, it possesses much more capability than the previous 9235/9004 line, and is definitely faster in terms of internal performance. This platform features four 1-gig network ports plus the two 10-gig ports and two RJ45 serial-over-LAN admin ports. IBM has announced two products that use this 1U form factor:
- WebSphere DataPower Service Gateway XG45
IBM’s latest DataPower announcement (just a few weeks ago as of this writing) was the XG45 Service Gateway appliance. As you may have noticed above, there were 9005 upgrades to two of the three primary DataPower appliances, the XI50 and XB60. But what of our fine (previously yellow) XS40? And why wasn’t this called the XS42?
The answer is because IBM didn’t want to just come out with a "new" XS40. For some time, we have heard requests from clients for an appliance that would fit into the "SOA adoption" sector; in other words, a more entry-level appliance for ESB/SOA use, particularly as an SOA gateway. The result is a blend of the XS40 functionality with some of that of the XI50 to achieve both the goal of an upgraded XS40 plus an entry-level variant of the XI50. What you find in the XG45 is the normal XML security features of XS40 (including the IBM Tivoli® Access Manager client in the base model, which was an option on XS40), plus additional protocols (FTP/s, JMS, MQ) and an optional Data Integration Module that enables non-XML processing (including PKCS7 crypto and database connectivity).
- WebSphere DataPower Cast Iron Appliance XH40
The Cast Iron XH40 helps users quickly and easily integrate cloud applications with SaaS using graphical tools, rather than having to write code. While not a legacy DataPower product, WebSphere Cast Iron has moved to the same hardware platform to leverage the performance, benefits, and design of this latest technology.
This new generation of WebSphere DataPower appliances are very compelling products. The success, popularity, and track record of these products make this an exciting time for DataPower. I've said that before, but I guess it’s always an exciting time for DataPower -- and it isn’t even conference season! I can’t wait for the things we’ll be announcing as we get closer to the big Impact conference in April. I hope to see you there.
DataPower SOA Appliances product information
lines: Dawn of a new (DataPower) day
Rise of the DataPower Blade
IBM WebSphere DataPower SOA Appliance Handbook
IBM developerWorks WebSphere
Bill Hines is an Executive I/T Specialist and World-Wide Tech Sales Leader for DataPower, working out of Hershey, PA (Chocolatetown, USA). He has many years of DataPower experience in both customer engagements and developing and delivering internal DataPower training to the IBM consulting, engineering, support, QA, and technical sales teams. He also has WebSphere Application Server experience dating back to 1998. He is the lead author of the acclaimed IBM Press book IBM WebSphere DataPower SOA Appliance Handbook and co-author of IBM WebSphere: Deployment and Advanced Configuration as well as many articles published in WebSphere Technical Journal and developerWorks.