June 23, 2022 By IBM Instana Team 3 min read

IBM® MQ, previously IBM WebSphere® MQ and the IBM MQ Series, is an enterprise-oriented messaging middleware. According to the IBM website, “It works with a broad range of computing platforms, applications, web services and communications protocols for security-rich message delivery. IBM MQ provides a communications layer for visibility and control of the flow of messages and data inside and outside your organization.” It’s well known for its reliability, speed, robustness and security.

It was first released in 1993 as a messaging system for mainframes. Since then, it has continuously evolved and today provides message delivery for a significant range of areas, from mainframes to mobiles and cloud platforms. According to the IBM website, 85% of the Fortune 100 and 98 of the top 100 global banks are using IBM MQ.

Figure 1. Example of the IBM MQ architecture.

Monitoring IBM MQ

IBM MQ is a central component that couples applications and services of different levels of complexity and purposes. Monitoring IBM MQ configuration, performance and health provides the ability to detect issues, perform root cause analysis and detect bottlenecks.

The main building block of the IBM MQ solution is a queue manager. It’s responsible for handling queues, adding messages to them and transferring messages to other queue managers using channels. Monitoring the health of queue managers, queues and channels are essential from the operations point of view. One of the critical queue metrics that should be tracked is the current queue depth. Approaching current to maximum queue depth in some time frame indicates the necessity to scale the queue before it exceeds capacity.

Although IBM MQ is well known for its capability to not lose messages, in some cases messages won’t be delivered to the destination. These messages won’t be dropped but, instead, end up in the dead letter queue. Message presence in the dead letter queue indicates that the destination queue doesn’t exist, isn’t reachable or there’s some other significant problem in the system.

IBM MQ is one of the best-in-class message queues (MQs) in terms of message delivery speed and reliability. Therefore, it’s crucial to monitor the age of the oldest message in the queue.

Monitoring IBM MQ with the IBM Instana platform

IBM MQ monitoring with the IBM Instana™ platform works on all IBM MQ components: queue managers, queues, channels, topics and listeners, as well as monitoring the whole cluster. By installing a lightweight IBM Instana agent and providing credentials, the sensors are activated automatically and start collecting metrics for each configured queue manager instance and other corresponding entities, such as queues, channels and so on. And it’s all done in 5 minutes with minimal overhead. What’s more, the IBM Instana agent doesn’t have to be installed on the same host as IBM MQ entities; it can remotely monitor IBM MQ.

Figure 2. IBM Instana screenshot of the Queue Manager dashboard.

The Queue Manager dashboard shows KPIs, relevant metrics and a list of corresponding queues and channels. From the Queue Manager dashboard, it’s easy to navigate to the Queue and Channel dashboards.

Figure 3. IBM Instana screenshot of the Queue dashboard.

The IBM Instana platform’s support for the IBM MQ also provides a comprehensive list of the built-in health events from the health statuses of the key components—queue managers, channels, listeners—to the depth and oldest message for each queue. In addition to built-in events, it’s possible to create custom events and alerts for all collected metrics.

The IBM Instana platform’s IBM MQ monitoring includes automatic discovery, continuous delivery, dependency mapping, metric monitoring, anomaly detection and analytics across the complete trace data set. A combination of these capabilities gives you a holistic view of IBM MQ and applications that communicate with each other using it. By this, the IBM Instana platform provides a powerful way for issue detection and resolution within seconds.

If you want to experience the full power of the IBM Instana platform’s IBM MQ monitoring, sign up for a free trial and see for yourself.

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