Think 2018

March 20, 2018

Last Sunday Think 2018 started. Think is IBM’s largest conference. On this conference some new exciting developments were announced in our world of integration. In this blog I will highlights some points I am most excited about. A more in depth blog with focus on ACE will follow as soon as I have the time.

App Connect Enterprise

App Connect Enterprise (ACE) v11 is the successor of IBM Integration bus V10. IBM claims it is more than just a name change. ACE contain both the App Connect and App Connect Professional products.

ACE divides the possible users in three categories: Automators, Integrators and Developers. The Automators are technical business users who want to automate some simple integrations, mostly between cloud applications. They have no development skills. Integrators are the real integration specialists. Developers have extensive development skills but lack integration skills. They primarily wants to use different API’s.

ACE makes it possible for each type of the user to do it’s required integration within the same product. Different GUI’s are available to create the integration. An Automator can use the Web GUI (App Connect ) to graphically define some integrations. The result can be run in the cloud or on the on premise platform. An Integrator can use the full set of well known messageflows. The development will be still done in the ACE integration toolkit (=IBM Integration toolkit). Every integration can be run on premise or in the cloud.

I especially like the interactions between the different roles. Let’s take an example. A business user wants to receive some notification on slack when a new lead is created in Salesforce. He/she wants the notification to contain some data from the backend SAP system. An integrator can create the callable flow to call the sap system with full control over security,sla, .. When the callable flow is started the automator can now use it’s graphical representation in the App Connect GUI. He/she doesn’t have to know all the technical sorcery behind it as the callable flow will shield this from him/her. Now the only things that needs to be done is dragging the Salesforce and Slack connectors in the App Connect GUI, call the callable flow and create some simple graphical mappings. Start the flow and you have the integration running in the cloud or on premise depending on your preferences. They can reuse the same callable flows in different integrations. A very strong response from IBM against Microsoft Flow and its LogicApps.

One of the greatest advantages of ACE that is completely ready to be used in lightweight integration. Lightweight integration is an entire topic on itself so I will not go deeper into this. Basically it boils down to that ACE can run in a docker container as ‘cattle’.

We have some clients who currently want to upgrade from IIB V9 to IIB V10. The recommendation from IBM is to not upgrade to ACE V11 until fixpack 1 is available. This recommendation is only for clients using the IIB in pet mode, which all of our clients do. The reason behind this is that the Integration node is not yet available in ACE. It will be reintroduced in fixpack 1.

IBM MQ “Bridges”

IBM MQ now has some 3 new bridges available:

  1. A salesforce bridge who can process both platform events and push topics from salesforce. It runs on linux and is enabled for monitoring with system topic metrics.

2. The blockchain bridge interacts with the hyper ledger. It will be replaced with a new implementation based on the hyperledger composer.

3. A kafka bridge which is available in github and isn’t supported by IBM.

Furthermore IBM now has an offer for running IBM MQ in the cloud as a managed service. It also is fully cloud ready for all the different cloud providers: IBM Cloud, Amazon AWS, …

API Connect

The new version of API Connect will be called v2018.1. They aim is releasing a version every quarter. The main difference with the old version is that the application is now split up into different microservices so they can be scaled up independently. The 4 services are: the developer portal, analytics, gateway and the API Management.

The Datapower Gateways can now be placed in a cluster with a virtual ip. This vip is the only gateway that needs to be added to the management service. Gateways can be added and removed from a cluster without intervention on the api management console. The firmware of Datapower has also be improved to natively run the API Connect policies. It should be 5 times faster as before. IBM expects it to become even faster as the internal performance tuning is not yet completed. There is also a new Datapower applicance announced which is 2 times faster then it’s older brother. It also contains double the amount of 10GbE network ports (4 in total), enhanced memory and workload capacity, up to 4x RSA operations. Maybe IBM should also release a smaller DataPower HW appliance, experience learns that DataPower HW is often oversized for many of our customers.

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