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Making a Business Case for Using the IBM MQ Appliance

When IBM MQ was first released as MQSeries V1 (based on ezBridge Transact), the number of available distributed platforms was limited to just two – IBM OS/2 and AIX. MQSeries V1 was released on MVS/ESA. Since that introduction in the early 1990’s, IBM MQ (MQ) has become a popular (if not the de facto standard) messaging platform. Today, MQ is being used by most fortune 1000 companies requiring a messaging backbone and is currently available on over 80 different platforms, including two hardware “appliance” models that were released in 2015 and the IBM Message Hub, available with IBM Bluemix.

IBM continues to enhance MQ, supporting new customer requirements and capabilities with each successive version. During the supported lifecycle for each version of MQ, there are typically several fix-packs that become available. Companies with large MQ implementations can find themselves on a never-ending maintenance “treadmill”, implementing fix-packs across dozens or even hundreds of MQ servers. When the next version of IBM MQ is released, the maintenance treadmill begins all over again. When the upgrade process does begin, many organizations take the opportunity to consolidate and/or redesign the number and use of active MQ servers, reducing their hardware, software, and maintenance costs. This is a good time to evaluate the MQ Appliance.

Most IT organizations have limited staff supporting products like MQ. In-house or out-sourced technicians that previously specialized and typically supported a limited number of similar products (e.g., messaging) are now responsible for supporting many different technologies. This hands-off approach helps foster the use of multiple products and versions that may or may not be related. In some cases, these products may be out of support or be on extended support with IBM, which can incur significant cost.

These factors have helped contribute to an erosion of deep product knowledge across every industry and more of a commoditized approach to infrastructure. Some organizations may not even know how the products are being used or which applications are using those products, and these organizations only provide minimal support to keep things running. However, the demand for access to corporate assets continues to increase with new channels such as mobile devices, APIs, and IOT.

This document is based on a real use case where a fortune 100 company wanted to:

  • Convert dozens of IBM MQ Servers deployed as MQ client concentrators to MQ Appliances. Using smaller MQ Appliances allowed for a lower cost of “entry” to the appliance based approach without changing the existing architecture or applications. MQ Appliances are available in two models and are field upgradeable. Should workloads increase in the future, the purchased appliances would be upgraded to larger models using an IBM supplied license key to unlock the increased capacity.
  • Add high availability to the client concentrator architecture by using the capabilities built into the MQ Appliances.
  • Reduce hardware, software, and associated maintenance costs.

MQ Client Concentrators.png

Figure 1 shows the high-level architecture that was implemented using MQ Client Concentrators

  • The MQ Client Access Layer consists of thousands of workstations, servers, and other devices requiring MQ connectivity. These devices use the IBM MQ client libraries and are configured to communicate to one or more concentrator servers.
  • The MQ Server Client Concentrator Layer provides the connection point for the devices in the MQ Client Access Layer and to MQ Application Servers.
  • MQ Application Servers provide the connectivity to MQ applications. The MQ applications are servicing messages from the MQ Server Client Concentrator Layer and consists of hundreds of applications.

Although each customer will have different business goals, expenses, and requirements, using IBM MQ Appliances to consolidate an existing MQ server infrastructure can save significant money for your organization.

This business case demonstrated positive ROI that provided a significant operational and financial impact. IBM MQ Appliances helps:

  • Reduce the number of software and hardware related outages while increasing availability.
    • MQ Appliances have built-in failover capabilities
    • MQ Appliances are firmware based, allowing for faster upgrades and can reduce time spent for MQ upgrade planning and associated outages
    • Maintenance is simpler to apply and is pre-tested by IBM*
  • Offset the costs associated with maintaining and upgrading MQ Software based servers.
    • Reduce time and expense for MQ Software installation and configuration
    • Offset hardware storage costs for message queues and logs
    • Offset the need for IBM MQ Advanced Message Security (AMS) subscription and support costs. IBM MQ AMS is included with the MQ Appliance.

*Applications cannot be deployed directly onto MQ Appliances