Thoughts on managing messaging middleware

Dell is set to buy Quest Software for $2.4 B. Among Quest tools is message queuing management software. This “middleware minder” meets a growing need.

Company acquisitions that top a billion dollars usually get people’s attention. Coming in at about $2.4 billion,...

Dell’s announcement last week that it intended to buy Quest Software was no exception.  But it is interesting for other reasons as well. Despite its purchase of cloud integration startup Boomi, Dell had a long way to go to get into the software business. Buying Quest pushes them more soundly into that realm.

Moreover, Quest, which first came to prominence with its Toad data modeling tool, has expanded its management software portfolio mightily over the years.  Dell already had a place in the data center, no doubt! But advanced application management software is a necessity, and Quest fields a variety of such software, not just for the Microsoft Windows platform but for the Java platform too. 

In the Quest portfolio is software for managing message queuing middleware that should not be overlooked.  As the importance of application integration grows, the need for such integration management software grows as well.

For a long time, IBM had messaging middleware much to itself, and it was able to spread its MQ software through the data center based in great part upon Tivoli management and monitoring tools that specialized in minding the queues. Development teams can come up with great messaging middleware integrations, but if the ops department cannot monitor them, and trace problems as they arise, the great middleware will not get deployed in the enterprise. Here, IBM had a lead of which its systems management competitors took note.

A look at the recently announced plan of Red Hat to buy FuseSource also shows the importance of middleware management. FuseSource’s modeling capabilities are based on intimate knowledge of important integration patterns, and these can serve throughout the application life cycle so as to provide operations staff with useful views of messaging software at work.

The challenge of managing middleware becomes further magnified when you look at other trends, especially virtualization and the latest take on virtualization that is known as cloud computing.

Enter automated management of middleware

This was borne out in recent conversation with Zoho Corp. President Raj Sabhlok. Zoho division ManageEngine had just released software for managing Rabbit MQ, an open source messaging system favored by VMWare’s SpringSource group and others. Such open source software can be quickly prototyped, but then may wait for deployment as operations folks try to find a run time they can manage comfortably.

“These apps are so distributed, there are so many components, that message queuing becomes pretty critical,” said Sabhlok.  “A lot of these complex applications have Web servers and application servers, and the applications themselves are being moved entirely to virtualized environments.”

“We monitor whether Rabbit MQ service is available, the message queues themselves, and the messages that are going across [the wire]. We monitor not just the availability but also the health – the critical report elements,” he said.

Such systems management are the primary way that IT organizations can get their arms around multiple, disparate systems, Sabhlok said, noting that, while the integrations become more complex, the organization is looking to implement them without increasing its IT staff. “They take on more projects but they don’t increase the head count,” he said. Enter automated management tools for new messaging queues.

 

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As a user and a provider of messaging middleware for the past 20 years, I have seen the ever growing importance of the sharing of data. The need for that data to be delivered and recognized in a shorter amount of time is becoming the trend of distributed applications within enterprises. IT messaging solutions certainly have many solutions available today for the distribution and management of data, however that is not the case with operational systems where latency and throughput are the dominating performance factors. Standards such as JMS and MQ provide the backbone of IT messaging. On the operational side of an enterprise, standards such as DDS (Data Distribution Service) are the up and coming solutions for solving the problems of latency and throughput. Then bridging these two worlds together with an appropriate management solution will give organizations the ability to be more agile and efficient, thus driving up revenues and profits.

B. Farabaugh
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I tend to agree with the general thrust of this article - middleware is becoming more important. On a given system we now have a pretty good fell on how to build software. But as those systems have to come together to deliver an entirely new whole its middleware that becomes the critical component. partially because its quality and integratability dictates the speed at which systems are efficiently brought together to serve new and increased functional objectives.

However, in some markets have progressed beyond figuring out how to stitch stuff together - instead they focus on ensuring that all components are architected for interoperability from the start (with legacy wrapping capabilities). I suspect the IT sector has a lot to learn from the defence sector in which some very interesting shifts are taking place driving towards greater inherent interoperability between systems. This event is a good place to learn more - www.ioaevent.com (it'll shortly be updated with the 2012 agenda).
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