I’ve resigned…

Yes. I’m leaving IBM UK.

To join IBM in Ireland 😉

I’m taking up a Development Lead role working on Lotus Connections. Due to the way that IBM is structured, moving from one country to another means resigning from the UK company to join another IBM company, which is a bit bizarre, but no big deal. Needless to say my management have been involved in this process from the beginning and it is really not much different from an internal job move. That is apart from the change of salary currency, pension, benefits… 😉

Whilst I’ll be sad to leave Hursley and the WebSphere family, I am very excited about joining the WPLC part of IBM Software Group, and super-duper excited to be working on a product which really ties in with my growing interest in all things around web 2.0 / social networking. Middleware is great stuff to work on, but I’m looking forward to getting a bit closer to the end-user.

Technically, I’m still awaiting the paperwork from the Dublin side to arrive, but my manager has assured me the resignation can be withdrawn should it need to be. All things being well however Lana and I will be over in Dublin from the start of June to begin a new chapter in our personal and work lives, and I can’t wait!

Coming to a close in Rochester

I’ve one morning of meetings left before I head back home on Friday, landing back in England on Saturday morning. It’s been a very good week. Most of it has been spent in a room with three of us, including a guy from our research lab in Haifa, Israel. We’ve been having lots of discussions about how we might want to integrate some research technology into WESB/WPS, pulling in various other people along the way to offer advice and answers to our questions, including Billy. Unfortunately, I had to be elsewhere during that meeting, so didn’t get the chance to get introduced. Things went so well that we managed to produce a pretty functional prototype.

Today I drove up Highway 52 to Minneapolis to visit a couple of customers. First up was a customer currently in the process of evaluating their needs for an ESB. I took them through a technically-biased introduction to WebSphere ESB, and some good discussion ensued. One refreshing thing about this meeting was that there was no projector, meaning I spent an hour and a half talking with them rather than presenting to them. It is surprising how much more interesting this makes the session, and certainly promotes two-way interactions. We did duck out with some of the developers in the audience at the end to another room so I could show them the WebSphere Integration Developer tooling.

The second meeting was slightly different in that the customer has another vendor incumbent, and it was more of a level-set on our SOA and ESB strategy, covering what we see as being the necessary capabilities of an ESB. For this one I did use a deck purely because there was so much more to cover in terms of introducing WebSphere ESB, Message Broker, Datapower and supporting products such as Datastage TX, WebSphere Service Registry and Repository and IBM Tivoli Composite Application Manager for SOA. This meeting was very, very interactive – probably a result of the audience having a greater business and architecture bias. We had some good discussions about some of their explicit requirements around issues such as how batch and file transfer fits into the bus, if at all.

On a lighter note, I spent a couple of hours after the meetings wandering around the Mall of America by Minneapolis/St. Paul airport. MOA is the largest shopping mall in the USA, and it’s certainly impressive. I was surprised to find a mini-theme park inside complete with a couple of rollercoasters. It also has an underground aquarium along with more restaurants than you could hope to eat in. The usual array of shops were present, including an Apple Store 😉 I resisted the temptation to buy anything, after all, I’ve got a wedding coming up!

The weather today has warmed up a bit from earlier in the week when it was colder than I’ve ever experienced before. Listening to one weather report on Tuesday morning it was -13C, which is probably not that cold, but it felt like it to me! Places in the far North of the state were -18F (-25C), which doesn’t even bear thinking about! I’m surprised at how quickly I got used to the cold though, and I suspect it is just one of those things you get used to out here.

To Rome and Rochester

Lana and I fly off to Rome for a few days of R&R on Sunday, and of course to celebrate her birthday on Wednesday. I’m looking forward to giving the DSLR a real work out on the huge amount of stuff there is to see. As this is our first visit we will no doubt have to prioritise, as it will be impossible to fit everything in. Hopefully there will be some good stuff up on my flickr account by the end of next week

The weekend after we get back Lana flies off to Dublin for a few days with her folks, and I jet off to Rochester, Minnesota for a week of work with some of the guys from the WebSphere Process Server development team, as well as some people coming over from our research lab in Haifa, Israel. I’m also visiting a couple of customers in the Minneapolis area to take them through a deep dive on WebSphere ESB as they begin to evaluate their ESB choices. Should be good.

WebSphere related posts Yahoo pipe

I’ve been playing with Yahoo Pipes again, this time for something a bit more useful.

There are a number of blogs from IBMers here in the UK which cover WebSphere related topics at varying degrees of frequency. Some are solely WebSphere related whilst others talk about all sorts of subjects including WebSphere.

The WebSphere related posts from UK IBMer blogs pipe takes the feeds from a number of these blogs and uses the content analysis module to filter only the WebSphere related posts into one convenient feed. It currently takes input from the following blogs:

This is not an exhaustive list of the possible bloggers, but is a start. If you think a blog should be added, let me know. This pipe could easily be cloned to add feeds for other IBM software brands as well.

What would be really nice (if the folks at Yahoo Labs are listening) is if the fetch module could take a URL input that pointed to an OPML file such as the one maintained by Elias Torres. Then you could imagine a configurable pipe with a text input that fed into the filter meaning you could filter on all sorts of topics such as Second Life for example.

WebSphere ESB 6.0.2 released

WebSphere ESB 6.0.2 (along with WebSphere Process Server 6.0.2 and WebSphere Integration Developer 6.0.2) is now generally available. Existing customers can learn how to download the product from Passport Advantage here (just click on the link for the platform you require.) I’ve discussed some of the new functionality on this blog before, but you can now also access the Infocenter documentation, including a section on what’s new.

Twenty Four days

Until I’m back in work again!

2006 has been a very busy year for me, with a lot of work going into the 6.0.2 release of WebSphere ESB which will be shipping real soon now. Add onto that work for future releases, a fair dose of prototying/investigation work (which is always fun) and trips to Las Vegas, Chicago, Minneapolis, Detroit, Salzburg and not least Swansea to speak at conferences, visit customers and appear at internal meetings and it’s been varied and fun.

One thing I haven’t done enough of though is take holiday, hence the fact that I’m now out of the office for three weeks. I’m looking forward to getting to getting the chance (weather permitting) to get the 400D out a lot more, hopefully including a trip to London on the cards for next week. Then I’m sure the camera will be well utilised when I drive over to Dublin on the 27th to stay with Lana’s folks for a couple of days before we then head down my uncle’s cottage in the small seaside village of Slade, Co. Wexford, on Ireland’ South coast, for a secluded few days heading up to the new year.

So whilst I’m sure this won’t be the last post to this blog before then, it does seem an approriate time to wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, dear reader. I hope you’ll join me in celebrating, something I’m currently doing by working my way through a bottle of Faustino I Rioja!

IBM Transaction and Messaging Congress in Salzburg

Salzburg domes 2

Last week I was at the IBM WebSphere Technical Conference / Transaction and Messaging Congress in Salzburg, Austria, along with a lot of other Hursley people. Specifically I presented a couple of talks on WebSphere ESB, including introducing some of the new features coming up in 6.0.2. The talks were well attended with some good questions, and it was nice to get out and meet some customers. In addition I sat on a couple of panel sessions on which some good questions and discussions ensued.

This was my first visit to Salzburg, after visiting both Vienna and Innsbruck for previous IBM conferences. It’s a lovely city, nestled in a valley through which the River Salzach flows. The dominating feature of the ridge running above the main part of the town is the Hohensalzburg, a fortress first built in 1077 and which is the largest remaining of its kind in Europe.

Salzburg Cathedral 2

The old town contains a number of impressive churches including the Salzburger Dom, an impressive cathedral in which the city’s most famous son was baptized. Of course, there are numerous buildings, streets and tourist traps associated with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and even one of the restaurants we ate in speculated that some of his works may have been composed there!

All in all, Salzburg is a lovely place, and I can imagine it gets even more charismatic as the snow starts to fall. With FlyBe starting flights direct from Southampton next month I can see that Lana and I might have to return together at some point.

I took the 400D along for its first foreign outing, and on a spare day managed to fire off a couple of hundred frames, the most interesting of which can be found on flickr.

WebSphere ESB 602: Administrative dynamicity

In WebSphere ESB 6.0.1, the amount of post-deployment administration you could carry out was limited to the ability to view module import and export details, and the capability to modify the target of an import with an SCA binding. Within WebSphere ESB 6.0.2 we have greatly improved the influence the administrator can have on a deployed mediation flow in two ways.

The first of these is to extend the ability to re-target endpoints to include Web Services endpoints. Thus, an administrator can override the endpoint URL for SOAP/HTTP and SOAP/JMS endpoints. This administrative capability is in addition to the new dynamic endpoint selection functionality I’ve already talked about and is more static in nature. You might ask which one takes precedence and the answer is any endpoint dynamically selected by the mediation flow.

More significantly, we’ve introduced the concept of module properties. An Integration Developer can now opt to promote certain properties of primitives within the mediation flow up to the module, where they will be exposed for viewing and modification by the administrator post-deployment. This leads to a number of interesting possibilities, from being able to make small changes to the behaviour of the flow such as whether or not a Message Logger logs within a global or local transaction, to more creative uses which can have an effect on the outcome of the flow. The combination of administrative properties, the Message Element Setter and a Message Filter primitive is a prime example of a possible application of the latter.

WebSphere ESB 602: Dynamic Endpoint Selection

Apologies for the delay in producing the next in this series of posts outlining the new functionality coming up in WebSphere ESB 6.0.2. However, I’ve got a few cycles to spare so I’m going to try and get the rest of them done in short order.

One of the big questions we get on WebSphere ESB is how can you dynamically select the endpoint to invoke from within a mediation flow? In 601 you are limited to defining imports for all the endpoints you may wish to invoke and then using the Message Filter primitive to route to one of them. Whilst this works, it isn’t very dynamic. If you want to add an endpoint then you need to go back to tooling and then redeploy.

Re-tooling and deployment may be acceptable if the interface of an endpoint has changed as you may well need to update the contents of the flow accordingly (for example by changing a transformation) but is overkill in the simpler case whereby the interface remains the same but you just want to change the endpoint the message is sent to. Just such a scenario was the basis for a Developerworks article by Greg Flurry.

The dynamic endpoint selection capability in WebSphere ESB 6.0.2 will solve this issue by allowing you to augment the Service Message Object during mediation with information on the endpoint that you want to invoke. So the next question is then how do you determine the endpoint?

Well, you could use the existing Database Lookup primitive or a custom mediation, but more interestingly you can also use a new primitive available in 6.0.2, funnily enough titled Endpoint Lookup. The interesting thing about the Endpoint Lookup primitive is that it interfaces with the WebSphere Service Registry and Repository. As such, you can configure the primitive to look up endpoints based on port types, versions and even perform more complex queries based on the ontology you’ve defined within your registry. The registry may return zero, one or more results which you can then select from using a variety of methods, for instance a combination of Message Filter and Message Element Setter.

All this works for endpoints using the SCA native bindings or SOAP/HTTP and SOAP/JMS.

WebSphere ESB 602: Event Emitter

Event Emitter primitive

The Common Event Infrastructure is a core part of the runtime that WebSphere ESB and WebSphere Process Server are based on. The CEI runtime allows you to generate business or IT level events and persistently store then for consumption by monitoring tools such as WebSphere Business Monitor. The event format is defined by the Common Base Event model.

Currently in WebSphere ESB 6.0.1 you can generate CEI events when exports and imports are invoked. With the Event Emitter primitive in 6.0.2 you will be able to generate your own events from within a mediation flow, which can embed any information from within the Service Message Object.

A typical use of the Event Emitter primitive would be in conjunction with the Message Filter primitive to generate a business event when an exceptional situation is discovered based on the content of the message being mediated.