MQTC Sessions and downloads posted

My sessions and downloadable scripts from MQTC 2.0.15 are now up on the Links page.

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Meet the Bat-O-Meter!

Bat-O-MeterHeard about the Bats of A Feather contest at MQTC?  If so then you knew contestants get 3 minutes each to talk about their best (worst?) IT story vying for awesome prizes.  But what you didn’t know – until now – is that it won’t be me or Roger sitting there with a stopwatch informally timing contestants.  You deserve some accountability and a fair contest.  That’s why I built the Bat-O-Meter which has a countdown clock on either side so the speaker and the audience can see how much time is left.  These are premium prizes y’all and we’re not taking any chances on mucking up the timing.

Although I suppose I’ll be taking chances trying to get this thing through the TSA checkpoints at two airports.  Ahmed Mohammed built a clock and got suspended from school and arrested but at least it walked like a clock and talked like a clock.  This is a countdown timer that chirps on each of the last 10 seconds and then buzzes when it gets to zero to alert the speaker their turn is up.  For those who cannot tell the difference between bombs and other stuff, a countdown timer probably looks more dangerous than a clock.  It doesn’t help that it has a giant lighted arcade button with which each speaker starts their turn.

After pondering for a while the issues with getting this through the TSA checkpoints, I had one of those ah-ha moments that will, I am completely sure, solve the problem.  I programmed it so that on powering up the device it flashes 12:00 like every other digital clock in the history of digital clocks.  Nothing says “clock” like that annoying 12:00 flashing at you to indicate power loss.  I’m sure I’ll have nothing to worry about.

Guts of the Bat-O-Meter

Unless they want to look inside.  It’s like I totally forgot how to solder since I was a kid and the board has lots of burn marks, cold solder joints and sections I screwed up so badly that I just abandoned them and moved to a different part of the board to start over. See that piezo buzzer toward the center left of the board?  I fried it and rather than desolder it I abandoned it in place.  The gray box at the bottom left of the enclosure is the new buzzer and it is really loud and annoying.  Contestants should be glad the judges do not have their own buzzers.  (Although that would not be hard to do for next year…)

In any case, wow does that look nasty.   But it gets the job done.  Will I be able to get it through the TSA checkpoint in Charlotte?  You will have your answer a week from tonight when you see me – or not – at the Registration & Welcome social from 5PM to 8PM.

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Time for MQ to get serious about instrumentation and admin. Again.

Outstanding RFEs and feature requests have been a hot topic on the MQ list server of late.  Looking at the RFEs that have been posted and discussed, there’s a general architectural requirement many of them seem to have in common: Better support for administration and auditing.

It’s tough to ding IBM for lack of instrumentation in the product and I remember well a concerted and very public campaign to gather user experience feedback a few years back. There is considerable instrumentation in the product and that’s a Good Thing. Thanks, Hursley team and MQ management!

However, it is only recently that MQ users have been enabling security at scale, and many of the new security features are driving usage pattern changes. Much of the demand for instrumentation stands apart from security, but much of it is directly related and as the security implementations ramp up, previously latent requirements for instrumentation and administration become newly visible and in that light many gaps have emerged.  The need is urgent based on rapidly evolving market requirements and both customers and IBM will need to reevaluate their enhancement priorities.  We can’t assume priorities carry over from the last release.

Just as MQ approached what might be considered a well-developed set of administrative and instrumentation function, the market requirements evolved to make those look anemic. In light of ubiquitous breaches and more stringent security requirements, MQ needs a lot more admin and instrumentation functionality if we want to do things like prove to an auditor that the system wasn’t penetrated and have any confidence whatsoever when we say that.

Given recent developments with breaches, evolving attacks, and vulnerabilities now being discovered in deep infrastructure code like OpenSSL, that is to be expected. Furthermore, I know the MQ management team are aware that these requirements are emerging, and the reasons why, because I campaigned for them during my time as MQ Product Manager.

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Posted in Events, IIB, News, Security, WMQ, WMQ Security | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

First inaugural Bats of a Feather

We’re trying something new at MQTC this year and if it goes well it may become a regular event.  Let us know what you think by voting and participating in the contest.  It’s conceived as a cross between the Birds of a Feather sessions from IMPACT and the slightly more subversive events that take place at Def Con.  We’re calling it Bats of a Feather and prizes will be awarded.

MQTCBATS_PrizesUpdate 9/14/2015 Prizes announced!

Ever wanted a Pebble Steel watch?  Your own quadcopter?  How about a Smartphone Controlled Paper Airplane?  Grab the mic and tell your MQ horror story and you may go home with one of these.  Save a bit of room in your suitcase!

Registered topics (so far):

  • MQ Lost my message (redux) – Glen Brumbaugh
  • Crazy high CPU usage on Z/OS after MQ clients updated to 7.5 – Linda Foley
  • Look, you can see the DR datacenter from here – AJ Aronoff

Don’t let Glen run off with the top prize uncontested! Tweet your topic title with hashtag #MQTCBATS to register, comment here with a topic, or email me.

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Are messaging hubs an anti-pattern?

I have worked over the last decade with many customers who were consolidating their MQ footprint. It’s a familiar pattern – there are many queue managers, they tend to be lightly loaded, why not consolidate to a central hub? Now that many of the projects with which I have firsthand knowledge have been in Production for a few years some common patterns are emerging and they aren’t good.

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Posted in General, WMQ | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Zero to SSL in under 5 Minutes

A viewer of the Zero to Hello World video recently challenged me to do a similar video for SSL. Challenge accepted!

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Spring Cleaning a Windows MQ Installation

If you have ever attended one of my conference sessions, read my articles, or hired me to perform any kind of MQ work, then you know that I consider SupportPac MS0P to be an indispensable add-on for MQ Explorer.  I recommend it to everybody.  The folks at Hursley Lab are probably sick by now of my stirring up crowds at the conference by insisting it should be part of the base functionality in Explorer and fully supported.  Given all that, you’d think I personally would have it installed in the MQ Explorer on my laptop.  Until tonight, you would have been wrong.

Tonight I dropped everything else and concentrated on getting MS0P to run.  I was eventually successful, but learned a lot about MQ along the way.  I’m writing it all down to hopefully save others from the same ordeal.

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