IBM MQ, SSL/TLS, and Certificates

MQ Technical Conference.  September 2014.  Powerpoint presentation.
IBM MQ – SSL & TLS – A User Perspective“  (58 slides).

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The presentation provides an overview of Secure Socket Layer (SSL) / Transport Layer Security (TLS) processing and the lifecycle of x.509 certificates within these protocols.  The presentation covers the following points:

  • Business challenge that SSL/TLS address
  • SSL/TLS History (what it was and was not designed for)
  • Overview of x.509 certificate contents
  • The x.509 certificate management lifecycle
  • The certificate lifecycle, illustrated using the IBM iKeyMan tool

By the end of the presentation, the viewer should have a conceptual understanding of both SSL/TLS encryption across MQ channels as well as the lifecycle and management of the certificates that support that encryption.

Convergence: Operational & AI

As any of you who have either been following the changes in IT infrastructure or simply reading my whitepapers know, The Times They are a Changin’.  Just as Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) moved computing from a homogeneous “single computer type” to a heterogeneous distributed computing model, so too is the Cloud changing the computing landscape.

Rings-Three-Interlocking-LabelsIn addition to the “OS Centric” (mainframe, UNIX, Windows, IBM i, etc.) and “Distributed” (SOA, ESB, etc.) computing environments, “Cloud computing” environments are here to stay.  Modern computing will be spread across all three of these environments.  In fact, computing will be spread across multiple Cloud provider offerings as well as into internal “private” Clouds.  To make all of this happen, significant advancements in software integration have been, and are continuing to, be made.  The Istio Service mesh is a great example of the trend in this kind of integrative capability.

Much of my writing has been focused upon the impacts of Cloud Computing to the “Transactional” or “Operational” side of business computing.   These impacts are very real and they are amongst the first ones that IT organizations have to deal with.  After all, the purpose of IT is to drive business, not the other way around.  Software integration capabilities are, however, breaking down other barriers.

In addition to our historical “OS Centric” and “SOA” computing environments, types of computing were also siloed.  Transactional computing (Banking, Point of Sale, Airline Reservations, etc.) has traditionally been separated from Analytical computing (Data Warehouse, etc.).  This was largely due to the fact that they had very different computing infrastructure requirements as well as different usage requirements.  These differing requirements led to a separation of the data and hence a separation of the associated computing capability.

The scalability and integrative capabilities of Cloud Computing are now beginning to make it possible to re-integrate these heretofore disparate computational functions.  Analytical capabilities are increasingly being exposed as Cloud hosted “Services”.  These Services may easily be invoked either by “transactional” workloads running in existing infrastructures or in newly developed “Cloud Native” workloads.  Transactional data can be passed to the Cloud for “Deep Learning”.  A whole new world of possibilities is opening up!

To prepare for this Brave New World, both the “Transactional” and the “Analytical” technical staff will need to develop an understanding of the concepts and technologies that are used outside of their own disciplines.  This transition begins with education and mutual communication.  Fortunately, there are plenty of opportunities for both of those activities online.  This conversation is, however, mostly definitely NOT limited to only the technical folks!

The conversation must, of course, also include the Business leader(s) responsible for both the “Transactional” and “Analytical” domains.  Creativity, business insight, and technical acumen will all be initially needed to exploit the emerging opportunities.  This is an area of tremendous potential:  the risks are low and the rewards are high.  A couple of possible examples of the synergy between these two disciplines include:

  • Applying Deep Learning to credit approval processing.
  • Applying Watson Personality Insights in Customer Service applications.  

What should your next steps be?  First, start learning about other Data Processing disciplines.  There are plenty of online opportunities.  If you don’t know where to start, just take a look under the “Credentials” menu.  Links to a large number of classes are there.  Take a look at the “Deep Learning” badge in the “Watson” section if you want to take a first look into machine learning.

Second, start conversing with a wider group, both technically and from a business and management perspective, within your organization.  Challenge yourself and others with new ideas.  Innovation feeds off of new ideas.  The cost of throwing a new idea into the conversation is near zero.  The rewards of a new idea successful impacting the business are large.  So, start the conversation.

Finally, don’t be afraid to champion new ideas.  Not even if they’re yours!  Change needs drivers.  Drivers need passion.  So, get passionate (but please remain respectful).  Get communicating.  Get behind the changes that you believe in.  Remember, all journeys begin with the very first step.

Apache HTTP Server – Control Commands

TechDoc.  Apache HTTP Server.  Administrative Commands.
December 2014. 8 pages.
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This TechDoc describes the Apache HTTP Server (httpd2), some of its configuration files, and its operational commands.  The primary control command covered is:

  • apachectl 

This document should provide all of the information necessary for an administrator to control (start, stop and restart) the operation of an Apache HTTP Server.

IBM Integration Bus – BAR File Management

TechDoc.  IBM Integration Bus.  BAR File Management.
February 2015. 23 pages.
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This TechDoc describes the creation, deployment, and management of Broker Archive (BAR) files.  The complete life-cycle of a BAR file is described and, in the absence of Source Code Management (SCM) software, a deployment and management process is proposed.  All of the commands necessary to manage BAR files are covered in detail.  These commands are:

  • mqsicreatebar    (Create a BAR file)
  • mqsiapplybaroverride    (Modify the properties of a BAR file)
  • mqsideploy    (Deploy are BAR file to an Integration Server)
  • mqsireadbar    (Display the properties of a BAR file)

This document should provide all of the information necessary to understand, build, deploy and manage Broker Archive (BAR) files.  In addition, enough command detail is provided to allow an IIB administrator to be able to automate this process through scripting.


Node.js – Getting Started

Chesapeake Node.js User Group.  August 2018.  Powerpoint presentation.
Node.js – Getting Started“  (26 slides).

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The presentation  provides an introduction to the Node.js; the JavaScript Server side run-time. The presentation gives an overview of Node.js and then provides both installation instructions and Command Line Interface (CLI) usage details.  Node.js features covered include:

  • Node.js invocation & features
  • Script Execution
  • Script Debugging
  • Script Code Analysis (“Linting”)

By the end of the presentation, the viewer should have a good idea of the multiple concepts contained in the word “Cloud” and be able to infer which of those concepts is being referred to when the word is used.

IBM Integration Bus – Load Balancing

TechDoc.  IBM Integration Bus.  Load Balancing.
January 2016. 24 pages.
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This TechDoc describes HTTP/HTTPS traffic Load Balancing in regards to IIB Message Flows.  The capabilities of network level hardware are discussed and specific configuration documentation is provided for the following products:

  • A10 Networks AX series Load Balancers

This document should provide all of the information necessary to understand networking capabilities and concepts, their impacts upon both High Availability (HA) and Message Flow Load Balancing, and an overview of the configuration steps required for configuring the Load Balancer itself.  Finally, specific instructions are provided for configuring an A10 AX series Load Balancer.

IBM Integration Bus – Logging

TechDoc.  IBM Integration Bus.  Logging.
March 2015. 10 pages.  Download TechDoc

This TechDoc describes how to configure and access the IIB Logs.  Information regarding logging is provided for both the Windows and Unix platforms.   Three different IIB logs are covered:

  • System Logs (Standard Out and Standard Error; stdout and stderr)
  • Local Error Logs (System Log; syslog)
  • Message Broker Toolkit Logs

This document should provide all of the information necessary to enable an IIB administrator or developer to configure and access the various IIB logs.