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IBM Cloud Pak for Integration: Powerful and Flexible Integration Capabilities in one offering

In today’s world, it is a norm that applications are containerized and developed in microservices fashion. The need for a more agile approach is also affecting integration middleware software. Software, that is traditionally petted, is very often a critical part of the system.
With IBM Cloud Pak for Integration, IBM is bringing the best of both worlds as a single package. With just one installation packet customers will get all of the integration jewels that IBM has to provide. Products included in the Cloud Pak are:

  • IBM App Connect Enterprise v11
  • IBM API Connect v2018.4.1
  • IBM DataPower v2018.4.1
  • IBM MQ Advanced v9.1.1
  • IBM Event Streams v2018.3.1
  • IBM Aspera High Speed Transfer Server v1.0.0
  • IBM Cloud Private Foundation v3.2.1.

  • But how is Cloud Pak different than a bundle of single products you might ask?
    First, IBM is including a license to Red Hat OpenShift platform together with licenses for products above. You get support for OpenShift as well.
    Secondly, each of the products is containerized and it runs in a container inside OpenShift. Not only that they run as containers, but they can also be very easily provisioned via given Cloud Pak Navigator.
    Thirdly, with Cloud Pak you get added features like single sign-on, common logging, monitoring, unified installer and already mentioned navigator. Those features allow customers to easily provision, manage, and deploy environments on containers.

    Easy and Flexible Purchasing
    With this new Cloud Pak, purchasing integration software is very straightforward.
    There is only a single part number to obtain: IBM Cloud Pak for Integration (D20ZBLL).

    You could start your agile integration journey with one or two products that Cloud Pak offers. For instance, with DataPower and IBM MQ. At a later time, the environment can be easily expanded to include also App Connect or Event Streams (Kafka). All with a single licence option and expanding the capacity as needed.
    There is one thing to note, capacity for some components requires a minimum amount of licenses. For example, for App Connect Enterprise (ACE) three licenses are required and for API Connect it is 16.

    Installing

    To install IBM Cloud Pak for Integration we need to adhere to minimum system requirements for the OpenShift 4.2 platform and for IBM Cloud Pak for Integration. For OpenShift minimum requirements are:

    • A temporary bootstrap machine
    • 3 control plane, or master, machines
    • At least 2 compute machines

    For Cloud Pak minimum requirements are listed on the Knowledge Center page.
    In our experience, one needs about 50 CPU cores to establish an environment that runs API Connect in a basic configuration. Minimum environments would start around 32 cores and for production environment, we are expecting something around 60 – 100 cores depending on a number of services provisioned.
    Yes, it is a lot of processor cores, but haven
    t we been saying for the last 10 years that hardware capacity is cheap? It is also worth to notice that not all of the cores are needed to be licensed for Cloud Pak. Infrastructure nodes dont need to be licensed. You still get support for those though. So from 50 cores, you need to license for instance about 20 cores to run API Connect and App Connect Enterprise. You can also at any time provision other components if there is licencing and capacity to cover those.

    This gives customers very powerful integration capabilities with just one offering. IBM Cloud Pak for Integration doesnt have a lot of competition in that regard.

    Installation Playbook

    IBM provides IBM Cloud Pak Playbook to supplement official documentation by providing best practices, scenario implementation guidance, and more detailed technical information where needed.
    To install Cloud Pak locally you need to ensure the following:

    • Install Red Hat OpenShift platform v4.2 with enough capacity to run IBM Cloud Pak on top of it
    • Download and install IBM Cloud Pak Installation package (ibm-cp-int-2019.4.1-offline.tar.gz, part number CC4R5EN)
    • If you want to get the latest IBM Cloud Private package that has the Common Services, you can also download ibm-cloud-private-rhos-3.2.1.tar.gz.

    Cloud Pak installation package download size is about 32 gigabytes so be patient downloading it.

    Installation of the Cloud Pak is done by running
    nohup sudo docker run -t –net=host -e LICENSE=accept -v $(pwd):/installer/cluster:z -v /var/run:/var/run:z -v /etc/docker:/etc/docker:z –security-opt label:disable ibmcom/icp-inception-amd64:3.2.2 addon -vvv | tee install.log &
    as it is described in the Playbook. Reserve enough for this activity. It took us almost a whole working day to run this command so be patient.
    After command finishes, you should be ready to provision IBM Cloud Pak components. Some are lighter than others. For instance, we have found that provisioning App Connect Enterprise is a lot simpler than more complex system such as API Connect. You might need some help doing this.

    When to pick what?

    Is the IBM’s Cloud Pak format really a good option comparing to purchasing each product independently?

    If you already are an IBM client and if you already have in your IT landscape some (or couple) of these products it makes sense to pursuit the Cloud Pak option. It brings more meaning to your current setup with additional products to be smoothly incorporated as well as puts in place extra useful features like logging and tracking, which you don’t have without the Cloud Pak option.  Also, don’t forget the beautiful OpenShift as a set of knives which comes very handy. 

    If you are starting from scratch, you can go two ways, depending on your long term strategy maturity. If you are very clear with your vendor choice and what you are building, Cloud Pak option makes the building process fast and easy, so you can reach your goals very fast but with the sacrifice of putting all your cards on the same colour (for probably <5-year period).

    If you are more of a “decide as you go” kind of organisation and want to combine different products, commercial and open sources, probably cherry picking from the products included in the Cloud Pak is your fashion. As a prerequisite for this option you should have a strong commitment of internal IT crew to be up to date and able to highly perform on large range of products, which is sometimes hard if you have other core businesses in place. But then you find a trustable experienced partner to tackle this challenge.

    In any case – the products included in the Cloud Pak are the leading players in their segment. How you use it or implement it is a matter of internal flexibility, expertise, time and goals.

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