4 Key Benefits from Using Self-Service for IBM MQ – Part 3 of 3

Using a Self-Service Dashboard:

Observing real-time metrics and comparing how they change over time is fundamental for early warning performance alerts. Users can browse historical metrics, view anomalies and then take action to ensure alerts are generated as soon as they reoccur.

Creating a Self-Service Dashboard:

A self-service dashboard should not be difficult to create; otherwise, it may be abandoned before value is received.  It must be a very simple guided process that the MQ administrator follows to create the monitoring dashboard.  The three most important questions that must be answered before building a dashboard, include:

  • What are the key metrics and events that need to be monitored?
  • How are these metrics going to be interpreted?
  • When are notifications set or actions invoked?

A wizard based approach is ideal when subject matter experts want to rapidly, create monitoring dashboards.  This approach is without any need for programming or scripting.

4 Key Benefits from Using Self-Service for IBM MQ - Part 3 of 3

3 Steps for a Wizard Based Approach:

First Step: Select the MQ metrics for the events you want to monitor.

Second Step: Specify the rules for interpreting these metrics and events

Third Step: Specify the conditions for raising alerts and sending notifications or performing actions on behalf of your user.

Self-Service Access to the MQ Estate:

There are several groups of stakeholders within the enterprise that need access to the MQ Estate but their requirements may be very different. Application support teams may only need to view status information.  For example, they need to see if a queue manager or a channel is running in a production environment.  Whereas other teams may need to do other things such as browsing messages on specific queues.  In order to create test data, your application developers may need the ability to work with messages.

Application Developers or DevOps specialists might need to take specific actions such as creating, moving, copying, editing, or rerouting messages on a set of queues in development.  Alternatively, they could be creating test queues, topics or subscriptions used by an application or other self-service use cases.

We need to keep in mind our design goals for self-service. 

These are comprised of:

Safety: Protect the MQ Estate

Security: Deliver highly granular, role based security to our users

Simplicity: Delegating selected tasks to DevOps teams and other stakeholders in the organization

Scalability: To a large number of users

Today, in most organizations, only a small number of MQ administrators are authorized to do these tasks.  If we are going to authorize various stakeholders such as application developers or support teams to do specific functions on specific MQ objects, we will need a security facility that enables secure delegation of authority and granular control over privileged access.

Security Management for the Self-Service System:

In order to delegate authority to our stakeholders and enable them to do specific things in a controlled way, our facility needs a security manager.  It must be easily deployed and managed by the MQ administrator who assumes governance of this system.

4 Key Benefits from Using Self-Service for IBM MQ - Part 3 of 3

The MQ admin can specify MQ objects, a list of authorized actions and a granular set of authorizations that together determine what the user in a certain role is allowed to do. Any one of these roles can contain multiple authorizations. For example an MQ admin can assign a role such as administrator or a message browser role to a user or a group of users.

Once roles are assigned, a stakeholder such as an application developer would have the authority to view MQ objects they are entitled to see and perform actions they are authorized to perform. These activities would be accomplished via a self-service application running in a web browser.

Conclusion:

A self-service system for IBM MQ has a number of potential stakeholders in addition to the middleware team, including:  Application Support, Application Developers, Enterprise Architects, and Application Owners. User empowerment is one of the key benefits making this technology extremely compelling for enterprises.  Users are now able to do things themselves that previously required help from MQ specialists or the MQ administrators.

Self-service for MQ delivers increased efficiency and improved productivity The time it takes to complete a task decreases as the user with a problem can address it themselves.  At the same time costs are lower as problem resolution time shrinks.

The key ingredient in a successful self-service implementation is the act of delegating a specific set of selected activities to a broader group of people. When are building a self-service system, never forget the goals of: safety to protect the system, security to control authorization, simplicity to guide the non-specialist and scalability to handle increasing user volume.

5 Best Practices to Avoid Data Breaches in the Healthcare Industry

5 Best Practices to Avoid Data Breaches in the Healthcare IndustryData breaches are common and can occur at almost every type of organization or company, but they are particularly troublesome and widespread in the healthcare industry. Patients’ sensitive medical records are constantly at risk, whether the organization is large or small, affecting individuals at every level of data breach.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services maintains an online database of healthcare breaches affecting over 500 individuals, but many smaller breaches occur each year as well. According to Forbes, over 112 million records were compromised by data breaches in 2015 alone—and 90% of the top ten breaches were related to hacking or IT incidents.

The average cost of a breach continues to rise, and in 2014, that average stood at $5.9 million. With the high prevalence of cybercrime still rising, the healthcare industry must take steps to reduce the number and impact of data breaches, which lead to the compromise of sensitive data and financial consequences. Healthcare organizations should follow cyber security best practices to minimize the risk of a breach. These steps include:

Educating Employees on Security Risks

Healthcare organizations may have stellar employees, but human error can always lead to security issues. Proper training on regulations, security protocols—and support for employees using mobile devices—can help reduce these errors and improve overall security. Employees should only have the data necessary to perform the functions of their job—the fewer places data is stored, the more secure it is.

Choosing Vendors Carefully

Many healthcare organizations use offsite data storage systems that work with third party vendors who are responsible for the organization’s records. Choosing partners who follow best practices are essential to keeping data safe. When an organization does not have direct control over the data, the security precautions must be just as strict as if the data was stored in-house.

Best Practices are the Best Defense

Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to prevent a data breach. By following best practices, however, healthcare organizations can minimize the risk of a breach and be better equipped to handle a one in the future. Preventing a breach may require quite a bit of preparation, but it can save money in the long run and prevent patients’ sensitive data from falling into the wrong hands.

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What Is The Right Way Of Using Big Data For Business Excellence?

blogpicUsing Big Data for business success is undoubtedly a smart move, but only when implemented orderly. The responsibility for the initiatives and implementation starts with properly understanding & organizing it before bringing in the voluminous data. Since most of the companies have leadership and capabilities vacuum for Big Data and Analytics, therefore, making it smart and efficient always seems a far post for business excellence. So how to get most out of Big Data? What skills and tools are needed? How to protect and store it for better utilization?

Data Should be Smart Enough to Provide Needed Insights!

You have saved and organized the collected data for saving time and efforts later on. But, are you sure the data is capable enough to give you insights and information you are expecting from it?

Apart from collecting data, you must thoroughly check whether you are accumulating the right one or just a noise! Data such as buying habits of consumers, their feedbacks, opinion, changing trends and desires are few examples of worthwhile data. This will help you make better and actionable decisions.

In this fast data-driven world, you must act fast as well as accurate. Otherwise, you will just end up with junk nothing more. Therefore, you must competently handle velocity, volume, and variety of the data for making this approach bankable for your business. Make sure that you are collecting the required data and not just the volume. This will save you from the challenges that might arise when you begin sifting through it.

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Latency Numbers Everyone Should Know

latencyA Checklist Providing Atomic Latency Numbers

Check out the graphic from DZone, “Latency Numbers Everyone Should Know”.  The graphic is a chart showing common operations, an explanation of each operation and how long these operations typically take on commodity hardware.

This information can be very helpful when doing performance tuning as you will know how long your operations should take. You can also utilize this information to calculate  potential throughput.  Continue reading

4 Key Benefits from Using Self-Service for IBM MQ – Part 2 of 3

4 Key Benefits from Using Self-Service for IBM MQ - Part 2 of 3Drivers for MQ Self-Service

In Part I, we discussed the extensive interest in MQ Self-Service.  This interest is due to a number of factors, including:  the shrinking size of middleware staff, growing workloads and increasing application complexity.

At the same time application complexity rises, the demand for MQ access grows accordingly.  The number of  application developers,  IT support and operations personnel needing access to MQ is increasing and they all come to the middleware group to get help.

There are a variety of use cases that are common within most enterprises. Understanding the typical business requirements to reduce support costs and stakeholder necessities for increased visibility, message browsing and the taking of actions is essential in providing   an effective self-service system.

Typical Requirements for MQ Self-Service  

  • Visibility Anywhere: View queue status and depth, channel usage via web
  • Testing: Examine queues, channels, queue managers, and subscriptions
  • Forensics: Browse and manipulate application messages
  • Action: Act on application specific messages (move, copy, edit, route, replay, create)

Crafting an Effective Self-Service Solution

How do you go about crafting an effective self-service solution for IBM MQ?  Many organizations use IBM’s MQ Explorer. After all, why not? It comes out of the box with the product so that is certainly an option. The product has all the characteristics that you need to manage and view in the MQ environment; however, it can be challenging to use for problem diagnosis.  Some of the requirements when using MQ Explorer do not meet the objectives that we identified:

MQ Explorer is lacking:

  • Simplicity: You need to install an Eclipse client and set the appropriate security level to give access. This may end up exposing the complexity of MQ requiring tool users to have a solid understanding of MQ or they will be lost. There will be difficulties to enable non-specialists to complete their tasks.
  • Scalability: Trying to roll out the MQ Explorer to hundreds or thousands of users is challenging for most organizations as it is a manual task.
  • Security & Audit: You end up giving people more capability that you want to give them. Users can potentially see and do more than what is needed. This can be dangerous.

The Better Approach to Self Service

First, start off with a self-service monitoring dashboard which provides stakeholders a business view of MQ:

  • Activity
  • Availability
  • Performance

Teams acquire an end-to-end view of application flows through all the moving parts that make up a workflow.

Next, provide users with real-time application visibility for instant awareness of performance problems. Standard web-enabled dashboards do not typically supply this.  Users will have the capabilities to understand what is happening within MQ as they need it to understand their situation. Problem resolution time shrinks, too.  When a problem occurs, instead of calling up the middleware team to say something like “I think MQ is broken,” the user can now describe the issue that they are experiencing and place it into a business context for rapid remediation.

Then, provide deep-dive visibility. Many users do not have this insight into how MQ impacts application performance & behavior.  This approach to MQ self-service is very empowering for the user as it enables them to better understand how middleware behaves.  Stakeholders get the opportunity to participate actively and proactively diagnose situations where issues might occur. In return, this helps the team prevent situations from reoccurring.  Once deep visibility is provided for stakeholders, productivity improves.

Finally, we come to taking action. When talking about self-service, we are not merely considering how users view objects.  We are also covering how users take action to improve the situation.  Make it simple for users to understand the necessary procedures that are available to them. Help them choose the right action to perform, through effective communication in a format that is brief, easy to understand and one that enables a quick user response.

To learn more, stay tuned for Part 3 of this 3 part series, “4 Key Benefits from using Self-Service for IBM MQ” and learn how users can take actions when provided with a graphical historical view on middleware performance. Find out what the key most important metrics are, how to interpret the metrics and when to invoke actions.

Bottlenecks & Latencies, How to Keep Your Threads Busy

Check out the infographic from DZone, “Bottlenecks & Latencies: How to Keep Your Threads Busy”.  The infographic provides a clear understanding of the difference between something you can performance tune, a bottleneck and something you have to live with, a latency. This very useful tool can help you keep focused on large number of common bottlenecks that will need your time and skills to find and fix.  This article is also available as part of a free eBook, The 2016 DZone Guide To Performance and Monitoring. And now the infographic…

DZone Performance Monitoring NastelSpotlight

Click on the image to see a larger view

What does Pokémon GO have to do with Transaction Tracking?

Pokemon-GoPokémon GO, the new game from Nintendo is hot.  It’s on the news and its being used in political campaigns from both parties – (Pikachu is on the presidential campaign trail it seems).

This innovative game avoids tethering a player to a game console and instead players get up, travel and try to find Pokémon in the real world.  Location-based augmented reality is the name they are giving to this new approach to gaming. It seems as if the developer of this game was responding to the age-old complaint that video games are unhealthy as you just sit in one place and stare at a screen. Continue reading

DevOps: Making Value Flow

DevOps: Making Value FlowAs we will have realized by now, DevOps is not a goal. It is merely a means (even better, a mindset) to achieve high-performance teams and organizations. DevOps enables cross-functional (x-silo) collaboration in and between your teams to support a continuously improving digital value chain. As a matter of fact, I rather speak of Value Flow than DevOps. But in the end, it doesn’t really matter how you call it. As long as you achieve your goal. So if it’s high-performance teams we want to achieve, which path leads us there?

I would say the path to high-performance has two axes: Value and Flow. If both value and flow are executed and adopted effectively, you will achieve high-performance. If there’s no flow in the team, but value is high, the organization will lack innovative power and feel bureaucratic. A team delivering low value, but high flow, focus on the wrong work, leading to burnout. A team without both flow and value is bound to become extinct.

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Improve New Product Development with Predictive Analytics

The power of predictive analytics is multiplied when an organization takes an end-to-end process view of new product development (NPD). Idea generation and business case decision making are important. But an end-to-end view of performance in a business-process context provides additional opportunities to apply predictive analytics to improve performance in other areas, such as product development, testing, and launch.

Improve New Product Development with Predictive Analytics

The new product development process.

 

Analytical methods apply to each of these steps. For example, in the area of product creation, it’s possible to improve performance by classifying key attributes of past success – such as early supplier involvement, broad cross-functional collaboration, use of key metrics to move from one gate to the next, etc. – and then model the relationship between those attributes and the commercial success of the offerings.

 

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