Not Just Yet Another Protocol: Advanced Message Queueing Protocol [AMQP]

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I know, I know. Don’t we have enough protocols in this world? Well if any one should know the answer to this it’s Solace. Solace could be considered a messaging broker for today’s enterprises – providing the ability to interconnect new cloud-based assets with existing systems that are established and too costly to change at the pace of new tech developments. Although the Internet is assumed to connect different types of devices and software, the reality is the data delivered from one system to another can actually end up like a conversation between two people speaking different languages and therefore talking at each other, not to each other. As IoT devices grow in popularity this type of “misunderstanding” can become a common and unproductive occurrence if businesses don’t have in place the right support technology to get them talking to each other.

I had the chance to talk with Shawn McAllister the CTO of Solace regarding the value of AMQP and what the company is doing to support this protocol.

“Historically people have used systems where the software API is tightly coupled to your message broker, so any time you need to change your message broker, it has a ripple effect on all of your applications. What we’ve found now is that as enterprises move to the cloud, they want to be able to have independence from their various stack vendors. They don’t want to be locked into one cloud or messaging service. Therefore, having that independence where they use an open source API to connect into their messaging system to move their events within their event-driven microservice architecture becomes appealing to them.”

For background, Advanced Message Queueing Protocol [AMQP] is an open standard application layer protocol for message-oriented middleware. The defining features of AMQP are message orientation, queuing, routing (including point-to-point and publish-and-subscribe), reliability and security. As IoT drives the need for increased investments in edge computing, and companies aim to implement event-driven microservices, they want to abandon proprietary APIs and protocols so they can avoid the vendor locking that inhibits flexibility and innovation.

AMQP 1.0 is to IT applications what MQTT is to IoT devices. MQTT is very simple because it’s targeted towards IoT devices with limited compute and battery and bandwidth and memory, whereas IT applications tend to be much more sophisticated, and they need more sophisticated messaging capabilities. That is where AMQP comes in. Now you could build applications that use those open source APIs, and easily connect into a messaging system.”

With its latest developments, Solace is empowering enterprises to easily share data across different types of devices and systems. This includes leveraging open source APIs from communities like Apache and Paho which then use standard messaging protocols defined by OASIS. Solace has already seen initial success working with early adopters including the Federal Aviation Administration, Harris, and SAP.

FAA has a platform called SWIM, which is the System Wide Information Management System, a publish/subscribe network, where a number of government agencies, and non-government agencies can subscribe to the types of flight events that they’re interested in. As a consumer if you travel quite a bit, you can also use the Flight Aware app, which tells you where your plane is, and whether it’s late or not. Both use cases require real time information fed through SWIM. Therefore, pushing this information to the edge of the network, as they push this data out to customers, the FAA wants to have a standard wireline protocol so that consumers can access this information using whatever technology they want.”

Solace enables message routing with hardware and software, and just announced a new “as a Service” offering that runs in the cloud. This helps enterprises identify the best ways to evolve and incorporate new investments in technology (IoT, cloud, mobile) and meet changing demands from customers.

“We’re providing an open API that anyone can use to access a Solace message broker or any other message broker that is AMQP 1.0 compliant. This is where we get to a couple of things: Innovation within the messaging systems to improve messaging capabilities, but also, more importantly, innovation in use of the data. If you spend less effort accessing data because it’s more easily available, you’re now able to pull in a variety of data sources, spend less time and effort focusing on how do I acquire the data and do something even more innovative with it.”

While not specifically an IoT protocol, the combination of gateways and backend systems make AMQP a strong solution for IoT deployments being connected to existing systems. It is commonly known that the biggest immediate impact of IoT will be the volumes of new data available to businesses, that frankly they will have difficulty capturing in a way that’s immediately actionable. With AMQP, enterprises can more easily take advantage of IoT data by routing it to the analytics engines and applications they use to identify, analyze and seize new business strategies.


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