KLM cuts middleware costs with a birds-eye view of MQSeries

Dutch airline KLM is rolling out a management infrastructure to lower the cost of running its IBM MQSeries middleware, which...

Dutch airline KLM is rolling out a management infrastructure to lower the cost of running its IBM MQSeries middleware, which links mainframes, Unix and Windows servers running vital business processes.

The project, which started two-and-a-half years ago as KLM's Enterprise Wide Messaging Service, has seen the airline standardise on MQSeries as its middleware platform.

The middleware is essential for linking internal and external applications to provide services such as baggage handling and flight planning.

KLM had to acquire specialist tools to run its MQSeries middleware. A standard implementation would have required separate engineers to support the middleware for each of the airline's operating system environments: the OS/390 and TPF mainframe operating systems and Unix and Windows server environments.

This would have proved neither efficient or practical, so Hans Rietman, information services operations team manager at KLM, deployed Q Pasa, a real-time middleware monitoring tool from MQSoftware. The product provides users with a single view of the MQSeries environment from one console.

Rietman said, "We wanted to manage the whole environment and make it easy for our IT staff, without the need for an MQ specialist for each platform."

Using Q Pasa, Rietman said his team of four MQSeries mainframe engineers could monitor MQSeries across mainframes and 60 Unix and 30 Windows servers. He said, "This makes our operations much simpler."

In November, KLM will begin implementing end-to-end service management based around monitoring MQSeries to support baggage handling and electronic bookings.

Glitches in middleware have a far greater knock-on effect than other IT failures as they affect transactions across multiple systems, according to analyst group Forrester.

KLM joins with MQ Software to develop monitoring aid

When KLM decided to standardise on MQSeries middleware, IBM provided no monitoring agents to probe the airline's highly specialised IBM TPF (transactional processing facility) environment.  

TPF is an operating environment geared towards high throughput transaction processing and is used exclusively for credit card authorisation and hotel and airline booking systems. 

KLM decided to work in a joint development project with MQSoftware to write a version of the Q Pasa agent software to do the job. 

Phil Hardy at MQSoftware said a team of MQSoftware developers in Minneapolis worked with a TPF specialist from KLM to build the software. KLM provided access to its TPF mainframe for testing.  

The tool is now on the market and KLM will receive payments for each TPF agent sold. Hardy said, "There are only about 120 sites using TPF. It is a very rare skill."  

Hardy said he was talking to Amex, WorldSpan, Amadeus, SNCF and Holiday Inn about the TPF agent.

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