A time or two a year, we host a webinar in which we announce and demonstrate new features we’ve just released, or are kicking off an early access program for. Since our roadmap is heavily influenced by our best customers (which is to say you…) this is an exciting and important event for us. The latest installation was on Wednesday, and with this post I’ll summarize what we covered. You can also watch the whole webinar on-demand here.
A Quick Look Back
I kicked things off with a quick review of the past year, which saw over 75 new features hit PubSub+ Platform, including hundreds of dev stories and individual new capabilities that you can read about in the release notes. Here’s the more noteworthy features in case you missed them:
- Partitioned queues for consumer autoscaling without losing events or order
- Distributed tracing for event observability using OpenTelemetry native in the broker
- Integrated Kafka Bridge for a fully supported, high performance way of integrating Kafka clusters into an event mesh
- Event Portal for Kafka for managing your Kafka streams
Event Driven Integration on Display
The theme of the event was event-driven integration. Many PubSub+ users are leveraging event-driven architecture (EDA) as a way to integrate processes across platforms, applications, protocols, and device types and this theme seemed apropos. Solace PubSub+ Platform broadly comprises event management, event streaming and operational observability. Events and API management work together along with connector and API-based integrations to complete the picture for organizations bringing together asynchronous applications.
The demos covered three new capabilities that make it easier to deploy and manage your event-driven system, and a bonus demo introduced how artificial intelligence can complement EDA.
- Declarative Configuration of PubSub+ Event Brokers with Infrastructure as Code
- Broker configuration with PubSub+ Event Portal
- Enhanced Integration: New Connectors and Connector Management
- Events and AI
Declarative Configuration of PubSub+ Event Broker with Infrastructure as Code
You can manage Solace PubSub+ Event Brokers with CLI, a GUI, or an API called SEMP. Since more teams are turning to dev/ops and wanting to use infrastructure as code, we’ve created what we call declarative SEMP (dSEMP).
dSEMP makes it much simpler to configure brokers for applications following standard CI/CD processes. Middleware teams can use standardized guardrails to empower developers and reduce bottlenecks without causing problems that can occur if you let everybody manage everything. dSEMP is deployed as Terraform Providers (and modules) accessed via the Terraform registry.
Principal Product Manager Rob Tomkins demonstrated dSEMP using a demo game in which a series of portals move events into different locations based on the topics. The demonstration used PubSub+ Cloud and a Kafka Bridge that is created via a Terraform provider, with Github actions generating a pull request for the plan. In other words, it works like a lot of you all do today. For organizations that leverage Terraform this demo is must-see TV!
Can we use declarative SEMP in on-premises versions of Solace PubSub+ Event Broker?
Yes, declarative SEMP can be used on-premises with Terraform. It can also be used without Internet access. In this case, Terraform must be installed and the Solace provider must be in the Terraform local cache. At the time of this webinar, dSEMP in beta and available for use in Software Brokers. It is a listed provider in Terraform and can be found in the Terraform Registry.
Is Terraform required for using dSEMP?
Yes, Terraform is the only infrastructure as code tool that Solace currently supports.
When will dSEMP be officially supported?
dSEMP is planned for full support and with 5 Terraform modules in early summer 2024.
Can we generate config files (terraform files) for dSEMP purposes based on existing already manually configured message VPN/client user/etc?
Yes! Solace created the special “generate” operation shown in the demo that will allow you to generate HCL code from your current configuration – no matter how it was created.
How do you recommend we handle client authentication using dSEMP?
dSEMP is a Terraform Provider (and modules) and it either a local instance or operated in Terraform cloud. Either way it uses SEMP to securely communicate with the broker. You can read more about SEMP Authentication and Authorization here –
Is dSEMP just the name for Solace’s terraform provider/configuration or is there more to it?
dSEMP is growing new set of Solace-supported IaC capabilities. With a dozen Terraform-oriented products in just its initial release, the name dSEMP is intended to cover an evolving set of capabilities.
Self Service Broker Configuration in PubSub+ Event Portal
Solace is the leader in enabling organizations to manage their event driven applications in a category that Gartner calls event governance, thanks to a pioneering product we call PubSub+ Event Portal. PubSub+ Event Portal makes it easy to coordinate the full workflow and lifecycle of event driven application development from cataloging and discovery to versioning and back again.
You’ll notice in the image above that one part is highlighted in green, and that was the subject of the next demo. Darry MacRae showed a great new feature entering early access, designed to give architects and developers the ability to configure brokers from within the Event Portal environment. It is the first in a series of capabilities that will enable you to manage brokers from the design environment, again following all critical CI/CD rules.
Q & A
Can I navigate directly from PubSub+ Event Portal to the PubSub+ Event Portal directly?
At this time you navigate between PubSub+ Event Portal and Broker Manager in only a couple clicks using the Solace cloud console with no direct clicks from Event Portal. However, enabling that quicker via direct in-context links is on the roadmap.
What’s the RBAC model for configuring brokers via the event portal?
The user will need an Editor access level for an environment in order to push broker configurations defined in Event Portal for application versions to the brokers in the associated environment. We have a roadmap item to trigger a request/approval workflow when users without a lower access level for an environment request or attempt push configuration changes to brokers in that environment. For example, you will be able to control which environments a developer or team can push broker configuration to without approval, and which environments require approval for the specified developer or application team.
Enhanced Integration: Connectors and Connector Management
Most companies integrate their applications with a myriad of approaches and tools due to technical debt, architectural decisions, mergers and acquisitions, and more. Many, however, are realizing that standardizing on the streaming of events to integrate applications can reduce costs and complexity without sacrificing on systemwide performance.
With event-driven integration you move connectors and integration to the edge of an event driven core. This moves you away from point-to-point coupled flows to a simpler, higher performance, and more scalable solution.
Solace PubSub+ Platform supports three kinds of connectors:
- Broker-integrated connectors that run on the broker
- Platform-native connectors that run in the target platform
- Self-contained connectors are Java applications with a management interface…and the subject of the next demo!
Andrew MacKenzie demonstrated the three kinds of connectors with a quick look at our new Integration Hub com where you can find the latest connectors, then showed the new Connector Manager and a use case that needed a Google Pub/Sub connector.
Connector Manager provides a top-level view of all your self-contained connectors, centralized configuration storage and monitoring. The demo drilled down into the new connector just set-up to view the information and health check on the connector in addition to a whole bunch of data on the environment they are running in.
For organizations looking to connect across applications this capability makes deployment and management a breeze.
Can you integrate (connector) logs with external logging system, like Splunk?
There are a couple different capabilities within the self-contained connectors. We use the open-source logbac with various appenders available; and even without an available appender it is an open format that any system can ingest. We also integrate with Micrometer, which is a Spring project to allow you to automatically export metrics in addition to logs.
Is Connector Manager available in PubSub+ Cloud?
At the time of this webinar, Connector Manager is not part of the cloud console and is installed as a container, but cloud-managed connectors are coming soon. In the same way that we enabled cloud managed PubSub+ Event Brokers, we will do the same with connectors
Event-Driven Architecture and Artificial Intelligence
Our Chief Architect and AI Officer Ed Funnekotter wrapped up this installation of our product update with a look ahead, specifically with a demonstration of at how AI and Solace PubSub+ were made for each other. When the average person thinks about AI today, they think about a quick way to cheat on an essay or to get a cool picture of themselves done in the style of van Gogh. Developers and architects tend to think a bit more deeply – and no we aren’t talking about making the next T-800 cybernetic organism – about things like latency, performance, distribution, storage, tracking, etc.
Real life is messy, and a human interface into an AI model doesn’t scale and is of limited use in enterprise applications. This means that the system needs a solution, like events, to structure the unstructured data that flows between the real world and the models. It also needs a solution that lets AI models easily send what is needed across to multiple applications and ultimately the real world. And that solution is Solace PubSub+ Platform.
With this approach even mundane things can become automated, simplified, and improved. In this demo Ed showed how AI can enable a significantly faster and lower cost response to a real-world emergency in facilities management. He applies AI and EDA to the chain of events that needs to happen when a person in a cafeteria falls unconscious. It sounds simple, but imagine everything that happens in a day everywhere and you quickly can realize the scope of the problem reality brings to AI without EDA to bridge it.
You can read more about the demo in this post Ed recently published: Add Intelligence to Your Event Mesh with AI | Solace.
These product updates are particularly fun for us because they give us the opportunity to build out interesting new demonstrations on the latest new features. We look forward to bring you more in the future – but for now, definitely check out the videos!
Shawn McAllister is responsible for the strategy and delivery of the Solace PubSub+ Event Streaming and Management Platform. He leads a team of incredibly talented engineers and architects in this endeavor Shawn has worked with many of our clients to help them adopt event-driven architecture and to learn first-hand their needs as input to the innovation built into the PubSub+ Platform. He has participated in the definition of various OASIS messaging protocol standards, including MQTT 3.1.1, MQTT 5.0, and AMQP1.0.
Before joining Solace, Shawn led software, hardware, and test engineering teams at Newbridge Networks (later Alcatel Canada), where he was responsible for developing features on ATM and Ethernet switches as well as the 7750 Multiservice IP Router. Shawn holds a Bachelor of Mathematics from the University of Waterloo, with majors in both Computer Science and Combinatorics/Optimization.
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