Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Really Small Message Broker from IBM alphaWorks

Really Small Message Broker (RSMB) is from IBM AlphaWorks.

Could RSMB be the basis of a "Twitter for devices"? See below for why it may ...

(I had blogged about alphaWorks a while back - apart from the interesting new software coming out of there, another point I'd noted was that IBM claims to have commercialized around 40% of the software innovations that alphaWorks has created.)

As the name suggests, RSMB is a message broker, and it uses MQ Telemetry Transport (MQTT) (Version 3), which is also by IBM.

From the RSMB site above:

"Really Small Message Broker is a small server that uses MQ Telemetry Transport (MQTT) (Version 3) for lightweight, low-overhead messaging. Really Small Message Broker enables messaging to and from tiny devices such as sensors and actuators over networks that might have low bandwidth, high cost, and varying reliability. "Publishers" send messages to the broker, which then distributes the messages to the "subscribers" who have requested to receive those messages."

About MQTT, from the MQTT site:

IBM has today published the specification for a new telemetry protocol: MQTTs - MQTT for Sensors - aimed at embedded devices on non-TCP/IP networks, such as Zigbee.

MQTTs is a publish/subscribe messaging protocol for wireless sensor networks (WSN), with the aim of extending the MQTT protocol beyond the reach of TCP/IP infrastructure for Sensor and Actuator solutions."

Looks quite interesting based on the description and the possible uses of it. In fact, here is one possible use I thought of for RSMB and MQTT - a sort of "Twitter for devices":

Since the RSMB site says that the broker uses a publish/subscribe mechanism, and can both send messages to and receive messages from devices, and the broker in turn sends the messages to subscribers, it looks like the idea may be possible. Of course a lot of trial and evaluation would have to be done to make sure that it would really work for this. Also, it seems that the devices that RSMB supports use non-TCP/IP protocols, so that would have to be checked (but also see further below in this post). However, the RSMB server should take care of the server end of things, and the RSMB / MQTT sites have links to a Java and a C client reference implementation of the (MQTTs) protocol. And there is a downloadable specification for the protocol as well, so it may be feasible to write one's own clients based on that.

The alphaworks page for RSMB, also says this:

"Really Small Message Broker has a "bridge" that enables connections to other MQTT-capable servers; this bridge allows messages to be passed between Really Small Message Broker instances as well as to other brokers such as Lotus® Expeditor micro broker ("Microbroker") and WebSphere® Message Broker."

WebSphere Message Broker is the new name for IBM MQ Series, a well-established MOM (Message Oriented Middleware) product. I had worked on MQ Series some time ago, on the HP-UX platform, as part of a big project for an international transport company. It (MQ Series) was an interesting product with many powerful capabilities.

The RSMB site also says (under the section "How does it work?"):

Really Small Message Broker is a small program that sends and receives data in the form of messages to and from applications and devices over TCP/IP network connections."

This seems to contradict the earlier excerpt which talks of non-TCP/IP devices and networks, such as ZigBee. As I said, things would have to be checked out ...

Vasudev Ram - Dancing Bison Enterprises.

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