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Amazon Launches a New Message Broker Service in AWS

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At the recent re:Invent 2017, Amazon launched a new service called Amazon MQ, a managed message broker service for Apache ActiveMQ; an open-sourced, enterprise-grade message broker compatible with most industry standard protocols. Amazon picked ActiveMQ as it supports most industry standard protocols.  

Jeff Barr, chief evangelist at AWS, explains in the AWS news blog:

As a managed service, Amazon MQ takes care of the administration and maintenance of ActiveMQ. This includes responsibility for broker provisioning, patching, failure detection & recovery for high availability, and message durability. With Amazon MQ, you get direct access to the ActiveMQ console and industry standard APIs and protocols for messaging, including JMS, NMS, AMQP, STOMP, MQTT, and WebSocket. This allows you to move from any message broker that uses these standards to Amazon MQ–along with the supported applications–without rewriting code.

Amazon MQ does not require any installations on servers and can dynamically provision using the AWS Management Console, Amazon MQ REST API or Command Line Interface (CLI). With the Amazon MQ Console, a broker setup is straightforward. By naming, specifying instance type, deployment mode and credentials for the Web console access, the broker is ready in a few minutes.

In the Introducing Amazon MQ Managed Message Broker Service session at AWS re:Invent, Trevor Dyck, senior product manager at AWS, introduced some of the Amazon MQ benefits:

  • High availability of the broker in a production setup is guaranteed in an active/standby deployment; two large broker instances in two different Availability Zones (AZ) are configured as a redundant pair sharing a storage location. 
  • Secure as data can be encrypted both in transit (TLS) and at rest, and persisted encrypted in the message store. Furthermore, Amazon MQ integrates with Amazon VPC by default and customers can set up security groups to further guard the broker against unwanted access.
  • Rich messaging features like queues and topics, local and distributed transactions, transient and persistent messaging, and no limitation on message size and message retention.
  • Migration from existing ActiveMQ by providing an import capability of the spring-based XML file, with Amazon striping away some of the configurations like the message store that they will manage.
  • Monitoring capability: since ActiveMQ lacks a monitoring capability, Amazon MQ integrates with CloudWatch for metrics and analysis of broker instances, topics, queues, providing alarms and aid in auto-scaling.
  • Pay-as-you-go: when using the Amazon MQ offering, customers only pay for the message broker instance runs, the storage, and standard data transfer fees. The service is available in the US, Europe, and Australia region. More information related to pricing can be found here.

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Various vendors and public cloud providers have message brokers available. Some have been traditionally managed on-premise using a fixed infrastructure in the form of clusters; others are available as a service in the cloud. Amazon already offers message brokers Amazon SQS and Amazon SNS for their customers building cloud scale applications. For those with existing applications looking for a lift-and-shift to the cloud and compatibility, Amazon sees Amazon MQ as the right fit. 

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Amazon MQ has several benefits as mentioned earlier, which can be found with other cloud messaging brokers like Microsoft’s Azure Service Bus and Google’s Cloud Pub/Sub. However, these are built with the cloud in mind like Amazon SQS and Amazon SNS and not for migrating an existing on-premise broker like ActiveMQ to the cloud.

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