IBM DataPower Gateway Review

Deals with multiple protocols, but "WTX" components are problematic

What is our primary use case?

It is used for simple integrations that require high speed, and you need to use it in a cluster if you want it to be highly available.

What is most valuable?

For me, its most valuable features include:

  • the fact that it's high-speed
  • its ability to be remotely administered via an API
  • the fact that it can deal with multiple protocols
  • it's very quick to make changes to the setup.

What needs improvement?

Care needs to be taken when applying firmware upgrades, as they often fail.

Also, the components that they include in the product that are, in fact, a WTX, really need to be removed from the product because they tend to fail. It's got some native capabilities and it's gotten some imported capabilities and you need to know the history of the product to understand the difference between the two. Most notable is the COBOL copybook handling, which is really straight out of WTX. It's poorly supported and often leads to failures.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been working with IBM WebSphere DataPower for about a decade.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Like all things, it does fail, but if it's in a cluster you can have continuous availability. If the cluster is set up properly, it has multiple network ports so you can have redundant network connections. If a component does fail — meaning one appliance can fail, and they have failed — it's unlikely that all of them will fail together. So a minimal configuration of two appliances in each of the two sites is a good idea. Or you could be using the virtual alternatives on a cloud in multiple zones or on multiple clouds.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It's horizontally scalable.

When using it as a certain kind of pass-thru, I've measured it to 6,000 transactions per second. If you're using it in a request-reply pattern, that comes down to about 600. The 6,000 was the limit on the testing equipment. It wasn't the limit on the product.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support is becoming rare because it's an old product.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I've used Message Broker from IBM, Oracle Service Bus, and TIBCO.

DataPower has the advantage in that it's more limited in capabilities than the other products, so it's harder to accidentally write applications as part of your integration. If you follow strict patterns then your business logic will stay in the applications and your integration logic will only be on the DataPower. Like all devices, you can actually go to extra effort to put application logic into the DataPower, but that just ruins the device for its intended purpose.

How was the initial setup?

The setup is simple; it's an appliance.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

All the products I've used could be priced lower. Perhaps with the exception of something like SnapLogic, they are very expensive.

TIBCO is expensive. It is reliable but it takes longer to develop and deploy. I haven't had much experience with their new microgateways, which may, in fact, provide more value. Oracle is expensive and probably more fragile. Message Broker is quite expensive but quite reliable.

What other advice do I have?

If you've got it, you should use it. If you haven't got it, you probably should be looking at newer products such as SnapLogic.

It's a high-speed device. If you need an appliance on-premise, that would be the way to go. If you need to migrate something that's on-premise to the cloud, you could go to the virtual. If you're doing something new, you probably wouldn't touch it.

**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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