Sun Java System Message Queue 4.3 Technical Overview

Chapter 3 The Message Queue Broker

This chapter provides a more detailed view of the Message Queue broker, which was introduced in The Message Queue Service. The chapter examines the services provided by the broker, the tools you use to configure these services, and the administrative tasks required to support these services.

The chapter includes the following sections:

Broker Services

Figure 1–6 shows the different elements of the Message Queue service. Chapter 2, Client Programming Model described the programming model and how clients use the Java and C APIs to interact with the Message Queue client runtime, the part of the message service that is directly accessed by client applications. This chapter focuses on the broker services, the part of the message service that is accessed through administration tools.

The broker is the centerpiece of the Message Queue service shown in Figure 1–6. The broker provides the set of services that enable secure, reliable messaging:

The sections that follow describe each of the broker services. These services are configured by setting broker configuration properties. Broker properties are specified in different configuration files and can also be set using options of the broker startup command. Chapter 4, Configuring a Broker, in Sun Java System Message Queue 4.3 Administration Guide describes the broker configuration files and explains the order of precedence by which property values in one configuration file can be used to override values set in a different file. Properties set with the startup command override all other settings.

Connection Services

You use connection-related properties to configure and manage the physical connections between a broker and its clients. As shown in Figure 1–6 both application clients and administration clients can connect to the broker. The JMS specification does not dictate that providers implement any specific wire protocols. Message Queue connection services, used by application clients and administration clients to connect to the broker, are currently layered on top of TCP, TLS, HTTP, or HTTPS protocols. TLS (Transport Layer Security) is a successor to and compatible with SSL (Secure Socket Layer).

There are two general types of connection services:

Connection services are available through dedicated ports that can be dynamically assigned by the broker’s Port Mapper (see Port Mapper Service) or statically assigned by the administrator. By default, when you start the broker, the jms and admin services are up and running. Additionally, you can configure a broker to run any or all of the connection services.

Each connection service is multi-threaded, supporting multiple connections, and each service supports specific authentication and authorization (access control) features. See Security Services for more information.

Should a connection fail, the Message Queue service can automatically retry connecting the client to the same broker or to a different broker if this feature is enabled. For more information, see the description of the automatic reconnect feature in Appendix B, Message Queue Features

The connections provided by Message Queue connection services can be configured to specify which brokers to connect to, how to handle reconnection, message flow control, and so on. For additional information about how connections can be configured, see Connection Factories and Connections.

Connection configuration can be performed by both administrators and in client application code:

A client can connect to the Message Queue service through a firewall. This can be done either by having the firewall administrator open a specific port and then connecting to that (static) port or by using the HTTP or HTTPS service as summarized in Appendix B, Message Queue Features.

Port Mapper Service

Connection services are dynamically assigned a port by a common Port Mapper service that resides at a the broker’s main port, 7676. When the Message Queue client runtime sets up a connection with the broker, it first contacts the Port Mapper, requesting a port number for the connection service it has chosen.

You can override the Port Mapper by assigning a static port number for the jms, ssljms, admin and ssladmin connection services when configuring these services. However, static ports are generally used only in special situations, such as in making connections through a firewall, and are not generally recommended.

Thread Pool Management

Each connection service is multithreaded, supporting multiple connections. The threads needed for these connections are maintained by the broker in a pool. How they are allocated depends on the values you specify for the minimum and maximum thread values, and on the threading model you choose.

You can set broker properties to specify a minimum number and maximum number of threads. As threads are needed by connections, they are added to the thread pool for the service supporting that connection. The minimum specifies the number of threads available to be allocated. When the available threads exceeds this minimum threshold, the system will shut down threads as they become free until the minimum is reached again, thereby saving on memory resources. Under heavy loads, the number of threads might increase until the pool’s maximum number is reached; at this point, new connections are rejected until a thread becomes available.

The threading model you choose specifies whether threads are dedicated to a single connection or shared by multiple connections:

Message Delivery Services

Once clients are connected to the broker, the routing and delivery of messages can proceed. In this phase, the broker is responsible for creating and managing different types of physical destinations, for ensuring a smooth flow of messages, and for using resources efficiently. The broker properties related to routing and delivery are used by the broker to manage these tasks in a way that suits your application’s needs.

Physical Destinations

A physical destination on the broker is a memory location where messages are stored before being delivered to a message consumer. There are four kinds of physical destinations:

Managing Destinations

Managing a destination involves one or more of the following tasks:

Management tasks vary with the kind of destination being managed: admin-created, auto-created, temporary, or dead message queue. For example, temporary destinations do not need to be explicitly destroyed; auto created properties are configured using broker configuration properties which apply to all auto-created destinations on that broker.

Configuring Physical Destinations

For optimal performance, you can set properties when creating or updating physical destinations. Properties that can be set include the following:

For a queue destination you can also configure the maximum number of active and back up consumers and you can specify (for broker clusters) whether delivery to a local queue is preferred.

You can also configure the limits and behavior of the dead message queue. Note, however, that default properties for this queue differ from those of a standard queue.

Managing Memory

Destinations can consume significant resources, depending on the number and size of messages they handle and on the number and durability of the consumers that register; therefore, they need to be managed closely to guarantee good messaging service performance and reliability.

You can set properties to prevent a broker from being overwhelmed by incoming messages and to prevent the broker from running out of memory. The broker uses three levels of memory protection to keep the message service operating as resources become scarce: destination limits, system-wide limits, and system memory thresholds. Ideally, if destination limits and system-wide limits are set appropriately, critical system-memory thresholds should never be breached.

Destination Message Limits

You can set destination properties to manage memory and message flow for each destination. For example, you can specify the maximum number of producers allowed for a destination, the maximum number (or size) of messages allowed in a destination, and the maximum size of any single message.

You can also specify how the broker should respond when any such limits are reached: to slow producers, to throw out the oldest messages, to throw out the lowest-priority messages, or to reject the newest messages.

System-Wide Message Limits

You can also use properties to set limits that apply to all destinations on a broker: you can specify the total number of messages and the memory consumed by all messages. If any of the system-wide message limits are reached, the broker rejects new messages.

System Memory Thresholds

Finally, you can use properties to set thresholds at which the broker takes increasingly serious action to prevent memory overload. The action taken depends on the state of memory resources: green (plenty of memory is available), yellow (broker memory is running low), orange (broker is low on memory), red (broker is out of memory). As the broker’s memory state progresses from green to red, the broker takes increasingly serious actions:

Persistence Services

For a broker to recover in case of failure, it needs to recreate the state of its message delivery operations. To be able to do this, it must save state information to a data store. When the broker restarts, it uses the saved data to recreate destinations and durable subscriptions, to recover persistent messages, to roll back open transactions, and to recreate its routing table for undelivered messages. It can then resume message delivery.

The Message Queue service supports both file-based and JDBC compliant persistence modules (see Figure 3–1). File-based persistence is the default.

Figure 3–1 Persistence Support

Diagram showing that the broker uses either a flat file
store or a JDBC-compliant data store for persisting messages.

File-Based Persistence

File-based persistence is a mechanism that uses individual files to store persistent data. If you use file-based persistence you can set broker properties to do the following:

File-based persistence is generally faster that JDBC-based persistence; however, some users prefer the redundancy and administrative control provided by a JDBC-compliant store.

JDBC-Based Persistence

JDBC-Based persistence uses a Java Database Connectivity (JDBCTM) interface to connect the broker to a JDBC-compliant data store. To have the broker access a data store through a JDBC driver you must do the following:

Complete procedures for completing these tasks and related configuration properties are detailed in the Chapter 4, Configuring a Broker, in Sun Java System Message Queue 4.3 Administration Guide.

Security Services

The Message Queue service supports authentication and authorization (access control) for each broker instance, and also supports encryption:

Authentication and authorization depend upon a repository that contains information about the users of the messaging system—their names, passwords, and group memberships. In addition, to authorize specific operations for a user or group, the broker must check an access control properties file that specifies which operations a user or group can perform. You are responsible for setting up the information the broker needs to authenticate users and authorize their actions.

Figure 3–2 shows the components needed by the broker to provide authentication and authorization.

Figure 3–2 Security Manager Support

Security manager can use various user repositories for
authentication and an access control properties file for authorization, as
explained in text.

As Figure 3–2 shows, you can store user data in a flat file user repository that is provided with the Message Queue service, you can access an existing LDAP repository, or you can plug in a Java Authentication and Authorization Service (JAAS) service. You set a broker property to indicate your choice.

Authentication and Authorization

When a client requests a connection, the client must supply a user name and password. The broker compares the specified name and password to those stored in the user repository. On transmitting the password from client to broker, the passwords are encoded using either base 64 encoding or message digest (MD5) hashing. MD5 is used for a flat file repository; base 64 is required for LDAP repositories. If using LDAP you may want to use the secure TLS protocol. You can set broker properties to configure the type of encoding used by each connection service separately or to set the encoding on a broker-wide basis.

When a user attempts to perform an operation, the broker checks the user’s name and group membership (from the user repository) against those specified for access to that operation (in the access control properties file). The access control properties file specifies permissions to users or groups for the following operations:

You set broker properties to specify the following information:

JAAS-Based Authentication

In addition to the file-based and LDAP-based built-in authentication mechanisms, Message Queue also supports the Java Authentication and Authorization Service (JAAS), which allows you to plug a variety of services into the broker to authenticate Message Queue clients.

JAAS defines an abstraction layer between an application and an authentication mechanism, allowing the desired mechanism to be plugged in with no disruption or change to application code. For the Message Queue service, the abstraction layer lies between the broker and the authentication provider. By setting a few broker properties, it is possible to plug in any JAAS-compliant authentication service and to upgrade or change this service with no disruption or change to broker code.

The service to be plugged in consists of a LoginModule and of logic that performs the authentication. A JAAS configuration file contains the location of the LoginModule. When the broker starts up it locates this file and uses information in the file to determine which LoginModules it will use to perform the authentication. The fact that the broker plugs in an authentication service is transparent to the client; the client continues to pass authentication information to the broker as before and gains access to broker services if the identifying information (user name, password) is authenticated by the plugged in service.

For complete information about JAAS-based authentication, see Using JAAS-Based Authentication in Sun Java System Message Queue 4.3 Administration Guide.


To encrypt messages sent between clients and broker, you need to use a connection service based on the Secure Socket Layer (SSL) standard. SSL provides security at a connection level by establishing an encrypted connection between an SSL-enabled broker and an SSL-enabled client.

You can set broker properties to specify the security properties of the SSL keystore to be used and the name and location of a password file.

For more information, see Message Encryption in Sun Java System Message Queue 4.3 Administration Guide

Monitoring Services

The broker includes components for monitoring and diagnosing application and broker performance. These include the components shown in the following figure:

The following subsections describe these components.

Figure 3–3 Monitoring Service Support

Diagram showing inputs to logger, error levels, and output
channels. Figure explained in text.

Metrics Generator

The metrics generator provides information about broker activity, such as message flow in and out of the broker, the number of messages in broker memory and the memory they consume, the number of open connections, and the number of threads being used.

You can set broker properties to turn the generation of metric data on and off, and to specify how frequently metrics reports are generated.


The Message Queue logger takes information generated by broker code and the metrics generator and writes that information to standard output (the console), to a log file, and, on SolarisTM platforms, to the syslog daemon process in case of errors.

You can set broker properties to specify the type of information gathered by the logger as well as the type written to each of the output channels. In the case of a log file, you can also specify the point at which the log file is closed and output is rolled over to a new file. Once the log file reaches a specified size or age, it is saved and a new log file created.

For details about how to configure the logger and how to use it to obtain performance information, see Configuring and Using Broker Logging in Sun Java System Message Queue 4.3 Administration Guide.

Metrics Message Producer

The metrics message producer shown in Figure 3–3 receives information from the metrics generator at regular intervals and writes the information into messages, which it then sends to one of a number of metric topic destinations, depending on the type of metric information contained in the message.

Message Queue clients subscribed to these metric topic destinations can consume the messages and process the metric data contained in the messages. This allows developers to create custom monitoring tools to support messaging applications. For details of the metric quantities reported in each type of metrics message, see Chapter 20, Metrics Information Reference, in Sun Java System Message Queue 4.3 Administration Guide. For information about how to configure the production of metrics messages, see Chapter 4, Using the Metrics Monitoring API, in Sun Java System Message Queue 4.3 Developer’s Guide for Java Clients and Using the Message-Based Monitoring API in Sun Java System Message Queue 4.3 Administration Guide.

JMX MBeans

The broker implements a comprehensive set of Java Management Extensions (JMX) MBeans that represent the broker's manageable resources. Using the JMX API, you can access these MBeans to perform broker configuration and monitoring operations programmatically from within a Java application.

In this way, the MBeans provide a Java application access to data values representing static or dynamic properties of a broker, connection, destination, or other resource. The application can also receive notifications of state changes or other significant events affecting the resource.

For more information see JMX-Based Administration.

Java ES Monitoring Framework Support

Message Queue supports the Sun Java Enterprise System (Java ES) Monitoring Framework, which allows Java Enterprise System components to be monitored using a common graphical interface. This interface is implemented by a web-based console called the Sun Java System Monitoring Console. If you are running Message Queue along with other Java ES components, you might find it more convenient to use a single interface to manage all these components.

The Java ES monitoring framework defines a common data model (CMM) to be used by all Java ES component products. This model enables a centralized and uniform view of all Java ES components. Message Queue exposes the following objects to the Java ES monitoring framework:

Each one of these objects is mapped to a CMM object whose attributes can be monitored using the Java ES monitoring console. At runtime, administrators can use the console to view performance statistics, create rules to monitor automatically, and acknowledge alarms. For detailed information about the mapping of Message Queue objects to CMM objects, see the Sun Java Enterprise System Monitoring Guide.

Using the Java ES Monitoring Framework will not impact broker performance because all the work of gathering metrics is done by the monitoring framework, which pulls data from the broker's existing monitoring data infrastructure.

Administration Tools

This section describes the tools you use to configure and manageMessage Queue broker services. The tools fall into two categories:

Built-in Administration Tools

The following illustration shows the administration tools provided by Message Queue for configuring and managing broker services.

Figure 3–4 Message Queue Administration Tools

Figure shows which tools the administrator uses to control
which Message Queue Service components. Figure explained in text.

The administration tools include the following command line interfaces:

In addition to the command line utilities shown in Figure 3–4,Message Queue administration tools also include the GUI-based Administration Console. The Administration Console combines some of the capabilities of the Command utility (imqcmd) and the Object Manager utility (imqobjmgr). You can use it to do the following:

JMX-Based Administration

To serve customers who need a standard programmatic means to monitor and access the broker, Message Queue also supports the Java Management Extensions (JMX) architecture, which allows a Java application to manage broker resources programmatically.

The JMX specification defines an architecture for the instrumentation and programmatic management of distributed resources. This architecture is based on the notion of a managed bean, or MBean: a Java object, similar to a JavaBean, representing a resource to be managed. Message Queue MBeans are associated with individual resources such as connection services, connections, or destinations, or with whole categories of resources, such as the set of all destinations on a broker. There are separate configuration MBeans and monitor MBeans for setting a resource’s configuration properties and monitoring its runtime state.

Java applications access MBeans through remote method invocation (RMI) protocols. The MBeans are hosted by an MBean server in the broker, which functions as an MBean container. The MBean server is accessed by means of a RMI connector, which is used to obtain an MBean server connection, which, in turn, provides access to the individual MBeans.

The JMX specification defines an architecture that enables the programmatic management of any distributed resource. This architecture is defined by design patterns, APIs, and various services.

JMX-based administration provides dynamic, fine grained, programmatic access to the broker. You can use this kind of administration in a number of ways.

JMX is the Java standard for building management applications and is widely used for managing Java EE infrastructure. If your Message Queue client is a part of a larger Java EE deployment, JMX support allows you to use a standard programmatic management framework throughout your Java EE application. Message Queue is based on the JMX 1.2 specification, which is part of JDK 1.5.

To manage a Message Queue broker using the JMX architecture, see Sun Java System Message Queue 4.3 Developer’s Guide for JMX Clients. For information on JMX infrastructure and configuring the broker's JMX support, see Appendix D, JMX Support, in Sun Java System Message Queue 4.3 Administration Guide.

Administration Tasks

This section describes the tasks that you need to complete to support a Message Queue development or a production environment.

Supporting a Development Environment

In developing a client component, it’s best to keep administrative work to a minimum. The Message Queue product is designed to help you do this and can be used out of the box. It should be enough just to start the broker. The following practices allow you to focus on development:

Supporting a Production Environment

In a production environment, message service management plays a key role in application performance and in meeting the enterprise requirements for scaling, availability, and security. In this environment, the administrator has many more tasks to perform. These can be roughly divided into setup and maintenance operations.

Setup Operations

Typically, you have to perform the following setup operations:

Maintenance Operations

To monitor and control broker resources and to tune application performance, you must do the following after an application has been deployed: