White paper: IBM WebSphere MQ 7.5 versus Apache ActiveMQ 5.9

This week Edison Group has published a new white paper comparing WebSphere MQ v7.5 and Apache ActiveMQ v5.9. While this report was commissioned by IBM, it was carried out independently by consultants of Edison Group in their own lab environment. Edison Group has spent three months testing the software and found significant differences between WMQ and AMQ.

UPDATE: Please see more recent blog post “Apache ActiveMQ and IBM MQ: High Availability and Administrative Analysis” (August 2015).

Despite the significant amount of time that was spent on this research, it only scratches the surface. Messaging systems seem to be simple at first glance. All they need to do is just deliver messages between producers and consumers. But it is easier said than done :-). Anybody can write a messaging provider that delivers messages. The hard part is to provide security, reliability, recovery, failover and all the qualities of services. This report explains some of the differences between WebSphere MQ and ActiveMQ, but there are lots of considerations that are not covered in the report – in fact the list of those considerations that fell outside the scope of the paper takes up one full page at the end of the report. I would love to see someone publish a paper comparing those additional features and capabilities between WMQ and AMQ.

If you do not have the time to read all 30 pages of the report – here is a quick executive summary:

QUOTE: “ActiveMQ and WebSphere MQ both meet basic messaging requirements. However, customers in enterprise environments that need high availability and robust failover should seriously consider WebSphere MQ for the following reasons:

  • Failover: ActiveMQ lost or duplicated messages during “power outage” and “network failure” scenarios. This is unacceptable in enterprise environments.
  • Documentation: IBM’s documentation was far more complete and up-to-date than Apache’s, especially with respect to configuration, management, API documentation, and advanced configurations such as clustering, load balancing and high availability.
  • Performance: In persistent tests, WebSphere MQ performed 60 to 90 percent faster with messages ranging from 256 bytes to 1MB.
  • Transaction Management: A major distinction between the two systems was the ease of managing transactions: whereas native WebSphere MQ capabilities allowed us to manage transaction between the database and the messaging server. ActiveMQ requires an external application server with XA support to control 2PC transactions.
  • Administration: ActiveMQ’s web console provides very limited functionality. For many basic and most of the advanced functions, such as editing queues or changing maximum message size users have to manually edit configuration files. Moreover, ActiveMQ requires a unique URL and separate browser window for each broker, while the WebSphere MQ Explorer allows users to administer multiple brokers from a single interface.

If high availability, reliability, usability, thorough documentation, and platform compatibility are NOT important, ActiveMQ may be a good platform. But for enterprise customers with reliability needs, WebSphere MQ is the superior choice.” END QUOTE

You can download full report from Edison Group’s website: “White paper: IBM WebSphere MQ 7.5 versus Apache ActiveMQ 5.9 Failover, Transactional Integrity and Administration”


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2 replies


  1. WebSphere MQ vs. Red Hat JBoss A-MQ cost calculator « WhyWebSphere.com Blog
  2. IBM MQ vs. Apache ActiveMQ performance comparison update | WhyWebSphere Blog

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