Category Archives: SmartCloud
Recap of Ask IBM session (Ask the Developers and Ask the PMs) at IBM ConnectED / Lotusphere 2015
Each year I bring with me a large collection of questions and enhancement requests that I first vet in the Meet the Developers lab. Those questions which I either don’t get a satisfactory answer or get an answer that I think others would like to hear, I will bring them to the Ask the Product Managers or Ask the Developers sessions. Often questions would be asked in one session that really needed to be answered by someone in the other session. That wasted time. This year they combined the two sessions, which was great for streamlining the process and more people got to hear all the questions (and answers). One other change on my part: I tried to provide most of my questions in advance, so they could have time to research the answer or at least make sure the right person was on stage to answer it. (often the person who would have the answer wasn’t present.) Yes, it does mean IBM isn’t so much “in the hot seat”, but this got more complete answers as a result, which is what we really want.
The room was smaller too, with only one aisle and thus, only one microphone. I like this because it makes it easier for people to queue up to ask their questions. While I asked the first question, I made it a point to let others go ahead of me whenever they got in line. This worked well as I was able to keep the conversation going with questions while waiting for people to come to the microphone to ask a question. Here is a list of my questions from this year and the responses I got for them. (as best I remember, anyway)
1. Can we get a roadmap published for Connections Cloud? (See this article for a detailed explanation)
I was able to provide this article in advance and the response was that they definitely see the point to my request and the value it would provide. Expect to see this one addressed soon.
2. We need a migration path to Connections Cloud that removes all servers from on-site. This requires a solution to 3 items:
– Mail-in databases and Rooms & Resources
– Importing Holidays
– A Relay Host service to route mail from on-site applications to the Internet
RESPONSE: We have had these requests by others and are actively working to address them. The relay host presents additional challenges and may be more difficult to resolve.
3. The administrator console for Connections Cloud is fragmented and awkward to work with. Authentication occurs in three places. Can this be made more seamless and provide improved functionality for administrators, including such things as Message Tracking?
RESPONSE: The request for Message Tracking had not been seen before, but that should be possible and makes sense to have. We are going to work to improve the administration console too.
5. Once moved to Connections Cloud, the client version information is no longer maintained in the Domino Directory and there is no way to make Smart Upgrade work in SmartCloud Notes environment. Can these please be addressed?
RESPONSE: We should be able to capture and push back the client version information. As for the Smart Upgrade, they are using a new upgrade process with the browser plugin and expect to port that over so it will be available as a method for upgrading Notes clients in the future.
6. A fix is needed for overlaying Google calendars on the Notes calendar. This broke several months ago when Google pushed out their new process for accessing calendars. They had warned this was coming more than a year ago.
RESPONSE: We have a fix, but it did not make it into the next Fix Pack. We are in the process of determining how to make this available.
7. We need the ability to use groups from the Domino directory in the contact list in Connections Cloud Chat.
RESPONSE: Great recommendation. The developers will look into making that happen. (I also spoke with the developer on this and was already thinking of how to solve this issue)
(asked in the lab only) 8. Administrators need a way to change the mail/calendar delegates for users in Connections Cloud. Currently the process is very awkward and involves the admin logging in as the user to perform the delegation. The developer flagged this one as a critical item and we should see a fix soon, so I did not ask this in the session.)
9. We need a graphical user interface for administering Connections (Thank you Ray Bilyk for asking this question!)
RESPONSE: I forgot exactly what they said. If you remember, please post it in a comment.
10. When will it be possible to launch the video chat from the embedded Sametime client in Notes?
RESPONSE: I just don’t remember what was said here. I got to ask so many questions this year, I felt like I was co-hosting the session. That may be the closest I get to presenting at this conference. I thought the overall attitude in the room was warmer and IBM was more receptive of the feedback from the people asking questions than in years past. Next time I will be sure to record the audio of the session so I can give a more accurate recap. If anyone has a recording of the session, please let me know.
Here are a few more questions I didn’t get to ask.
10. Allow voting down ideas in Connections
11. Allow viewing all ideas posted by a particular person in Connections
12. Provide a Top Innovators list in Connections, similar to IdeaJam.net
If you like these ideas and want to see them implemented, be sure to log into Greenhouse.lotus.com and find them and vote them up. Also (and more importantly) open a PMR and ask that they add your company to the request for the SPR that I have already created for these.
SmartCloud Tip #8: When Person Docs don’t synch
I have encountered occasions in a hybrid environment where some person documents don’t appear in SmartCloud so they are not available for addressing mail and are not available for provisioning, as in the case of creating a new user. The issue turned out to be that the entry in the Manager field on the Home/Work tab of the person document contained a long string of characters (about 40). This prevented the document from getting synchronized with the directory in SmartCloud. SmartCloud is designed so to avoid other problems, if there are any fields that can’t be synchronized, the whole document doesn’t.
So if names in your Domino Directory don’t appear in SmartCloud, review the fields for any unusual content that may be preventing it from synchronizing properly.
SmartCloud Tip #7: Notes BUILT-IN tool for migrating to SmartCloud
Want a simple method for migrating mail to SmartCloud? Maybe you are interested in moving to a Service-Only configuration, but were told you couldn’t migrate the data? Maybe you already completed a migration in a hybrid environment only to find one mailbox that was missed and needs to be migrated after the migration specialist is gone?
This process is embarrassingly simple and could make migration tools obsolete, at least for smaller environments. This puts self-service migrations in the hands of the end user. It could eliminate many billable hours transferring mail for Certified Data Transfer Managers (DTM) like myself. But I believe in things like Open Source software and Sharing Knowledge for the greater good.
Use Archiving. It’s that simple.
The steps are so easy an end user could do it. Here are the details:
Adjust the ACLs of the mail files as necessary.
Create local replicas of the old mail file and the new mail file.
Setup Archive settings in the old mail file to archive into the local new mail file.
Archive Now. (This step will delete everything from the local replica of the old mail file, so don’t let it replicate back to the server in case you need it for some reason.)
Replicate the new mail file back to SmartCloud.
Review the old mail file to ensure all documents were archived.
1. If you are going to switch to a Service-only environment, you will be getting a new Notes ID. Make sure it has access to your old mail file. This step may need to be done by the system administrator.
2. Open your old mail.
3. Create a local replica of it. It Must not be encrypted. If you already have a local replica that is encrypted, you will need to make a new one.
4. Uncheck the box on the replicator page to replicate it. This will keep it from replicating the deletions back to the server after you archive.
5. Repeat steps 2,3, & 4 for your new mail file in SmartCloud.
6. Open the local replica of your old mail file.
7. Pull down Actions – Archive – Settings…
8. Click on the Criteria tab. Disable any criteria that have a check mark indicating they are enabled.
9. Click the Create… button.
10. Enter a name for this criteria, something like “Move to SmartCloud”.
11. Check the box to Enable this Criteria.
12. In the field to select what should happen, browse to and select the local replica of your new SmartCloud mail file. The dialog will look like this:
10. Click the Selection Criteria button.
12. Leave the setting to “not modified in more than”, and change the period to 0 days.
13. Click on OK to all of the boxes. If the following dialog pops up, click yes.
14. The Scheduling settings will be displayed. Click OK without enabling the schedule.
15. You are now ready to perform the archiving. From the inbox of your old mail file, Pull down Actions – Archive – Archive Now.
16. When it is complete, you can check the document count in the database properties. It should be close to zero.Check the All documents view and in your calendar check the Lists – Calendar Entries view for documents that didn’t get brought over. It may be easiest to just re-create calendar entries.
17. Review the folders and calendar in the new mail file. When you are satisfied with the documents in the new mail file, go back to the replicator page and enable it so it can replicate to the SmartCloud server.
That is the whole process in a nutshell. There are some potential obstacles, like connection speed to the Internet, mail file size and Private folders. Also, you may also prefer to have someone with experience to turn on and configure your SmartCloud environment and address some other architectural details, but the act of moving your data can be incredibly simple. I have helped companies use this method very successfully. If you want help with the process, contact me at Divergent Solutions.
See the full list of tips HERE.
SmartCloud Tip #6: Dealing with Middle Initials
In a Hybrid SmartCloud environment, if you have users in SmartCloud who have a middle name or middle initial, that information does not get added to the SmartCloud directory automatically as there is no middle name field. It shows up in the IBM SmartCloud Notes area, but not in the User Accounts area under Manage Organization. So how do you deal with this? The process is actually very simple.
1. Find the user under Manage Organization – User Accounts.
2. Click on the name to edit it.
3. In the Given name field, after the person’s name, add a space and the middle initial or middle name as it appears in their person document in the directory.
4. Click Next to page through the settings until you get to Finish. (Click on Account Login to jump to the last page of settings and save a few clicks.) You’re done.
So what if you need to do this for a lot of people, in particular, during a migration? In this case, use the Integration Server Service. Again, a straight-forward process.
1. Create a view in your Domino Directory that looks like this:
The three columns should have the following headings spelled exactly as they appear here, and formulas:
emailAddress –> Field: InternetAddress
Action –> Formula: “update”
givenName –> Formula: @Trim(@Implode(@Trim(@Subset(FirstName; 1)); ” , “)+ ” ” + MiddleInitial)
You can add additional fields to update if you so choose. Just be sure to follow the rules defined in the SmartCloud documentation.
2. Open the view you just created and select the documents that you want to update the middle initial in SmartCloud.
3. Pull down File – Export. Choose a file type of Comma Separated Value and name the file according to the rules for the Integration Server. Select Save.
4. Choose Save Selected and Include View Titles.
5. Process the .csv as described in the documentation.
I think this process should not be necessary at all, but until the directory in SmartCloud has and uses the middleInitial field from your Domino Directory, this tip is essential.
See the full list of tips HERE.
IBM’s next generation cloud email solution is coming to CONSUMERS for FREE!
Last week IBM provided a glimpse into their next innovation in email. Code-named MailNext, it is now formally named Verse. This is the next evolution of Connections Cloud, their enterprise cloud suite of software.
Now, just a week later, IBM has announced plans to make Verse available to CONSUMERS for FREE!!!
This is unprecedented by IBM. First, this is the first time IBM has targeted consumers rather than businesses. Second, the price is right to attract users to experience the new concept in messaging. Free. A brilliant strategy to finally take an aggressive action toward marketing their product by first winning over their market as individuals and then as businesses.
Long ago Microsoft did this by including Outlook with every operating system. Consumers used that interface to use POP to access their personal email accounts. Familiarity at the consumer level made it easy for businesses to be persuaded to use it along with Exchange server for an enterprise messaging system. Then Google repeated this successful recipe to build a strong consumer base before diving into the enterprise messaging marketplace.
Now IBM is going to apply the same formula. Unlike Google however, IBM is not going to turn consumers directly into profit like Google does with their advertising and scanning of email. They will be targeting Businesses to provide the revenue.
The beauty of this formula is simple. Email is the software equivalent of a Gateway drug into the collaboration software market. And IBM intends to get you addicted to theirs. In this case, those hardcore drugs are IBM’s collaboration software suite: Connections (team, B2B and B2C tools for file sharing, activities, wikis, blogs, forums, surveys, & more); Sametime Instant Messaging, video, audio, web conferencing, and Notes & Domino. And IBM is taking the same approach as the State of Washington, making their gateway drug very accessible and affordable to everyone.
I have to wonder if this isn’t at least partially driven by IBM’s new partnership with Apple who has proven how successful consumer loyalty can be. Many of us who work with the IBM technology and understand how much more powerful it is than the competitive products have long blasted IBM for shunning the consumer market. I have often thought one of their biggest mistakes was separating the application designer tools from the Lotus Notes client which took away the power for end users to apply their own energy to create the custom applications they needed. At that point in time they disarmed their greatest allies and advocates of the software. It looks like the giant has finally awoken and recognizes the power that the individual has on the choice of software in the workplace. I am anxious to see what this new evolution will do for improving our productivity in the most widely used software category in the world. How do you think this will impact the landscape of the collaboration software market? Want to see for yourself? Pre-register here.
Roadmap of IBM Connections and IBM Connections Cloud (SmartCloud) Explained
(Note: because the features of IBM Connections is so tightly tied to releases in IBM Connections Cloud, this story applies to both)
On September 24th I published an article analyzing the Gartner report about Social business offerings. In it I mentioned the lack of a roadmap for IBM Connections Cloud (SmartCloud). The issue keeps resurfacing. So far it has been met mostly with diversions and redirects: “Why do we need a roadmap published?” or “We already have webinars and meetings with customers and present the roadmap to them“. I will say Luis Benitez has done a great job of posting information in various external sources like this slideshare or on his personal blog website (Still not official and only covers the Connections functionality of Connections Cloud and it not a roadmap). And of course there is the official IBM wiki website with the “What’s New” posting highlighting some features after the update, although not all changes are mentioned here, like the update to the ActiveX control for Internet Explorer which was pushed out without warning last Wednesday, outside the usual maintenance window; and the post contains no history of earlier releases. All of these are only partial lists of what features are being working on or have been released to the service and they miss some of the key points of a roadmap. Perhaps the name Roadmap is misleading. Timeline might be more accurate. I will take a moment to clarify what exactly I am looking for in a roadmap and why I think it is so important.
A roadmap provides several things:
1. A general description of each feature that is coming along with a target release date
2. A detailed description of each feature that has been released along with the exact date
3. An indication when a feature is cancelled or delayed (optional)
4. A general vision into the progress of the service past and future that builds confidence and rapport
A roadmap does not need to show the next 2 years of features coming. Requirements change too often to be reliable and it would be unwise to tip their hand and show the competition too much about what they are working on. But it should show the short term list of features that are imminent, within the next 2 to 3 months. Why is this so important? Because Cloud is not like software. First, there are no beta releases for us to play with in advance. Second, there is no SPR listing for it like there is for software, like Notes/Domino. Third, customers cannot chose to delay or avoid a release like they can with software updates. Therefore we need enough advanced notice to prepare for the new features. This often requires communications to our user communities of the impending changes. Larger organizations often have a series of reviews that the communications must pass before being sent out. The help desk may need to get special instructions or at least be prepared for the calls that will inevitably be generated. Administrators may need to request the feature be enabled once it is available, like using federated login method for mobile apps.
The single most important reason for posting the date a feature was added is for troubleshooting. In an environment where the customer is controlling the installation of software, they can track when the software was installed or upgraded. So correlations of when the change was made and when a problem started happening are possible. This is not the case in a cloud service environment. Therefore it becomes an essential role of the cloud provider to document and publish the dates that new features are released. Without it, it can take much more time identifying and resolving issues.
Sometimes plans change. It is better to show the changes than to have them simply disappear. This is not a legal contract, only a guide to help inform the customers. Changes are OK.
Trust is essential to getting companies to buy into your solution. The historical data will provide a track record that demonstrates how much work is continually going into improving the service which will build confidence in both current and potential customers.
Here is the roadmap (effectively) for Notes / Domino
Here is the roadmap of Google Apps for Work
Here is the roadmap for Microsoft Office 365
In other words, a roadmap doesn’t just show you what is coming, it also shows where you’ve been and where you are now. Just like the GPS in your car shows where you are and the roads around you for safe navigation. Without the ability to see these things, customers are driving blind. That is why we need a roadmap for IBM Connections Cloud.
Quick Tip: Using the “like” feature in IBM Connections for more than just liking a file
The Like feature in IBM Connections is a great way to show you “Like” a file that has been posted. But don’t get caught up in the mindset of Facebook “likes”. This feature can also be a shortcut for a document review cycle. Instead of creating todos in an Activity and assigning it to each person, you can just send them all the link and ask them to “Like” it when they finish their review. Sounds almost too obvious, but I see people overlooking shortcuts like this often. This applies to the “home” edition of IBM Connections as well as in IBM SmartCloud Connections.
SmartCloud Tip #05: Problems for mail and calendar delegates. You’ll get tons of helpdesk calls if you don’t do this.
One of the points IBM stresses during your migration to SmartCloud is to migrate delegates of mail files, calendars, and contacts either ahead of or at the same time as the people who delegated them (delegators). This is necessary because a user cannot access databases on the SmartCloud servers until their own account has been added to the service. This is part of the security model. In other words, mail files in the service can only be viewed by users that are in the service. No problem. As you build your batches for migrating, the migration process alerts you who the delegates are for the people in a given batch and those delegates can be added to the same batch with one click.
But what is missed is that the delegates have bookmarks and calendar overlays pointing to the delegators mail or calendar. Those bookmarks point to the servers on-site, not in SmartCloud. So as delegators are migrated to SmartCloud, the old links that other people have to their mail don’t get updated. The end result is that delegates will continue to view the old data in the database on the server on-site even after the delegator has moved. The delegate gets no warning that the delegator has moved. The only clue is that they no longer see any changes that are made in the delegators’ mail or calendar. What makes this more insidious is that the problem begins when the DELEGATOR is moved, not when the delegate is moved. So an administrative assistant that manages many executives’ mail files has to constantly monitor when those executives are moved and then update their bookmarks.
That is why it is a best practice to be sure to promptly delete mail files from the on-site servers after their owners are successfully migrated. Life for delegates can also be simplified if all of the mail files that a delegate has access to are moved in the same batch. Then the delegate can update all the bookmarks at the same time. You could go a step further by creating database redirects as the databases are deleted from the servers on-site. If you do this, you don’t have to alert the delegates every time a delegator’s mail file is moved to SmartCloud. However, this can’t be done if you just approve the database deletions posted in adminP as part of the migration process. You need to create these some other way. One method is to delete the databases manually in the admin client where you can also add the redirect when it is deleted. You could also do this programmatically with an agent. I invite any developers to post a comment on the details for doing that.
I have posted an idea in IdeaJam requesting an enhancement.
as well as in Greenhouse.
WARNING: Google Apps for Business Terms of Service
These are the terms of service you are agreeing to in your Google Apps Business account. See the text highlighted in RED. Does this agreement concern anyone?
(Taken from Google Business TOS https://www.google.com/intl/en/policies/terms/ )
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How to get Sametime Video Chat in SmartCloud
The maintenance window is over and SmartCloud Sametime chat now includes audio and video. Some details to know:
First, the feature is accessible only via a browser or via the mobile app. It is not available in the Notes embedded client (yet). Also, all parties in the chat must be logged into SmartCloud. That makes sense. If they weren’t, you couldn’t chat with them either.
Once logged into https://collabserv.com website, logged into Sametime, open your contacts list. You will see two new icons available, but they have a red box with a star in it. That means you need to install the plugin.
Just click the icon and it will take you through the process of installing. The first time I tried to install, I got some weird errors, but later I tried installing on a different computer and had no problems. I expect they found something wasn’t quite right after the maintenance and quickly fixed it.
I wouldn’t be surprised if they go through a few challenges as they fine tune the service now that it is available to the entire community. But it is certainly working!
New easy way to get your IBM software downloads via SmartCloud!
OK, you’ve seen my article giving a detailed review about how bad Passport Advantage website was for many years. It took awhile to get fixed. But for the most part, much of that has improved dramatically since – and at least partially because of – that article. But downloads are still a bit of a pain. That is, until now!
If you subscribe to SmartCloud Notes, you can get to your downloads in Passport Advantage directly from the Apps – Downloads and Setup menu. It’s almost as good as the days before IBM, when it was just Lotus. This feature is exposed only to SmartCloud administrators, as it should be.
There are many more features about to be released, but I was asked not to publish them in social media just yet. Yeah, right. like giving your teenager the keys to the camaro on a Friday night and telling him to drive slow. It seems every month there are new features surprising us in SmartCloud. Cloud is really the wrong word. It is such a breath of fresh air to see such dynamic, rapid deployment of software. I have seen so many features that I personally suggested, getting deployed so quickly and frequently, you would think I was the Product Manager. But why would IBM hire me when I already do the job for free?
OK, so I won’t break my oath to be quiet about the new features. I will let IBM do that: https://apps.na.collabservtest.lotus.com/help/index.jsp?topic=%2Fcom.ibm.cloud.whatsnew.doc%2Fll_wn_whats_new.html