Blog Archives

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 #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:

IntegrationServerCSVFile
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.
ExportCSV
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

In detail:
1.  Future
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.
2. History
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.

3. Changes
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.

4.  Credibility
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.

For comparison,
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.

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.

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.

Sametime Contacts screen with new video icon

Sametime Contacts screen with new video icon

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!

SmartCloud Sametime Video Chat window

SmartCloud Sametime Video Chat window

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

IBM Connections in the Cloud New Service Update!


So you aren’t a computer geek, but your job involves collaborating with others.  Do you use email?  Maybe share files and other content with people inside and outside your organization?  Maybe at work you bounce between email, calendar, todos, onenote, Sharepoint, Dropbox, WebEx, GoToMeeting, Skype, AIM, Google Apps, Yammer, SurveyMonkey, Yahoo Groups (or some other discussion forum), Google+,  WordPress, LinkedIn.  Then you use email to tell everyone about things like when a task is due or when you have completed one.

You really NEED IBM Connections.  The only company to provide One Single, Seamless Ecosystem to do it all.  Not a piecemeal collection of disparate products.  Not a collection of products thrown together by company acquisitions and then rebranded as if from one company. Gartner even puts IBM’s social software ecosystem at the top of the class.  IBM SmartCloud for Social Business.
And the best way to do this is with their Cloud version.  ASK YOUR IT DIRECTOR OR CFO ABOUT IBM Connections and IBM SmartCloud for Social Business.

By the way, Connections in the Cloud (IBM SmartCloud for Social Business) is getting an update of features that will be available in the on-premises version later this quarter.  Software releases now follow cloud releases.  This trailer is cool:

Check out the IBM Social Software Product Manager, Luis Benitez’ article   for more details including a link to sign up for the webcast to see what’s new in the May update.
See his slideshare post of the new features too.    (Be aware that the second slide in the deck is a link to the video above. Don’t miss the rest of the slides.)
Visit http://collabserv.com for a free trial account.

SmartCloud Demonstration at Seattle Technical Forum Meetup, Redmond, WA


If you are a CTO, IT director, computer professional or enthusiast of cloud computing technology, you won’t want to miss out on this meeting of the Seattle Technical Forum meetup group.

There will be 3 presenters at this meeting speaking on the following topics:

– Google Cloud Platform: Top 10 Edition
– Properly securing your cloud infrastructure
– SmartCloud – IBM’s Biggest Little Secret

I will be presenting a demonstration of SmartCloud for Social Business with IBMer David Bell.  This will show off what is sure to be tagged as “The next Facebook”, business style.
You can find the details here.

Even if you can’t attend, you can create a free 60-day trial account at http://collabserv.com

SmartCloud Tip #04: Special considerations for Soft Deletions with MMR


The SmartCloud administration panel has a setting for how long deleted messages are in the trash.  From the administration screen, in the left navigation click on IBM SmartCloud Notes, Click Account Settings…
SmartCloudSoftDeletions

Click Email Management.

SmartCloudSoftDeletions2
This setting overrides the setting in the database properties – advanced tab – soft deletions.
NotesSoftDeletions
However…

If your users are using Managed Mail Replicas (MMR), then they have a local replica and the Notes client will still process soft deletions on that local replica according to the database setting.  So if the database setting is set shorter than what you have in the SmartCloud admin settings, the trash will be emptied locally and then replicated to the server and it will appear as though the server setting isn’t working.

Normally the administrator could change this database setting, but not for mail files in SmartCloud because no one has manager access to the database, not even to the local replica.

To avoid this problem, simply make sure to set the value of the soft deletions database property to something longer than the time you have set in SmartCloud up to 2160 hours (90 days) before you migrate the mail file to SmartCloud. Don’t exceed that as excessively high values create other problems.  Also do this to the mail template you are using for new users.

The beauty of cloud-based software is the speed that updates are deployed and I expect this will change soon.  IBM is working on refinements to managing the soft deletions with MMRs, but it is still best to deal with this pro-actively before migrating.

Read these articles for more tips on preparing mail files for migration to SmartCloud Notes:
SmartCloud Tip #02: Best Practices to get mail files ready to move to SmartCloud
SmartCloud Tip #03: Important Details to Setting the ACL on your Mail Files

SmartCloud Tip #03: Important Details to Setting the ACL on your Mail Files


When you move to SmartCloud Notes, you get many great benefits, but of course there are a few tradeoffs.  One of those is giving up Manager access to the mail files.  Whether you’re the mail file owner or the system administrator, the best access you’ll ever have is Editor.  And unless you explicitly configure it otherwise, by default only the mail file owner will have any access at all. This is actually great for enforcing best practices. Users should never have more than editor access anyway, and in countries like France, the law prohibits administrators from accessing a user’s mail without their permission. Yes, the owner can always use delegation to grant others access to their mail file, but that only works if they are available to give that access.  That doesn’t help for employees that are out sick or no longer employed at your company.

If you want anything other than the default, you need to plan ahead because once the mail file has been migrated, you can’t change the ACL. This means adding certain groups and roles to the ACL of the existing mail files as well as to the template for any future mail files.

There are typically 3 groups you will want to add to the ACL. The first is your administrator group. Without this, administrators can’t perform some basic administrator tasks, like opening the mail file to do troubleshooting.

The second group that may need access are support personnel who may need access to the mail files, but should not be included in your administrator group. For example, this may be regional administrators, or designated people on the help desk, or HR, or the legal department. How you organize these groups will vary depending on the organization and size of your company. Note that you need a different mail template in SmartCloud for each different ACL. For example, you will need a different template for each region if each region will have a different group of regional administrators.

The third consideration is providing access for your application servers in the event you have applications that run agents that directly touch the mail files.  Keep in mind that no agents can run on directly on the SmartCloud mail servers so any agents will need to be run on a server you maintain on site. Typically databases use mail routing to get things into your mail file, but I have encountered a few applications that add entries directly to the calendar.  The process of assigning access to these groups is simple, but must be done in advance of migrating the mail files into SmartCloud and also requires modifying the ACL of your mail template that will be posted in SmartCloud so future accounts created in the cloud will have them.

First, create a role called ExcludeDelegate in the ACL of the mail files, then create the three groups mentioned above as you need and apply that role to them. (More on exactly how to do this later.) The following screen shot was taken from the database catalog and shows these ACL entries framed in red boxes.  Note that regardless of what level of access you give these groups in the mail file on site, it will not have more than Editor when it is moved to the cloud. But if those entries do not have the ExcludeDelegate role applied, they will be removed entirely from the ACL upon migration.

Entries needed in SmartCloud ACL

Entries needed in SmartCloud ACL

So how do you get these settings applied to all of your mail files in advance? You could add the entries using the administrator client.  On the files tab, select a set databases then right click and choose Access Control – Manage.  A dialog box displays that allows adding, modifying, or deleting ACL entries. It also allows creating roles.  But the ability to actually applying those roles to ACL entries is missed. (I say BUG, IBM says “functioning as designed”)  So the only way to assign a role to an ACL entry via the Administrator UI is to manually open each database one at a time and add the role to the entry.  Not exactly convenient when trying to assign the [ExcludeDelegate] role to entries in hundreds or thousands of mail files before migrating them to SmartCloud.

Footnote: An SPR# GPKS6TNBN4 is a request to fix the admin client to mass-update roles in ACLs. Read this article for more details:
http://www-01.ibm.com/support/docview.wss?uid=swg21264880
Please take a moment to open a ticket with IBM technical support and request that your company be added to this  SPR. The more companies that request an enhancement, the more urgent they consider it.

Meanwhile, you can accomplish this using third party tools, such as Ytria EZ ACL tool, a module in the suite of useful admin tools. (Contact me for a discount code) or you can write an agent to accomplish this task.

Prepare your environment with these steps well in advance of migrating and things will be much less complicated at the time of migration.

If you found this tip helpful, you might also be interested in my other tips:
SmartCloud Tip #01 Using the Notes admin client to compliment the SmartCloud web admin screens
SmartCloud Tip #02: Best Practices to get mail files ready to move to SmartCloud

SmartCloud Tip #02: Best Practices to get mail files ready to move to SmartCloud


Here are several essential tips to avoid users having problems after migrating users’ mail to SmartCloud and to avoid having problems during the migration.

1.  First, make an initial pass with the Onboarding Planning Tool (OPT) as early in the migration planning process as possible.  You will want to get a jumpstart on fixing all the errors it is going to find that you never knew you had.  This will also help to identify all those orphaned accounts no longer in use so you can get a more accurate count of how many licenses you need.

2. Look at the mail files on your server with the admin client.  Sort them by size. If you have any over 5 GB, then open each and see how many documents are in the inbox.  If you have a lot of these, make an agent to scan them all and create a report.  For any that have more than about 1000 messages in the inbox you should have the owner clean it up before they are migrated. This is a performance issue.

3. Identify all mail files that have more than 400 folders.  These will need to be reduced to under 400.  Again, it is a performance issue and can also cause errors. Finding these isn’t as easy.  If you are a glutton for punishment, you can do it manually.  Open the server log, go to the view Usage – By Size. Open the document for one of the mail databases and you will find a list of all the folders.  An easy way to count them is to copy the list and paste it into a spreadsheet or into an editor that will display line numbers, like Notepad++, a great, free editor.  I recommend creating an agent or using a 3rd party tool like Ytria tools instead. (Contact me and I can get you a discount.)

In case you’re wondering, I’ve already asked IBM to add processing counting the inbox documents and the number of folders to the OPT. It is more likely to happen sooner if others request it too.

4. If you aren’t already using local mail replicas and managing them with MMR, then you are best off getting this setup on all users before you start migrating.  You can do it after the migration as well, but creating the replicas will take longer because it is pulling it down from the Internet instead of from servers in your data center.  Do NOT try to do it at the same time you migrate users. You will inevitably have problems and it will give the impression the migration was the cause.  For users with excessively large mail files or with a high document count in their inbox, create the local replica first and have them do their clean up work locally.  If you use the MMR settings on the Mail tab of the Desktop Policy settings, you can also tell it to create the full text index automatically too. Your users will be thankful.  Be sure to teach them how to use it too!

These tips aren’t documented in the IBM SmartCloud Wiki.
But there are many good lessons to learn there if you are considering making the move.  Check out the Learning Center pages on the SmartCloud wiki

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