Wednesday, March 8, 2017

To Tableau, or Not to Tableau

This was the question I had as I reserved a space at the event held today here in Tel Aviv. I was supposed to go last year but was out of the country at the time.Nice view we had.

Tableau is about data visualization. yes the same stuff we did 30 years ago with 1-2-3 or Excel but smooth, "simple" and flexible to work with many, many forms of data. They went public in 2013 and since have steadily grown in awareness and revenue. Tableau may not have been on everyone's radar but it is showing up more and more.

Dashboards are the low hanging fruit, embedded systems data, advanced analysis and problem-solving once you get some real data views is when the fun starts.

My impression was the event would be a local Business Partner running the event and maybe 25-50 people would show up for an afternoon event between 2 and 5 pm. Which would be great as I wanted time to talk to them about the ecosystem, project work and length and recurring revenue streams.

Oh boy was my thinking wrong!

My estimate, confirmed by the Tableau people, was over 300 people came and it looks like as many as 400 had replied they were coming. And this is in Israel where I have been at full events that barely had 250 people. Interestingly many startups here use it for client reporting and proof that their marketing or advertising or whatever the solution, is working.

If you wonder if this is something you should be looking into, if you haven't already, the answer is definitely yes. London friends they are coming to you June 5-7, register here.

The time was meant to have networking, for the 5, yes that is correct, 5 Israel Business Partners to get time with everyone. Even if I wanted to be a  BP, I can't, this year. I don't really understand the thinking, but I was encouraged to apply anyway as they review their partners every year, similar to how SalesForce does it. More on this later in this post.

After networking, we had a quick demo from the UK Sales leader Josh and his Product PreSales specialist Rafi. I say quickly because when speaking in a foreign country, native English speakers should slow down their delivery so everyone can process what is said, and also explain as they go along what they are doing to create the demo. The exuberance Rafi and Josh displayed was great, but I would have preferred a little more explanation about the way she built the views for the demo.

There was a brief slide deck from Laurie as he tried to explain that once you build a dashboard the interested parties can start to really expand on their knowledge and play with it further.

I think there are a little way to go for this part as a non-IT person does not think the same way as tech or data people.

As an example, I, like most of you reading this, understand databases and views, SQL calls and other aspects of databases but because of a lack of education, most end users do not. They can learn, and some do, but many just don't want to learn or change. A problem we all face no matter which solution we choose to use for even basic functions in business.

Thus my impression, given the demo was already seen, is someone would become the guy in the corner that is the Tableau expert rather than many users editing it. That is how I first met a few people in the Lotus Notes world in the R2 days. And I can see people with Tableau interests ending up in the same way.

Great, I love it, let's get started! Well, hold on a second there. It is not so simple.

  • They have a 14 day(30?) trial period. Not long enough IMHO for your average consultant or corporate person to get their head around it.
  • Very pricey options, per user ($999) to get a license to work with it but to save it on a server and not just locally you need Professional ($1,999).
  • No developer license or option. Ok, so how do we get it?
  • (They have student/teacher Desktop editions)

BUT, there is a "free" public edition here for Windows and Mac and you can read the details.
Ok, so it is limited, but should be enough for us to get our head around how to work with it.

Ready to get going? Try these:

Quick Start in text form for those, like myself, that prefer textual information
Training Videos for those that like visual learning
Long(1 hr) videos on how to via youtube
An amusing example of Data Visualization to help you build your first
There are also various forums and user groups so the community is engaged and even shows how to get Domino to work via REST and ODBC and DB2.

Getting back to the Business Partner discussion, it seems that the expectations are for customers to seek out Tableau partners and work with them on their projects. I can see this as companies move away from training people on new items and prefer to outsource projects. However, I also see it as an internal benefit that should be given proper training to get the most out of it, especially at these prices.

There is a fee to become a partner but once you would be down that path it would be expected.

Coming from the Lotus and IBM Collaboration space my view is tableau is seriously limiting their growth potential by not having options available for consultants or small services teams or even individuals.

Maybe Tableau really does send leads to their BPs around the world from the people that request it from their website. As an end user, this page leaves me wondering what the difference is between the 4 types of partners and why 2 of the options search by country, region, industry, and certifications while the other 2 sort only by region.

Perhaps the same confusion is what leads to the many requests to the Tableauthians (I know, somewhat Star Trek like but not sure what they call themselves) looking for consultants.

I could definitely have used this for past reporting and am looking at using it for some current projects.

How about you?

What are you doing with it?

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

In Closing, the Connect CGS Speaker

The closing session at IBM Connect this year was probably the most educational closing session I have listened to over the years. And that is a good thing because although some closers were motivational or inspirational or imaginative, the creative process often gets hidden in the final product.

Eric Whitacre, who until the session I had not looked up or heard of, was very upfront about his motivations and goals/dreams and how all of them combine to help him fulfill his music efforts.
Eric has created a collaborative choir, digitally, and continues to push the envelope to do more. You can look at some of his work here, here, and here to get an idea of what I am talking about.

While that was all very cool and awesome acoustically, it was his explanations about how he composes the new pieces that was so intriguing.

As with most designers and artists, he free hands some ideas on paper peppered with items that pop in his head to come up with a high level plan. Nothing is wasted, they are just ideas for next time perhaps.

He quoted Hans Zimmer the great composer of so many movies themes who said “Why go with your 5th worst idea when the 1st one is just as good”.

He then continued on by explain the Fibonacci number and how that influences art and music.

When Eric broke down the song from Frozen and compared it to how Beethoven’s 5th works, I am pretty sure everyone in the room was blown away by the relative simplicity of his explanation to something most people give little thought.

Eric composes orchestral pieces but involves non-traditional methods into his work. His usage of snapping fingers to make rain storms for instance or having an audience download an app to run during  the concert when he tells them to hit the button providing an aural and visual enhancement to his piece is great art. By bring his audience into the conductor circle he has gained their interest and makes the symphony seem modern instead of old and dusty. I would love to take my kids to see him some day.

My wife will read this and remind me of how I fell asleep at the symphony with her parents when we were first married. It isn’t that I don’t like the music, in most cases I do, it just doesn’t excite me the same way as seeing Eric Clapton in concert. Let the record also state, I fell asleep at a Fleetwood Mac conference during Mick’s elongated drum/percussion solo. I argue I was just tired in both situations. J

I can only presume this is how great developers plan their applications. I have worked with few developers that do it this way to such detail but maybe the detail is not what is really important. The details are appreciated, but are they just nice to have or do they serve a purpose? Even if that purpose is to complete the overall original vision of the creator? Do people really notice these nice to have items?

Whoever said don’t sweat the small stuff, really never understood, it is the small stuff that means the most.

Executive Upgrades of the Server Kind

At Gurupalooza, the last day session of IBM Connect where the IBM Champions and Best Practices presenters answer audience questions, my friend Todd asked us something along these lines:

“How do you convince an executive that feature packs must be installed and maintained like formal releases?"

In today’s world, there are no formal releases. Your browsers update automatically, if you let them, your phones update apps automatically, again if you let them. So why should your servers or clients that have helped you to make money and sales likewise not be updated?

A few of us replied with these answers:
  • ·         Security, many updates are about security which should not even be a question, especially if you have outside facing servers.
  • ·         Compatibility, advances by obvious vendors like Microsoft can cause issues with older code because it cannot understand new drivers or parameters (I’m not a developer so keeping this simple for readers). Even Apple makes choices that can limit functionality for Traveler and device synchronization.
  • ·         New functionality, even old dogs can have new tricks although these days evolutionary functionality is more expected. To be fair, non IBM messaging products do not have anything truly new, just different ways of doing the same thing, albeit faster (one hopes).

And these are all good and valid reasons, but for a stubborn executive, or a combatant one against specific companies or products, you need to dig deeper.

My answer was formed from my years of evangelizing the product line and pushing the boundary of what one can say to an executive. I always ask to see their staging and development architecture or environment. This usually creates a long discussion about priorities, resources and good intentions, but also brings the point home. If you want to delay the updates, because of fear of it breaking something, which is a very valid reason, you have no reason NOT to at least have some test environment for the updates.

My friend, and fellow IBM Champion, Bill Malchisky added to this idea by suggesting one look for the feature or function in the updates that best supports the business lines and getting the business lines to do your dirty work in getting the updates pushed through.

If you need an illustration, try referencing an automobile. If they had a service engine light on, they would bring their car in to the dealer. If their headlight died, they would go to Auto Zone or whatever shop, Walmart probably works too, and get a bulb and replace it. Okay, maybe this is too much for an executive who may not even know there are bulbs, but as a parallel reference it works.

The feature packs are that bulb. Safety (security) necessitates your head lights work.

Now ask about changing the oil on the car. The average person has no idea that it does not need to get changed every 3 months, yet that is what the industry started to do because once a year didn’t make them enough money. Anyway, the point is, when you change your oil, and your oil filter and usually the air filter and some other things you are helping your car run better and improve your mileage/gas ratio.

Feature pack 8 works the same way. One nice benefit is you get faster indexing or new enhanced view lookups or as we will see shortly, the index being removed from the NSF itself, optionally, and imagine how much faster your backup could be and your replication once you have these installed. Now to put that in application transactional business benefit, you may be able to do transactions a few seconds faster which makes your customers happier. Every little bit counts.

Like I have been preaching for years, if you did not get any budget for updates or after hours work it is because you never made the proper business case for your Enterprise software. If you treat it, internally, as an expense, rather than an investment with an ROI, you deserve the quagmire you may have fallen into by now.

In two separate conversations with other Business Partners, each were amazed at how many Domino.Doc customers still exist and never went to Lotus Quickr, or anything else. And now they will find it is even more expensive to migrate because at the time it was “just the document management app” instead of the “soul of our organization”.

If you put Domino and your applications up on high, or down low, then your executives will see it as you do. 

Aim high, be proud, be strong....and then present it all as a case study at IBM Connect next year or at a User Group event and be a leader to others.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Day 2 of Connect was Road Map Day for me

The day opened with Mat's AdminBlast session which was so full of tips and ideas he could barely get to all of them and he laid out how he manages his team and uses all the resources he can from Notes, Domino, Connections, Watson, etc. Great effort and valuable training for new managers to get a great view of how they could be working.

Usually the sessions are a secondary benefit, for people like myself that are involved in the product line for so long. We have various meetings, briefings, side chats, commitments to other partners and so our time is used quite well. I admit to barely getting to 2 sessions a day, but this is average for me over the years.

Not being a developer, a number of sessions didn't work for me. Road map and hands on sessions are what I look for to expand my knowledge, especially around what is available now or soon to be available. The future products that are a year or more away are nice to know about, but I have time. Plus, as an IBM Champion we get private briefings during the year as products progress.

I tweeted about the IBM Notes and Domino Road map session(links below are to the slides I caught on camera), which by the way was one of the best in years. Okay, we didn't get hard dates, but we did get end of Q1 for feature pack 8 and end of Q3 for FP9 see this slide. I know IBM said they want to issue updates quarterly, and I think they will, but my expectation is two updates a year for now. Once they iron out the process to handle quarterly updates they should hit the four.

What made this session so great was Barry Rosen Offering Manager for Notes and Domino took the time to see it from our view. And he did pretty well with it.

We, the customers, partners and community at large need to know definitively what is coming down and that there are plans. He laid out the change in future support for some servers and client operating systems. Various slides outlined what was coming even the development updates and ideas was discussed. There was even a mention of Quickr! Well it really was about CCM (if you don't know what this is, don't worry) and should interest people who need it. The committing support through 2021 is nice to hear.

Suffice it to say, for now we see into 2018 and that should work for many people who will, and should, at some point start looking at Verse on Premises for mail users. Why? Because I got the impression Watson and cognitive abilities will be baked into Verse instead of over the Notes client as will more pieces of the overall puzzle that IBM is putting together around the future of how we work. Like I said a few months back, we are in the 3rd or 4th level of change in the messaging/communication/collaboration/social and we need to evolve and look towards the future, while maintaining the current architecture.

I did not get into the session on Pink so one of the other Champions or bloggers I am sure will cover that and better than I ever could. I will reiterate what Jason Gary said, Pink is not meant to rewrite IBM Connections but augment it with more, newer features in a simpler more modular method.

One session I really wanted to go to, we had to commit to attending before the event, was the Docker 101 hands on class. Unfortunately, due to network configuration issues at the site we did not get that far but with the guidelines in hand I look forward to playing with this technology, especially as Pink is being designed to run on it. Curiously I found out Websphere today can be run on Docker. This could be very useful for some of you.

You can learn new things, you can also meet new people. Lots of IBMers have changed positions and moved out of ICS or back to it. Always be open to talk to anyone and everyone. One of my client issues with a Connections plugin was raised to the owner of the plugin. It can be hard to do this not in person sometimes, here is why.

I started with an Offering Manager (OM)I knew and asked who in the room, we were at a reception, would own the plugin which led us to two more people that led us to the right person who happened to be talking to my friend Mac. Since I never met this OM before I now had a known and a newly met OM introduce to me to the right person. If I had not done this in person, I would have still called/emailed/Sametime one of the OMs I know and find the right person. And then start a conversation. Maybe it is easier this way but if I didn't know any OMs I would search online to find some presentations on the subject then go to IBM Whois and look up the presenter and email or call to get on track.

As Eric Whitacre, the closing speaker, said, make issues your features. If you don't know someone, keep asking till you do.

One Firm's Wild Ride to the Cloud

My IBM Connect presentation is now posted on Slideshare.

Thank you everyone for coming and your questions.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Welcome to NOT Orlando

IBM Connect, or Lotusphere, as us old people call it kicked off last night with the welcome reception and today with the Opening General Session.

This year we break from tradition to visit San Francisco instead of Orlando. Many traditions may not return, but thank God for Ephox and Aussie Night, and Mat. Disclaimer, IBM Champions are invited in advance and are loved by Ephox.

The usual cast of characters exist, like a Thanksgiving dinner, your business cousins, uncles and aunts and everyone in between are here to make the event entertaining, bewildering, shocking and er, imbibe a little too much at times.

Sponsors, exhibitors and attendees have a decent size space to work with and the estimated 2,000 people make everything seem full without crowding. Hopefully for the exhibitors it is a good show.

We saw and heard quite a few things today, many I will not get correct but here goes:

Badges? Yes, no more certification requirements from IBM, but now you need badges of the virtual kind. No news how many badges it takes to be able to sell licenses, but I am sure IBM had thought of these things. Hope my New Way to Learn badge does something.

Lotus IBM Notes and Domino we were told are road mapped through 2021.

Evidently Sametime is getting a  life extension as well but details were less definitive.

IBM Connections 6.0 will be out in a quarter or 2.

Pink, is the code name for Connections NEXT and it looks to augment and extends on where the platform is today, but without the Websphere and other things, Keep watching this space.

The UX lab is all about Connections and Verse, go give them your input in exchange for some tickets to win prizes of your choosing.

Julian Robicheaux was named the third Lifetime IBM Champion and him and Theo and Gab were part of the musical mix of live dj/musician and Watson song make up.

Some cool Oblong video meetings which showcased the drag and drop functions in Watson Workspace.

Box Relay was on screen in a demo. Described as a "workflow solution", gee I wonder where I might have heard hat term previously.

Unlimited mail sync is now or will be an option for search purposes on phones.

Watson Workspace is growing, expanding, look for a new app store from IBM (I think) as Business Partners write apps for it. In my discussion with some IBMers it appears the technical part is not the problem, the ideas or workflow plans or just applications that are business necessary are the key. SO get thinking people.

Saw many friends, a few customers, met new IBMers and other people that I only knew online and good thing we all wear badges so everyone knows each other.

I agree with Wes Morgan, The Lost art of Troubleshooting is troubling issue in modern times.

The demo crew, led by Chris Crummey did all their own stunts live. Brave souls and a much better way to demo over past years with fake names, apps and such.

The Moscone center is nice, the staff are great and the wifi has been excellent.

Lots of partner solutions were shown in the OGS rather than just mentioned.

I registered as a client this year, I was surprised there were no invitations to talk or see anything from partners or vendors.

Only draw back is a dearth of charging stations and electrical outlets. Even the sun came out a bit today.

The other thing is, it is not Orlando. There is no one place everyone is hanging out. There is no running into people once you leave the Moscone center.

Yes you can follow people on various social media but that is not the same. Again on the plus side, the community is the community, even if we end up in 3-4 different locations in the evening.

Wednesday is my session at 1pm Room 2011 on Our Journey to a Cloud, see you all there.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Fix Your Own Computer And Advanced Backups

I did these two sessions today as part of the technical track "SpeedGeeking" sessions.

The Backup one was more of an interactive session with a link to numerous free and not so free backup software options. For last year's more detailed version see "My Dog Ate My Homework".

Advanced Backups from Keith Brooks

The Fix Your Own Computer session is to help non technical people understand some options when they run into a problem with their equipment. Obviously, in 15 minutes, one can not really explain everything so the idea was to provide some guidance so they do not get ripped off by a repair shop.

18+ Ways to Help Clients Love You

This was my slide deck for today's Israel Translation Association (ITA) Conference in Tel Aviv.
It is more specific than last year's "Worst Translation Practices" session but also more minimal.

You will see no text, just logos and graphics.

It is good for everyone to remember some of these no matter what business you are in or where you work in the world.

18+ Ways To Help Clients Love You from Keith Brooks

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Destroying A Business From Within

The other night we went out with 30 of our friends to a new restaurant and bar in our neighborhood for my birthday.

My wife and I ate there a few days earlier and agreed it would work well for our crowd.
Who knew one can make so many friends in two and half years of moving here but we did! 
While we don't always get together regularly, we do get together for drinks or late night food between 2 and 4 times a month in smaller groups and maybe once a month in a bigger way for a party or birthday.

Why do I tell you this? 

Because this blog post is a lesson that any business can live or die by its management and staff. Along the way see how sales, social media, personalities, business expectations, training, psychology, and in my case, ignorance all come into play.
As we all arrived at the restaurant, we had made a reservation for 18, then changed it to 25 and the restaurant had made space in their back room for us which we proceeded to fill. 

The locals and friends from neighboring cities proceeded to order drinks and food or desserts.
The people at our table ordered first and most of us got our food and drinks in a reasonable time. But, a specific dish with 4 of us had ordered, seemed to not be coming. While I did not mind, some of the more hungry guests were not amused and asked when we would get our food. 

We learned that there was only one appliance to use to make this particular meal and it would take some time as now there were 8 total orders of the same item. It did not help that the other waitresses grabbed whatever was ready and delivered it to their tables without realizing or noticing the early ones should have gone to us. 

Again, not the biggest deal to me.
It seems at some point some people had words with the hostess who explained that the restaurant was not prepared for such a large group. For a place that has existed for a few years and has an ample seating space outside and inside to accommodate at least 100-125 people, this was an unexpected answer. I did not find this out until later that night or the next day.

All our food arrived but not before two people left to go get burgers down the road after letting the waitress know they were not waiting any longer. I also didn't know this at the time but found out later.
Thus about 2 hours later as the party was ending and people started to pay their bills, I went to go pay for ours as well.
And the fun began.

I let the waitress know what my wife and I ordered and paid the bill and thinking we were the last ones we should head home.
Not so fast.
There was an amount due. 

Okay, I figured some people drank shots or maybe didn't realize their spouses did, so I figured, my party, I can cover it, right? It turns out we were short about 600 shekels or roughly $150!
Now I know my friends here and trust them to be both honest and full of integrity, even when drinking, so I asked to see the full bill receipt. I then sat down to go over everything listed and asked them to verify the payments received.

It was at this moment that I must claim ignorance. I was not involved in the other conversation that started between my wife, or the few friends still lingering and the hostess/waitress.
It seems that the choice of words, this is all in Hebrew, was accusatory and rather indignant that our friends skipped off without paying. No, it could not be the restaurant's error, everything is on the computer and what were we trying to pull.

Reminding any of you of client meetings over billing hours yet?
I eventually found out that the meal, I and 7 others ordered, had been entered into the computer as 18, not 8, orders! 

Simple math 10 x 60 = 600. The actual numbers came out and showed that my drinks were paid for by my friends, which is usually how we all do it for birthdays so I, in essence, received a small amount of money in a refund. Thanks everyone!
The management, hostess, and waitress provided no explanation nor any apology.

Culturally I understand this and it didn't bother me at the time, again, because all I knew was I found the error, they fixed it and all was good.

My friends, a mixed group of Americans and Israelis were not very happy with the entire situation. They wanted to post bad Yelp reviews, wanted to tell our whole community about the way we were treated, and do what people do most with social media, gripe. Before you say, "but you are doing just that", my hope is that the owner will see this, but also to parallel it with our own business situations.

Our bill which was about 3,000 shekels or about $750 got me thinking about the business side of this situation and what everyone can learn from it. 

Yes some of it is obvious, but as a case study in hospitality management, here we go.
My friends go out quite a bit as I said, many of us either run our own business or, at our age, are high-level sales people or managers. We have money to spend when we want to go out. 

Some of us have small invitation events for artists or non profit benefits during the year that we need a nice, and new, place to invite people. And as a business lunch option, this could work too. 

In short, there is quite a bit of revenue that the restaurant loses out because they:
  • did not train their staff properly
  • did not have any buy-in from the staff to benefit the business or themselves
  • did not recognize that the issue was on their side and although they backed their own people initially, should have admitted the mistake
  • will not see any more birthday parties and with 30 people, even if only half went there, that is over 40,000 shekels a year they are losing 
  • and the waitresses miss out on a guaranteed $75 in tips or more which knowing what they get paid, they really need
  • have now also cut themselves off from a very social media and referral network of people that could have sent them dozens and dozens of people
  • lost out on our weekly get together which while only 2-6 of us might show up, still would be a recurring revenue stream they were lacking
Doing some back of a napkin math, with the number of restaurants extrapolated and annual sales defined from here and here says the average restaurant makes 700,000 shekels a year. 

I don't think it is a stretch to say that if we all liked it and told other friends our combined spend reaches 75-100,000 shekels a year. 10% of their revenue to me sounds like a big deal based on what I read. 

Similarly we have no idea who is at a table or in an audience, on the train or randomly walking by us when we are unhappy about a situation at work or with a client. It may cost us our jobs or our bonuses or future jobs at the time. 

This is a tough thing to overcome because trust once lost is very hard to regain, especially in this case where we would have no other interaction with the establishment.
The restaurant could have filled a void for us that we need in our community, a kosher bar and restaurant, and had high hopes for it but it seems they do not share our hopes or have any interest in filling our needs.

By not engaging with the clients in a reasonable fashion and laying blame on them, you can see how service contracts go bad in businesses so easily when vendors take a one sided view. 

This one sided view is "taught" to the staff because they will naturally be influenced and then follow their leader.
My friends, like you reading this out there, have various expectations about dining out.
Some want value for their money, others want high end cuisine, some expect the staff to be as professional as business people (hard to ask from teenagers or even college age people), others are okay with waiting if they have were warned about delays or like me not bothered about it all.
The Snickers commercials in the US hit the spot on this one from both sides of this discussion because maybe it was all just late at night and everyone was hungry.

When your focus is on the wrong information, attitude or goals, your business can not survive because you send your staff down rabbit holes that have no way out. 

It may also help to deliver the goods or services on time and feed your staff and customers within reasonable times.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Me? At a Hackathon? Lead a team? What?

I submitted a topic for Alan Hamilton's IBM Connect Hackathon which takes place the day before the event. It was accepted, my team "Domino Tweets" is good to go!
Our Motto : Stay at the pub longer, we'll tweet you if we need you, love your Domino Server!

Why? Because I have wanted one thing for a while, a DDM (Domino Domain Monitor) notification via Twitter.

As an admin DDM is my top inside the box tool. Notifications are usually in the database itself or in my case sent via emails. Emails can not be received when there is an SMTP issue or spam appliance failure. How do you get notified then? 

My answer is Twitter.

But it could just as well be Slack, IBM Watson Workspace, IBM Sametime, What's App, Google Hangouts or Skype, maybe Facetime (Ok, maybe not Facetime, unless I can use The T2 Arnold as the sender) to name a few variations.

Maybe we will do some of these, maybe only one, but whatever it is, this will be a giant step in moving DDM notifications forward with how admins work today.

The link to sign up and be a part of it is here. See you at the IBM Building Monday the 20th!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Thursday Tips - Sametime Installations Gone Awry?

I recently inherited a failed Sametime Complete 9.0 Installation that was stuck on the proxy server.

This would be the 3rd time in the last 2 years I have had the same exact circumstance.

Thank you all for bringing these to me. The commonality in each case was a reliance on the Zero to Hero 900+ slide deck. While it is a great guide to follow, especially if internally you need screen shot by screen shot directions, it lacks a few things that are kind of important.

It makes it very clear everything is on one server, if anyone read the slides, this is not very feasible for the average installation.Why is this an issue? Websphere needs to be installed on each machine but is not mentioned anywhere. SSO is not mentioned. Creating the services, and dependencies for those services is only partially mentioned.Naming everything is not going to work either.

There are many more items to consider and think about, in short, if you don't know enough about what is missing, don't start down this path.

So for those getting stuck along the way, and have yet to call me for help, here are some pieces of information which may help you along the way. None of this is new but sometimes you just need a bunch of help all in one place.

I will presume you know enough to download any updates from IBM's Fix Central, how to install Websphere and the Installation manager and all the other components. If not, call me.

In no particular order:
SSO import, export of the LTPA token to/from Websphere and the Community Server details can be found here.

Keep in mind the token name must be syntax correct and the same name used throughout the process.
You may want some more details from this post:

When you need to create the Domino SSO Configuration, use this guide.

You can have multiple Domino SSO Configuration documents, just name them differently.

We needed to do this in 2 of the 3 cases because we used the same Domino domain for Community servers and :LDAP servers. This is one case where creating a new OU inside your domain may help you, check with your trusted advisor.

Need to create a Windows Service, and Dependencies so on startup it loads all the WAS and server items properly? You need the sc.exe command tool .

The syntax is not fun, and be very careful with the CAPS letters and lower case ones as any diffrences will not let this work, see this for a massive example.

Here is an example of how I did a few. You start at the bin directory (I used a D Drive) and then enter the text starting with "sc config " after the ">" remember long names and spaces in between words need the quotation marks:

Proxy Server itself and has a dependency of starting AFTER the local nodeagent:
sc config "IBMWAS
85Service - STProxyServer" depend= "IBMWAS85Service - con-stproSTPPNProfile1_nod
 For the Sametime System Console (SSC) the Nodeagent has to start AFTER the Deployment Manager
sc config "IBMWAS
85Service - STConsoleServer_NA" depend= "IBM WebSphere Application Server V8.5 - STConsoleServer_DM"

If you need to remember the order of starting and stopping the Websphere Sametime Servers read this note.

Lastly, document that installation using my excel spreadsheet which you can get from this post of mine.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

If You're going to San Francisco...

"You're gonna meet some gentle people there" 
- So sang the late Scott Mckenzie in May 1967 as an advertisement for the then upcoming Monterrey International Pop Music Festival.

One of them will be me, as I have been asked to speak about one of my clients about their journey to the IBM Connections Cloud.

The abstract officially says(link):
Getting to the cloud is half the battle; while getting your users to follow you (let alone understand what is where or how) is another story entirely. From CAPS-happy users to 75% traveling executives, and clients that are so well known we have perpetual attempts to defeat our security, these are some highlights of our experiences moving from on-premises to Connections Cloud.

Moscone West, Level 2 - Room 2011Wed, 22-Feb 01:00 PM - 01:45 PM
(time, date and location may change before the event)

This is a new location, a new venue, a new conference with the same friendly and smart people you know from past years plus more people from across the tech scene which we have yet to know and become friends and family with over time.

Many of my fellow IBM Champions will be there, presenting and attending as will IBM Product Managers and if you look hard enough, the IBM Developers. 

The future which includes an expanding universe of Watson Workspace, Verse, Verse on Premises, IBM Connections, plus some surprises I am sure from the opening keynote to keep everyone excited during the show.

See you all in San Francisco!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Mission Tools: Lotus Quickr to IBM Connections Cloud

Welcome to the 3rd installment of my migration project.

I am happy to say that we moved everything over, now we are verifying everything came over and cleaning up all the orphaned and misc. files that were found and cross linked at one time.

So, how did we get it all moved I bet you are asking.

There is an automated way, via IBM and their partner in Europe T-systems, which is part of T-Mobile it seems, they can help and their pricing is really for the bigger companies. They have a process and methodology and will then get working on it....but you still have limits of bandwidth and time although they claimed they could get this done in a week.

Our problem was, we could not have any down time, but also not have any duplication of data which they made it sound like they offload the data first then do a second synch afterwards.

If you want to go with them, contact me and I will connect you.

After weighing the pros and cons we decided to do it in house.

These are the tools I used, you may have other preferences.

IBM: IBM Connections Cloud Plugins for Windows and the plugins for Notes clients. You will also need the Quickr Places Monitor.

RPR Wyatt: Quickr Essential File Extractor and Essential Place Catalog. There are some fees with these and you need to ask for it as it no longer sits on the website. I previously worked with RPR Wyatt and was loaned the tools. I owe you drinks Jim! 

Microsoft: Windows Explorer

Lialis: MAC people this is for you, File Jockey, to have a plugin that doesn't cost you anything. As they state on the site:
"We also supply File Jockey for all IBM Connections Cloud users. It's 100% free, no limitations and no signup. Feel free to use it now by pressing the button above to read the how to guide."

And there you go. Nice and simple right? Off you go.

Not so fast. You will find a few things along the way that you also need this cute tool I found called  Bulk Rename Utility. It does exactly what it says and makes changing, say 800 folders that had an added _Folders added to them, magically disappear in seconds. No command line knowledge required. Ask me if you need help.

Why do we need this tool? Because the RPR Wyatt tool extracts all the attachments and maintains the folders layout but adds _Folder to everything, My main gripe, but a small one. The developer did not return my messages, hey it is free without support, I just wanted to make it a better tool. But since these posts are capping out at 200 views I figure no more than 200 Quickr shops exist and maybe it isn't a big enough group to warrant the effort. So if you still have Quickr and are thinking of migrating let me or RPR Wyatt know. There is safety in numbers.

The steps of my process was, after backing it all up someplace first:

  1. Use the RPR Wyatt Place Catalog tool first and review what we had and how much of it existed.
  2. Use the RPR Wyatt Extractor tool to extract the files from one place at a time. Why not all at once? 100's of GB and you know there will be issues, you want to progress, even if it is slowly.
  3. Once extracted and you installed all your plugins, login to IBM Connections Cloud and manually start making all of your Communities. If you read my post on automating this process you will think, cool I can load them all at once. Sorry to burst your bubble, but no. IBM in a PMR I raised outlined that you can only create 1 community at a time and only with one owner. Thus, the actual time it took me to create a community and configure it the way we needed and have all the proper owners and members was approximately 2-3 minutes each. Not so bad, but I really wish IBM had fixed their API.
  4. Next step is to add the Communities to the Windows Explorer plugin.
  5. Now copy and paste from one Windows Explorer window from the drive on teh server where you extracted the files to the other which has the Community list.
  6. Once done, delete all non admin members from the Place within a browser so users do not accidentally add or delete files that are needed.
  7. Continue until done.

The Lialis File Jockey was for the MAC people to start using Connections files the way they needed to for every day work. So technically I did not use it to do the migration, but I give them kudos for being there and were it NOT for them, the project might not have started as the office is moving over to all MACs.

Sounds easy, but what we found was rather dismaying.

  1. Cross linked files were everywhere. This was from various crashes over the years and while we knew we had some, I was not expecting the 100's of folders linked.
  2. Orphan files. The extractor tool was great about files and folders but sometimes random files just in a place did not get migrated. Always verify what you see is what you got.
  3. Hidden folders and other anomalies. Probably some bad drag and drop by someone left some folders in the oddest places.
  4. Size matters. What the Quickr server and the RPR WYatt tool showed us was not what we found when we extracted the data, In fact, we found we had about 60% of the data once extracted. As an example if we were told there were 10GB in a place we usually had about 6GB after extraction. SWEET! But left me wondering what was wrong. See cross linked files and you start to understand.

Thus while the project was completed by the time everyone started work today, I still have many folders and files to clean up, VERY manually eye balling everything. And I am sure I will get some panic call about a missing file or two, but at least to the employees, everything is moved.

There will be one more post in this series about what I learned about IBM Connections Cloud along the way, stay tuned.

So now that I am done with this project, anyone else need me to help migrate them to IBM Connections Cloud?