Rebranding of Notes Mail / Connections Mail and Consequences – #RebrandingFail


I received this marketing/sales email earlier today and reading it made me a bit confused and also concerned. Not because I think that IBM and email is going away, but because f the way that IBM has initialized it’s latest round of rebranding Notes (aka Connections Mail) there is confusion in the marketplace and this is a great example for what clients are going to be bombarded with:

Dear Victor,

IBM is ending the “Lotus” brand, and has been building more functionality into “IBM Connections”, suggesting that they may be trying to get rid of email as a single platform. Notes users have had no choice but to look for alternatives and make plans to switch over to another system.

Unfortunately, migration away from Notes is tricky and companies need 3rd party assistance to make the switch. For companies who plan to consolidate control over legacy data, the most important consideration in selecting a 3rd party is the subsequent accessibility of historical Notes data.

ZL Technologies has years of experience successfully migrating our customers off of Domino systems and specializes in providing them with a Unified system of information governance. To find out how ZL is able to accurately migrate all your legacy data while drastically reducing storage footprint and minimizing resulting operational costs, read our complimentary datasheet.

To learn more about us, please visit our website at http://www.zlti.com, or reach out to ZL experts directly at zl_info@zlti.com.

 

I have worked with ZL’s previously and they have a very kick-ass product. However, I can’t see the necessity for my clients to now suddenly “run for the hills” and look for another mail system. Again, I don’t really blame ZL that much as they are simply taking advantage of IBM’s efforts to sell their products. Rather, I lay the blame for this squarely at IBM. I don’t feel that the whole rebranding thing was well explained (a all!) at Connect2014 nor did I as a business partner get any follow-up and additional info. I am no sure if and how much effort IBM has extended to the follow-up of their (for me very confusing) announcement at Connect, but clearly it ain’t enough. In the absence of a clear and resounding message, messages by third parties like this is all that clients will be hearing.

I assume more companies will be using this as an opening to try and sell their services and products to make sure that those poor IBM customers that will be abandoned by IBM can safely migrate to another – hopefully much safer – platform with all their data intact and enjoy another 100 years of email longevity . . ..

Should I tweet it … #rebrandingfail ??

Error loading wiring Properties: property name is not unique….


http://www.ibm.com/support/docview.wss?uid=swg21578096&myns=swglotus&mynp=OCSSKTWP&mync=R

This just came in via a feed from IBM support. I hope you guys subscribe to the support feeds as well.

Personally I never came across this specific error but as I do work allot in large, multi nationals this is a good one to squirrel away and keep in my back pocket.

Domino, WebSphere and why don’t my Friends get it yet


As most people who know me in person can attest to, I usually am not at a loss for words. Some friends of mine actually have made a pact to kill my mouth separately after I die to make sure it goes to rest.  True friends will go to great lengths to take care of you … one way or another.

“The discussion”

I did find my inborn ability to fill the air with words challenged over the holidays when I engaged a good friend and collegue in a discussion about technology, future and IT work in general. We were griping a bit and the topic we were discussed was Domino and how the good paying jobs have become more scarce over the last 2 – 3 years. I imagine this topic gets repeated over and over again among many IT professionals.

To keep the whole thing short: I could not get the point across that as a Domino guy you have to see the writing on the wall and learn Websphere. More and more of Lotus IBM technology is now running on Websphere (Sametime, Connections, Quickr J . . .) and even if you don’t think that Domino will end up on that platform eventually, you need to add to your technology portfolio and make yourself more valuable. With Websphere in your back pocket you can do other projects as well. Add a dash of Unix and Linux experience … and you have the making of a nice Bouillabaisse. That Bouillabaisse will keep you fed for quite some time.

If you know a splatter of WAS – just to be able to integrade Domino with other Lotus IBM products – many of which are free entitlements to Domino licensees now – you have a whole larger pond you can swim in with more work to choose from with better rates and less competition.
I am a freelance IT consultant and started with Domino 18 years ago. I like it and do well and was lucky enough to have a nice year-long project I came off of in December and moved right into a new IBM Connections gig back-to-back.  But if you look out in the market and search for Notes/Domino projects they are getting fewer and fewer and pay less and less each year and the competition for those positions is quite fierce.

Yes, clients want oodles of experience and the knowledge you bring to the table but the price structure is not what it used to be. Look on LinkedIn and check how often you see somebody from India posting a question on how to “quickly learn Domino and maybe that thing called Notes” and you know where allot of the basic support jobs have gone to and what quality clients seem to be willing to live with nowadays. The only IT guys/girls working regularely now are either on the low end of the pay scale or the very top. If you are caught in the middle, the jobs you can find not as plentiful as they used to be and you are constantly searching, right?

Let me spell it out:

  • Change is good
  • Learning is a life-long necessity (damn – after all you did not learn Domino in elementary school, right?)
  • Expecting to do the same thing you are comfortable with for the next 20 years until you retire is not going to happen
  • WAS is not as hard as it looks – if you can take care of a Domino environment with all the moving parts and pieces WAS is not such a leap.

LEARN . IT . NOW . 

IBM Unknown errors running utilities – United States


Found this one looking through technotes today, really interesting. I often set up servers to run off-line maintenance on dB and often have servers running 32bit Domino on 64bit Windows. I have not yet run into a case where I noticed the additional errors that might pop up but is it good to now that I can ignore them.  I like my off-line maintenance routines and do not want to have to change them.

 

IBM Unknown errors running utilities – United States.

notes.ini variable – Tolerate Replication Errors


This is an interesting one that I have not come across before. We all know there are undocumented (or under-documented) notes.ini variables that can manipulate various aspects of the Domino server or the Noes client. The one I came across here today was new to me:

DEBUG_REPL_TOLERATE_ERRORS

What does it do?

Well, my current client has a rather large and very important application that we are trying to migrate to a new R8.5.2 server and we constantly running into replication errors. the reason for those errors are corrupted documents tat kill the replication process. I will not go into details as to the maintenance and othe attempts of fixing this dB we have done as it is not pertinent to the effect of the above variable.

IBM support gave us the variable with a hex code and asked us to enter it into the notes.ini via the Domino consoel nd the SET CONFIG command:

“set config DEBUG_REPL_TOLERATE_ERRORS=2C8″

I was not sure if a reboot is necessary but is appears that is not the case, it takes effect immediately, here is what the effects on replciation are:

sh config DEBUG_REPL_TOLERATE_ERRORS
DEBUG_REPL_TOLERATE_ERRORS=2C8
pull srv1 database.nsf
11/18/2011 11:40:05 AM  Remote console command issued by Victor Toal/xxx: pull srv1 database.nsf
pull srv1 database.nsf
11/18/2011 11:40:05 AM  Database Replicator started
11/18/2011 11:40:05 AM  Replicator is set to Ignore Database Quotas
GetTolerableErrors: adding 0x2C8=One or more of the source document's attachment are missing.  Run Fixup to delete the document in the source database.

As you can see, the variable adds a setting that lets the replicator ignore the indicated error – if that error appears in the replication stream the replicator task will simply skip over it and keep on going. From what I can tell right now you can only add one code at a time so I believe you cannot just add codes galore and have the replicator ignore every error there is.

The variable is not documented to receive the hex values that determine the codes the replicator will ignore you need to contact IBM support. But at least now you know that this variable exists and what it can do, armed with that knowledge you can request it when you next run into a similar situation and that this  might be a tool to help you solve your problem or correctly diagnose it.

Lotus Notes 8.5.2 code error – The Tale of Regression


 

I am part of a Domino migration at a large client in the financial/insurance industry and we have been moving applications from Domino 6.5.5 to version 8.5.2 FP1. I know, there are newer versions out there but you can’t always upgrade blindly – this is going to be one of the stories why IN-DEPTH testing is so important.

The client has an application that has been around since R5 days, migrated and upgraded several times – both client and server versions and never an issue.

Suddenly we get reports (during testing – thank GOD!) that when using the app with the new client (LN 8.5.2 standard) that certain document do not get created – they vanish.

To make a L O N G story short – we opened a ticket with IBM support and after digging and prodding they produced this one for us:

(from the actual ticket)

******************* SUBSEQUENT CALL RECORD TEMPLATE  *******************
ACTION TAKEN:                                                           
Created a test DB in 85 and copied customer form and data.              
Found field “eml” caused the issue: SPR RDJS8APTK6.  

This is a regression error that made its way back into the Lotus notes 8.5.2 code stream. It was fixed in Notes 8.5.3 but if you are on 8.5.2 (no matter the FP level) you are snorked.

What we did

Since it is hard to determine with any certainty how many other applications out there might contain a filed called “eml” the decision was made to do a company wide, mid-project change and instead of rolling out Notes 8.5.2 we will be rolling out 8.5.3 and upgrading all workstations to which 8.5.2 has been deployed previously. A huge undertaking.

Had this not been found during testing it could have been very costly for my client.  As is, the change in scope will be massive and costly as well, but it beats having actual business processes interrupted and clients (actual consumers) be impacted.

So – the lessons everybody should take home from this:

  1. Test – always test even if it is a small point upgrade
  2. Test – with ALL server and client variations that you might have in your environment – do not skip anything
  3. Have test plans that are captured and documented across each scenario and can be compared apples-to-apples.
  4. DO NOT NAME ANY FIELDS, FORMS (or anything else for that matter)  IN YOUR APPLICATIONS “EML” – this error could possibly be re-introduced in a future code stream – you never know.

 

 

Background Agents not running or how shortcuts can cost you in Domino


I’ll keep it brief – short cuts will kill you.

 

I am on a Domino migration project where we are moving the client from 6.5.6 to 8.5.2. We are not upgrading servers but creating a whole new server environment on new virtual servers and will be moving applications over in phases. No mail, they moved to Exchange years ago.

We separated the development and sandbox environments out into new Domino domains (they were in production up until now) and we are in testing mode – each application individually.

That is where we ran into  … “issues” with simple background agents, specifically agents that send e-mail.

“Error connecting to server (servername): The remote server is not a known TCP/IP host,”

Agents fire, things happen and for the most part we are happy, but the above errors pop up again and again and mail is not being created. The mail never makes it into the mail.box, just errors in the logs and no mail at all.

This is where we came across this technote: and while reading it I am also glancing through the notes.ini on one of the servers that is having issues. I notice in there the “Mailserver=” parameter that has a different server name entered – that is where the above technote comes in and then a few Google searches on the [Mailserver] field and we knew where we had managed to trip ourselves in the process.

 

The [Mailserver] field

This is a little knows field since it has no UI equivalent and normally an admin would never have to fiddle with it – ever. However, when you take shortcuts during server setup and configuration though …. maybe you can guess? Yes, we set up one default server document, copied it 20 times, renamed the server name, updated all the server specific addresses and then copied the certificate into it. What that leaves you with is 20 server documents that all have the same one [Mailserver] field value – and the server that it pointed to was a temporary server that was turned off.

It took us a few hours of head scratching to figure this one out but by the end of the day we got it and fixed the field values on all servers. After that restarting the servers (not really necessary but I always feel better that way) took care of the rest and we were back in business.

Lesson learned: if you want to batch create and copy & paste things make sure you take care of ALL server specific information in a server document, not just the ones you can see in the document but the hidden ones as well.

Lotus Notes 8.5.2 -> FP1 released and ready for download


I have been a bit preoccupied with a troublesome BES installation for the last week and have not been looking much at the web and blogs – but today it looks like FP1 for Lotus Notes 8.5.2 is out and available. I am already downloading it and will apply it to all my many clients today.

Can’t wait until the FP1 for the server is out.

Notes on Linux: Run a compact from the OS


I have been pretty busy as of late, hence my reduced blogging – but this is one I come across as a question quite frequently from people who are new to Notes/Domino on Linux.

On the Windows OS it is quite simple to run a compactor task from a command prompt or a batch file. However, when on Linux you will often be met by the following error message:

error while loading shared libraries: libnotes.so: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory

This error message can appear on either a Linux desktop that has the Notes client installed or a server that has Domino installed. Basically the OS is complaining that it can’t find libnotes.so which usually resides in the /usr/lib folder on your machine. All you have to do is to create some links so that the Notes/Domino code can find this file. And, you will need to do the same for two other files as t the same time.

You will have to be root or have sudo rights to execute this:

sudo ln -s /opt/ibm/lotus/notes/libnotes.so /usr/lib/libnotes.so
sudo ln -s /opt/ibm/lotus/notes/libndgts.so /usr/lib/libndgts.so
sudo ln -s /opt/ibm/lotus/notes/libxmlproc.so /usr/lib/libxmlproc.so

You can see, I have my Notes client (Ubuntu 10.04) installed in [/opt/ibm/lotus/notes] which is the default location. If you have Notes installed someplace else, you will need to adjust the commands above accordingly.

the same commands will solve this issue for Domino server installations as well, though you will likely have Domino installed in [/opt/ibm/lotus/domino]  so just adjust the commands and off you go!

Accountment: Ubuntu 10.04 LTS is now an officially supported platform for Notes 8.5.2


I did just recently rant about IBM being behind on what versions of Linux they support for Notes Domino so this tech note comes timely. I would love to take credit for “pushing IBM along” but  – no matter what truths I twist, not even I can make that case … ;)

The great news is that all us Ubuntu lovers can install Notes on version 10.04 and receive support. Also supported are Red Hat 5.4 (or newer), SUSE Enterprise Desktop 10.0 SP3 or Version 11.0,  and Ubuntu 8.04.

 

IBM Lotus Notes 8.5.2 System Requirements – Linux