2014 – What is waiting at the starting line for this year?


Since I finally got back to my bog and wrote a short / brief “2013-in-a-nutshell” post, I thought it might be time to also look ahead. There is allot hat I am working on, here the short list:

 

Connect2014

Yes, I mentioned I am going and what my (not very short) list of must-see presentations are. The other reason I like to go is that is a great time to talk to vendors and colleagues to see where the market and technology is going and what clients are (likely/maybe/hopefully) looking for for the future. It is not just fun and golf – even if my wife thinks otherwise.

Connections Training

I speak frequently at LUGS and seminars on IBM Connections administration, that goes hand-in-hand with the Connections training that I offer as part of my business. This last year has seen allot of one-on-one / one-on-many training where I make the whole Connections install a training seminar for the client where they learn not only how to install but how to document, what decisions they need to think of ahead of time and then how to think ahead to production / operations. I also do class-room hands-on training where I bring in a VM environment and the participants get hands-on and get to break it and repair it. When necessary I actually created “broken” snapshots that I have them fix. Hands-on is the only way to go really

For 2014 I am thinking slightly larger …. I am partnering with a good friend of mine to munch off his good reputation and experience … 😉 there will be some more detailed announcements on this later in the 1st quarter. for right now it is still  “Pssssst .. it’s a secret

Technology Trends

Over the last few years I have seen a big uptick in my IBM Connections business and a decline in Domino work. Not because I think Domino itself is declining but because the base knowledge in the market place out there is good and clients see less need in bringing in outside talent – upgrades and migrations yes – or integration work with other systems but not really for basic Domino operations.

Recently I also see a large uptick in Sametime inquiries – ST9 is making allot of clients thinking of upgrades and they want help. Also, they want ST to integrate with more – video, telephony, awareness in every other system they can get it to work in … ST9 looks good for me and I like the changes and (some of) the simplifications in the product – and I think that the licensing changes that IBM put into place will drive allot more adoption.

International Work

I also see an uptick in my “international” work. Whereas my focus used to be 99% North America I do get more inquiries for Europe and Asia … I speak several languages which helps but that is not the real reason, I just guess this internet thing really makes the world smaller and brings us closer in many different ways. Now, if I could just somehow get an app that does something about time zones and jet lag …..

 

 

I am curious to talk to my colleagues out there and see what the technology barometer is showing them – that is one of the reasons I always try to attend Connect (LotusPhere) – but for now all I can say is that 2014 looks good!

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Announcing MWLUG 2013 IBM OGS Speaker – Scott Souder


Announcing MWLUG 2013 IBM OGS Speaker – victor@toalsystems.com – ToalSystems Mail.

 

I am going to be there – will you?

 

I was on a panel with Scott recently (yeah, I like to partake in some name-dropping of famous people to enhance my own status) and he is well worth listening to.

 

If you are yet undecided, I suggest you take this as a reason to sign up for MWLUG ….

Domino 8.5.1 Technote – Fixup can crash your server


I came across this technote yesterday and investigated it right away …

– well, I’ll admit it – I asked somebody else in IBM to clarify some items for me and am now plagiarizing that good deed on my blog – THANKS CAROL!!

First of all – this only applies to Domino 8.5.1 on Windows, and it makes no difference which FP you are running since it was not fixed in FP4 nor will a fix be included in FP5 either, it is fixed in 8.5.2 though – you guys are safe.

 

The Issue Explained:

The issue CAN be cause by running FIXUP with a combination of either [fixup -F -J] or [fixup -F -J -O]. It will not automatically happen, it has to run into a document in a dB that has ‘invalid items” .. what exactly constitues such “invalid items” is not 100% clear but I am treating it like a 50-50 chance for failure until I have more evidence/experience or a better explanation of what exactly is meant with “invalid items”.

Exception:

Since the explanation implies that the behavior only happens if you also include the [-J] switch, servers that are not not transaction logged will not be affected, even if they are on Windows. Also, if you are running Domino on any other platform this will not affect you – so my dear Linux buddies are all safe, as are you AIX, iSeries and mainframers as well.

 

What does this mean in terms of daily admin work?

Well, the [-J] is needed anytime you want to run fixup against transaction-logged databases and [-F] is a very commonly used switch as  well. [-O] basically tells fixup to also run against open databases and is the default bahavior if you specify a database name with the fixup command.So the command [load fixup mail/xxx.nsf -J -F] implicitly includes the [-O] switch behavior whether you add it to the command or not.

That leaves you with the option to run Fixup without the [-F] switch to avoid a  *possible* kiss of death.

 

Advice:

if you are running the fixup command as part of some regular, automated script (I usually advise against it) you need to review the commands to make sure yo do not inadvertently crash your server (possibly, it is not a guaranteed outcome).

Also, when running Fixup against databases during the day to fix database corruption of any kind, I would run it without the [-F] switch during the day and see if your problem is fixed. If that does not fix your database problem, you can either roll the dice or wait until after hours – which is what I will do until I have tried it out a few times and have a better feel whether this actually ever materializes or not.

Upgrading Domino 32 bit to 64 bit


After all the talk of how to decide on what version (32 vs 64 bit) of Domino you want to choose on Windows, I want to blog briefly on some good strategies to migrate a server from 32 to 64 bit.

My Assumptions for this article:

As discussed previously, 64 bit Domino requires a 64 bit OS and for this hypothetical case I am assuming that I am staying with the same OS type and only switching the version (32 -> 64 bit) so I do not have to take any change in disk format into account that is likely if you move from let’s say Windows to AIX.I am also assuming that I am not going to do any major upgrade of the Domino version – that would be a major change and require allot of planning and testing beyond what I want to go into in this short blog post.

Scenario 1: Switch the server

This one is easy – it is basically the same as if you are going to switch out the hardware (in-place upgrade). I would install the new server on a new piece of hardware, bring the old server down, move the data directory to the new server, rename the server, switch IP addresses (or IP reservations, whichever one it is your network does) and then bring the new server up with the original data.

The point in this switch/upgrade is that you have new hardware that you can install at your leisure, burn in and prepare. The only time-sensitive part is when you bring all the servers down, move the data and re-configure the new hardware. Hopefully the data is on a SANS and all you have to do is detach and re-attach the drives. I greatly prefer that to having to copy data from the old server to the server as that can add untold hours to a deployment schedule.

Scenario 2: In-place upgrade

This scenario basically only happens if you have no other piece of hardware that you could use and the in-place is the last straw of yours to try and get past some unspeakable evil from which you need to escape. Therefore I believe a disclaimer is in order:

Do not attempt this at home, don’t do it at the office either and if you are working for a client. Heck, if you value your sanity and don’t want to die from a heart attack don’t do this one at all! Only attempt this option if there is ABSOLUTELY no other way out.

The reason I say this is simple: garbage in = garbage out. Also, it is allot of changes on one physical machine so there is allot of opportunity to fail – two major changes on one physical machine and no good way to back out of the process if it does not work the way you are hoping for . Also, you are unlikely to be able to test this beforehand if something so you really can’t prepare for any eventuality. So again … avoid this one!

Now, if I absolutely had to do this – this is how I would do it: (rough draft)

Prepare:

  1. Have plenty of time available. If you think it will take 6 hours, triple the amount and add 10 hours for good measure. If it take long you will be tired and need rest. also, the server is unlikely to be new so is unlikely to be a fast process even if it goes well
  2. Make sure there is a GOOD, VALID backup and that the tapes are not old and that you can actually restore the server if you need to.
  3. If in any way possible, do a P2V into VMWare and test all of this first … it is insane and crazy, so testing is a must if there is any opportunity for it
  4. Keep a snapshot of that VMWare image around in case all hell breaks loose and it is the only thing you can offer your users to work with.
  5. Have enough free space on the Domino server for temp files, etc. Also make sure that the data partitions have at least 20% free space to accommodate size increases due to design changes

“ACTION!!!” – The upgrade itself

  • Shut down Domino and run a manual compact against all files
  • Run another back-up – just in case
  • Upgrade the OS … pray to whatever Gods you believe in and hope for the best
  • Run Domino, check if it runs and is accessible
  • Take another back-up
  • Pray, sleep, meditate and then … sacrifice a bucket of KFC chicken (like in the movie “Major League”). Also, prepare a bottle of Bourbon, crack it open and sacrifice one glass some alongside the chicken (it can only help)
  • Uninstall Domino – you cannot install 64 bit over 32 … it is a disaster waiting to happen. Save the notes.ini first, you might need it
  • Clean up the install directory, registry AND any temp folders etc. Reboot the server once
  • Install Domino 64 bit – prepare for another sacrificial chicken bucket .. this time extra crispy would be advisable
  • Attach/move/copy the data in and meditate, chant the mighty “OOOHHHMM” if that makes you feel better
  • Start Domino and prepare your sacrifice
  • ……… (waiting for all hell to break loose)

Let’s not go into details what to do if any one of these steps fail … there are too many to details to deal with. I am hoping that the numerous references to sacrifices (non-human) and heavy drink show you that this is more arcane magic than cool, logic guided technology. Again, I would not do this one unless there is absolutely no other way to deal with the issue.

Shameless Plug:

There are many more detailed steps and planning necessary for an upgrade. Hiring somebody who has done it previously would be advisable …. You can hire me or one of my many gifted consulting colleagues to do this scary stuff for you. We already have the gray hair (if we have hair) and our digestive tracts are tough and can take the stress.

Domino 32 bit vs 64 bit – how to decide


I my last post I talked about what the main advantage of going 64 bit Windows for Domino – shared addressable memory – but I really did not go into detail on whether 32 bit or 64 bit Domino is the better choice for an installation.

As I mentioned previously, the main advantage of going 64 bit Windows is that your Domino instance will not have 4 GB of addressable shared memory available. The kicker is that this holds true for both 32 bit and 64 bit Domino on 64 bit Windows. This fact came as quite a surprise to me when I found out, this is due to the way that the Domino memory system and the memory handles are currently designed.

So the question becomes, why would I choose 64 bit Domino if 32 bit does the same for me?

Personally, I believe the main deciding factor is whether you plan to run add-in tasks in your Domino instance or not. To run an add-in task on a 64 bit Domino server the add in task also needs to be 64 bit. To run an add-in task on a 32 bit Domino server the add-in task needs to be 32 bit as well.

The logical conclusion therefore is: if you plan to run ANY add-ins (e.g.: Anti Virus, etc.) on your 64 bit Domino server you need to determine if that program is available in 64 bit as well. If it is and any other products you might consider running are available in 64 bit as well – then you can go ahead (but test first anyway – of course!!) and install 64 bit Domino. If this is not the case your choice will need to be 32 bit Domino.

“Elementary, my dear Watson.”

Domino Directory – Configuration Directory


I just started a new project with a client yesterday – interesting environment and full of challenges ahead.

First on my list was to create a new 64bit 8.5.1 FP2 environment. Now, I have probably installed well over 700 Domino servers by now, on various OS and HW configurations and in multiple languages. The one thing I have never done yet though was set up a production server that was configured to have a configuration only directory.

While I was installing these severs and went through the screens I suddenly thought … how many configuration directory servers are there out there. Considering that I do not recall installing a server in production in this configuration I started wondering …

So, how many are there – can any of you guys & gals out there tell me if you have any servers IN PRODUCTION that have a configuration only directory?