My Favourite Things From Yesterday’s Call – What’s Coming …

Yesterday IBM and HCL hosted a call introducing some of the changes on the way with Domino, Sametime, VOP, etc, as a result of the worldwide Domino Jam sessions they have been running this year.  I attended an earlier Domino Jam in London in January which was jointly hosted by IBM and HCL and was very pleasantly surprised by how receptive they were to really unusual ideas as well as honest criticism so I was looking forward to hearing the results.

To start with it’s worth knowing that the strategy is continually evolving, what we were told about and what HCL are committing to is just a first step on a multi-year multi-release journey and that’s good news.

  • Modern development tools and frameworks
  • Easier and extended authentication and admin options *
  • Core performance improvements *
  • Slimmer, faster, better looking Client *
  • Adding mail and calendar features
  • Improved integration for mail and productivity with Microsoft Office

The items with asterisks were those I certainly raised (ok, went on and on about) during the Domino Jam and it’s great to see others did too and pushed them onto the priority list. I was also pleased to hear them talk about Domino as the original NoSQL database server which it was and remains – I honestly believe customers need to be reminded that before NoSQL was what everyone was doing, Domino was doing NoSQL ūüôā

The application development innovations include support for Node.js integration and the ability to deploy applications on an iPad – we saw some code but it’s early days for a release due in Q4 and involving such huge amounts of work. There was a definite amount of “teasering” (made up word) ¬†going on and a promise of hands-on access to beta code at Think in a few weeks as well as at user groups like SNOUG (in Switzerland), Engage (in Rotterdam) and Collabsphere (in Ann Arbor). ¬†If you can make it to Think there’s going to be a lot to hear about and get your hands on, but if you can’t then there will be continual opportunities throughout the year before everything hopefully ships in Q4.

One very interesting thing that came out is that a lot of enhancements were already developed by IBM but never released into the product (for whatever reason) and HCL have been able to use those to leapfrog forwards.   Things coming to v10 of Domino include:

  • automated database repair (fixup is nice but wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t have to do that at all)
  • removal of the 64GB limit and a new 256GB limit (which suggests a lot of efficiencies in database structure)
  • investment in Domino docker images to be made available with installs
  • update of SAML (to SAML 4) and improved integration with AD

Obviously this isn’t everything, there are more things appearing every day and much is still under NDA but we’re months away from release and there’s a feeling of a team pushing hard and breaking through old models and definitions to modernise and breathe oxygen into these products.

I have always believed that Domino is the best NoSQL database server and mail server out there and it seems HCL believe that too and are going full out to prove it. ¬†Not to mention some of the most exciting stuff being produced is in the area of application development which I’m not best to comment on but still like what I am hearing.

If you were on the fence about attending Think I would suggest climbing off it – not just so you can benefit from learning whilst there but to grab the multiple opportunities to feed back your own ideas. ¬†There are people behind these products who want to hear them. ¬†If you can’t make Think then sign up for whatever user groups you can. ¬†I will be doing the same.

 

Creative Ideas For Docker (and Domino)

In an earlier post I mentioned that I have been working on new technology projects since the end of last year and I wanted to share here what I’m doing as well as plan to keep you updated on my progress if only to keep pressure on myself. ¬† I have been working with, and speaking about, Docker and containers for the past year and it was good news to hear that IBM will now support Docker as a platform for Domino (as of 9.0.1 FP10). http://www-01.ibm.com/support/docview.wss?uid=swg22013200

Good news, but only a first start. ¬†Domino still needs to be installed and run in its entirety inside a container although the data would / could be mapped outside. ¬†Ideally in a microservices model Domino would be componentised and we could have separate containers for the router task, for amgr, for updall, etc, so we could build a server to the exact scale we needed. ¬†However that is maybe in the future, right now there’s a lot we can do and two projects in particular I’m working on to solve existing issues.

Issue 1: A DR-Only Domino Cluster Mate

It’s a common request for me to design a Domino infrastructure that includes clustered servers but with at least one server at a remote location, never to be used unless in a DR situation. ¬†The problem with that in a Domino world is also Domino’s most powerful clustering feature, there is an assumption that if a server is in a cluster then it is equally accessible to the users as any other server in the cluster and, if it’s not busy and the server the user tries to connect to is busy, the user will be pushed to the not-busy server. ¬† That’s fine if all the cluster servers are on equal bandwidth or equally accessible, but a remote DR-only server that should only be accessed in emergency situations should not be part of that failover process. ¬† It’s a double edged sword – we want the DR server to be part of the cluster so it is kept up to date in real time and so users can fail over to it without any configuration changes or action on their part. ¬†We don’t want users failing over to it until we say so.

I tend to tackle this by designing the DR server to have a server_availability_threshold=100 which marks it as “busy” and prevents and client failover if the other servers are online. ¬†It works ‘ish’ but someone has to disable that setting to ensure all users failover neatly when needed and it isn’t unusual to have a few users end up on there regardless.

So what can Docker do for me?

I don’t see that much value in a standard Domino image for docker in my world. ¬†When I build a Domino server it tends to have a unique configuration and set of tasks so although it would be nice, my goal in deploying Domino under docker is very different. It is to create identical containers running identical versions of Domino with identical names e.g Brass/Turtle and Brass/Turtle. Both containers will point to external data stores (either in another container or a file system mount). Both will be part of a larger Domino cluster. ¬†Both will have the same ip address. ¬†Obviously both can’t be online at the same time so one will be online and operating as part of the cluster and only if that server or container goes down would the other container – at another location – activate. In that model we have passive / active DR on a Domino server that participates fully in workload balancing and failover. ¬†I don’t have to worry about tuning the Domino server itself because the remote instance will only be active if the local instance isn’t. ¬† I would use Docker clustering (both swarm and kubernetes can do this) to decide to activate the second container.

In principle I have this designed but I have lots of questions I need to test. ¬†Not least deciding the location of the data. ¬†Having a data container, even a clustered data container would be the simplest method. ¬† That way the Domino container(s) would reference the same data container(s) however Domino is very demanding of disk resources and docker data containers don’t have much in the way of file system protection so I need to test both performance and stability. ¬†This won’t work if the data can be easily corrupted. ¬† The other idea is to have a host-based mount point but of course that could easily become inaccessible to the remote Domino container. ¬†I have a few other things that I am testing but too long to go into in this post. ¬†More on that later.

Issue 2: Domain Keys Indentified Mail for Domino

In its simplest explanation, DKIM requires your sending SMTP server to encrypt part of the message header and have a public key published in your DNS file that enables the receiving server to decrypt it, thereby confirming it did actually originate from your server. ¬†It’s one of the latest attempts to control fraudelent emails and, combined with SPF records, constitutes requirements for DMARC certification.

The DKIM component of DMARC is something Domino does not support either inbound or outbound. ¬†It may do in the future but it doesn’t right now and I am increasingly getting asked for DMARC configurations. ¬†Devices like Barracuda can support inbound DMARC checking but not outbound DMARC encryption. The primary way I recommend doing that now is to deploy Postfix running OpenDKIM as a relay server between Domino and the outside world, your mail can then be “stamped” by that server as it leaves.

My second docker project therefore is to design and publish an image of postfix + OpenDKIM that can be used by Domino (or any SMTP server).

More on these as I progress.

 

{blink}So THAT’S the future{blink}

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted here. ¬†The end of last year was a juggle of many different pieces of work and learning new technologies but more on that later. I did however take my eye off the ICS (IBM Collaboration Solutions) ball waiting for the HCL deal to firm up and find out more what was going on.

As you may know from my previous post, at the end of October IBM entered a partnership with HCL whereby the latter took development ownership of all Domino products including Verse and Traveler as well as Sametime whilst IBM continued to own the license model, support and most importantly strategy.  As part of that announcement we were told of an upcoming series of workshops around the world called Domino Jam 2025  which were to determine the future path of both Domino and Sametime (so not just Domino and nothing to do with the year 2025!).

Last Friday I (along with about 50 other people) attended a London Domino Jam at IBM South Bank which was hosted by the senior development team at HCL (who transferred in from the same roles at IBM) and the product management team at IBM. ¬†Up until a week or so ago I would say I was more curious and cautiously optimistic than excited. ¬†I had been in coversation with someone in the development team at HCL who I have known from IBM days for 20 years and his introduction to HCL and his enthusiasm for the future sparked my own. ¬†Let’s just say the HCL team seem to be people who have been long immersed in these products, believe in them and are now being let off the leash to develop for the future. During the day we were casually told that there would be new product releases guaranteed in 2018 including

Domino 10

Notes 10

Traveler 10

Verse (10?)

Sametime Instant Messaging 10

That was and is very encouraging news and IBM seemed bemused that several of us in the room kept asking for clarification and confirmation of a thing they thought we already knew.

As part of the Domino jam workshop we were split into groups and asked to brainstorm things like “your biggest pain points” and “what features would you like to see in the future” and then prioritise and present them. ¬†These workshops are going on around the world right now (there’s one in Geneva I believe today) and you can register for them here¬†https://www.ibm.com/collaboration/announcements/domino-jam2025. ¬†In addition if you can’t attend in person IBM are hosting a Domino Jam Forum from Jan 16 – Jan 19 where you can provide your feedback directly online. ¬†See this blog for more information https://www.ibm.com/blogs/collaboration-solutions/2018/01/11/announcing-domino2025-online-forum-january-16-18-2018/

the ‚Äú#domino2025 Online Forum‚ÄĚ will be active for fifty-five hours across the globe to gather your business and technical input and prioritization.” (I prefer “priorities” but I get what they mean :-).

If you are in any way invested in the future of ICS products either mail or instant messaging or conferencing then this is a serious effort to hear what you want and don’t want. ¬†I can tell you there was some very honest and harsh feedback as well as some pretty extreme ideas thrown out by the teams last Friday and we were encouraged to do that. ¬† I know for some of you it’s asking a lot but dig deep, find that kernel of optimism that’s still left, or just throw in your lot because it does no harm to do so and may do a lot of good.

This is an opportunity to help form the long term strategy and direction of products many of us love and believe in.  Take it.

A New Era, A New Future, A New Domino

Some of you may have already seen the tweets out of HCL and the announcement from IBM on the new strategic partnership for ICS products that IBM have just entered into with HCL.  To explain things as simply as possible this means that HCL will take over the development of most of the ICS products whilst IBM continues to manage the product strategy, marketing and licensing.  The products involved include

Domino
Notes (on premises and SmartCloud)
Traveler
Verse
Sametime
IBM Client Access
IMSMO (mail support for Microsoft Outlook)

So what does this actually mean for us as Business Partners and, more importantly, for customers?  In my opinion this is very good news.  The products will benefit from significantly more development investment and resources,  with the existing IBM development teams on those products moving under HCL  In addition IBM will continue to manage the product themselves (using the existing offerings management teams) as well as the licensing, and the strategic direction.

There is no longer any End of Life date for Domino, not even “at least until” dates.

As far as customers are concerned, nothing will change other than an acceleration in the investment and development of products including the announcement of Domino 10 for 2018 and the #Domino2025 project.  Even submitting PMRs will continue in the same way.  There will be no customer РHCL direct relationship.

What is Domino2025? Otherwise known as Project Sapphire this is a strategic and ongoing product development initiative IBM will be starting in November where they will be taking feedback on what people want to help drive the future of Domino.   You can tweet your feedback using #Domino2025 and look forward to workshops taking place worldwide as a continual process to design future (post v10) Domino.

I have a lot more thoughts which I’ll share over the coming days but when I first heard about this and considered it I realised that this is a huge opportunity and a step forward for all the products involved. ¬†I hope you agree.

The birth of a new Domino!

Engage – Was It Really Over A Week Ago?

It’s 2am so apologies in advance for any rambling in this post but I’ve been wanting to write about the Engage conference in Antwerp ever since I got back last Thursday (and if I leave it much longer I might as well write about next ¬†year’s conference).

This year Engage was held in Antwerp which is only a 3.5hr drive for me so we met everyone else there who came by train. ¬†Top tip – don’t try and drive in Antwerp, the one way systems will get you every time. ¬†Yet another beautiful city and conference location by Theo and the Engage team. ¬†The Elizabeth conference center was spacious¬†and since there were 400 of us and the Engage team had made sure to provide lots of seating / meeting areas, it felt right. ¬†One thing I really enjoy at conferences is the opportunity to meet people (OK I hate approaching people to talk but I like being part of a conversation) and I had the opportunity for some great conversations with sponsors and attendees. I managed to bore people to death about my latest obsession (docker). ¬†IBM also sent a lot of speakers this year with Scott Souder and Barry Rosen updating us on Domino and Verse futures and both Jason Roy Gary and Maureen Leland there to sprinkle some (Connections) pink around. ¬†There was a lot of open discussion about technology now and what we were each learning and working with along with¬†a fair amount of enthusiasm for what we’re each working with, so thanks to everyone for that.

This year the agenda expanded to including emerging technologies and one of my sessions was in that track – on IoT in the Enterprise, GDPR and data. ¬†I try to aim¬†my presentations at¬†the audience I’m talking to and when it comes to IoT the IT audience naturally has a lot more concerns then line of business managers. ¬†Outside of IT IoT is purely about opportunity but since IT need to take care of the rest my presentation was more technical with a security checklist for deploying IoT devices. ¬†All the opportunity for businesses will inevitably¬†involve a lot of work from IT in the areas of data retention, data analysis, security and process redesign. ¬†Some really interesting technologies are evolving and¬†IoT is¬†very fast moving as evolutionary technologies are so¬†now is the time to start planning how your business can take advantage of the incoming swarm of data and tools.

My second session was on configuring a Domino ¬†/ Cloud Hybrid solution¬†with step by step instructions for setting up your first environment. ¬†That presentation is on my slideshare and also shared below. ¬†The key thing to understand about hybrid cloud is that as a Domino administrator you still manage all your users, groups, policies and your on premises and hybrid servers, in fact the only things you don’t manage are the cloud servers themselves. ¬†Getting started with a hybrid cloud deployment is a good way to understand what the potential might be for migrating or consolidating some of your mail services.

As always the Engage team put on an amazing event, lots to sessions to learn from, lots of people to meet and a lot of fun. ¬†I was very pleased to see Richard Moy who runs the US based MWLUG event there for the first time and I’m looking forward to attending his event in the US in August. ¬† Finally my crowning achievement of the week was¬†when no-one on my table could identify either a Miley Cyrus or Justin Bieber song at the closing dinner and none of us considered cheating by using Shazam (I’m looking at YOU Steph Heit and Amanda Bauman :-)). ¬†Theo promises us Engage will be back in May 2018 at a new location. ¬† See you there.

So What About Domino @ IBM Connect? Review Post #2

Domino was very visible at Connect this year, not only in both of the opening sessions but in about 40% of the sessions overall. ¬†¬†The ones I picked to attend¬†were talking about strategy and futures so that’s what I wanted to talk about here.

Verse on premises which shipped at the end of Dec 2016 is¬†a very nice browser mail client¬†right now which is easy to install on your Domino server (and you should) but it’s missing an updated calendar interface, ¬†so I was pleased to hear the commitment to deliver that and other functionality to bring on premises¬†in line with Verse in the cloud. ¬†If you don’t have Verse installed on premises now on your Domino servers you need to be looking at it as your path forward.

Feature packs continue to be the strategic path with updates coming via FP installers but with template updates slipstreamed in optionally and separately downloadable through Fix Central. ¬†I wouldn’t look for the templates to ship in step with the feature packs so you’re going to have to plan to subscribe to fix central for updates if you aren’t already.

From Barry Rosen’s strategy presentation here are a couple of snapshots showing planned feature pack features including those for FP8 which should ship soon.

Notes Feature Pack highlights screen-shot-2017-02-26-at-20-51-26

Domino Application Development feature pack highlights (FP8 shipping soon)screen-shot-2017-02-26-at-20-51-41

 

For application design the path IBM appear to be on is one we and many other Business Partners have been pursuing for some time with Domino as a back end data store and a web based UI on whatever platform you choose.  To that end the really good news is that we will finally be getting some extensions to the existing REST APIs including ones for

  • Directory
  • Mail Contacts
  • Mail File Search
  • Polling for changes in databases

In addition the application modernisation story at the conference was focused around partner solutions. ¬†Of particular interest is Panagenda’s ApplicationInsights tool coming in a freemium model to all maintenace customers in Q2. ¬†That version I believe will allow you to analyse your most prominent¬†existing applications and instances to see what is being used by who and how. More information about it can be found here.

So lots of Domino sessions, lots of talk of future client and server developments, lots of confirmation of support at least to 2021. ¬†For a nearly 30 year old product that’s not bad going. ¬†With the investment in Verse and the introduction of cognitive features in on premises applications as well as a cognitive plugin for Notes, I’m feeling positive about¬†where we are and the support IBM are offering.

Oh and my watch word for 2017 continues to be “Hybrid”

 

 

So THAT’S what it’s about

“A New Way To Work” – all of us in the IBM mail space have heard the phrase and seen presentations but does it actually mean anything to me – a set in her ways mail and calendar user who just wants mail to work and be fast?

In the past few months I have been using Verse On Premise in its beta form as well as the beta versions of Verse for iOS.  I had previously played around with Verse in the cloud but since my 20 year old mail file is on our Domino servers, the majority of my mail and searching activity was done via Notes and Traveler.  iNotes was never a client of choice for me.  I don’t archive mail very often (alright never) and so there’s a lot of history there.

So what have I found? I absolutely love Verse.  It’s fast and the layout is clean but as promised there are features that are so ridiculously useful** they have literally changed how I work for example

  1. Flagging for “needs action”  via a single click which then lets me set an action date for today, tomorrow, a week or other
  2. At the same time I can add a  personal note to the  message that travels with it,  and is visible when reading it in Verse.
  3. I can then remove the  message from my inbox by clicking on it.
  4. Viewing just those messages that need action which are automatically categorised by “today”, “tomorrow” etc.
  5. All of that, the action, the date, even the private notes transfer to Verse for iOS on my phone and iPad.

Add to all of this is the fact that it’s my same mail file on my same Domino servers. I could and can still open using the Notes client, using iNotes, even using Outlook if I want.  There are lots of things to enjoy about Verse and everyone works differently, but this is one group of features that live up to the hype of having tricked me without noticing into a new way of working ūüôā

** no screenshots in here as it’s advanced beta still under NDA but the features have been shown publicly and hopefully will be in final product