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
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 “#domino2025 Online Forum” 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.
I recently built a new Sametime Complete environment for a customer that included an Advanced and Meeting server. When I had completed the build I tested a new standalone Sametime client in a VM to confirm that I could login to the new Community server and it would log me into the Advanced and Meeting servers. Having added the necessary lines to plugin_customization.ini to enable Sametime Advanced* I was able to login to the Community server successfully and be automatically logged into the Meeting and Advanced servers. However, when I handed over to the customer for testing I was surprised that they couldn’t actually login to the Meeting server at all through the Sametime client. They got a server unreachable error.
So I did further testing
- On my client I was configured to use SSL for both the Meeting server and Sametime Advanced. I could login to the Community server and that logged me in securely to Meetings and Advanced. That same configuration on a test workstation of theirs failed to login to the Meeting server saying server not responding (although it did successfully log in to Advanced)
- If I removed the Sametime Advanced servers from the Sametime workstation client it could suddenly log in to the Meeting server
- If I changed the Meeting server configuration in the workstation client to use HTTP (80) instead of HTTP (443) I would be logged in to the Meeting and Advanced server
- On the test workstation I could always login to the Meeting server securely through a browser and open a tab to the Advanced server and be automatically logged in there even when the Sametime client claimed it couldn’t reach the server.
So why did it fail on every one of their workstations and not for me? It turns out they were using the latest Sametime client I had downloaded from Fix Central (20170402-0344) for them whereas I was using the 2016 build (20160624-0209). I took a snapshot of my VM and upgraded my Sametime client to the April 2017 one and I immediately was unable to log in to the Meeting server. I rolled the snapshot back to the 2016 client and everything worked again.
One of the major updates in the 2017 client was SAML functionality and it does seem that the single sign on logic has been broken in some way by that 2017 update. Everything is working with the 2016 client so for the time being (and whilst IBM investigate the PMR) we are rolling that out. One to watch out for though – newer is not always better and you might want to avoid the latest 20170402-0344 update.
*for Sametime Advanced login to work at all in the client you must ensure “remember password” is checked and the following two lines are in the plugin_customization.ini
Today I was contacted urgently by a site I did an install for back in early September. The install went well and I left them several months ago with working components, but apparently about a week ago people stopped being able to login to the Community server. In fact not even the SSC could access it.
.. and yet no-one had changed anything at all. I do love a good mystery so I thought it would be useful to someone (or even just future Gab) to document what I did:
- verified if port 1533 was listening using netstat -an |find /i “1533”.
- verified there were no running AV services that could interfere with the ports.
- checked if the ST services were running, in fact only about 6 were.
- tried to start some of the services that weren’t running and they failed immediately.
- since no-one touched Sametime my next guess was a Windows update that caused a problem.
- checked the Windows networking settings hadn’t been overwritten (they had) . Although those settings shouldn’t cause the services to fail completely it was worth resetting them.
- I then added vp_trace_all=1 to the [Debug] settings in the sametime.ini which creates detailed log files in the \ibm\domino\trace directory.
- having added that I could see log files being created for every service, even the ones that wouldn’t stay started. In fact those ones recreated every couple of minutes. So the services were trying to start and failing.
- reviewing the log files I could see on things like STPlaces there was a JVM error, but I put that aside for the time being in case it was a dependency issue.
- in other logs such as STDirectory I could see broken networking errors and just before that I could see a comment about switching to TLS.
A-ha! Well, that’s new.
- checking the sametime.ini I found:
which I changed to:
My guess being an incomplete TLS configuration from the SSC. Having done that the server restarted perfectly and all services started. The SSC could then access the server with no problem.
Of course once I had spent 4hrs doing that I then found a technote on it which I never would have found before I saw the TLS entry. Here’s the technote .
Sometimes it’s a rollercoaster but so long as I get things working I’m calling that a good day. Now back to building more Connections servers.
The first thing I do when building any product is go check the latest system requirements in case they have changed. That’s a bit of a challenge with Sametime since the system requirements are (and have been for some time) nonsense. No reference to WebSphere 8.5.5 and definitely no reference to the fixpacks or even the individual servers.
Try it yourself. Go here http://www-01.ibm.com/support/docview.wss?uid=swg27007792 and click on any of the requirements for 9.0.1 Complete, Communicate or Conference to see what I mean.
Buried in the actual help documentation is the phrase “Restriction: Most of the Sametime 9.0.1 servers that run IBM WebSphere® Application Server require version 184.108.40.206” but that doesn’t help anyone wanting detailed system requirements or who doesn’t find that page.
If anyone from the ST or documentation team sees this – please fix it.
My final New Way To Learn session today was looking at the Sametime mobile clients, Connections Chat and Sametime Meetings. I hope you find it useful and as always the full recorded session is available in the #NWTL Community.
The slides by themselves are below
In this session we looked at the architecture behind the Sametime mobile applications for chat and meetings. What do you need to deploy to support mobile users and what features are available to them on the different mobile platforms. We also looked at potential bottlenecks, security and troubleshooting for the mobile clients.
Today I did the second in my series of Sametime presentations for IBM’s New Way To Learn (NWTL) initiative. The session was recorded with audio and is available by joining the Community here http://bit.ly/1t7e0LE . The session slides by themselves are on slideshare and shown below.
If your Sametime environment is going to include Audio and Video you will probably want to be able to talk to people outside your own company, or at least to your own users on their mobile devices who aren’t connected via VPN. In this recorded online session as part of IBM’s New Way To Work initiative we reviewed the infrastructure behind the Audio and Video elements of Sametime and how best to extend those features beyond your firewall.
I have been participating in IBM’s New Way To Learn (NWTL) initiative with presentations around Sametime 9.0.1. The presentations are done online and recorded so they can be viewed later and are available with the audio recordings to anyone who joins the NWTL IBM Community. If you want to watch the presentation and see other great NWTL presentations you can join the community here http://bit.ly/1XXakab
My first presentation which was last week was on how to upgrade your Sametime 8.5.2 or 9.0 environment to Sametime 9.0.1. The slides without the audio are on Slideshare and shown below.
In this recorded online session we looked at all the options to upgrade your existing Sametime environment to Sametime 9.0.1. Whether you have only a single Community server on an early Sametime version or an entire infrastructure including audio and video on 9.0 we outlined how to plan for an upgrade and the pros and cons of doing the work side by side vs in place.