Champions Expertise – Security

The topic for this month’s Champions Expertise presentations is “Security” so I thought it would be a nice idea to share a few highlights from the presentation I will be giving at Think 2018 in Las Vegas in a few weeks on that subject.  This is “A Guide To Single Sign-On for IBM Collaboration Solutions” and hopefully even this shortened version (6 minutes instead of 40) is of interest.

Of course I also hope to see you at my presentation on Monday 19th March (Mandalay Bay South, Level 2 – Surf B).

 

Macbook and Me

Last week I changed to a new Macbook Pro 13in with touchbar.  I had my doubts but it was the only model with the disk and RAM I needed.  I planned to just ignore the features I didn’t think I’d use (especially anything touch related as I was fairly sure dirty or greasy fingers would render it useless).

Favourite things about my Mac week 1:

  1. Touch ID to login and access admin settings.  I enabled multiple fingers and added some fingerprints for other people too.  It does require a full password entry every 48hrs (I think) even if I don’t restart but I’m fine with that
  2. I enabled filevault which encrypted my entire disk.  There were issues with earlier versions of filevault and using time machine so I had avoided it but the more recent versions (in the past 12 months or so) have been stable and there seems to be little latency on encrypting / decrypting.  The main change is that now I have to login after boot to unlock the disk rather than login after the OS loads.  It’s an almost unnoticeable change but I opted to also increase my password to a very lengthy phrase since there’s little point encrypting a disk with a flimsy password.
  3. USB C. I thought I’d hate the loss of my magsafe connector for power, the number of times I’ve tripped over my own cable and the magsafe popped off rather than drag the Mac to the ground. The new Mac has 4 USB C ports which can be used for anything including charging and I find being able to plug the power into any of 2 ports either side of my Mac is so much easier than being forced to plug it into one side and means I’m less likely to get tangled up in my own cables.
  4. Love my Touchbar – LOVE.IT.I know a lot of people hate it so clearly its appeal is closely tied to how people work. I’m very much a keyboard person, I prefer keyboard shortcuts to any mouse action for instance and with the Touchbar I can configure it to display what I find useful in each application.  I have done that in some examples below and am completely addicted
    Finder

    Finder. I’ve added the “share” icon which allows me to Airdrop items (the touchbar changes to photos of people I can airdrop to) as well as quickview and delete., The best feature is that I can add the screenshot icon to my default touchbar. I screenshot all day and the key combination is hard to get working in a VM

    Safari

    Safari shows me all open tabls I can touch to move between them as well as opening a new tab and I added the history toggle because I go there all the time

    Windows10Parallels

    The touchbar even works in Windows 10 running in a Parallels VM where I use the explorer icon all the time to open Windows explorer. I would get rid of Cortana but it’s in the default set

    Keynote

    Keynote mode 1: When writing a presentation I can change the page size move through slides and indent / outdent

    KeynotePresenter

    Keynote mode 2: when presenting I can see a timer and the upcoming slides I can touch to move backwards and fowards. I think I’m going to use this a lot

On the other hand I also bought a new iPad mini to replace my 4 year old iPad.  I bought the mini because I didn’t want to go bigger with an iPad to a pro.  My old iPad worked fine other than freezing in iBooks, being slow and restarting itself regularly.  My new iPad restored from a backup of my old one exhibits the same behaviour. I think it’s going back.

 

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.

 

Producing A Champions Expertise Presentation (since you asked)

A few people have asked how I created the Champions Expertise presentation on containerisation that I published last week.  There are lots of Champions out there keen to produce their own next month so hopefully this helps someone.

I wanted a structured presentation with my voice overlayed describing each slide. I deliberately didn’t want video / my face on screen alongside the presentation.  That’s good because it’s a pain in the bum to do but mostly I find that having a talking head is distracting people from reading slides. That’s may not be true to everyone but not having video is my personal preference.

Equipment:

Macbook Pro (2014)

Keynote 7.3.1

BeatsX headphones connected via bluetooth.
I find having a good headset ensures there is no bleed or sound in from the surrounding space and these are the best headphones I’ve ever owned, plus they are really fast to charge so rarely run down.

Rehearsing:

I use Keynote on my Mac but Powerpoint does the same thing.  I wrote the presentation including speaker notes for myself , the speaker notes contained the key points I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss when going through each slide.  I try not to write too many speaker notes because I end up reading those instead of presenting so my notes are usually one word prompts.

Once I finished writing I ran through it in presenter mode which shows me a clock countdown as well as the speaker notes. That way I can get comfortable with what I am saying so it flows better when recorded.  I was aiming to run for 10 minutes talking quickly which, in my opinion, is a good length for wanting people to watch online.  I rehearsed 3 times but then I’m a committed over preparer, I suspect most people would rehearse less or not at all.

Recording:

So now I’m ready to record.  Keynote (and Powerpoint) has a feature called “Record Slideshow” when I choose that I go into presenter mode and have a “record button”. The clever thing is that the audio is recording as part of each slide not as a separate file.  I can stop anytime and pick up the recording again or clear a particular part of the recording and do over.  I chose to do it all in one hit.  My secret weapon was to ask someone to sit near me so I could present to them rather than into thin air. I felt that made me sound more natural (hopefully) and it was certainly easier to get into the flow. It did mean I ended up stumbling when he asked me a question part way in but that’s OK, it highlighted where I wasn’t being clear enough so I fixed the slide and started over

Publishing:

Once I was happy with the slides and audio I just saved the file and uploaded it (80MB) to my blog. I could have shrunk it down more and had lower quality, certainly with only audio it wouldn’t have made a lot of difference and I may go back and do that. My blog was also cross posted to twitter and linkedin

And that’s it.  If you have either Keynote or Powerpoint and a decent headset then it’s very easy.  I hope you enjoyed listening and look forward to more expertise presentations next month.

An Introduction To Docker From MWLUG 2017

Last week I attended and presented at MWLUG in Alexandria, VA.  This was my third MWLUG event and the biggest so far.    Lots of great and varied content, I even went to a couple of developer sessions, thanks to Richard Moy and the rest of the MWLUG team for putting on another great show.  Next year the conference is getting a new name and a new location in Ann Arbor MI.

This session has been changed from the one I gave previously to reflect changes in Docker storage and networking behaviour.

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.