This discussion was fascinating ... and I am very glad that Stuart and Darren invited me to be a part of this.
I had an issue a few weeks ago where a Community owner of a Lotus Connections Community deleted the forums widget - realised that deleting it - well actually meant it was gone.
In the user's defence, they wanted to make the forum read only and thought that removing it from the community would mean it would be retained elsewhere. My poor distraught user did actually say that the system warned that it was going to delete it - The user in question is not dumb, They are intelligent, switched on and web-savvy, yet still they managed to delete something that actually warned them it was going to be deleted.
My initial reaction was "how can anyone be so STUPID?" I huffed and puffed and once my initial mood of "muppet" had worn off I thought about it in more detail. Maybe for community widgets the error message needs to be more specific, users need to realise that deleting means not just from the community but GONE - this is not apparent it seems - some work may need to be done here.
The user in question called me in a panic once the widget had been deleted and realised that the information contained in said widget was not available outside of the community. I tried to play the "sorry - it's gone" card, but this was possibly the most important thing ever stored on the Connections environment - Consultation feedback about our Vice Chancellors vision for where the University is heading for the next 5 years,
I started taking a serious look into how I would get this information back - I thought it would be a chore .. but do-able, It wasn't as straight forward as I had hoped.
Communities are a fantastic thing inside connections - having a collection of people collaborating on a certain subject, or a bunch of like minded people just *shooting the breeze* getting ideas out and sharing knowledge. Many of the users here love the fact they can customise their own communities by adding removing and hiding widgets - fabulous for the users .. nightmare for the admins.
On the whole Disaster Recovery isn't an issue - we all have the multi-tier, multi-layed system covered with the DB, AppServer, WebServer, File system, OS covered.
Its the incremental one file, one widget, a wiki page which seems to be the biggest headache - heaven forbid you remove a whole community as that is a whole lot of hurt that you don't want to visit.
The single applications that sit outside connections are pretty hard to restore bits of as it is .. there is the DB to consider - tables for the actual application, things stored in the file system, dependancies, triggers or key to other DB's - which makes it pretty tough to work out exactly what you would need to restore at any given point in time - chances are something is going to be lost in a restore.
Communities brings a whole new level of complexity to the party - as well as the community application there are the 6 or so widgets to add as well leading to some very complex relationships between the DB tables in ways that will make your brain dribble out of your ears, as well as complex relationships to the file system. I personally haven't found any decent documentation on restoring sections of a community or a whole community.
The fact that connections relies so heavily on the database and it's ties to the file system I am really surprised that at least the DB relationships aren't documented.
After working with WebSphere Commerce (on as/400, iSeries) in my previous employer (IBM Premier Business Partner) we had much the same issues. WebSphere Commerce is the only other IBM product that I have come across in my 10 years of being involved with this stuff, which has such a heavy dependancy on it's DB relationships.
We spent about 5 years working with IBM to make the documentation better and assisting with beta programs, testing next versions of WCS and giving IBM all the feedback possible to help with making the product and documentation as great as possible.
One of the best things about the commerce documentation was the reference section - particularly the Database reference section. Each table listed with a description of the table and information on each field there is also index and constraint information and information on which tables and constraints reference the table you are looking at (see images at the end of the post)
By all means just having information about the DB is not going to be enough, but it is a start. Connections is such a complicated piece of software - and as it improves and is easier to customise - it's going to get more complicated. BUT Connections is sold as an enterprise ready application and for it to be totally successful it needs to have enterprise ready documentation on administering the back up and recovery of features and individual files, folders and pages.
Whether this is handled by "soft delete", admin commands, or a 3rd party application - it needs to be looked at as a matter of urgency.
In the end to allow the user to get access to the information deleted it was easier to restore the entire DB to new DB instance, build a stand-alone Connections server to point to the DB, do a small amount of DB manipulating and the user copied the forum questions and responses off in PDF format and has since uploaded them back to the files sections of their community. All in all that took approximately 2 days - just to retrieve 28 pages of information - a pain, a lot of hassle, but that appeared to be the fastest way at the time.
I would be more than happy to discuss my experiences with attempting to restore, and experiences around similar issues seen in Commerce if it will help in anyway. I am sure there are other members of the Connections community that would be happy to assist too. Connections is a fantastic product, lets make it better but helping us poor admins out :)
Speaking at Connect 2014 what an honor
Tue, Nov 26th 2013 7:18a Sharon Bellamy It is an honor and a privilege to have been chosen with my friend and Christoph Stoettner to speak at this years Connect / Lotusphere conference.
This will be the 4th Connect / Lotusphere I have attended but the first I have spoken a full session at – in previous years I have helped run a BOF and have spoken at speedgeeking.
We will be speaking in the Best Practices track, sharing our admin and scripting tips and tricks to help make a Connections Admin’s day a little easier
The ful [read] Keywords: admin
mod_deflate compressing your Connections pages before they hit the client
Mon, Nov 25th 2013 8:15a Sharon Bellamy I have also posted this over on the Cube Soft Blog
The Apache v2 module mod_deflate is extremely handy if you are serving IBM Connections up to remote locations with little bandwidth. Some of the Connections pages have large css or java script files that are required to function correctly but for countries that have poor connection to the remote server this causes slow page load times and sometimes timeouts.
So mod_deflate to the rescue ..
open your httpd.conf file and ensure that the mod_defla [read] Keywords: connections
Screen for linux how did I not know about this
Thu, Nov 21st 2013 7:14a Sharon Bellamy thanks to my friend Gabriella Davis for the heads up on this awesome linux tool
I was having issues with the Sametime TURN server timing out due to my linux session dying or timing out and Gab suggested to look up the screen command.
It is a simple yet affective tool which is implemented usually by default on a linux server that allows you to reconnect to a screen initiated session
you simply enter the command screen from your linux servers command line – the remote session may look like n [read] Keywords: sametime
ConnCtrl bash script for IBM Connections
Fri, Nov 15th 2013 7:16a Sharon Bellamy I have also blogged this over on the Cube Soft company blog - with my good friend Mr Tim Clark we have created a script for starting and stopping IBM Connections on Red Hat (RHEL)
The script has a bunch of variables to allow you to input the path to the WebSphere deployment manager and nodes, and a place to enter the names of your Connections servers.
Please visit Tim’s blog for all the information and to download the script. [read] Keywords: connections
Connections 4.x search – well that was a weird problem
Fri, Oct 4th 2013 11:09a Sharon Bellamy If you have migrated or moved an IBM Connections instance from 3.0.1 > 4.x (either 4.0 or 4.5) or moved data between 4.x servers you may have noticed a weird issue with searching, especially around communities.
The reason I have been a bit quiet on the blog of late is because I am working on a few Connections projects many of which have involved migrating data between test and live servers or replicating data between servers. I have come across a few issues relating to search so I thought I w [read] Keywords: connections
Issues with Install manager GUI on RHEL 6.3 ?
Wed, Apr 3rd 2013 6:12a Sharon Bellamy If you are attempting to install Connecitons 4.5 on RHEL 6.3 you will have noticed that there is an issue with using the GUI for the IBM Installation Manager with Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.3
The IM won’t fire up a GUI even though xterm works for other GUI’s on the machine, no errors, no splash screen, no nothing !!
It has been driving both Stuart and I bonkers .. after a lot of digging here is what you need to get it to work :
yum install gtk2.i686 gtk2-engines.i686 PackageKit-gtk-m [read] Keywords: ibm
Sorry for the radio silence ….
Wed, Apr 3rd 2013 6:12a Sharon Bellamy I want to apologise for my lack of blogging and tweeting – there has been a lot of ups and downs in my personal life over the last 10 months, serious injury which is still not totally resolved and a bunch of other things that have contributed to not only my lack of blogging – but has stopped me attending and speaking at LUGs.
I would like to think that I may be over the worst of it – I had a fantastic holiday with my daughter Emily in Feb 2013 to Disney World, I am working with [read] Keywords: connections
Social Connections V – coming soon
Tue, Feb 5th 2013 8:09p Sharon Bellamy The international and independent IBM Connections user group will be visiting beautiful Zurich, Switzerland on June 28th 2013!
IBM Switzerland has graciously offered us the use of their IBM Client Center and it already promises to be a busy day
To register for this event please visit our registration page here, or use the button below: [read] Keywords: connections
Social Connections IV fun in Amsterdam
Wed, Dec 12th 2012 11:15a Sharon Bellamy After months of planning, much panicking by certain members of the SOCCNX team and a small amount of winging it – the 4th Social Connections User Group for IBM Connections Users hit Amsterdam on the 30th of November 2012.
Considering this user group was an idea that Stuart and I had over a coffee in the Uni cafe a couple of years ago, we have gone from 60 attendees at Social Connections I to a massive 203 attendees from 16 countries representing 99 unique organisations at Social Connection [read] Keywords: connections