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 :)
Help shape connections search
Thu, Apr 10th 2014 1:11p Sharon Bellamy If you are interested in helping IBM shape the search application inside Connections there is a survey that you can participate in.
This is a short survey to better understand attitudes and behaviours around search and how users – well – use it
You can find the search survey here
Fill it in and you will make a Connections product manager very happy [read] Keywords: connections
Odd issue with Connections Mail
Wed, Apr 2nd 2014 6:10a Sharon Bellamy I have been looking to implement Connections mail for a while for one of my customers, after finally sorting out some SSO issues we had been seeing I was ready to deploy into their DEV/TEST environment. No problem I thought – Connections mail is a very simple install a couple of config files and a quick wsadmin command to get the help to work.
Once I had deployed I was seeing the strangest issues -
Contact your system administrator:
Missing element with class=”os-site-mail-notify [read] Keywords: connections
Speaking at Engage
Fri, Feb 14th 2014 11:10a Sharon Bellamy I will be speaking at Engage by BLUG in March – a big thank you to Theo and the team for the opportunity
On Monday the 17th of March I will be Christoph Stoettener’s assistant again in delivering – Adm04. Practical Solutions for Connections Administrators – Tips and Scripts for Your Daily Business – 14:45 – 15:30, room: B
On Tuesday the 18th of March I will be speaking with my friend and college Mr Tim Clark – Adm08. Collaboration Stack – Lessons L [read] Keywords: collaboration
so I DID make it to Connect
Tue, Feb 4th 2014 3:10p Sharon Bellamy So thanks to some very good fortune and help from an old and awesome friend I was able to make the Connect conference in Orlando last week.
I will post my full round up later in the week – but the highlights
SPEAKING for the first time with my good friend Christoph Stoettner I am not ashamed to say I was extremely nervous about speaking at Connect for the first time, but if I have the opportunity to do so again I will grab it with both hands
The flow for the first two days wit [read] Keywords: connections
Alas I will not be at Connect this year
Mon, Jan 6th 2014 10:09a Sharon Bellamy Due to circumstances out of my control, I will not make the IBM Connect conference this year.
To say I am devastated would be an understatement – as I was due to speak with my friend Christoph.
I will miss the great sessions, the opportunity to catch up with remote colleges, visit the user experience lab (which I have done every year I have been), chat with the product managers and developers and participate in the Champion activities.
I will mostly miss catching up with the great people o [read] Keywords: ibm
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