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There's a new sheriff in town

Last week was the annual BLUG event this time in Leuven, Belgium, and as always Theo and team created an amazing event. The BLUG event is now the biggest user group in the a World with a staggering 325 attendes and it really makes BLUG a mini-Connect event attracting the top names from IBM as well as the top speakers from all over the World. This year was no exception and the attendees were gifted with 18 IBM Champions covering everything from Domino to Websphere, XPages to widgets and social to taxonomy. It was a great event.

Now as the title might suggest this post is not about BLUG per say.

One of the super cool things about the user groups (besides being FREE, FREE, FREE) is that IBM Collaboration Solution (ICS) is really stepping up to the plate. They are sending their top guys and this year was no exception. Among others we heard from Philippe Riand, Pete Janzen and Scott Souder who had made the trip across the Atlantic. Ed Brill also made a surprise appearance to talk about and promote the IBM MobileFirst initiative which he's now evangelizing. Now these aren't just anybody as these guys really are calling the shots when it comes to Notes, Domino, iNotes, Connections Mail and social appdev in Boston so if you had something to say to these guys at Connect 2013 and missed your chance because the IBMers just aren't accessible at Connect this was your chance.

As always a big THANK YOU! to all the IBM'ers for making the trip and making themselves available to the European community as well. Thank you.

Now to the sheriff thing...

Scott is really the new Ed (who he jokingly referred to multiple times during the keynote) and thus the Program Director for Notes / iNotes / Connections Mail so he pretty much calls the shots across the board. And what an entry he made. Giving one of the best keynotes by an IBM'er I remember seeing (sharing the limelight with Louis Richardson) he really kicked the event off with a bang. He managed to introduce himself formally to the community, set the stage for the new IBM Notes / IBM Domino 9 release (released on the day of BLUG) and honestly talk about the road ahead and the changes IBM are making to "dumb down" the product.

So to finish off the sheriff metaphor, Scott securely took the reins and stod up in saddle for all to see. It was a great talk, great appearance and I'm very confident that IBM has found a great guy who really knows and cares about the products we all love and who has the ability to lead the teams forward.

As to the keynore I know Chris Miller had his camera out at the keynote and I'm pretty sure he filmed it so if/when it makes it online I highly suggest you watch it.

Calendar integration example using OnTime Group Calendar API

The Problem

A Danish insurance company was running a CRM system to control and maintain customer relationship information and plan meetings for its insurance agents. Because the CRM system wasn't integrated with their IBM Domino infrastructure running their mail and calendar the insurance agents in effect had two calendars - one in IBM Notes holding their company appointments and one in a CRM system holding their external customer meetings. This meant that the insurance agents effective stopped using their calendars or maintained a third, non-company, calendar) as there were no single place to see all appointments. Besides this the organization as a whole was unable to plan internal meetings with the insurance agents as their calendars didn't reflect their actual whereabouts.

The Solution

To remedy this they decided to use the OnTime Group Calendar API to integrate the two systems using web services using an intermediate Enterprise Service Bus (ESB). The OnTime Group Calendar API web services are hosted directly on IBM Domino and performs extremely well. After implementing the solution the insurance agents only need to maintain their calendar in Notes as it will reflect their true calendar showing both internal, external and personal appointments and meetings.

The solution provides a true two-way synchronization so any appointment planned from their CRM system shows up in the calendar in Notes. If the user reschedule the appointment the corresponding appointment in CRM is automatically updated and if the appointment is deleted the appointment get cancelled in the CRM system as well as a follow-up activity being created to make sure a new meeting is planned. The personal calendar in Notes is also updated once a meeting is marked completed in the CRM system to allow for automated expense reporting based on the personal calendars in Notes. As an added benefit of the using the OnTime Group Calendar API all insurance agents are now able to use their Notes client, their iNotes webmail or their mobile device to do their job resulting in true mobility and added flexibility.

Below is an architectural drawing showing how it all integrates using Domino as a central application server.


(click image for a larger version)

Remember to secure your IBM HTTP Server when implementing IBM Connections

In Security Now! episode 396 starting at 12:22 (to 25:25) Steve and Leo were talking about various SSL attacks and how one could verify sites. I decided to check out one of my own stock IBM Connections installs i.e. I verified the stock IBM HTTP Server (IHS) install. That was not a pleasant experience as the default IBM HTTP Server is very insecure in that it accepts SSL v.2 and hence some very weak ciphers. Using SSLLabs.com and their SSL Server Test it is very easy to test a SSL site.

Below is the results from a standard IHS install using a commercial SSL certificate. A grade of F isn't nice.

After reading a bit on mod_ssl (the SSL module in Apache / IHS) I added the below lines to the mod_ssl section in the httpd.conf file.

## SSLv3 128 bit Ciphers 
SSLCipherSpec SSL_RSA_WITH_RC4_128_MD5 
SSLCipherSpec SSL_RSA_WITH_RC4_128_SHA

## FIPS approved SSLV3 and TLSv1 128 bit AES Cipher
SSLCipherSpec TLS_RSA_WITH_AES_128_CBC_SHA
  
## FIPS approved SSLV3 and TLSv1 256 bit AES Cipher
SSLCipherSpec TLS_RSA_WITH_AES_256_CBC_SHA
Now I'm not a SSL wizard by any means so I suggest you do your own research as well but when I restarted the IHS I got a rating of A. BAM!! How's them apples!?

How secure is the SSL stack for your IBM Connections environment?

Finally!

32 bit or 64 bit

As part of upgrading the servers here at IntraVision I had to figure out which servers were running 32 bit and which servers were running 64 bit. It turns out there is a very simple way of doing this as there is a server statistic. Simple do a "show stat Server.Version.Architecture" and it will show the currently installed "bit-ness".

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Wow! IBM preemtive here

Received the following notification from IBM by email:

Our Fix Central records indicate that the ID associated with this email address downloaded IBM Connections 4.0 Cumulative Refresh 3 (CR3). IBM support has found an issue that may affect Notes 9 Social Edition clients accessing IBM Connections 4.0 environments with CR3 applied. iFix LO74465 was added to the 4.0 CR3 package to address this issue and is now available from Fix Central. If you have Notes 9 Social Edition clients that will access your IBM Connections 4.0 CR3 environment, please use this link to download the iFix:

http://www.ibm.com/support/fixcentral/swg/quickorder?product=ibm/Lotus/Lotus+Connections&release=4.0.0.0&platform=All&function=fixId&fixids=4.0.0.0-IC-Multi-COMMON-CR3-LO73535-LO74465&includeRequisites=0&includeSupersedes=0&downloadMethod=http&source=fc

If you have already applied 4.0 CR3, please use the update installer to apply LO74465.

If you have not already applied 4.0 CR3, please include LO74465 along with the rest of the fixes you already downloaded, so that it is applied as part of CR3.

Notes 9 GA IDs for plugin development

Along with Notes 9 finally going GA comes a new install_id and rcp.base version which are required if you do plugin development and done a custom setup of your Eclipse client. I've updated my Configure Eclipse 4.2 for Notes 9 post with the GA info.

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Websphere Application Server training curriculums FREE

I just found out via Twitter that loads of Websphere Application Training is available for free online on the IBM Education Assistant. At the page you'll find stuff for both WAS 8 and 8.5 - nothing for 7.x though which is the version that most IBM Collaboration Solution software runs on though.

ISBG (formerly LSBG)

I'm happy to say that I will be speaking at the upcoming Norwegian IBM Social Business usergroup event in Larvik, Norway on 22-23 May 2013. The event used to be called LSBG (Lotus Samhandling Brukergruppe) but have just been renamed ISBG (IBM Samhandling Brukergruppe) to reflect the changes in the branding of the IBM collaboration solutions. I will be at the event with the OnTime team showcasing our amazing group calendar products - and who knows - we might have a little new thing up our sleeve... :)

Yet again the event is at this beautiful spa location in Larvik near the ocean. Can't wait to go there and be social with the Norwegians. See you there.

Using DiscoveryServlet for debugging Connections Mail

When you install Connections Mail having a way to diagnose how Connections sees a particular users mail setup can be very helpful e.g. which mail system, which hostname, mail file etc. Digging through the network traffic in a working Connections Mail install I discovered calls to "DiscoveryServlet" which is a utility that Connections Mail itself uses for that purpose. It's so nice. When called it returns full info about the mail setup for the queried users (by email address). To call it you use the following URL:
http://<hostname>/connections/resources/discovery/DiscoveryServlet?email=<email address>

Use at your own risk and as Stephan would say - YMMV...