To the Cloud and Beyond….

As some of you may know, Virginia Commonwealth University (my employer) has been undergoing a request for proposal process for a new cloud collaboration system.  After several months of vendor interviews, demos, and contract negotiations, the purchasing committee has chosen Google Apps for Education.

VCU has been running Lotus Notes/Domino since 1996.  Sixteen years.  That’s a long time in the IT world.  In the course of that time I’ve been the lead architect, engineer, administrator and sometimes developer.   Our first Lotus Notes installation was Notes 4.0.  In the last sixteen years, we’ve implemented various products including Lotus Notes, Sametime, Domino Everyplace, LearningSpace, Quickr, Domino.Doc, and Lotus Notes Traveler, and at one time we had more than 60 Domino servers.

So why switch systems now?  In 2009 we moved our 32,000 students from iNotes to Google Apps for Education.  And since 2009 I’ve been the lead on the Google Apps project as well.  The move was seamless and allowed us to provide more disk space for student email storage, spend less time supporting email-related issues for students, and improved service and end-user satisfaction.  Students are also able to maintain their VCU accounts after graduation – a feature we had not been able to provide on-premises due to resource constraints.  We also created a Google domain for alumni that has been very successful.

It was therefore logical for the university to begin looking at cloud collaboration for faculty and staff.  Faculty usage of email is quite different from that of students.  In fact, faculty use email as if it were instant messaging.  It is not uncommon in our environment for one user to have more than 100,000 emails in their Notes database.  Faculty also use email as file storage – allowing them to retain documents and commentary about their ongoing research projects.  So email is not only transactional in nature, it is historical in its relevance as well.  Considering the resources that are required to maintain the ever-growing storage pool, as well as to provide increased availability, moving to a cloud solution made more and more sense.

Has Lotus Notes/Domino been successful at VCU?  In my opinion, yes (of course I might be somewhat biased).  But in the course of sixteen years, we standardized on one email system, we transitioned users from desktops to web to mobile – our users loved Lotus Notes Traveler!  We built work-flow apps that are still in use today after their initial design in 1998.

Will Lotus Notes/Domino still have a place at VCU?  Yes.  We will of course maintain our current email system during the transition and migration to Google.  We will continue to have a smaller Domino implementation as we transition apps to XPages and beyond.

How do I feel as a “Domino Administrator” being told to prepare to move to another system?  I’m dragging my heels a tiny bit.  After all, this has been part of my work environment for sixteen years.   But I also realize that this is a huge opportunity for growth and learning.  I’ll still have a few Domino servers around to upgrade, and I will be the lead on XPages development work.  And as any administrator who has been through a migration project knows, there are always a few problems just around the corner to resolve.  So while the servers may be going away, the challenges won’t be!

I’m also fortunate to work with a great group of individuals, and the university is embracing the change on all levels.  As we move forward I hope to blog about our experiences during the transition to the cloud and my role as an XPages developer.

BP201: Assemble ‘n Go: Integrate Data and Directories with Tivoli Directory Integrator

Tom Duff and I had the privilege of speaking at Lotusphere 2012 on one of our favorite topics – Tivoli Directory Integrator.  This year we chose to do a Best Practices session rather than a Show and Tell session, so at least for me, the BP session felt like speedgeeking as we had tons of content to fit into an hour!

Afterwards, we had some interesting questions and discussions about how to use TDI.  There are so many different ways you can use this product, and when you get a bunch of nerds together to formulate some solutions – the sky’s the limit!

Here’s our slide deck.  Be sure to drop either Tom or myself an email if you have a question about TDI. We’ll do our best to point you in the right direction!

Spark Session: The most difficult and yet most fulfilling Lotusphere speaking gig!

Who knew that speaking for only six minutes would be so difficult to prepare for?  I certainly didn’t when I submitted my abstract for the Nerd Girl Spark session.  I’m not as experienced a speaker as many of my Lotusphere speaking colleagues by far, but I still wasn’t prepared for the angst I went through when preparing for the Spark session.

I had no issue with coming up with the topic which was “Two Women, Two Countries, and how a decision can shape a generation.”  I knew I wanted to talk about my family’s history, but when I realized I only had six minutes or less to do so — panic set in!

I wrote at least six versions of the session.  Each time, carving out narrative and timing myself as I read the story out loud making sure I hit the six minute mark. What follows is  the final written version.  I wish I had thought to prepare note cards (like Mitch Cohen had been wise to do) as it might have helped me be sure to hit all the highlights.  I certainly now have even more admiration for the TED speakers and for my fellow Spark speakers.

Here’s the final version:

This is a story about two brave women – Marie Ory and Franziska.  Each facing a decision that would impact not only themselves and their families, but as I discovered – their decisions made more than a century ago impacted me!

Imagine for a moment.  The year is 1846.  The country: France.  Imagine that you’re a widow with 9 children from the ages of 26 to 5 years.  You’ve recently found out that the land you own – upon which you depend may be taken from you by the French government? What would you do you do?

The year is 1907.  The country: Austria/Hungary (or what is now part of Poland).  Imagine that you’re a wife with two small children aged 9 and 7 and recently your 5 year old twin sons were killed in a fire.  You haven’t seen your husband in 4 years because he has been working in the United States. While he’s been away it has become increasingly difficult to find food and live on the money you make as a cook.  What would you do?

These two women actually existed.  They are my French great, great, great, great grandmother and my Polish great grandmother. Ten years ago on the occasion of my father’s 70th birthday, I thought I would do some research of our family tree.  I knew that part of my family had arrived through Ellis Island.  And I knew that my mother’s family was primarily French and German and had arrived in the mid 1840s or 1850s.  But even so I was unprepared for what I found.

The story continues with my French grandmother Marie Ory selling all their belongings and property.  She and the children set forth on a week’s long carriage journey from their home for the port of LeHavre, France.  They board the ship TALMA in December for a 60 day trip across the Atlantic to New Orleans.  Mind you – remember the year is 1848!  Thankfully, they arrive safely in New Orleans.  Then begin the journey by boat up the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers to Southern Indiana where she eventually purchases land for $700.  This land is known as Clover Valley.  My mother is descended from her son Jean Jules.

My Polish grandmother Franziska decides that she must leave for the United States to be with her husband in Pennsylvania. Word from him only comes via letter which she has to have her neighbor read to her as she does not read or write.  She decides due to the political situation, that she cannot wait any longer to attempt the journey to the United States.  She and her two children travel from Glatowice to Antwerp where they depart for the US on the Finland – a steamer – traveling in third class.  They arrive at Ellis Island on September 17, 1907.  My father is descended from her youngest daughter Josephine.

When I learned out more about their journey – the miles of difficult travel to reach their port of department and then only to face an ocean journey, to a new country – all I could think was wow!

I was awestruck by their stories!  I wanted to find out more about them, about who they were as women.  How could they be so brave?  I wondered, could I do what they did if faced with the same situation? Could I sell my belongings, my house, step away from friends and move somewhere completely foreign for the safety of myself and my family?

I wondered –  do all decisions impact future generations.  If I make a decision today, will there be a ripple effect four or five or further generations down the road.  I paused to think about how their decisions impacted future generations.  For example, any American descendent in the US with the Pinaire family tree link is related to Marie Ory and one of her children.  My father’s mother would not have been born if Franciska  had not arrived in the US.  And even bigger yet as far as I’m concerned…I WOULD NOT BE HERE if they had not taken their respective journeys!

So why and how they inspire me? Because they were decision makers – uncommon for  women at the time.  But like women today they made sacrifices for their families.  Now that I have this history, of when I’m faced with a decision of my own, I try to think of them and wonder “ok what would the grandmothers do.”  It is a reminder that decisions impact future generation as well that what we do in our daily lives, no matter how insignificant it may seem at the time, it may have a “ripple effect” – even if the ripples are invisible at the time. To me this emphasizes that we should try to take advantage of opportunities to grow or change or challenge ourselves – not only for our own personal well being, but perhaps as our legacy.

Do you have similar stories in your family’s history that can serve as a touchstone for your daily life? If you don’t, make your own life story as these women did.  Set forth a plan for a “life journey.”  You never know who you might inspire!

At the BoF for this session, someone mentioned that they noticed that everyone was  listening to the speaker rather than doing the normal geek thing during this session – which is to engage their mobile device, check schedules, etc.   I think the listening aspect is wonderful!  I hope this is a track we Nerd Girls will revisit next year.  :-)

Key Takeaways for me from Lotusphere 2012

I’m winding down the week of Lotusphere 2012 trying to fight off the usual post-conference plague/cold. The last few years I’ve been fortunate to add a few days to the end of the week to spend some time in Florida before heading home to the grey and cold winterscape of home. Winters in Virginia are nothing like what lots of Lotusphere attendees experience; we don’t usually have much snow. But we do have cold spells, occasional ice storms, and days of gray cloudiness. So the opportunity each January (over the last 14 years) to spend some time in the Florida sun has been most welcome.

As I was reading Tom Duff’s post last night. I realized that in many ways my own life situation is similar. Lotusphere attendance for me may be a thing of the past. But as many people have said, “never say never.” My life has taught me that over and over again!

But because of the uncertainty about the future it was a different sort of Lotusphere. I was excited to see some of the new shiny “toys” demoed in the OGS. And in past Lotuspheres I would have been have been immediately thinking of how I could implement that in our environment.

Instead I would have to say that they most important items I’m going home with are: inspiration, the importance of friendship and community, and the importance of your life’s journey. Those three themes seemed to repeat over and over whether it was in the solidarity of friends/colleagues who attended Gab Davis and Andrew Pollack’s Security session for #OccupyPelican or the truly inspiring talks in the Nerd Girl Spark Session. And finally after spending an day with a friend whom I hadn’t seen in in years, and after listening to her life story and how cancer affected her, I was overwhelmed by how the threads of the week all came together.

I shared Mitch Cohen’s Spark Session (Get Cancer Get Social) with her. And she pointed out that in some ways women with breast cancer today are fortunate not only because of the progress in curing the disease but because of the internet and the online communities and information sources – these were not available to her when she was diagnosed. It reminded me of Dr. Burns discussed in the OGS how he and his team were able to share their experiences with pediatric hospitals all over the world – through the internet. How wonderful that we as technologists might have a tiny part of being able to help save someone’s life as we push to make the collaboration software technology to run faster and better and in more creative ways.

So no matter what you took home from this year’s Lotusphere, I hope that you are as inspired as I am to connect with colleagues, to explore new technologies, to push ourselves to see how we might help others and most of all have fun in the process!

Best wishes for a sucessful year ahead!

Hello Orlando! Lotusphere 2012

Hello Orlando!  That’s what I’ll be saying in a brief five days.  Lotusphere 2012 will be my thirteenth Lotusphere.  And already Lotusphere is looking to be another fun and busy week – get those gadgets, social apps, and comfy walking shoes ready!

 I am fortunate to be speaking again this year.  I’ll discuss planning and preparing for a move to the cloud in BP202: Cloud Chasing 101: Planning and preparing for your move to Cloud Collaboration:

  • Cloud computing and cloud collaboration systems. You’ve heard all about them. Is the cloud still the way to go? How do you prepare for a cloud move and is it the best option for your environment? And how can you mitigate the potential “whirlwind” of change this may cause in your company? In this session, Marie discusses all aspects of planning for the cloud including directories, authentication, migration, staffing, e-discovery, archiving, mobile support, and hybrid clouds. She shares some real life experiences and describes how you can manage a cloud migration like you would any other email migration project while minimizing the impact to your company. Marie also describes the advantages of setting up a pilot program and how to evaluate products like IBM LotusLive. Leave the session with your own checklist for weathering the change to this new and exciting environment.
  • Monday, January 16, 11:00-12:00PM, South Hemisphere III

 Tom Duff and I will be talking about our favorite “free” product – Tivoli Directory Integrator in BP201: Assemble ‘n Go: Integrate Data and Directories with IBM Tivoli Directory Integrator: 

  • Join us as we explore how Tivoli Directory Integrator (TDI) can be used to integrate your IBM Lotus Domino or IBM Connections environment to external data directories like Active Directory. Watch as we step through several scenarios for using TDI assembly lines to create users, update profiles, synch user data or update data in Domino, Connections, or in external data sources. We cover the basics for setting up TDI as well as connecting it to your environment. Learn how to use simple and complex data transformation and TDI connectors to automate processes for creating, updating, or deleting data elements in the Domino Directory, Connections, Domino databases, or third party sources. Get the resources to begin creating assembly lines immediately in your own environment as an administrator or developer. So why not start leveraging the best ‘free’ tool you’ve never heard about?
  • Tuesday, January 17 4:45-5:45 PM, Swan Mockingbird 1&2.

I will also be joining the Nerd Girls for their new NERD101: Spark Ideas, featured by the Nerd GirlsYou’ll also find me at the Nerd Girl BoF, the Great Geek Challenge, and Gurupalooza.

A major highlight for me this year will be the book signing for the Sametime 8.5.2 Administration Guide which will be held on Wednesday January 18th 9:15-10:00 AM in the bookstore in the Solutions Center and to spend time with my awesome co-authors Gabriella Davis and Tom Duff.  If you’ve purchased a copy, please don’t hesitate to stop by – we’d love to sign it for you and hear what you think about it!

Emails received as HTML text – How to correct!

Several users (8.5.1 and 8.5.2) have reported receiving emails as HTML formatted text.  After reviewing Notes preferences and reinstalling the Notes client, IBM Support was contacted. Here are the findings:  
This problem may occur after Google Chrome has been uninstalled.   If the default browser is not chosen when uninstalling Chrome, Notes will not be able to find the OS default browser.

To resolve the issue, set Internet Explorer or Firefox as Window’s default browser.   In some cases these registry keys may need to be manually changed to point to the iexplore.exe (with the path information:
HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\http\shell\open\command\
HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\https\shell\open\command\

HKCU\Software\Classes\http\shell\open\command\
HKCU\Software\Classes\https\shell\open\command\

This issue has also been seen with Firefox 4 and 5.  If FireFox was set as the default browser and then back to IE, the keys are not updated so Notes will still use IE.

If you do change the registry settings, the user workstation may need to be restarted for them to take effect.  Be sure to take a registry backup prior to making any changes.

Traveler 8.5.3 and Apple Devices

We’ve been testing Traveler 8.5.3 in advance of our roll-out to our users this weekend. One thing we noticed was that on our Apple test devices, lookups for groups returned extra data.  See below:

Upon investigation, I found this wiki article.  Adding the following property to the data\traveler\cfg\NTSConfig.xml file

<PROPERTY NAME=”TSS_ADDRESSCACHE_ENCODING_ENABLED_AS” VALUE=”false”/>

addresses this issue and does not affect lookups for any other device (Android, etc.).  Be sure to test this out first before modifying this in your production environment!