Thursday Jul 24, 2008

Communications Suite: Putting the World...

...at your fingertips.

Tuesday Jul 22, 2008

Comms Suite: Say You Want a Revolution? Check out the Comms Wiki...

To quote our VP Jim Parkinson:

"Using wikis.sun.com as the platform for the Comms Suite documentation has been nothing short of a revolution for us."

If you haven't checked out the Comms Wiki, you're missing out.

Comm Suite 6 Revenue Release Now Available

The long wait is over. As of today, July 22, 2008, you can get the Communications Suite 6 Revenue Release bits here.

Reminder: Communications Suite 6 documentation is on the Comm Suite 6 Wiki.

Thursday Jul 17, 2008

Communications Suite 6: Hitting the Streets


Streets of Capri, Italy

It's been a long and winding road...but as long as all goes according to plan (and why shouldn't it?), the Revenue Release (RR) version of Communications Suite 6 is set to hit the streets next Tuesday, July 22.

Stay tuned for the download link.

Monday Jun 02, 2008

CommSuite Wiki: How Did We Ever Manage Without It?

What I'm finding exciting about using wikis.sun.com for the Communications Suite product documentation is that we can continually find new ways to enhance the information and try something out on-the-fly as part of the evolving grand experiment.

Today I realized that we've been adding some important new pages to the wiki. And I began to wonder, how does one find out about these new pages? So I added a "What's New" panel to the CommSuite Wiki front page, alerting readers to pages have recently been added (as opposed to this list, which tracks recent changes to pages).

I realize that at times it can be difficult to search for and find the exact information that you are looking for. I hope this "What's New" panel helps at least with alerting you to new pages as they get created.

Thursday May 15, 2008

Comms Suite Doc Wiki: The Whole Enchilada

Someone was asking me today, "How do you find things on the Comms Doc Wiki?" A valid question, to be sure. I thought about it for a bit, and asked back, "What are you looking for." "Everything, the whole enchilada" came the reply. "I want to browse everything."

Fortunately, wikis.sun.com (by way of the Confluence wiki engine) has an easy way to do this. For the Comms Suite Wiki, we made use of a macro to generate an index of all content, organized A-Z:

CommSuite Doc Index, aka The Whole Enchilada

Friday May 02, 2008

Installing Comms: Lowering the Barriers, Day 3: Two Steppin' & The Func Funk

Much of the deployment experience for Comms Suite involves running individual product configurator tools. That is, when deploying Comms, you do the two-step dance of installing the bits and THEN configuring them.

If you're new to the product, or coming from the world where the installer DOES everything for you, well, that's just not so in Comms. For better or worse, we split up the deployment experience into laying down the product software and then configuring that software.

I'm at the point in the Single Host Deployment Example where I have installed the Comms Suite bits and am now configuring the component products.

You run the component configurators in the following order:

  • comm_dssetup.pl to prepare the LDAP directory with Comms schema
  • config-commda for Delegated Administrator
    BTW, here's a shot of the DA Console (a feel good that yes, the process is working as documented)
  • configure for Messaging Server
  • csconfigurator.sh for Calendar Server
After running csconfigurator.sh, you need to hand-edit the Calendar Server ics.conf file and a few other Calendar Server files, then reload the service schemas. A really useful error then appeared when trying to stop/restart the Calendar Server:
# ./stop-cal
[30/Apr/2008:19:32:21 -0700] elwood2 [11006]: General Error: func=_configdrv_file_readoption; error=unexpected character after value; data="
ERROR: Could not initialize config system
Okay, after so much smooth sailing, I've got the func FUNK.

I'm thinking, what the heck, and how am I even supposed to begin troubleshooting this with such a helpful error message. (Perhaps to seasoned Calendar Server admins, it's obvious.)

As I had just edited the Calendar Server files, I figured that was a good place to start. Careful examination revealed that I had left off an ending double quote (") on a value in the ics.conf file. Which points out to a real issue with deploying Comms: With all the typing and hand-editing of files involved, human error is a very real problem. So far, that has to be my major complaint with this deployment methodology.

Hmmm, would have been interesting, in hind sight, to have used this Error Rate Calculator, telling you what your typing error rate is - that is, how often you have to hit that Backspace key to correct an entry.

Up Next: On to Instant Messaging.

Wednesday Apr 30, 2008

Installing Comms Deep Thought

Running the Delegated Administrator configuration script, config-commda, takes a longggg time to complete on a not-so-swift host.

Tuesday Apr 29, 2008

Comms Wiki Contributions

If you haven't been paying attention to the Comms Wiki of late, then you've missed some exciting Community-sponsored contributions. The following wiki pages were recently authored by Jesse at the University of Wisconsin:

Comments are another area where we are getting great feedback. Contributor Nate has been especially active. Just this morning, he left this tip in the Comments section on the Connector for Outlook FAQ page.

A big thanks to Jesse and Nate, and the rest of the contributors out there. And while I'm at it, a public service reminder to the Comms Community: the Comms Wiki is there for your use. Have a tip or article you'd like to share? Got an interesting configuration you'd like to pass along? Feel free to log in and contribute. Don't yet have a Sun Online Account, with which to log in? Get one here.

One more tip: To keep track of the latest additions and changes to the Comms Wiki, use the Recently Updated Pages link.

Monday Apr 28, 2008

Installing Comms: Lowering the Barriers, Day 2

The subtitle of Installing Comms Suite, Day 2, ought to read "I'm my own worst enemy." After finally getting past the point of installing Application Server, Directory Server, Access Manager, and Web Server, as detailed here, I finally got on to the long-awaited installation of Comms products themselves, and then being able to run the comm_dssetup.pl script, which would apply the necessary schema for Comms to the Directory Server. Ah, at last, smooth sailing ahead.

Except that the script would not recognize my Access Manager installation. When choosing my Schema type as Schema 2, (which the Single Host Deployment Example uses), the script responded:

Please enter the Schema Type (1, 1.5, 2) [1]: 2 Access Manager has not been configured for this new user/group suffix You can opt to continue, but you will not be able to use features that depend on Access Manager
Hmmm, odd I thought. No problem, I'll just uninstall Access Manager and reinstall, just to be sure. One uninstall/reinstall, same result. Twice, same result. Okay, third times the charm. Same error message.

Then I actually stopped to read a little burp of an error in my term window:

has_naming_context_ds6 get-suffix-prop result: execv(/opt/bits/jre1.5.0_15/java/bin/java): No such file or directory
A little poking around, and sure enough, I was setting a bogus JAVA_HOME variable and comm_dssetup.pl was complaining! Naturally, when I fixed this I was on my merry way.

Next step: Running all those Comms configurators. Where's the easy button when you need it?

Friday Apr 25, 2008

Installing Comms: Lowering the Barriers, Day I

As I mentioned previously, I'm trying to eat my own dog food

by using the Comms 6 Single Host Deployment doc. Now, I'm not what you would call a UNIX sysadmin, nor a Comms sysadmin by any stretch of the imagination. Let's just say I'm a jack of all trades, master of none. I know enough where to look for answers and when to ask for help. Guess what I'm saying is that for being somewhat of a novice, I should be able to complete this exercise.

Right now, for the second time, I'm re-uninstalling the Identity Suite components needed for a Comms deployment. That would be Directory Server, Access Manager, and Web Server. Why you ask? Because I can't follow my own instructions. (Big grin.)

Lesson One: Don't cut corners.
When I started this exercise, the first step was to install Application Server 9.1 Update 1. That requires Java 1.5. My system, running Solaris OS 9, only had 1.4. At first I thought I could just download and install the JRE; a smaller download than the entire JDK. Okay, I cut a corner. I installed the JRE (and had to figure out where my PATH was still picking up the older JRE and preventing me from launching the Application Server installer) and ran the Application Server installer. Well, one of the options was the location of the Java 2 SDK 5.0 or higher. Urg. I did need the entire JDK. So I had to exit the Application Server 9.1 Update 1 install, hunt down the new JDK, then download it, then install it. More lost time.

Lesson Two: Read the documentation. Closely.
In my case, I mistakely choose to install all the Identity Suite components (as well as all the multi-national languages, which aren't necessary for my POC, and take up lots more time to install as well). This had the unfortunate effect of installing a second copy of Application Server, version 8.2, which I \*think\* overlayed my initial installation of Application Server 9.1 Update 1, needed for Convergence (Kendo). If I had followed the doc, I would have skipped installing this second conflicting version. (And as I'm writing, the IS uninstall just finished. It is not a quick process on a slow machine, trust me.)

BTW, finding out how to uninstall the Identity Suite components wasn't an easy Google. I finally found out on a Sun Forum how to do it:
/var/sadm/prod/SUNWident-entsys5u1/uninstall

Much of the time during this exercise, I find myself asking: Is this typical of the customer experience? If so, once again, I'm feeling your pain.

I'm on to reinstalling the Identity Suite components at this point. More later.

BTW, some things I've had to learn along the way:

  • Using ssh
  • Using scp to copy files to a remote secure host
  • Using ssh -X to remote diplay an application
  • Finding a Solaris copy of Mozilla (and installing it)
  • All the service stop/start commands

Thursday Apr 24, 2008

Installing Comms: Lowering the Barriers

In the next few days, I'll be blogging about my experience installing Communications Suite 6, as described in Deployment Example: Sun Java Communications Suite 6 on a Single Host.

When I first started this exercise, I wanted to blog about how we in Comms need to, and are trying to, lower the barrier to installing Comms Suite. That is, an admission that for many customers, installing just a proof-of-concept Comms deployment does have some aspects of rocket science to it.

But for now, I'm feeling the pain, as they say, much like this poor fellow:

Stay tuned for more details of my experience. In future blog entries I will also be describing the positive strides we are taking towards making installing Comms an easier and better proposition.

Monday Apr 21, 2008

Tour de Comms Wiki

Now that we have this new documentation approach called the CommSuite Wiki, how are you supposed to use it, what routes can you follow to get to the information you need, what are the paths to take to get to where you want to go, and what's different about this approach than with previous Comms releases?

With that in mind, here's a quick tour of the CommSuite Wiki.

General Overview

We're using panels to organize content on the Comms Wiki Landing Page (the top-level page). These panels present different views of the available information; different pathways, if you will, depending on how you like to access information. The Landing Page also gives links to previous versions of Comms docs so that you don't have to go to docs.sun.com, where those older docs are located.

About This Wiki Panel

In some ways, this is the obligatory stuff every site needs: purpose of this wiki, how to contact us, and so on. Use the Recently Updated Pages link to see at a glance the most recent changes made to the Comms Wiki.

How-To's Panel

The How-To's panel presents Comms how to information in a product life-cycle type format. That is, we envision six high-level areas for your Comms deployment, starting with Planning and ending in Troubleshooting. Note: Wherever possible, we use Confluence labels and macros to automatically create the content of these pages, ensuring that new pages get added to these indexes on the fly.

Guides Panel

This panel presents a traditional view of the Comms information, organized along the lines of manuals, guides, and the like. Notice the Work-in-Progress Documentation. In this new model, we will be presenting and sharing the information as soon as we have something, even if we are still dotting the i's and crossing the t's; the thought being, the sooner we can get info in your hands, even if it still needs a little work, the better. (And, being a wiki, the entire Comms community can have the chance to enhance and add to the information as well.)

Quick Picks Panel

This panel is a compendium of assorted links that we think need special attention or highlighting. Additionally, if we see that certain pages are being accessed more frequently, we'll update this panel with the links to those pages. Of note in this panel: the Indexes and FAQ pages use labels and macros, like the How-to pages, to automatically generate content.

Searching for Information on the Comms Wiki

Searching the Comms wiki is actually quite easy and fast, in my opinion. Every Comms wiki page contains the Searching Sun Java Communications Suite bar. Simply begin typing what you are looking for. As the above screenshot shows, you are presented with a list of matches, even before you press the Enter key. You can pick a link from this list, or press Enter to get even more search options.

Tip: Instead of using the wiki breadcrumbs to navigate back and forth to the Landing page, use the Search bar to quickly locate what you need.

Questions or Comments?

Feel free to drop a line and let me know what you think.

Thursday Apr 03, 2008

New Comms 6 Wiki Article: Performance Tuning Realtime BlockLists (RBL) Lookups

Shane Hjorth has a new article on the Communications Suite 6 Wiki titled "Performance tuning Realtime BlockLists (RBL) Lookups." This article comes about as a respone to a recent number of cases/forum questions regarding the performance of blacklist lookups. Note that with Messaging Server 6.3, there were a few changes to help improve the performance (remove a bottleneck). Read the article here.

And remember: as this is a wiki, you can log in with your SOA account and contribute!

Wednesday Mar 19, 2008

Comm Suite 6: What, You Haven't Heard of Communication Center (aka Kendo) Yet?

Update, 4/24/08: In typical Sun fashion, we've renamed the product. It's now called "Sun Convergence."

There might be someone out there using, or interested in using, or just interested in learning about our Communications Suite product, who hasn't heard about our new , Communication Center (code named Kendo), that will ship as part of Communications Suite 6 later this year. This short write-up is intended for those of you who need an introduction to this new product.

Communication Center Server High Level Overview

Here's the architectural picture of the Communication Center server.

As this picture shows, Communication Center is a web application, using HTML and JavaScript code. As a web application, it needs a web container. You must use Application Server 9.1 Update 1 as your web container.

The Communication Center server provides core functionality, including:

  • Authentication, authorization, and logging
  • Single Sign-On (of two varieties: Access Manager SSO and Messaging SSO)
  • An interface for administration
  • LDAP service (for pools, failovers, and Comms schemas)
  • Basic monitoring functions

Communication Center is a proxy service for mail, calendar, IM, and address book access services.

Authentication

Default authentication is accomplished by using the Directory Server LDAP directory, though Communication Center also supports Access Manager. For the Communications Suite 6 Beta, you need to run Access Manager in Legacy mode. Realm mode is planned for the Revenue Release of Communications Suite 6.

Configuration Management

No fancy GUIs here, you use the iwcadmin CLI to perform administrative tasks for the server. Those of you who have administered Messaging Server by using the configutil command will feel right at home. Configuration is XML based. Communication Center supports some limited remoted administration as well. Note: To configure the Instant Messaging gateway, you still edit the existing httpbind.conf file by hand. See
Overview of the Communication Center Command-Line Utility for more information.

Monitoring

You can perform basic, real-time application monitoring of Communication Center. For example, you can get statistics on uptime, number of users, connection details, LDAP connections, and so forth. Also, because Communication Center supports Java Management Extensions (JMX), you can use the Java Management Console, for instance:

Some Interesting Instant Messaging Features

  • The Instant Messaging Gateway that ships with Communication Center will include support for avatars.
  • Scalable IM service provided by leveraging Grizzly and Comet support.
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Reporting about Unified Communications Suite Documentation, including news, Comms 101, documentation updates, and tips and tricks.

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