Comms Software Summit: Day 3

By now, having read my previous entries here and here, you're all probably getting the feel of what it's like to sit through Death by Powerpoint. Excuse me, StarOffice. Nevertheless, speaker after speaker continued to provide really interesting information, tidbits, and annecdotes of the Comms world.

Communications Suite Installer

From a general perspective, the a Comms Installation must deal with the following situations:
  • Different types of components on different machines (zones)
  • Non-Comms components (DS, AM, AS)
  • Multi-host deployment
  • OS patches

The Comms Installer is not all things to a Comms installation. You still have to to use the JES installer too. That situation, sadly, hasn't changed for the upcoming Communications Suite 6 release. You'll use the JES installer for Directory Server, Application Server, Web Server, Access Manager, and shared components. You'll use the Comms Installer for Comms components, of course, as well as OS patches and some auxillary components, namely, Service Tags.

Before you begin laying down the bits, you should consider the following topics/questions:

  • Single host vs. Multiple hosts?
  • What goes where (architecture)?
  • What is your Identity strategy (LDAP vs AM SSO)?
New documentation for this release includes a great Comms Suite 6 Installation Flowchart, as well as a completely revised Comms 6 Installation Guide.

One comment that came up: Do we ship the DS tuning script idsktune? Yes, this utility ships as part of Messaging Server. In the past, it was used to find missing OS patches. The installer now tells you what is missing and provides the patches themselves.

Q. Will Comms installer handle installs not done by this Comms Installer?
A. Yes, going back to Java ES 1.

The multi-install feature (installing multiple instances on a single machine) is currently only available for Messaging Server. (See the altroot install option.)

You can use the --dryrun option to test the install. This creates a silent install file, which you can then use for an actual install. Some in the crowd do this as a best practice when installing Comms.

No surprise here: Folks are still asking for a best practices doc on installing Comms in Solaris Zones.

Installing Comms with EMRA

The EMRA toolkit is good choice for installing Comms and non-Comms components for those customers with complex deployments, who need to repeat an install of a particular kind of node in a replicable way. The plan going foward is to productize EMRA. The toolkit is fairly self-documenting right now. I could see Pubs providing a high-level EMRA doc when appropriate.

Customizing Sun Convergence

There was a very good preso on customizing Sun Convergence (formerly called Communication Center, Project Kendo). I was impressed that a lot of the issues in customizing Communications Express seem to have been dealt with. I'm not a Dojo expert by any means--and you'll need Dojo experience to perform more than basic customizations--but the approach seemed logical and to make sense.

The customization is handled by, you guessed it, a customization service (c11n). You make changes through a CLI (no GUI). For the most part, the customization service was designed with ISPs in mind.

What can be customized:

  • Theme (css of color, font, background, icon)
  • i18n strings
  • Widgets (banner; based on Dojo digits)
  • Third-party service integration (ex: Flickr)

You can customize Convergence for all domains or specific domains. Customizations are saved across upgrades (big yay from the crowd).

Note to customers: Basic banner customizations might be easier to do via css files than the customization service.

Q. Can Convergence services "share" info in a mashup?
A. Yes.

Q. Does the client have multiple from fields (multiple sender IDs)?
A. In a coming update.

Q. How to set the default client view?
A. There's an options parameter to hide an app in the background. For example, you might want to display just Mail and Calendar, but hide the IM in the background (even though it's available).

ISPs should be able to customize Convergence in a targetted way. That is, based on the user's context, you could provide new services that the customer would would like or most likely be interested in.

Cloudmark

Kevin from Cloudmark talked about spam and his anti-spam product, which works with Messaging Server. Now, I realize that spam has been and will continue to be an issute, but per Kevin, in 2007, 95% of all email was spam. There is a kind of "arms race" going on between spammers and anti-spammers. 15% of computers on the Net are infected.

Some terms new to me:

  • botnet: computer or computers that run autonomously, spewing spam
  • fingerprinting: technology in Cloudmark to keep up w/ spammers
  • honey pots: computers at customer sites to attract spammers and then take that info to defeat them (Cloudmark uses honey pots)
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Reporting about Unified Communications Suite Documentation, including news, Comms 101, documentation updates, and tips and tricks.

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