Thursday Oct 31, 2013

Unified Communications Suite Ships New Version

We shipped the latest version (7.0.5.0.0) of Unified Communications Suite. The following information should get you started:

Some Changes for 7.0.5.0.0

Convergence: Version 3.0.0.0.0 enables you to use the add-on framework to add third-party services to the Convergence UI. These services include:

  • Advertising
  • Click-to-call service
  • Multinetwork IM
  • SMS (both one-way and two-way)
  • Social media applications (Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr)
  • Video and voice calling capability

For more information, see Overview of Add-on Services in Convergence.

Calendar Server: Version 7.0.4.14.0 provides a number of security enhancements, including supporting the SSL protocol for all front-end and back-end communications, and the ability to list hosts that are allowed to send iSchedule POST requests. For more information, see Securing Communications to Calendar Server Back Ends.

New Platform Support: Oracle GlassFish Server 3, Oracle Solaris 11, and Oracle Enterprise Linux 6.x are supported in this release of Communications Suite.

Friday Jul 12, 2013

Saving Time: Flip the Switch to Handle iMIP

Messaging Server 7 Update 5 and Calendar Server 7 Update 3 Combine to Process Calendar Invites

Dalí Clockface by Philippe Halsman, 1953

As with any new release of software, there may be new features that don't immediately jump out at you or that fly under the radar. So here's one that might fall into that case for the Communications Suite 7 Update 4 release: you can configure Messaging Server and Calendar Server to automatically process calendar invitations from "external" users. By "external," we mean users who reside either on a different Calendar Server deployment administered by a separate group, or on an outside calendaring system, such as Exchange, Google Calendar, and so on.

Technically, what we are talking about here is configuring Messaging Server to post a calendar event received in an iMIP (iCalendar Message-Based Interoperability Protocol) message to Calendar Server by using the iSchedule protocol. That way, users don't have to do any manual processing on the external calendar invite. The Calendar Server deployment automatically processes these invitations coming from external calendar systems, and to users, handling an external calendar invite then appears just like an calendar internal invite. Time saved, users more happy, what could be better than that?

See the following documentation for more of the techie details and procedures to set up your Messaging Server 7 Update 5 deployment:


Wednesday Jun 12, 2013

Yo, Mule: That Stubborn and Strong Email

More evidence that email is in fact not dead. Key graph for me:

In one year, workers spend on average, the equivalent of 111 workdays dealing with email.  Most would like better search capabilities and document management features. There's a good business case for this: Just 10% increase in efficiency would buy back more than two workweeks per year per employee.

All the more reason to look at our Indexing and Search Service.

Wednesday May 22, 2013

Oracle Communications Messaging Server: Dealing with Password Expiration

Alerting Messaging Server Users that Their Password Is Expiring

Looking at the support forums today, I was reminded of the new password aging support feature in Messaging Server 7 Update 5:

Messaging Server now honors LDAP password policies. It sends an IMAP ALERT when a user's LDAP password is about to expire. Refer to Directory Server documentation for setting this up (see Oracle Identity Management documentation). You can use MeterMaid to limit the frequency of warnings.

A forum user also supplied a cheat sheet on how to update the necessary LDAP, here.

Update: More info here in this Does Messaging Server Or Convergence Support Password Aging Policy ? [ID 1474404.1] article.

Friday May 17, 2013

Oracle Communications Messaging Server: To Compile or Not to Compile

Compiled Versus Non-Compiled MTA Configurations: Which Strategy Is Best?

Recently, we had a discussion around the pros and cons of using a compiled MTA configuration for Messaging Server. What follows is a summary of this discussion, and also how this relates to the new Unified Configuration.

  • Pros of using a compiled configuration:
    • "The main reason for compiling configuration information is performance."
      In the past, say back in Messaging Server 5 days, this used to be important but with current releases is no longer a factor.
    • "Configuration changes can be tested more conveniently because the configuration files themselves are not 'live' when a compiled configuration is in use."
      This is the main reason now for using a compiled MTA configuration.
  • Cons of using a compiled configuration:
    • Introduces some complexity in management.
    • Non-MTA components do not share the same options with MTA components, so changing a compiled configuration could cause some components to be "live" (non-MTA) before others (MTA). This behavior is independent of the configuration type (legacy or Unified).
    • On non-production systems, compiled configuration is probably not worth the additional overhead.
  • Compiled configuration was the default prior to the Messaging Server 7 Update 4 release. So it is important for new installations (Messaging Server 7 Update 5) to understand whether to use a compiled configuration. Still, it seems likely that most sites would and should use a compiled configuration.
  • The command imsimta cnbuild -remove causes a system to stop using a compiled configuration.
  • To test configuration changes before committing them and going live, use the following command structure:
imsimta test -rewrite -noimage_file you@example.com

You can use the following flags to set the path to the configuration file:

-configuration_file=
-mapping_file=
-option_file=

These enable you to carefully clone then customize the configuration files before testing.

About Unified Configuration

Unified Configuration has the ability to save a history of changes and roll back to previous configurations. (See the msconfig history command). Thus, if an undesired configuration behavior takes place, even though a configuration may have passed its validity checks, you can still return easily to a previous configuration.

  • Does Unified Configuration obsolete a compiled configuration?
    • Not yet.
    • Does not address the more complex issues of MTA configuration change coordination.
    • You still need to coordinate multiple configuration changes and test them thoroughly prior to going live.

Reference

Wednesday May 15, 2013

Oracle Communications Messaging Server: Tips to Get Started with Unified Configuration

Introduced in the latest Messaging Server release (7 Update 5 Patch 28), Unified Configuration offers up a more "unified" approach to administering your messaging configuration:

  • You don't have to manage multiple configuration files with differing formats, and that you have to edit by hand (and so risk potentially causing an error): instead, you use one administrative tool, msconfig, and all legacy configuration files (with some small exceptions) are consolidated into three configuration files (config.xml being where most configuration data is stored). In addition, Unified Configuration performs validation checking to prevent introducing some configuration errors.
  • You no longer have to deal with configuration settings that themselves are not that straight-forward, and in Unified Configuration, you can use the same settings for many options among the MMP, MTA, and message store configurations.

Getting started with Unified Configuration, I found the following tips and information very useful:

  • Use the configutil -H command to translate the legacy configutil option names to Unified Configuration names. For example:
    # configutil -H -o logfile.imap.expirytime
    Configuration option: logfile.imap.expirytime
    Unified Config Name: imap.logfile.expirytime
  • Upgrading to Messaging Server 7 Update 5 (patch 28) does not mean that you HAVE to run Unified Configuration. You can upgrade and continue to run just as you are in legacy configuration. When/if you want to start using Unified Configuration, then you would use the configtoxml Command to update the configuration.
  • You can run msconfig in either interactive or non-interactive mode. As I have been getting used to Unified Configuration, I find that using interactive mode is very helpful, as the parser lets you know if you have entered an incorrect syntax. Also, you don't have to accept the configuration change until you write it to the configuration.
  • Getting more help: run the msconfig help command to get a list of online help topics.
  • When you deal with editing blobs like channels, invoke the editor like this: msconfig edit channels, or for a specific channel, msconfig edit tcp_local. The msconfig edit command invokes the editor specified by the EDITOR shell variable. This is a much easier way to edit things than by trying to use an msconfig set command.

Thursday May 09, 2013

Oracle Communications Customers: What Kind of Documentation Do You Need?

Oracle Communications Customer Advisory Board (CAB) Provides Some Answers

In reading Scott Miller's Road Trip! InfoDev Goes to CAB post, I was struck by one of the answers he got to the age-old question from techwriterdom, "Just what exactly does a customer want in documentation?" Answer: More info on "operations."

In my mind, when customers talk about "operations," they mostly mean this in the context of the operations end of the business: having a document that contains common administrative tasks for their operators on the corporate help desk, who need to quickly triage and resolve "operations" issues that come up. Indeed, the idea of creating a Communications Suite "operations" guide has long been in the back of my mind.

So, let me put Scott's question out to Unified Communications Suite customers: "Just what exactly do you want in documentation?" If your answer concurs with what Scott found out at CAB, that you do want something more along the lines of "operations," perhaps we should start a dialog.

Wednesday May 08, 2013

Unified Communications Suite 7 Update 4: Rolling Out a New Release

Source*

We shipped the latest version (7 Update 4) of Unified Communications Suite. The following information should get you started:

Specifically, if you are interested in the Messaging Server 7 Update 5 (Patch 28) component of this release, the following new documentation will be useful:

The big change for Messaging Server in this release is the ability to have a Unified Configuration. Note that it is not required to use Unified Configuration when installing or upgrading to Messaging Server 7 Update 5. I recommend starting with Overview of Messaging Server Unified Configuration to get up to speed on what this change represents. I will be posting more about Unified Configuration going forward.

Additionally, we have published the following comprehensive security summary for Messaging Server:

* (I can't get enough of these photos of artist Al Weiwei's Forever Bicycles exhibit.)

Monday Apr 29, 2013

Unified Communications Suite: Upcoming Training Opportunities

Learn How to Administer UCS, Troubleshoot Messaging Server, and Customize Convergence

The following info comes my way via Jim Vonick, thanks Jim!

Do you need to learn how to install, configure and administer Oracle Communications Unified Communication Suite?  Training is available through Oracle University in a Live Virtual Class format, which offers live instructor-led training with labs delivered over the Internet. 

Classes are currently scheduled for the following courses:

Upcoming Classes: Starting June 3 and August 12

Upcoming Class: Starting August 28

See a list of all Oracle Communications classes at http://education.oracle.com/pls/web_prod-plq-dad/ou_product_category.getFamilyPage?p_family_id=41&p_mode=Training.

Friday Apr 19, 2013

Why Wikis Are Great: UCS Calendar Server Administration Guide Reorganization

Want Documentation Convenience? Try a Wiki.

As a technical writer, I have to say, wikis can sure be convenient at times. Just this week, I was served up a major documentation request: reorganize the Calendar Server 7 Administration Guide, which meant moving sections around, creating new topic links, and so on. Typical writer handy man stuff.

In other writing environments, this could take a while, and then, even after doing the work, you'd have to navigate through a publication process to push the changes to your external repository, which itself, might not even be allowed off-release cycle, so to speak.

In any case, have a look at the newly revamped Calendar Server 7 Administration Guide. I have changed the logical flow somewhat and included a more expanded table of contents. Hopefully, this new arrangement is a better convenience. Still not finding what you are looking for? As always, drop a line or leave a comment here on this blog.

Friday Apr 12, 2013

Installing the Unified Communications Suite 7 Update 3 Stack: Not Just Solaris But Linux Too

Source

Now Available: UCS 7.3 Linux Instructions for a Single Host Deployment

Piggybacking on my last post, Installing the Unified Communications Suite 7 Update 3 Stack, I just wanted to alert the UCS community  that I have published the same set of instructions (the single host deployment example, in UCS parlance) for Linux now. To reiterate, if you need to create a Comms deployment, for say, evaluation or proof-of-concept purposes, these documents are the best place to start. For those of you who were waiting for the Linux flavor of this doc, your wait is now over.

Wednesday Apr 03, 2013

Installing the Unified Communications Suite 7 Update 3 Stack

Source

Looking to Create a UCS 7.3 POC Deployment? Stack it All on a Single Host.

If you need to create a Comms deployment, for say, evaluation or proof-of-concept purposes, the best place to go is the Single Host Deployment Example.

This doc "describes how to install Communications Suite 7 Update 3 software on one computer for a functioning deployment. This document is intended for any evaluator, system administrator, or installation technician who wants to install and evaluate the services delivered by these components."

It really takes all the guesswork out of deciding what configuration parameters to configure across the component products to get everything working. However, take note: This example deployment is not intended  for production purposes, and should be used for evaluation and for training purposes only.

Nevertheless, if you are new to the product, this is definitely the place I would recommend to start.

Monday Apr 01, 2013

Unified Communications Suite Summit 2013

Reconnecting with Comms

The UCS group gathered last week at our Santa Clara office for our annual Comms Summit. For me, it was a great opportunity to reconnect with Comms co-workers across all disciplines and geographies, and to participate in interactive sessions on the product.

My boss and I did a preso on knowing the audience that you are writing for, which got me thinking about how to use the wiki to provide some "role-based" views of the information. For example, say you are new to UCS and you are looking for product overview and capability type information. What you want to see is different from say what a current user of the product might want. The current user might want a view that is weighted towards administration and troubleshooting. A third user, for example, a developer, might want a view that provides easy access to API and customization information.

But, before charging ahead on seeing what it would take to get the wiki to do this, I got some other feedback: that some folks still appreciate just the PDF view of documentation. This audience (especially implementors) wants a standard spreadsheet of titles, such as Installation Guide, Administration Guide, and so forth, with the ability to see the title either in HTML (in our case, Wiki), or to download a PDF.

So, What's The Takeaway?

For the traditional PDF view, we do already cover the bases. You can use the Home2 view of the documentation to access the high-level doc titles by current release and product, and get a PDF.

What about those of you who want more of a role-based view of the documentation? My first suggestion would be to provide some education on how to better search for what you want. Right now, my number one recommendation is to use this Google Custom Search Engine (GCSE) that I put together:

Oracle Communications Unified Communications Suite Documentation Search

The next step would be for me to try and do some doc rearchitecting to utilize the power of the wiki to carve out some distinct, separate role-based views. It occurs to me that a quick-and-dirty way of providing some role-based views would be to utilize the Confluence label feature and the content-by-label macro, to assemble some index-like pages.

 So, as a UCS user, let me know if this is something that you would like to see. As always, either drop me a line or leave a comment.

Friday Mar 22, 2013

Unified Communications Suite: Top Player Second Year in a Row

Analysis of the Market for Messaging Platforms for Service Providers Shows Oracle Is Tops

Leading analyst firm, The Radicati Group, Inc., has ranked Unified Communications Suite the Top Player in the service provider messaging platforms market for the second year in a row in its "Message Platforms for Service Providers - Market Quadrant 2012" report. Read the full report here: http://pub.vitrue.com/9Gnc

Tuesday Mar 19, 2013

Email Phishing Casting Ever Longer Lines

Think Spam Has Gone Away? Guess Again.

Osterman has another well-written post up, this time about the enhanced phishing technique referred to as "longline phishing." The term comes from commercial longline fishing, in which "...a main line of up to several miles in length contains hundreds or thousands of short lines with hooks, each loaded with their own bait." Email longline phishing tries to accomplish something similar by using high volumes, highly customized messages, and  zero-day exploits that bypass existing anti-virus methodologies. As Osterman says:

"The genius behind the longline phishing attack is that a) volumes of any one message are extremely low, which makes recognition of these attacks difficult; b) overall volumes of messages received per potential victim are also low, often not triggering conventional anti-spam or anti-malware defenses; c) the attacks exploit vulnerabilities for which no defense is yet available; and d) botnets are used to distribute the attack across a wide range of sending IP addresses – one such attack, designed “Letter.htm” by Proofpoint, found in excess of 25,000 unique senders IPs in use."

Longline phishing is also particularly effective because "the perpetrators will compromise legitimate Web sites to distribute malware in order to gain higher clickthrough rates from potential victims."

Now, for you long-time savvy Unified Communications Suite administrators, this comes as no news. (Indeed, see my post from 2009: Email Phishing: Still a Big Problem.) But perhaps it has been a while since you have looked at your anti-spam setup and techniques, so as a reminder, I'll point you to the document, Protecting Against Spammers who Compromise Messaging Server User Accounts, for best practices on combating this issue.

And go read Osterman's entire article, it's worth it.

Bonus: I updated the Unified Communications Suite wiki tag cloud so that if you look under either antispam or spam, you can see at a glance all the related documentation on this topic.

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Reporting about Unified Communications Suite Documentation, including news, Comms 101, documentation updates, and tips and tricks.

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