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:

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.

Sunday Mar 17, 2013

Towards a Better UCS: Collaboration Helps Everyone

Using the Unified Communications Suite Documentation Wiki to Share Knowledge

Just wanted to remind the UCS community that not only can you use the documentation wiki to leave feedback and questions about the UCS documentation, you can also use it to share your knowledge.

Case in point, and of specific interest to Indexing and Search Service users: Thanks to JimKlimov for contributing his script to automatically provision and remove ISS indexes. As Jim himself posted, "Hope this helps someone else." 'Nuff said.

Note: You do need an Oracle ID to be able to log in to the wiki to add comments.

Friday Mar 08, 2013

Unified Communications Suite 7 Update 3: Go Get it!

We shipped the latest version (7 Update 3) of Unified Communications Suite today. This should get you started:

Friday Mar 01, 2013

UCS Documentation: Not Letting a Good Idea Go to Waste

Does Documentation Need to Zip It?

Owen over at the Ops Center blog had a nice idea. He put together and uploaded a zip file of all the documentation for Ops Center, so that if you are operating at a dark site, or without Internet access, you can have a portable version of the docs.

I don't have enough personal experience with the UCS audience to say if you'd like this as well, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to pose the question.

Is this something the Unified Communications Suite community would be interested in having for the UCS documentation? If so, leave a comment and let us know. It's certainly a good idea that I don't want to go to waste if it would prove valuable for UCS.

3/22/13 Update: Based on feedback that I received, you can download a zip file of all the UCS 7.3 documentation (PDF format) here.

Wednesday Feb 27, 2013

Unified Communications Suite: Creating Custom Applications Using ENS

Choosing the Correct Event Notification Service Documentation

Recently we received an inquiry through the software forums about creating custom applications for Messaging Server dealing with message notifications. This started a conversation about the ENS documentation that I would like to clarify.

Sidebar: Event Notification Services, ENS, is the underlying publish-and-subscribe service available in Messaging Server. ENS provides a server and APIs for publishers and subscribers. A publisher makes an event available to the notification service. A subscriber tells the notification service that it wants to receive notifications of a specific event.

Going forward with Messaging Server 7 Update 4, you should be using the ENS C API as the simplest and most stable way to interact with events provided by Messaging Server. The ENS C API is documented in the Current Event Notification Service C API Reference page.

And so we come to a source of confusion. The documentation for the older style API is still available on the Communications Suite wiki, and so if you search for say, "ENS API," you are likely to find it. I would link to it, but I really don't want to send anyone there. Indeed, that page will be removed shortly so as to not cause confusion anymore. Just to reiterate, use the ENS C API as documented in Current Event Notification Service C API Reference.

I hope this helps move beyond the "clear as mud" situation that we sometimes find ourselves in.

Wednesday Feb 20, 2013

Unified Communications Suite: Tuning in to the Sound of a Well Performing Deployment

Getting Started with Unified Communications Suite Performance Tuning

Making sure that your Communications Suite deployment is performing at its best is an ongoing mission. Fortunately, we have a solid starting point: Communications Suite Tuning and Best Practices

In this document, you'll find "...various tuning hints, tips, and current best practices for Communications Suite in an effort to simplify the process of improving Communications Suite performance and to avoid known issues."

There are three basic sections to this content:

  • General, for high-level monitoring concerns
  • Operating Systems, for specific items to check by platform
  • Component Products, with tips for each component of the Communications Suite stack               Source

Furthermore, some components have more detailed information that is collected on component-specific pages. And finally, still more performance tuning content on other topics is also gathered on the wiki. See the wiki's tuning label page for a look at all the performance tuning information that is available.

Wednesday Feb 13, 2013

Email: Moving From Business Intelligence to Intelligent Business


I have to quote Michael Osterman again, this time from his article Using the Intelligence Locked away in Email:

For most organizations, the largest single source of information about what’s going on in their business is the collection of user mailboxes and email archives...This rich source of content can provide valuable business intelligence to decision makers, but few extract even a fraction of the valuable content contained therein.

So if you are using our Messaging Server, for starters, you should also be using our Indexing and Search Service product. It only makes your business that more intelligent.

Tuesday Feb 05, 2013

The Demise of Email Has Been Prematurely Reported


In 2009, I found many claims on the demise of email. Back then, my own, for-what-it-was-worth opinion was "no way." Perhaps that was a knee-jerk reaction on my part, or perhaps it was a statement that arose out of my own use and dependance upon email and I needed to deny the rise of social networks. Well, it now appears that those reports were perhaps just a bit exaggerated. According to Michael Osterman of Osterman Research, email is alive as ever, in fact, email use is up. Today he writes (emphasis mine):

In the 2009 to 2011 timeframe, there were a number of articles in the trade and popular press about the demise of corporate and personal email.  Many believed that email use would dwindle as younger people entered the workforce, those weaned on social media and text messaging.  Email was for the “grups” (you’re welcome, original Star Trek fans), while newer forms of communication would replace it.

Maybe someday, but not now.  We just completed a survey with corporate email users to determine if that was the case.  What we found is that 42% of email users are employing email more today than they were 12 months ago, while only 10% are using it less.  The remainder are using email at about the same level they were a year ago.

Our research also found that email continues to be the dominant communication tool used in the workplace.

Moreover, I completely agree with his statement that one of the reasons that email remains and grows in popularity is that it serves as a:

...repository of emails, contacts, files and other information that acts as something of a flat-file database in which we can store content that is easily searchable.

This Is Where Indexing and Search Service for Oracle Communications Unified Communications Suite Comes In

If you are like me, you not only need the ability to search the subjects and bodies of your email message, you need the ability to search your email attachments. Indeed, more and more, my email inbox has become my go-to storehouse of documents, spreadsheets, presentations, PDFs, and so on. So finding data, and finding it fast, is where email inboxes need to go.

Which brings me to Oracle's Indexing and Search Service product. If you haven't heard by now, Indexing and Search Service enables you to quickly search and view your email attachments. Here are some cool facts about Indexing and Search Service:

  • Integrated with our Messaging Server and Convergence products, enabling nearly instantaneous results from complex searches such as cross-folder searches.
  • Because it is deployed as a separate service, the actual search effort is offloaded from Messaging Server.
  • Any IMAP client that can communicate with Messaging Server can take advantage of this powerful search service.

Rather than go on in more detail, refer to the following Indexing and Search Service blog posts and documentation links for more information.

Friday Jan 25, 2013

Unified Communications Suite: Wiki Documentation Changes

As longtime UCS-ers know, we have been providing wiki docs for many years now. One of the benefits of wiki docs is that writers can and do update content more frequently than with a static documentation environment. While this means that documentation issues get addressed more readily, it could also present a small problem in knowing when a doc (aka wiki page) has been updated. In addition, you might want to know not only that the page changed but how can you easily spot that change? Was the change cosmetic or substantive? And so on.

In the interest of making this knowledge a bit easier to come by, and to highlight the continuing work that the UCS InfoDev team is putting into our documentation, here are a few ways in which you can determine when a doc has been updated:

    • Look at the page history.
      On any page, from the Tools menu, select Page History. You then see a list of versions, dates, who made the change, and (hopefully) a comment on what was changed. For example, here is the page history for the Calendar Server 7 Administration Guide.
    • Once you are on the Page History page, you can compare versions. Click the check boxes beside the versions you want to compare then click the Compare selected versions button.
    • A quick and easy way to see what pages have changed recently is to choose Pages from the Browse menu, then select Recently Updated. You see a list of recently changed pages for the entire wiki space. This list is convenient in that you also get a view change link that takes you to a Page Comparison page, showing the changes.
    • If you have a standard Oracle ID, you can "watch" a page and be automatically notified by email when a change occurs.
      To watch a page:
      1. Log in to
      2. Go to the page that you want to watch.
      3. Click the Tools drop down menu and select Watch.
        When we make a change to the page, sends you an email.
    So there you have it. You now have all the info you need to stay up-to-date on our CommSuite wiki changes.

      Friday Jan 18, 2013

      Communications Suite Documentation: Wiki Structure

      From time to time, I get questions on how to find a particular piece of documentation on the Unified Communications Suite documentation wiki. So I thought it would be useful to give an explanation of our wiki structure and how to approach, at least on one basic level, looking for a particular document.

      In a nutshell, we have structured the Communications Suite documentation into two information buckets: "release-specific" content (Release Notes, New Features (formerly What's New), Installation Guides, and Upgrade Guides); and "non-release specific" content (Administration Guides, Developer Guides, Customization Guides, Tuning Guides, and the like). Release-specific content is always located on its own wiki space (in effect, its own web site), whereas the non-release specific content is always on the same "home" wiki space. In terms of URLs, what you have is this:

      Non-release Specific Content
      Release Specific Content
      and so on...

      Thus, for each new Communications Suite release, such as Communications Suite 7 Update 2, we publish the aforementioned release-specific content on its own wiki space. The thought here is that customers appreciate having everything they need to install or upgrade a particular release in one location, and don't have to click around to get what they need. Nor do they want to be encumbered by other extraneous content that only gets in the way of the installation or upgrade process.

      Notice that the release specific content URLs follow the naming convention CommSuite<v>U<n>, where <v> is the major version and <n> is the update. So knowing that, if, for example, you wanted the release specific documentation for Communications Suite 6 Update 2, you now understand that you would use the following URL: Simple, eh?

      On the other hand, when dealing with say, administration information, we made the decision to not publish a release-specific Administration Guide for each new Communications Suite version. This is different from other typical publishing environments, where you would expect a new Administration Guide to be published for each new release, even if little to nothing changed. Instead, in the Communications Suite world, you always go to the same guide (you don't have to look around for version x update y of the guide), whose URL remains the same. For example, the Calendar Server Administration Guide is located at

      So, how do you know if a change was made to a product feature and in what release, you ask? We use a versioning panel to indicate the introduction of a new feature, or a change to an existing feature. Here is an example from the Calendar Server Administration Guide:

      So, to summarize:

      • If you want release notes, and installation and upgrade information, go to the release-specific wiki for the release that you need.
      • For all other content, including administration, customization, developer, and tuning information, go to the "home" (non-release specific) wiki.
      One more note: The home Comms wiki space always has links to the current release specific documentation in the right-hand "Guides" panel. So that's another place to start looking for release notes, installation, and upgrade information.

      Sunday Dec 09, 2012

      Communications Suite: New Patches Available

      Two new patches for the following Unified Communications Suite component products are now available:

      • Calendar Server 6.3 patch 53
      • Connector for Outlook 7.3 Update 1 patch 17

      Download details:

      Reminder: As a workaround to learning about new Communications Suite patches, you can use the Confluence watch feature to monitor the Communications Suite Component Patches page. When new patches are available, this page is updated with that information. You then receive an email message that this page has been updated. The watch feature is available under the Tools menu when you are logged in to

      Friday Oct 19, 2012

      Oracle Communications Calendar Server: Upgrading to Version 7 Update 3

      It's been some time since I have posted an entry. Now, with the release of Oracle Communications Calendar Server 7 Update 3, it seems high time to jump start this blog again.

      To begin with, check out what's new in this release:

      The upgrade is a bit more complicated than normal, as you must first apply some new schema elements to your Directory Server(s). To do so, you need to get the comm_dssetup 6.4 patch, patch the comm_dssetup script, and then run the patched comm_dssetup against your Directory Server(s) instances. In addition, if you are using the nsUniqueId attribute as your deployment's unique identifier, you'll want to change that to the new davUniqueId attribute. Consult the Upgrade Procedure for details, as well as DaBrain's blog, before forging ahead with this upgrade.

      Additional quick links:


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


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