IBM plans huge revamp for partner program

The One Channel Team, which will be led by [Mark] Dupaquier, pulls together 3000 IBM employees across the company’s multiple divisions into one group dedicated to channel needs.

The idea is to simplify the way partners communicate with IBM, making it easier for them to build more profitable lines of business using IBM’s SoftLayer, Watson, security, mobile, systems, services and analytics under a single umbrella.

Having been an IBM partner for almost two decades, I have to think that this is a sensible move. For too long, the partner program has been segmented along product and brand lines, meaning that cross-selling and solution-building has been compromised.

From a Lotus ICS ESS perspective, the announcement was especially notable:

Dupaquier also flagged the released (sic) of IBM Verse, which is due in March. Verse will provide business partners with an improved mail and social experience offing services like messaging, migration and support according to Dupaquier.

For IBM to mention Verse at a major corporate announcement like this is very significant for everyone that is involved.

More >

IBM ConnectED 2015

Some thoughts on IBMConnectED 2015 from afar

For the first time in 7 years, I’m missing the annual IBM ‘collaboration and social business’ conference in Orlando.

Sadly this has also coincided with the conference being ‘down-sized’ somewhat and thus being deprived of the live video-streaming and playback support that it has had for the past 3-5 years. I’ve therefore been watching the event through the somewhat murky and confusing lenses of Twitter and PlanetLotus.  This has most likely led me to more than a few misconceptions or confusions on the content shared over 4,000 miles away.

IBM ConnectED 2015 banner


However, that said, here are my thoughts so far:

    • That there is a conference at all this year is a major testament to the efforts of many truly committed folks at IBM and in the community.  They have had to pull out all the stops to get the ‘powers that be’ to cover the cost and risk of running the event, and then completed far more of the tasks themselves than in previous years when they would have been outsourced to other agencies. Kudos to them for making this happen. All my comments below should be taken in the context that I am darned impressed they’ve achieved what they have.
    • The rebrand to IBMConnectED (from IBM Connect and before that Lotusphere) has confused many. Watching Twitter over the past few days, I’ve seen a good number of questions from those not present asking about the scope of the conference, the level of content (technical versus business), the audience that was invited and so on.  Given the general consensus so far, I’m not sure that the ‘much more technical’ target has been met, and thus perhaps the additional rebrand was a little unnecessary – however, maybe there were political reasons why this change needed to happen?
      • That said, the attendance is said to have exceeded expectations, and perhaps even to have exceeded the ambitions of those on the organising team.  Early on, a number of 1,500 attendees had been mentioned, and I’ve now heard that a large number of late (or even, on-site) registrations have taken the attendance past 2,200 people.  This is an amazing success and should be applauded.
      • IBM ConnectED TechnOasisHowever, when one plans a conference around one audience size and you get 1.5x that number arrive, it obviously puts pressure on the arrangements and compromises that were made for the original plan.  It sounds as though the TechnOasis is very tight for space, the welcome party was somewhat under-catered and that there have been a few issues getting into packed sessions.  These are understandable issues and I’m sure that most attendees (and sponsors) would trade some minor inconvenience in these areas for having a vibrant, well-attended conference.
      • This (perhaps unexpected) success has lead to some discussions around the future of this event and I’ve heard more than a few whispers that IBM has an open mind on the future of ‘Lotusphere’ after 2015, and might be convinced to continue the conference in the future should it be a commercially viable venture.  I sincerely hope that this is the case. It has a vibe entirely unlike any other event I’ve ever attended, and for the sake of the community that has built up around these products and solutions, I really do want this not to be ‘the final goodbye’. We’ll see what gets announced at the closing session.
    • As the January event has always been the number one marketing effort for ICS throughout the entire year, the news made here has to make a splash around the world.  Whilst this may change as part of the consolidation into the Vegas based events, I do think that at least for 2015, IBM has to ensure that the impact of the content shared in Orlando is a big one.  Clearly a big part of this is IBM educating the analysts and press, and I’m sure they’ll be doing this as well as ever (I’ve taken part in a number of press programs at this event in the past, and have always been impressed with the way they’ve been delivered).  However, from my perspective, particularly given my position this year, the event must have a footprint that extends beyond the Swan and Dolphin complex. For me that means:
      • Live streaming – I can understand that budget was likely an issue this year.  However if I had been asked, I would have suggested that streaming at least the main-room sessions was absolutely essential.  Heck, that could have come down to just an immediately uploaded Youtube recording of the OGS if truly necessary, but really there should have been no way that even a 1,500 user conference should have been cut off from the rest of the interested audience.  I’ve long held (and shared) the opinion that session recordings and presentations are IBM’s best promotional materials for this conference. For me, it is madness that the fantastic news from the OGS yesterday didn’t make it out unedited to the rest of the world.
      • Ed BrillNews summaries of the key OGS announcements – I made this point last year.  ICS misses Ed Brill most of all during the week of this event.  If you were to trawl back through the archives of his blog, you’ll see that January always saw upwards of 50+ blog posts, mostly during and soon after Lotusphere week.  As a blogger attending the event, I could always be sure that immediately following the OGS we’d have a handful of insightful pre-written posts detailing what was shown, what would be delivered and how it would impact users of the software.  In the past couple of years, we’ve come away from the OGS thinking, yeah that was exciting and well-produced, but with little in terms of real details, dates or feature lists.  I know that this will likely come in the breakout sessions at the event, but not everyone onsite can attend all these sessions, and of course those that aren’t there have even less to go on.
      • Press releases – Nothing that was announced yesterday at the event was deemed worthy of an IBM press release.  Again, whilst the press on-site will have been briefed, the rest of the world’s media (and bloggers) will be left uneducated about the news.
      • In summary, I find this ‘you have to be here’ approach to be unfathomable for such a well-organised event run by a multi-national tech vendor.
    • The actual news from the OGS as I could glean from the tweets, Facebook posts, photos and Skype chats that I followed was really positive in a number of areas:
      • The IBM Verse demos looked really fantastic.  I’ve been honoured to be involved in some of the beta testing for the product and so have used some earlier iterations of the platform. However, what was shown yesterday was a massive step forward in terms of usability and UI polish.  The integration with Connections looked very powerful, and the omnipresent Calendar bar at the base of the display had many Tweeters commenting on how useful that would be in their daily work-lives. I’m hearing that Scott Souder’s presentation and demo went incredibly well, and it’s clear that the community both likes and respects his approach.
      • I love the idea that Verse will be available as a Freemium service, and will be open to anyone to use as the client for their email.  I’m not sure how the greater IBM will get their heads around this as an offering, and there is previous for free products from IBM (Symphony etc.) being folded when they don’t become commercially self-sustaining.  The biggest question I have though is how IBM will advertise and market Verse to the world.  As we all know ‘build it and they will come’ is a sure route to failure, so they do have to find a way to win mindshare in startups and small-businesses. IBM Verse has to somehow be considered alongside Office365 and Google Apps – a challenge.
      • New Way to WorkI still have some concerns about Verse, primarily that IBM’s ‘New Way to Work’ message risks over-promising and under-delivering on what is effectively a new UI for iNotes.  I do think that a ‘New Way to Work’ is absolutely needed, but don’t think that this means email, in any form. That’s not to say that I don’t think it will be a mighty fine mail client and productivity tool, but I think that that are other vendors out there that are making similar strides forward on mail management (thinking about Google Inbox and Dropbox’s MailBox app in particular).  At the end of the day, it is still email, and my position is that whilst any improvement in the management of ones email load is important, we need to be shifting away from email at a personal and organisational level.
      • Too many browser tabsMy other small concern is that I find ‘web mail’ in whatever format really difficult to manage – particularly when shifting from web research to mail or and back again.  I mentioned this on Twitter yesterday and the advice was to use pinned browser tabs or even a separate browser altogether.  However, I find that what works best for me (and for many users I meet) is a separate app for email/calendar/to-dos (that’s currently Mailbox/BusyCal/Todoist in my world, but could be Notes or Outlook), even if this is just a lightweight container that renders the web views (think of MailPlane for GMail).  I’d love to hear how IBM plans to deal with this for its own internal users – will all 300,000+ IBM mail users be expected to have a browser tab open all day for them to access their mail?
      • On the other hand, IBM Connections Next looked awesome, really really great.  The new Verse-inspired UI looked fantastic, and is a credit to IBM’s renewed focus on ‘design-thinking’.  In addition, the features that Luis Benitez demonstrated were really well received – not least the new and reimagined Homepage and Community Overview elements.  We also heard of many planned enhancements to the IBM Connections Cloud SaaS platform – primarily to bring it up to feature parity with the on-premises release.  It’s clearly a case of further evolution rather than the revolution that we’re seeing in Verse, but given IBM’s position in the ESN space, that’s no surprise.  I really look forward to getting hold of some of the deeper-dive roadmap presentations to find out more. (One feature I am not keen but I know others will adore is that we’ll finally have full nested folders in Connections later this year!)
      • IBM plans to release a separate paid file sync tool based on Connections that will compete with Dropbox and Box.  This is another good step into the ‘general tech utility’ space – a tool that doesn’t require an entire enterprise to buy into it in order to return demonstrable value.
      • As far as I could tell from the Twitter coverage, there was very little mention of Notes, Domino (apart from it’s integration into BlueMix) or Sametime in the OGS.  I’m sure that this will disappoint many, but surprise few.
    • There was one significant omission as far as I am concerned:
      • Slack iconOne of the major stories of the past year has been the rise and rise of Slack and it’s contemporaries in the Social Communications space.  These lightweight mobile chat platforms have rapidly grown in scope and popularity, and it’s now very unusual for me to meet a customer that doesn’t have at least one of these tools in use in a department or job function around the business. It’s not just Slack either – think of Hipchat (from Atlassian), Flowdock and Hall, all of which are doing well.  Also, Cisco has launched Webex Project Squared, and Jive is working on Chime, both of which will compete in this area.  All have dynamic mobile apps and most have lightweight desktop apps for OS X and Windows.  I’m seeing these platforms compete with (and beat) solutions in both the ESN and IM categories.
      • In the IBM world, we’re still looking at the complex Sametime platform on-premises, or the more limited (though still complex) hosted variant.  To get efficient persistent group chat functionality you would need Sametime Advanced.  At the client level, we’re working with the 1 gigabyte (!) install that is the Eclipse-based rich client.
      • I am surprised that we didn’t hear IBM responding to this threat with either a completely new cloud-based Social Communications platform, or else a substantial commitment to to improve IM and group chat in the Connections Cloud solution.
    • As always, it sounds as though the social side of the conference has been as spectacular as always.  People come and people go, but relationships built at previous events and maintained online tend to withstand change incredibly well.

As I stated at the top, all of the above has been gleaned from following the social media coverage and from speaking to trusted friends.  What do you think? Do I have it right, or have I misjudged the conference as far as you’re concerned?  I’d love to hear from you…

IBM ConnectED 2015

My two favourite #IBMConnectED tweets so far…

(I’d buy that shirt in an instant…)

Thanks to all at the conference that are sharing photos, tweets and posts. It’s making like much more bearable for those of us at home!

Sad Mat Newman

Missing Lotusphere (IBM ConnectED)

It’s about this time of year that thoughts in the IBM/Lotus community traditionally turn to Orlando, to the Dolphin & Swan hotels, and to IBM’s major collaboration and social business event of the year.

From Lotusphere to IBM Connect to this year’s IBM ConnectED, the name hasn’t mattered too much (I still think of it as the ‘Sphere), it was the technology and the people that made the event what it is.  Thousands of geeks and business folks alike, flocking to the same space every year to meet, greet, debate and innovate on topics near and dear to their hearts.

LotusphereFor me personally, it’s been an almost career-long fixture that has led from a couple of hops to Berlin for Lotusphere Europe, through to more than a decade of crossing the pond to Orlando for the real thing.  I was telling someone just last week that I’ve missed only two events since 2004. The first was in 2006 when I’d temporarily left the Lotus space to venture into other technologies. It was partly reading the news from the event whilst trying to get my head around HP OpenView systems management products that made me jump back into the Lotus partner space within a few months! Then in 2008, my employer decided at the last moment to cancel my ticket – the last straw in a long debate about the importance of collaboration technologies to their business.  Having handed in my notice, Lotusphere 2008 coincided with my first week of running my own business.

The Sphere is where I’ve met huge numbers of IBMers, colleagues and peers. Folks that started as business contacts bumped into in some corridor in the Dolphin, whom I now consider very very close friends – a significant part of the narrative of my adult life.

So why this post?

As most of you will be aware, IBM ConnectED takes place next week in the Swan Hotel.  More technical, more intimate, smaller and less glamorous this time, but still part of the two-decade long history of this great gathering. It will have a different feel for sure, but I have no doubt that enough of the familiar events, locations, features and faces will be present to make it a hugely fun and informative week.

Sadly, it will also likely be the final ‘Sphere event.  The IBM contract is up at the Dolphin and Swan, and as I’ve previously blogged, IBM’s focus seems to be on very large consolidated events in Las Vegas for the future. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing by the way, just that it will be different.

So, it’s the last ‘Sphere, I’ll be there, right?  Nope. Not this time.

There’s a few reasons while I’ll be missing it:

  • The most important is that I promised my wife Philippa that I wouldn’t do it again this year. Almost every January since the kids were very small, I’ve left her to look after the brood for an entire week whilst I had fun and did business in the Floridian sun (at the time of my first Orlando trip in 2004, Philippa was 5 months pregnant with our youngest, and was already looking after three under-7s!).  This at a a time of year when things are most difficult for those of us that are self-employed – Christmas and New Year eat into our potential billable days, and then we take another week out to head to Orlando, whilst usually paying $2-4000 for the privilege!  I would hate to add up what the lost earnings and expenses add up to over the time I’ve attended – that wouldn’t be a happy number.  The ‘Sphere has been an enormous sacrifice for my family and this was the year when it needed to end…
  • The fostering that I spoke about at the NerdGirl Sparks session last year has now well and truly kicked in, and we’re about to have another little person move in this week. This alone would make it almost impossible to attend this time around.
  • My business is less IBM-centric now. This has been a trend for the past few years, but has accelerated since last summer. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still working with IBM Connections, but I’m spending as much (if not more) time on Jive, Tibbr and Yammer (amongst many others) as I am on Connections.  Certainly, Notes, Domino and Sametime (or Verse even) are a long way from my focus area these days.

So, for all those that do congregate in Orlando next week, I wish you the very very best time!

Enjoy the beach soccer, the Mai Tais, BALD on the Boardwalk, the ESPN, the Dolphin bar, karaoke in Kimonos, homebrews by the pool, Mat Newman hugs, the pretzel cookies, all of it.  Party like it’s still 1999 and there’s almost 10,000 people there.  Raise a glass to all those that have been a part of ‘Sphere tradition.

TWiL in the RotundaMost of all, just for me, please close out the ‘Sphere at 4am in the Dolphin Rotunda with the style that it is accustomed to (you could even record a podcast to commemorate the moment)!

I’ll miss you, Lotusphere.

POODLE in the repeat

POODLE in the repeat

Lately we have heard a lot of POODLE I have already blogged about it twice here and here at But there is much more to tell about it so that the reason I am creating this article.

Nowadays when we talk about POODLE we have to specify which one (to make things easier 🙂 ). Nowadays we have POODLE SSLv3 and POODLE TLS. The one we call POODLE SSLv3 bites IBM Connections the most but POODLE TLS is easier to exploit. So for environments which are connected to the internet I advise you to be sure that both variants of POODLE are not exploitable at your implementation.

I will try to describe both variants in detail and how it/they can be solved. Lets first start with POODLE SSL v3


The news about this first POODLE exploit was brought to the world as a major problem while in fact the problem wasn’t that big if you ask me. The problem itself was there where still site’s out there who did support SSLv3. SSLv3 has shown in the past that it isn’t sufficient anymore as a secure protocol. I will try to describe why I think it wasn’t really such big news as it was brought by all news agencies. Normally when a clients connect to a server the clients tells the server the highest secure protocol it supports (this is what is generally is called  the ClientHello package). Within this ClientHello package the clients also send also all cipher suites (these cipher suites are the real data encryption packages) it supports for that version of SSL/TLS. The server then responds with 3 things ServerHello and Certificate and ServerHelloDone messages. Within the ServerHello message the server will send the protocol it is gonna use. This is decided on the protocol version send in the ClientHello message and the highest version the server supports. So for the real world (which is kind of dependent on browser behavior and version) this means in general that TLS1.2 is used. But with the POODLE SSLv3 bug if both parties supported SSLv3 it was possible by the attacking code to force the connection down from TLS1.2 to SSLv3 (with all the intermediate protocols because you can always fall back only one version at a time). So when this happens a user would still see it has a secure connection but it is over SSLv3 (and not the most sucre possible way between server and client as they bot did support TLSv1.2). The cipher suites used in SSLv3 are all general seen as insecure (only RC4 seems to be the most secure one) and fairly easy to decrypt unintentionally. So as you can see POODLE SSLv3 wasn’t the real problem if you ask me ! but that the server (and or client) still supported SSLv3 was the real problem :-). I added a screenshot to show how that traffic flows between the client and the server so you have and idea what happens on the network to build a SSL/TLS connection.


With IBM Connections we always had to enable the HTTP server with SSLv3 because the code within IBM Connections was still making use of SSLv3 calls to itself. The reason for that is that in the code they made use for example with code like this SSLContext.getInstance(“SSL”). Within the IBM JDK JSSE interface this SSL Keyword translated to make use of SSLv3. This was basically a combination of 2 problems , one that they still used a bit of outdated code within IBM Connections binaries , and also of the JSSE implementation in the IBM JDK that the keyword SSL still translated to make use of SSLv3. As said and stated by me, SSLV3 shouldn’t be used already for many years if you ask me 🙂

Well for IBM Connections we have a solution now (luckily) I will talk about that a bit later in the article.


The original attacking method of POODLE was made so that they made use of the padding bytes. Within SSLv3 nobody (wel thats a assumption) did a check on those padding bytes. Within the TLS specification it is specified to check on those padding bytes but most of the implementations out there didn’t do that (which makes the officially incompatible with the TLS’s RFC’s but okay 🙂 ) . So that makes TLS connections which make use of CBC cipher’s also vulnerable when they don’t check those padding bytes (and the funny thing about this is that most of the devs creating these encrypting/decrypting libararies still used the old functions/implementations within their code base which didn’t check those padding bytes). The IBM HTTP Server (IHS) which makes use of gskit for the data encrypting/decrypting part functionality of the SSL/TLS implementation where the rest of the world makes use of OpenSSL. So in the case of the IBM World we need to make sure if the CBC encrypting/decrypting routine checks on those padding bytes. Well I can tell you that older version of those gskit didn’t do that and are vulnerable to those POODLE on TLS attacks also.

But also for that there is a solution where I talk about a bit later in this article.

Solution POODLE SSLv3

Well as explained above there are 2 ways how this could have been solved. IBM did choose to fix it on the IBM JDK side instead of the original problem, the code itself. To solve it on the IBM JDK side we have to install a Interim Fix on top of WebSphere which updates the IBM JDK so that the SSL Keyword doesn’t force a SSLv3 connection anymore but a TLS connection. For the different IBM Connections version I will list the Interim Fixes needed.

For IBM Connections 3.0.1 and and 4 you have to apply iFix PI28934
For IBM Connections 4.5 you have to apply PI29575
For IBM Connections 5.0 you have to apply PI28920 or PI28437

The strange thing is that for IBM Connections 5 (which is running on WebSphere 8.5.5.x) we have 2 iFixes available. Personally I have tried to use PI28920 and couldn’t get that iFix to work but I got some reaction from IBM Connections community (for instance from Klaus Bild) that they where able to use to iFix to get SSLv3 switched off. I personally have used PI28437 several times now with success. PI28437 (SDK6 (J9 2.6) SR8 FP1) also installs a newer version of the JAVA SDK then the PI28920 (SDK6 (J9 2.6) SR7 FP1) so my advice is to make use of the PI28437 iFix instead of the PI28920

After you have installed this iFix you can safely disable SSLv3 on your IHS (IBM HTTP Server). This can be done with the SSLProtocolDisable SSLv3 in your vHost configuration part of the config file(default httpd.conf) for your IHS.


As described above also the gskit implementation has some problems regarding the checking of the padding bytes. To tell the gskit implementation that we want a strict checking on those padding bytes we have to add the following setting
SSLAttributeSet 471 1 to the config file (default httpd.conf) to all VHOST sections which have SSLEnable in them. This setting can only be applied to the following IHS versions.

  • or later
  • or later
  • or later

For other release version which can not be upgraded, for whatever reason, to the above specified versions you can install any of the following iFixes as what I understood from this technote to make use of this SSLAttributeSet 471 1 setting.

  • PI17025
  • PI05309
  • PI08502
  • PI09443
  • PI13422
  • PI19700
  • PI26894

So I hope this makes everthing a bit more clear in the POODLE jungle out there 🙂

If you have any addition to this story please let me know so I will update the article.

BBC: New social network aimed at improving education (IBM Connections)

This is terrific – a BBC Click article discussing how IBM is help local education institutions to evaluate the use of social platforms and analytics to assist students to learn:

IT company IBM and Brockenhurst College in the UK have created a private social network to help give staff a better understanding of their students and tailor lessons to them.

Students can use the system to find out more information about their course, watch videos and chat with others at a sister college in China.

The network can also monitor social media – with consent – to see if students might be underperforming or struggling.

The solution features IBM Connections.

Check the BBC article to view a short overview video (hopefully available worldwide), those in the UK can watch the full programme.


Establishing and maintaining a social identity: four to follow, four to avoid!

Here are my four standards for creating and maintaining a positive identity or brand online…


  • Be yourself.
  • Be original.
  • Be authentic.
  • Demonstrate integrity.

That’s not in any way meant to suggest that I get it right all the time – I realise my weaknesses and mistakes. However I do have this list on the wall in my office and regularly glance at it to evaluate if I’m holding true to my values.

Here are four opposing behaviours that I consider to break my standards above…

  • Telling others what to share.
  • Sharing verbatim a list of pre-written content that someone else has supplied.
  • Subscribing to services that automate delivery of others’ content to your social channels.
  • Solely sharing content that reflects your employer’s marketing brand.

If you’re doing one or more of the above, please consider whether it reflects well on your own personal identity or that of the brand you or your company wish to promote.

I firmly believe that in the long run, repeatedly demonstrating these behaviours will harm rather than enhancing the success of your efforts.

IBM FileNet (CCM) and soccnx

Last 2 days (13 & 14 November) the most important User Group for the IBM Connections world has been held in Stockholm in Sweden called “Social Connections”. I attended this event and it was a perfectly organized event once again ! On this event I meet several people who have asked me the following question,

Can I easily change the place where are my files get stored by IBM Connections.

What the questioner’s mean with this question is the so called shared data drive within IBM Connections.
The Answer to this question is YES. But the documentation isn’t really completely clear about it. For all the basic applications being delivered with IBM Connections it can be quite easily be solved and that’s by just renaming the directory and then update the WebSphere variables which where pointing to the old directory (there are lots so closely look you get them all !). and you should be finished for the basic IBM Connections applications.

For CCM (Connections Content Manager) its a bit different. CCM is based on IBM FileNet and the storage path of FileNet is actually being configured within FileNet itself. Within IBM FileNet you have a configuration item called “FileNet P8 domains” within the CCM implementation this domain is called “ICDomain”. So we have to go to the ACCE console (Administration Console for Content Platform Engine) you can access this console on the address https://<FQHN>/acce and you have to login with your connections admin user ID. With this admin application you have to click on the “ICDomain” and the Click on the category “Object Stores” and the click the IBM Connections specific called objectstore called “ICObjectStore”. It will open an extra TAB now with all the configuration items for the ObjectStore which is specific for IBM Connections. Within the configuartion of the ObjectStore click on the category “Administrative” and then “”Storage Areas”. Here you have a configuration item called “Root directory path” which points to the directory which is the root for the IBM Connections ObjectStore. Change that property value to the new directory where you want to store the data and stop and start the FileNet environment. Now you should be able to download your old documents again from your libraries within IBM Connections.

Please let me know if this was of any value for you as reader.


Stop sending me attachments! Part 3: but how?

So after exploring the reasons why users still send e-mail (part 1) and trying to analyse the reasons why people have not changed their ways and how products have not helped the people either (part 2). In this third and last part of the essay present six idea’s to fix the fact that people don’t just change easily. The ideas explored are technology driven idea’s that will help users to change habits effortlessly.

So where do we go with this?

Let’s innovate to close the gap now…

Finally, it’s time to present the six ideas that I think we need to fix the problem. Let try to close the gap between the future state and the current situation. The gap currently lacking typically in siloed products and inter-vendor integrations. Because let’s be honest there is no such digital space that is “perfect” but we can try and bridge that gap for end-users by iterating now.

Warning: The ideas are described using an end-user perspective. Not worrying about products limits or feature lack. They just describe what we need to close that gap.

Idea 1: Stop sending me attachments…

So the most common task that people do to collaborate is to send each other files. Of course we want them to use Connections Files. But the practical situation is that people don’t change their ways and still use attachments. So instead of trying to change the people, let’s just change the behavior of the mail client to help the end user. Every time a user clicks the “paperclip” to attach a file to a e-mail, the file attachment gets uploaded to Connections Files (or even just pick a file from his personal files). The user does not worry about “rights” to the file, so instead all receivers get access to the file automagically.

To make the user experience as seamless as possible we mimic the principle of sending an e-mail  with a file attachment as closely as possible. So this means, if a file is attached, then the file is upload to Connections Files and a link is inserted into the mail instead. All recipients of the mail should automatically have access in editor mode to the attached file (no matter if that’s to, cc or bcc).

If an e-mail is sent outside the company’s boundaries, then the mail client (or infrastructure) will detect that and it should insert a unique link so that receiving users can fetch the file from the Connections Files implementation. By using unique links for each external recipient you can later on even see how picked up the file and who did not. The unique link to the shared file makes so that it can be fetched WITHOUT the need to login. This way to the sending and receiving users its the same as sending an attachment through e-mail.

Dialogue should be kept to an absolute minimum. All files that are attached this way are put in a separate folder, called “Attached Files” or something like that. So users can later see what files they have sent to others, separate from My Files.

Ps. if you think that the Connections Mail plugin actually already did this, you are wrong. It’s broken, a link is inserted, but the “rights” to the file need to be modified manually. So users get frustrated and stop using it 🙁

Idea 2: All incoming e-mails with attachments are converted to “Connections Files”

Any incoming email is automatically analyzed and attachments will be turned into links on the boundary. Files are automatically uploaded to the Connections Files repository. Users that receive the e-mail within the company’s firewall will get an email with links to the Files in the Connections Files repository. Stop sending me attachments remember. All receivers of the me-ail will be owners of the file, since the mail was sent to them, they own the file.

All files are always put in a user folder, called “Attached Files”.

Idea 3: Seamless integration between Office and Links to Documents

Currently if you have links to files in emails most people will launch a word processing client that uses the web http links to fetch the file and open it. This causes a very bad user-experience for the end user. There is no seamless integration between Office and documents stored in Connections Files. The idea is to change the behavior of the workplace. So that if the e-mail client opens a Web link that points to a “file” in the Connections Files repository. It always opens through the “Connections Desktop Connector” seamless for the user. When the users is done he can simply save the file back to the “Storage locations”. The result will be a more seamless experience. This would be a way better experience than through the http Web interface which is scaring people away.

Idea 4: Improved plugin within Notes to Connections Files and CCM

So in the real world of mixed environments we live in, we will have files in e-mail and links in e-mail files. But people want to have order. Add stuff to folders. With CCM (Quickr) and Notes Connections Files Sidebar plugins you can drag and drop files in nested folders. This helps people a lot to organize. They still want to move their files around and order them. Users want to put attachments into folders (Files) or even nested folders (CCM). From the Notes client it should be possible to drag and drop files into folders or CCM folders. AND a links should be left behind in the e-mails (when removing attachments from mail).

So users can find the file that was moved out of the e-mail. And in cases where files are still attached (old school) to e-mail it can seamlessly be moved into the folder, a link is inserted in the mail object, and the attachments are removed from the e-mail object itself. In all scenarios links are inserted, so a user can later read his e-mail and find the file that way (never forget: old habits die hard).

Idea 5: Forwarding e-mail with attachments

When a user forwards a e-mail with attachment(s) then the mail client should simply re-share the file using the Connections API, this way an user can even track the sharing of his file. The true power of sharing is knowing who files are shared with, even when mails are forward outside the IBM platform you could still track the fact that mail is shared. An user can also track the downloads of his file that was sent to external users this way, even have policies disabling the downloads.

Idea 6: Ditch and remove the whole option of attachments from e-mail clients (i.e. Notes)

So the most radical idea is to not “fix” something that is fundamentally broken, the whole idea of attachments is about sending documents around through a communication channel is flawed. At the time of inception there was nothing better around. So way back it made sense to send e-mails with attachment(s). So even though idea #1 fixes the way of sharing a document by putting it in a centralized place we should make users even think more. Remember the title: Stop sending me attachments!

Why not simply remove the option to “send” files or links? Just remove the option. That way people have to think again about how to communicate with others. Finally they might start to consider the sharing of documents by themselves. Put knowledge in a wiki or write up a report as a blog and share it more openly, instead of sending tasks via  e-mail. People just might start using Activities to get their jobs done and communicate tasks with others, instead of dropping an e-mail that needs decoding by the receiver (bad habits die hard).

If the future state is a more holistic view on collaboration platforms, then ESN and e-mail should just melt and become a purposeful platform. You should be able to reply from within an e-mail (on any e-mail client) and the ecosystem should just make sure your “response” is put in the right place (a comment field, a reply to a status update, etc.).

Let’s iterate to the future…

Close the gapSo why this now? The future is bright, but is it not always that bright? Would we want to go forward if the future was bad? So I am a realistic optimist, we need to start to iterate. To take baby steps. It’s not just tools, it is also about people who need to change, too. But that takes time. In the mean time,  it should become easier to collaborate. It should be a goal to break the unnatural boundaries of the current products out in the marketplace (and yes, I dream of looking beyond the “one” supplier). The current boundaries make it hard to see how this will end up.

So let’s make an effort to fix what can be fixed first, and in that try to walk toward the future state where people work effortlessly in a purposeful way and get the things done they need to get done in the most efficient way possible.

Oh, and stop sending me attachments, please!

Stop sending me attachments!! Part 2: the analysis…

So there are many reasons why people have their habits (part 1), not least in the product they use in their daily work life. So in part 2 I will explore the technology angle and look for causes why tools are the way they are and why a seamless integrated platform is harder then it looks.

The idea of seamless and effortless integration of products…

So while this is happening the quasi religious war is being fought. People are searching for purposeful ways to work. Can we make tools that help them to just be more collaborative? Can we make it so that people don’t need to change habits? That culture can adapt to the new ways? Can the tools facilitate the old habits and ways? And at the same time, create a simple cross over to the new and more efficient ways of working?

So let’s start with some simple facts:

  • People do use documents to “solidify” knowledge.
  • Most people live in their email client and send word/excel documents as attachments.
  • Products are NOT integrated well.
  • Adaptors and plugins are just NOT helping enough.
  • People have habits that work for them and habits are hard to change.

Seamless IntegrationIn case of IBM Connections and IBM Notes this is clearly the case. But that’s not unique in the marketplace, by the way! Products have been dealt with by different groups. Notes is a 25 year old product and on the other hand Connections is just 7 years old (ok, the roots of the products can be traced to internal projects, but still). So it’s not weird that the products have their own ways and create their own habits. And believe me e-mail is not dead, not by a long shot. So over time other mail clients appeared in the marketplace, like Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Hotmail and Apple Mail. All in all THE most common way to collaborate is through e-mail and documents. For both within organizations and beyond, it’s simply the least common denominator in most cases. Collaboration based on e-mail has run into many issues over the years and fixed them. The standards lack precision so there are issues between technology implementations. e-Mail is still not secure from end user to end user after 25 years+.  Attachments get bounced because of size. Calendar items are handled differently by everyone. This causes lots of problems in everyday worklife. Who has not dealt with calendar problems, file size issues (it’s just too big) and security worries (viruses and unencrypted mail traffic)?

That said, e-mail is still one of the best use cases of product evolution. Some e-mail clients have added features on top of features for many years now. They have become truly amazing information processing products. Integrated with calendaring, task management and contacts databases.

But lets go back a step. In the last 10 or so years we have seen the arrival of new collaboration solutions that augment e-mail and are “more” social. They create places where people can work on documents online, co-create and share knowledge with others. And yet, these new products do not integrate well (not being by the same father or even the same family). At best “notifications” are sent into the old-and-trusted mailbox of the user. The notifications try to get them to come over to the more collaborative space where they can collaborate on a document. But the products are still siloed, each having their own space. It’s the innovator dilemma happening in real life, since the old products still make money and people are used to them. While the new products have not disrupted the marketplace enough to truly replace e-mail at this point. This causes the situation where their is a multitude of solutions to for users to choose from on how to collaborate.

The e-mail client is changing, hopefully for the better. At least that is what the signs in the marketplace is, Microsoft, Google and IBM are all looking for better ways of doing e-mail. IBM has a project called Mail.Next… Google is working on the next generation Inbox. So everyone in the marketplace is trying to reinvent e-mail. No believe me, the future is upon us. So why worry? All the issues will be fixed in the Cloud Service or Startup Innovation or New App or the Next version of the same product…

Somehow we (=enterprise users) feel left behind. The on-premise customers. Even when there is a product release. We work and slave for another 9-12 months before we can help our end users to make a next step. In reality of our workplace it will take another 2 years before we can reap the benefits of the IBM Mail.Next initiative. And even Google is cautious to just replace their old and trusted Gmail product with the new Inbox, so this innovator of cloud is not moving as fast as you might expect.

So what do we as users want? We want to see evolution in small steps and at a faster pace. While the products are being reinvented, we want to see the the gaps closed now in anticipation of the future convergence of products into “collaboration platforms” that can support purposeful collaboration and do actually integrate seamlessly over product and vendor boundaries.

In the last part I will present ideas that try to innovate and iterate the products and platforms use to get our job done. Ideas that make technology help users to change habits in an effortless way.

Stop sending me attachments!!


Picture of Robert van den BreemenBefore I begin, let’s first introduce myself. My name is Robert van den Breemen. I am working as an Enterprise IT Architect for over 15 years in a large Dutch government department. I am passionate about technology and the effect it has on the way people work. As the lead in the Digital Workspace Initiative that tries to enable users to do their work in a modern way I have seen and experienced first hand what technology-enablement means and how resistant people and organizations are to change. That leads me to exploration of the causes and present some ideas for improvements that will hopefully inspire change in technology. Simply because there is bright future ahead of us.


An essay on seamless cross integration between mail client and social platform(s)

In this essay (in three parts) I am going to explore the topic by creating a context and give my analysis of the situation. I will paint a picture of the reasons why people are not as efficient as they could be. I will explore what is probably going on in large enterprises. Which finally leads me to some new ideas why seamless cross integration of products is way more important than tons of new features in product and platforms.  

So one of the use cases that seems to be ignored in the collaboration space is the fact that sharing files and documents is done through e-mail as often as before. Even though Connections Files is a great way to share Files and Documents around it’s not done as much as you would expect. So let’s look at the root causes of this problem and why do people not change their behavior.

Some causes that we have seen within our deployment of Notes and Connections:

  1. People just are not used to Connections Files, they find it hard to use.
  2. People are used (habit) to putting their files in the mail and sending it to end-users.
  3. People are getting e-mails from the outside world as attachments.
  4. People still have their files on local disks and network shares, and drag and drop files into their e-mail.
  5. e-Mail is still the most common way to share stuff around to other people, to collaborate.
  6. People still think knowledge is power and they need to hoard and protect their content.
  7. Notes Mail and Connections Files are NOT integrated, it takes changes in one’s habits and workflow changes that are harder then just dragging and dropping.
  8. People live on file sharing, Office products and mail clients, not in browsers and Web pages.
  9. People are hard to convince to use yet another platform.
  10. People have their files and knowledge live in many places, mailboxes, Dropbox, file sharing, cloud drives, teamrooms, and… and…
  11. People send stuff to the outside world, then having stuff in Connections Files does not help.  So drop it into an e- mail, and off you go.
  12. People don’t know anymore where their stuff is opened, so e-mail with attachments might be opened on mobile devices, on android, on ipad or iphones or a Web client. Or even sent to an external user with Google Mail or Outlook mail client, or Apple Mail. It should all just work.

Email badgeWhen you ask adoption consultants what the problem is most of them will tell you that it’s a training and habit problem. So you just need to educate people more, teach them where  to do their tasks more efficiently and how to collaborate more efficiently. Thus the movement of “Zero eMail”. But lots of tasks still happen in e-mail and people just  have plain bad habits. But to be honest, the tools to communicate and collaborate don’t help you… In the last 5 years we have seen more and more options to collaborate to work differently. And yes, we just gave people yet another option to worry about, we added a channel, we called it a “social platform” (Connections). So basically we just added one more channel to their daily work habits. What do you think, did that help? It depends, it all depends on who you ask.

There are the true believers. We call them evangelists. People who truly believe that the way to go is to leave email behind and start working as a connected company. They will tell you that email is inefficient and that you have to change your ways. They show you convincing examples of how to change your ways. They create the 7 habits of highly effective people without e-mail. And they are right, of course. In a way we can be more efficient by working in a more open and connected platform, where people collaborate more openly, where you work together online in real time on a document, instead Danger Religious Warsof exchanging e-mails with individuals, fragmenting the discussions. You can involve your whole team, they can all see and comment on work items (aka documents). Thus you build on each other’s knowledge (like standing on the shoulders of giants). Clearly this is better. Its potential is clear. So people try. Some convert and will become believers as well. The believers will always try to work in the new way. Use the tools of their new beliefs. Even though it’s not always easy to follow along this path…

However in the meantime there are the haters too. They believe there is nothing wrong with their ways. They have worked this way for many many many years. Even though they can see some benefits in the way of the believers. They also see the flaws. They notice that the products are different. The ways of working are more open. You could easily see flaws. People make mistakes. So it boils down that these people resist. And start hating what the believers are telling them. They will resist the change that is happening. At every chance they will point out the flaws in the new way of working and the new tools. Some even believe that it might work, but point out that there is a whole other religion. It’s similar but another church and their ways and tools are just more appealing. They work better, smoother and have been around just as long. And that church copies some of the features, but improves upon them.

The truth is that the majority of people within an enterprise is caught somewhere in between the lines. They yet don’t see the benefits of the new ways of working and don’t understand the new tools. In fact, they just need to get their work done and want to get out of the office in time. They are just overwhelmed with the all the new functions and old options they are used to. They don’t want to change, it’s working just fine. They just want to be productive and get their work done. Of course they want to collaborate. Most work in teams anyway, so they have worked that way, right? Over the years the tools keep changing over and over again.  And the collaboration is done by groups of people. So even if the individual believes there are better ways, there is still the bigger group that needs to change their ways. In the mean time the world is changing in an increasingly faster pace, with mobile and cloud introducing new options daily, it seems.

Culture eats...So this is the context of most enterprise organizations that have started down the route to become a more social or a more connected enterprise. Some start with a clear vision of a more collaborative future of the work environment, where people can collaborate seamlessly with others, where leadership recognizes that they need to differentiate themselves from their competitors. There are different strategies to reach those goals of course. But as we all know culture eats strategy for lunch. In large organizations it is very hard to change culture . Strong leadership is needed. But even if you have strong leadership and a great vision of the future, even if that’s there that’s not a recipient for success. Why? Well leadership changes. The change of culture is difficult. The payoff takes a while. Value is not immediately apparent. People resist change. And tools are flawed. But, but, but, in time this will all be fixed. If we just switch to a tool that works? Or it will work the tools will become better and work seamlessly. Tools are simple to change, it is just the technology. And then people will see the benefit in the end and start working differently. And while this is all happening around us, people suffer. They are faced with an ever growing multitude of tools and choices. Choices they have to make. People have become the “integrators” between all the tools for their new way of working. And most enterprises fail to implement this better future effortlessly. Simply because you need long term leadership in place and that’s not the way most companies are built. It’s about short term and immediate return.

But what if we can incrementally change and grow slowly toward a better future? In the next part of this essay I will explore why products don’t help as much as they could…

IBM’s Potemkin Prosperity

A mighty post from Steve Denning on, detailing his perspective on IBM’s current situation.

You need to read the full article, which is pretty damning in places.  However, rather than pick on some of the negatives, I’ll take this more positive extract from the end of the piece:

IBM needs to build on its strengths. IBM was once a great company that respected and rewarded its employees and served its communities and society.  It’s a company that still has the power to change the world if only it would choose to.

Yet it’s hard to see how it can accomplish this with the current management team or the current board and their obsolete management philosophy. It has been evident for some time that IBM has been heading down the wrong path. Why did they just watch and not act? According to Nick Summers at Bloomberg BusinessWeek, IBM’s leadership has been “like a driver obeying the commands of a GPS system even as passengers shout that the car is clearly headed toward a ditch.”

It’s time to get back to Tom Watson Sr.’s philosophy of putting the customer first among stakeholders and earning a real living again, but in a very different context with a very different approach to management.

I firmly believe that IBM does have a future, and that some of the products that I’ve supported and worked with over the past decade will play a significant part.  However, there is little doubt that IBM does need to change direction and plot a new course over the next few months, just as it did under Lou Gerstner back in the Nineties.  I sincerely hope that ditching the 2015 Roadmap is just the first step in doing so.

IBM abandons 2015 Plan

International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) said it will no longer reach its earnings forecast for 2015, ditching a five-year profit goal as the company struggles to transform quickly enough to cope with an industrywide shift to the cloud-computing era.

IBM said it will provide an update on its 2015 projections in January, according to slides disclosed in a regulatory filing today. The shares tumbled as much as 9.3 percent in early trading.

More >

IBM ConnectED 2015 masthead

IBM ConnectED 2015 ‐ registration is open!

IBM ConnectED 2015 masthead

Our Full Conference pricing structure is easy and all-inclusive-the earlier you register, the more you save. The price for this conference pass includes four conference days, with breakfast and lunch Monday through Wednesday, and no add-on fees for anything other than certification testing.

Now until October 3rd, the fee is $1,595 USD. The early bird gets the best price! On October 4th, the fee will increase to $1,795 USD.

Register now >

Jive Transforming Traditional Intranets

Transforming traditional Intranets ‐ three places to focus

A really useful new whitepaper from Jive, authored by the always insightful Gia Lyons:

Many of today’s intranets are frustrating: Frustrating for employees to use, for content owners to govern, for IT to integrate, maintain and support. It’s time to modernize and mobilize. But, what should a modern, mobile intranet do and look like?

It boils down to three fundamental focal areas:

  1. delivering information and expertise seamlessly and securely across devices,
  2. giving people the tools to work better and faster and
  3. offering an open platform that integrates with a variety of systems people use across the company.

I break down each specific element of the modern intranet below.

Taking the reader through those focal areas in more detail, this 4-page whitepaper details some of the key characteristics of a next-generation intranet platform.

Whilst it is in no way surprising that Jive Software’s solutions deliver these characteristics better than most, this is a useful paper to share with colleagues to outline a vision for how a reimagined corporate intranet might deliver real business benefits.  The arguments are equally as valid for IBM-based solutions such as IBM Connections and IBM Connections Cloud (formerly IBM SmartCloud for Social Business).

Download >

[Originally posted on Jive News]

Ovum Research publishes ‘SWOT Assessment: IBM Connections Version 5.0 and IBM SmartCloud Connections’

Ovum Research ‘create tangible business advantage for our customers by providing actionable intelligence that can be relied upon in evaluating opportunities, benchmarking performance, and making better business-critical decisions.

In short, they research and analyse the IT industry, thus providing insight to their customers – usually commercial organisations looking to take strategic decisions on IT investments.

They’ve just published a new paper, entitled ‘SWOT Assessment: IBM Connections Version 5.0 and IBM SmartCloud Connections‘.  In it they analyse IBM’s solutions in the Social Business area – Connections and SmartCloudConnections, covering the following:

[titled_box title = “Report contents”]

Features and Benefits

  • Understand the business issues that IBM is trying to address with its file sync and share offering.
  • Learn about the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats pertaining to IBM Connections from an enterprise file sync and share perspective.

Key Questions Answered

  • Why consider IBM Connections / IBM SmartCloud Connections?
  • What are the key strengths and weaknesses of IBM Connections?

Sadly (though understandably) the report is only available to Ovum’s paying customers.  However, if your organisation is currently evaluating whether to deploy either of these products, I have no doubt that this research piece could be very useful purchase…

Experiences with IBM Connections 5

GIS blog logoI just wanted to quickly recommend a couple of posts from Julius Schwarzweller at German IBM business partner, GIS AG.

He was quick to get hold of the new IBM Connections 5.0 release and has been working with it for the past few weeks. He’s been kind enough to document his findings on a couple of blog posts, My experiences with IBM Connections 5 and My Experiences with IBM Connections 5 – Part 2.

In part 1, Julius discusses some of the details of installation and of configuring the new External Communities functionality.

In part 2,  he goes onto outline more of the features that have been added to the new release.

Well worth digesting if you’ll be looking to deploy Connections 5 in the near future!

Social Business App Dev Workshop: access IBM Connections development course materials at no cost

On occasion, IBM runs an excellent two day Social Business Application Development workshop, which takes users through the Social Business Toolkit SDK, and how it can be used to create applications that leverage IBM Connections content.

Sadly these workshops have not been scheduled yet in 2014. However, the course materials are available for free download from the IBM Greenhouse to be used on a self-paced basis:

SBT WorkshopThe Social Business Toolkit (SBT) SDK is a set of extensible tools and resources for developers who want to incorporate social capabilities into their applications and business processes. Social capabilities include features and functionality that tap into the power of social interactions, business networks, community-based problem solving, and more.

This two day workshop will demonstrate how to use the capabilities of the SBT SDK to integrate social data (from IBM Connections) into existing applications. In this workshop, you will learn how to install, configure, and begin using the SBT SDK. The development exercises in this workshop will cover topics such as the SBT SDK JavaScript and Java APIs, and how to build and deploy a SBT SDK J2EE application on WebSphere Application Server. You will also learn how to integrate into the IBM Connections Activity Stream and develop iWidgets.

Event highlights

  • Learn how to create your own social application development sandbox
  • Learn how to build socially enabled applications using the SBT SDK JavaScript and Java APIs
  • Learn how to build and deploy iWidgets
  • Learn how to integrate into the IBM Connections Activity Stream using OpenSocial and Embedded Experiences
  • Learn how to leverage existing IBM resources to build and promote your applications to clients

Materials: Social Business Application Development

This course is recommended for any developers that wish to utilise the SBT or bring social content into their own applications. Kudos to IBM for making this available to all…

Everything Connections: Australian IBM Connections user group pilot

Really pleased to hear that Adam Brown and the ISW team are kicking off a local IBM Connections user group in Australia:
[squeeze_box]Everything Connections

Is your organisation a social business, running on IBM Connections?

Want to learn from your peers in other businesses about how they use and obtain value from the platform and what’s in store for the next generation of IBM Connections? Want to open dialogue with like-minded colleagues and establish an ongoing user group in Australia?

Then this is the event for you!

As one of Australia’s leading IBM Premier Business Partners, we here at ISW figured there is a lot we can learn from each other. Rather than host a big bang event, we’re proposing to pull together a small group of like-minded people from Dulux, Incitec Pivot and Cochlear willing to share their experiences, for mutual benefit to all participants.

We’re inviting you to come and join us and help us all learn about Social Business together!



THURSDAY: Morning arrival. Kick off and 4 hrs of session and learning in the afternoon. Dinner with everyone at an awesome Hobart restaurant.
FRIDAY: 6 hrs of session and learning, leaving time enough for everyone to catch a flight home, or alternatively stay on and enjoy a weekend in Tasmania![/squeeze_box] Taking place on 17th/18th July, this sounds an exciting first event. Register now if you’re in the area…

[The event has been added to the event calendar on this site – check out the other IBM Connections-related events coming up soon!]

IBM Connections QuickSearch plugin for Google Chrome

Terrific find by Mat Newman this morning

Every now and again one comes across an awesome plugin that demonstrates some fantastic integration between day-to-day applications and IBM’s Connections collaboration platform. This one is a Connections search plugin for Chrome, and it’s awesome.

I’d agree – this is really great. I use the Chrome quick search functionality a lot, so this is a near perfect feature integration (though still some way short of the awesome Connections toolbar for Firefox in terms of overall functionality).

Developed by IBMer Romain Lienard, this plugin seems to have started as a tool for internal use (it supported only IBM’s W3 install of connections initially), but now can be configured for any Connections environment:

This extension let you search content within IBM Connections.

The IBM Connections QuickSearch plugin let you quickly search for users or content within IBM Connections and update your profile picture using your webcam or an existing picture.

Use the popup window in the upper right corner of chrome in order to search within Profiles (with type-ahead feature), Files, Forums and so on.

You can also use it directly from the URL navigation bar, by typing “ic” (without any quotes) following by a space then your query. Then press enter for a global search or arrow keys to reduce the scope.

Download it from the Chrome web store:

IBM Connections Quicksearch plugin for Chrome

I have it configured to search the Greenhouse right now, and it works like a charm.  Great work Romain (and nice find Mat!)

IBM Connections 5.0 has shipped! Here’s what you need to download…

connections_bulletAs promised by Luis Benitez at Social Connections VI in Prague, IBM Connections 5.0 shipped on Thursday 26th June 2014.  Congratulations to all the team for getting it out of the door on schedule!

On that day, it became available for download from Passport Advantage (for customers with an entitlement to install it, plus current maintenance) and Partnerworld (for partners that have purchased either the Value Package or Software Access Option).  Through trial and error on Partnerworld, the best search string I’ve found is “ibm connections v5.0”. This gets  matched to “IBM Connections V5.0 for IBM Connections Suite V5.0 Multiplatform Multilingual eAssembly” – however, cancel that and just let the search operate on the string you’ve added.  These are the eAssemblies that come back:

IBM Connections 5.0 eAssemblies

(If you are searching through Passport Advantage, you will only see the eAssemblies you are entitled to download).

In most situations you will need:

IBM Connections V5.0 Multiplatform Multilingual eAssembly (CRS4IML)

IBM Connections 5.0 eAssembly

This includes the following images:

IBM Connections V5.0 Quick Start Guide for AIX, Windows, Linux, IBMi Multilingual (CIYQ4ML) – 1Mb
IBM Connections V5.0 for Windows Multilingual (CIYQ5ML) – 1,495Mb
IBM Connections V5.0 for AIX Multilingual (CIYQ6ML) – 1,613Mb
IBM Connections V5.0 for Linux Multilingual (CIYQ7ML) – 1,576Mb
IBM Connections V5.0 Linux for System z Multilingual (CIYQ8ML) – 1,520Mb
IBM Connections V5.0 Wizard for Windows Multilingual (CIYQ9ML) – 338Mb
IBM Connections V5.0 Wizard for Linux, AIX Multilingual (CIYR0ML) – 560Mb
IBM Connections V5.0 Cognos Wizard for Windows Multilingual (CIYR3ML) – 1,579Mb
IBM Connections V5.0 Cognos Wizard for AIX Multilingual (CIYR4ML) – 1,200Mb
IBM Connections V5.0 Cognos Wizard for Linux Multilingual (CIYR6ML) – 1,039Mb
IBM Connections V5.0 Cognos Wizard for System z Multilingual (CIYR5ML) – 951Mb

As usual with IBM Connections downloads, this eAssembly contains the bare minimum of downloads for each server type – though as you can see, the “bare minimum” is 3.3GB+ for Windows for example!

To be able to install IBM Connections 5.0, you’ll also need these elements as discussed in the System Requirements document:

Sadly there is no eAssembly that contains all of these component parts (at least on Partnerworld) for those that are solely licensed for Connections (and not Connections Suite or Domino for example) so you’ll need to seek them out individually. For the two most common platforms (Windows and Linux 64), here are the part numbers:

Windows 64-bit:

IBM DB2 Enterprise Server Edition V10.1 for Windows on AMD64 and EM64T systems (x64) Multilingual (CI6WEML) – 933Mb (if using DB2)
IBM DB2 10.1 Enterprise Server Edition – Restricted Use Quick Start and Activation Multiplatform Multilingual (CI71NML)– 2Mb (ditto)
IBM WebSphere Application Server Network Deployment V8.5.5 (1 of 3) for Multiplatform Multilingual (CIK2HML) – 1,005Mb
IBM WebSphere Application Server Network Deployment V8.5.5 (2 of 3) for Multiplatform Multilingual (CIK2IML) – 975Mb
IBM WebSphere Application Server Network Deployment V8.5.5 (3 of 3) for Multiplatform Multilingual (CIK2JML) – 860Mb
IBM WebSphere Application Server Network Deployment V8.5.5-Liberty Profile Multiplatform, Multilingual (CIMU2ML) – 107Mb
IBM WebSphere Application Server V8.5.5 Supplements (1 of 3) for Multiplatform Multilingual (CIK1VML) – 931Mb
IBM WebSphere Application Server V8.5.5 Supplements (2 of 3) for Multiplatform Multilingual (CIK1WML) – 1,007Mb
IBM WebSphere Application Server V8.5.5 Supplements (3 of 3) for Multiplatform Multilingual (CIK1XML) – 952Mb
IBM Tivoli Directory Integrator Identity Edition V7.1 for Windows x86-64, Multilingual (CZ9MKML) – 521Mb

Linux 64-bit:

IBM DB2 Enterprise Server Edition V10.1 for Linux on AMD64 and Intel® EM64T systems (x64) Multilingual (CI6W6ML) – 1,188Mb (if using DB2)
IBM DB2 10.1 Enterprise Server Edition – Restricted Use Quick Start and Activation Multiplatform Multilingual (CI71NML)– 2Mb (ditto)
IBM WebSphere Application Server Network Deployment V8.5.5 (1 of 3) for Multiplatform Multilingual (CIK2HML) 
– 1,005Mb
IBM WebSphere Application Server Network Deployment V8.5.5 (2 of 3) for Multiplatform Multilingual (CIK2IML) – 975Mb
IBM WebSphere Application Server Network Deployment V8.5.5 (3 of 3) for Multiplatform Multilingual (CIK2JML) – 860Mb
IBM WebSphere Application Server Network Deployment V8.5.5-Liberty Profile Multiplatform, Multilingual (CIMU2ML) – 107Mb
IBM WebSphere Application Server V8.5.5 Supplements (1 of 3) for Multiplatform Multilingual (CIK1VML) – 931Mb
IBM WebSphere Application Server V8.5.5 Supplements (2 of 3) for Multiplatform Multilingual (CIK1WML) – 1,007Mb
IBM WebSphere Application Server V8.5.5 Supplements (3 of 3) for Multiplatform Multilingual (CIK1XML) – 952Mb
IBM Tivoli Directory Integrator Identity Edition V7.1.1 for Linux – x86-64, Multilingual (CZUF3ML) – 554Mb

Depending on your installation infrastructure, you may also need downloads for:

IBM Forms Experience Builder v8.5.0.1 (various)
EditLive! v5.0 for Connections Multiplatform Multilingual (CIZP3ML) – 15Mb
IBM Data Server Client V10.1 (various)
IBM Data Server Runtime Client V10.1 (various)
IBM DB2 Support Files for SSL Functionality V10.1 (various)
IBM Tivoli Directory Server 6.3 (various)
IBM DMZ Secure Proxy Server (1 of 2) (WebSphere Application Server Network Deployment V8.5.5) Multiplatform Multilingual (CIK2LML) – 888Mb
IBM DMZ Secure Proxy Server (2 of 2) (WebSphere Application Server Network Deployment V8.5.5) Multiplatform Multilingual (CIK2MML) – 818Mb
IBM WebSphere Edge Components: Load Balancer for IPv4 and IPv6 (for WebSphere Application Server Network Deployment V8.5.5) Multiplatform Multilingual (CIK2NML) – 1,559Mb
IBM Cognos Business Intelligence  (various)

As a tip, if you do have other entitlements in Passport Advantage or else have access to the entire Partnerworld Software Access catalog, then searching for the ‘IBM Connections V5.0 for Notes and Domino V9.0.1 Multiplatform Multilingual eAssembly (CRSU5ML)‘ eAssembly is probably your best bet as this contains 57 images including all of the key elements I’ve listed above:

IBM Connections 5.0 for Domino eAssembly

Once you’ve selected the images you need, kick off the download.  My advice is always to download directly to one of the servers you’ll be installing onto if possible, particularly if they are remote to your location.

It’s important to note that this is not the entire list of software you’ll need.  I haven’t covered mandatory fixes for the components listed above (e.g. WebSphere Application Server or Tivoli Directory Integrator 7.1.1) or fixes for Connections itself.  I’ll be posting details of these later today.

[Also, please note that IBM Connections for IBM i is not currently available for download.  Speaking to Luis, it is ‘in the works’ :-)]

If you’re in the process of downloading and installing Connections 5.0, please do leave a comment letting us know how you’re getting on – particularly if there are any packages that I’ve missed!

IBM Connections 5.0 documentation now online

With the upgrade to Connections 5.0, IBM has switched from the Wiki style of documentation repository to the ‘Knowledge Center’, which is a much improved form of the old Infocenter format.

IBM Knowledge Center

I really like this shift – whilst it was initially great to be able to update the Wiki form of the documentation in-place, after a time very few people did this, and they were very tricky to search and navigate. The new Knowledge Center seems a much more accessible and searchable solution.

So if you’re looking to upgrade to IBM Connections 5.0, here’s the documentation you need!


IBM Connections 4.5 IFR2 – Ephox Edit!Live now bundled


As announced at IBM Connect 2014, all IBM Connections customers on active maintenance are now entitled to use Ephox Edit!Live as their default editor throughout the IBM Connections platform.

IBM Connections product manager, Luis Benitez, has an overview:

Today, we are announcing our first delivery for 2014: IBM Connections 4.5 IFR2. This release provides an entitlement change to allow all of our IBM Connections 4.5+ customers to use an advanced rich text editor.

This advanced editor streamlines content creation allowing users to focus on creating and sharing content and not on formatting.  This in turn accelerates adoption and usage across the enterprise. The new advanced rich text editor adds several features such as:

  • High fidelity copy/paste from Microsoft Word or a web browser
  • Inline spell checking as-you-type, with alternatives and synonyms
  • Embedding of social media links
  • Track changes and commenting
  • Hyperlink checking
  • Content templates
  • and more…

Here’s a quick demo so you can see it in action:

Many IBM Connections specialists will have already deployed the Ephox Editor in customer environments at least in pilot – it has been available as a standalone license for over a year now. However, the bundling of this entitlement for every organisation using the platform is a really big deal. Connections can be a significant purchase in its own right, so asking customers to then purchase an additional licence to allow fully functional rich text editing was a tricky sale. Now that IBM have licensed Edit!Live on customers’ behalf, that obstacle goes away.

I’ve seen a great response from users to this new functionality, so I definitely recommend that all organisations deploy it even just for evaluation purposes.

IBM Sametime logo

The new IBM Sametime widgets for IBM Connections are now available

I posted last week that new Sametime integration had been announced for IBM Connections, in the form of Meetings and Chat Room widgets.  However, at the time they had not yet been released.

Well, good news! They are now available for download from the IBM Collaboration Solutions Catalog:

IBM Sametime logoIBM Sametime Meeting Rooms Widget for IBM Connections:

The Meeting Rooms widget can help a social business activate networks of people to make faster expertise-based decisions, speed up business processes and address customer needs.

The Meeting Rooms Widget links to your existing Sametime Meetings server.

The Meetings Rooms Widget provides the following functionality for Community Members:

  • Create a Meeting Room from the Widget (Community Owners only)
  • View the most active Meeting Rooms in the sidebar widget
  • View the full list of Meeting Rooms associated with the Community
  • Click to open Meeting Rooms in your web browser or Sametime desktop client
  • Sort Meeting Rooms by Meeting Room name, owner name, number of active participants, or most recently accessed
  • Click to manage Meeting Rooms (Community Owners only)

For instructions to install the Meeting Rooms Widget, please see the IBM Sametime wiki article: Meeting Rooms Widget for IBM Connections. IBM Sametime Chat Rooms Widget for IBM Connections:

For organisations that need advanced collaboration, the Chat Rooms Widget allows you to add persistent Chat Rooms to a Community. Chat Rooms allow Community members to communicate and share information with colleagues online and in real time.

The Chat Rooms Widget links to your existing Sametime Chat Rooms server.

The Chat Rooms Widget provides the following functionality for Community Members:

  • Create a Chat Room from the Widget (Community Owners only)
  • View available Chat Rooms in the sidebar widget
  • Click to open Chat Rooms in your web browser or Sametime desktop client
  • Sort Chat Rooms
  • Display the number of active users in the Chat Room, and the number of lines which are unread by you

For instructions to install the Chat Rooms Widget, please see the IBM Sametime wiki article: Chat Rooms Widget for IBM Connections. IBM Sametime Video Chat Widget for IBM Connections:

The Video Chat Widget enhances social communications with audio and video features that allow you to see and speak to colleagues.

The Video Chat Widget links to your existing Sametime Meetings server. The widget provides Connections Communities with audio and video capabilities, to allow your Community members to communicate in real-time.

For more information about the Video Chat Widget, please see the IBM Sametime wiki article: Video Chat widget for IBM Connections. As I commented on Marlon’s Sametime Blog post announcing this, I’d love to see some screenshots of the new widgets in action, however that just provides an incentive to get these widgets downloaded and installed!

They all require a minimum of IBM Sametime 8.5.2 IFR1+.  The Meeting and Chat Rooms widgets require IBM Connections 4.0+, whereas the Video Chat widget will operate against Connections 3.0+.