Friday, March 21, 2008

An alternative solution for the bug of IF0036 of IBM's DB2 CommonStore for Lotus Domino

Hi again and lets get technical.

Description of the problem we have:

After applying IF0036 of CSLD we started to experience the creation of Phantom Sections on mail docs that had embedded sections in it.

If a mail doc has more than one phantom section created for each embedded section this mail doc will crash the Lotus Notes Client 7.0.x and 8.0. The only client that can handle those mail docs is 8.0.1. Another way to stop the crashes is to use the external view CommonStore retrieval function and bring the archive content back, after that you will be able to print, open or preview the info in any Lotus Notes Client. Of course until you rearchive this message and then the problem will restart. Please note that this only removes 1 of the phantom sections which helps to stop the crashing, but it really doesn't fix the corruption.

In other words and in our experience all mails with embedded sections are getting corrupted by this fixpack, but not all corrupted mails are crashing the client, only those with multiple phantom sections.

A home made permanent solution for the problem:

To solve this problem I worked with the internal Lotus Notes development team to have an agent that will create the CSLD retrieve job request for all the mail docs with 3 or more embedded sections in the body of the message of a mail database. Imagine going through thousands and thousands of mail manually trying to find which ones you should retrieve! So thank you James. Ofcourse we made sure to have plenty of space in our Domino Servers for the retrieved content.

I reverted IF0036 to our previous level which was IF0016 and created an emergency crawler that will create the new CSLD archiving jobs for these mail docs. (Of course I did a lot of testing before massively doing this).

The really interesting findings about my testing were that removing the buggy fix pack not only help stopping the creation of new phantom sections while archiving (ofcourse!!), but removed any phantom sections we still had inside the mail docs!!! Hey, how about that our CommonStore fixed itself!!! In theory our mail docs were not corrupted any more.

The bad news is that to fix this buggy mails docs will take you a very long time since retrieving and archiving can take many hours for each mail file (we are still doing it). Sorry, it is a simple solution to a complex problem, that is all we can do for now. I can only share my experience with you, if it will work for you or not I honestly can't tell. Test my theory and see if it works before doing it at home.

Sergio Bascon

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Fix Pack IF0036 of CommonStore for Lotus Domino

Watch out!!!! A major bug in this fix pack... Any mail with an embedded section that you archive after deploying the fix pack will be corrupted by a new phantom section, you might even experience crashes of the Lotus Notes Client 7.0.x and 8.0, but not 8.0.1.

Friday, February 29, 2008

To Admin or Not to Admin

Hi again,

There are many ways to manage this beast. In fact you could say there is the "by the book way" (IBMs recommendation), the derivation of by the book way, the down to earth way and probably many other flavors and styles. It really all depends at the end on the size of the corporation/company or the resources they are willing to spend.

My personal recommendation on a mid size global corporation (3000 or more users) would be as follows:
The assign commonstore admin should really be able to manage the whole chain of products with no help from others even though you might have an OS Admin (AIX, Windows, Linux, etc..), a db2 admin and a tsm admin. The commonstore admin really should oversee the entire forest.
See the link below.

If you are starting in CommonStore don't focus in CommonStore, first focus in getting a good handle of Content Manager and DB2. Maybe an analogy would be Windows vs Word , you have to get the back end configured correctly and then can focus on the front end.
A good CommonStore administrator is someone that has a good understanding on how Content Manager is structure and knows how to manage each component. A better CommonStore administrator is someone that besides ContentManager also has an intermediate db2 level. In other words the two most important elements for CommonStore are Content Manager and DB2, but please don't get me wrong because if you do the installation and configuration right from the beginning then most of your daily admin work will still be CommonStore and not Content Manager or DB2.

How much Websphere and Apache should you know? Some basic admin functions and the installation procedure for them is enough.

How much TSM should you know? Well it all depends if you have a tsm admin to help you. TSM itself is pretty stable and will not give you to much work but in case of a disaster recovery situation you better have a way to recover all the containers and the information store through tsm into long term storage.

How much CommonStore should you know? Commonstore itself does not have to many elements to master, but it can become a complex subject if you need to change the basic configuration, and you probably will since we are assuming a midsize corporation and above. It is the younger brother of all the components that are part of this archiving framework, so in my personal experience it is the least robust one!!! It is getting there and lets hope with 8.4 there will be many more improvements.

How much Lotus Notes/Domino Admin and Designer should you know? Depends if you plan to change the mail template for CommonStore and how much you want to architect the structure of the crawlers, archiving and retrieving tasks.. In other words from intermediate admin level to intermediate development script level.

Well this is my "personal experience" and I am just sharing it with you. There is nothing written on the "how to's" of CommonStore so I am not responsible for my experience not working for you, but I do hope is useful and helps you save some time and get you up to speed faster. I am assuming you are new to this subject, if not please share your thoughts on how to manage it with us I would love to learn from you.

Until later

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Bridges of CommonStore


This is my personal thoughts on the architecture of commonstore. For me CommonStore is as a handful of bridges that take a bulky mail document to a cheap long term storage repository. Managing the bridges of course becomes the day to day challenge. By the way I live very close to Madison and can you believe it! I haven't been there yet, hope to be soon.

Below the miniature images you will find a link to a better quality print ready doc.

On the road to Commonness

Hi everyone out there!

So this is my short story of how I became even more Common than I was. On a very hot and sweaty 2007 summer day I decide to be part of a challenging migration project to CommonStore 8.3.2. To be honest, I had no idea of the roller coaster ride I was getting to. Am I happier now than I was a year before, Ohhh Yes, but also I am 5 years older than a year ago ;)

To make this first entry a short one and really start blogging my technical experience with you, let me tell you that I am really looking forward to this blog because:

- My true believe is that knowledge is my competitive advantage, but only as long as I share it! (I told you I was a Common person and always been)
- I am hoping we gain some family or sleep hours each day "for everyone by everybody" sharing their experience with confidence, since there is no dumb experience in CommonStore.
- And last I can only thank for what I know first to my wife's patience and love, and second to my teammates Darnell, James, Kevin, Nancy, Mark, Matthew & Renato (Have you notice the alphabetical order? ;). I want to also thank Nathan that I don't know but he left many hours of work in what this project has became today, and of course how we could not thank IBM for their ever improving technical support services (in the good and bad pmrs...)

That's All Folks!! See ya soon!!