Connections 4.0: Tails from the Upgrade Part 1

As a few early risers might have already read on some blogs and press releases, IBM has released Connections 4.0 to the general public this morning – here woudl be Ed Brill’s blog as one of the many announcements.

I have been working for a client I shall call TWSSU (=”They Who Shall Stay Unnamed”) and been part of a large Connections implementation since last year.  As part of this environment we have been working on a V4 upgrade for quite some time, to the point where we started developing new look-and-feel designs and customizations on every code drop of the Beta cycle (that is a tale onto itself) and received the Connections V4 code early along with some “interesting” draft documentation for V4 … I know it’s unfair and mean, but sometimes it is fun to be me!

I have been under and NDA until today (general availability – finally!) so I have not been able to talk about any of the interesting items that are likely to pop up during a migration.

To that end I will start this tale  in small doses and hand out some of the more interesting tidbits in several blog posts, starting with the basics right here:

OS Requirements

Ditch any old Windows 2003 servers you still have, they are no longer supported. If  you were planning to re-use some of your existing infrastructure and they are windows 2003 … sorry. You can still run TDI and probably DB2 on them but anything with WebSphere on it will require Windows 2008 or AIX/UNIX/Linux. time to buy that next license pack from Redmond if you want Linux, otherwise Red Hat/CentOS is your best bet.

The detailed system requirements are here – be patient with the new design for the document for right now … it is still work in (design) progress and – as I find it personally – rather confusing. From what I hear IBM looked at it and is workgin on it. Hey – it is still better than some of the documentation that I have come up with over the years … 🙂

WAS Version: – SDK/JAVA

This was a painful experience for me – and partially self inflicted. Well, I had the excuse that the documentation was not yet ready. when IBM says that you have to install WAS FP 21(and a few more fixes separately) they don’t just mean WAS FP, IHS and Plugin FP- they also want you to install the SDK part of the fix pack. For most of us this is not something we are used to as most applications bring their own SDK or at least update it during the install process.

Connections has been significantly re-architected (more on that later) and contains a feature called “Comon” that is in charge of serving up all the static content, along with jsp’s, scripts/code and all the fun stuff that the features share among themselves. This feature will not initialize correctly – UNLESS – you have the SDK installed since it is only certified to run with a minimum Java version of WAS The install works and throws no errors, all the other features will start but common will not initialize (the errors in the systemOut.log are confusing and I needed serious IBM help to find the root cause – THANKS DAVID!)

Configuration XML files – There are ALLOT of them

There are about 19 features running on a full blown Connections environment now so there are naturally more configuration files. Also, the configuration of some items was moved to separate xml files (I like that – more later) so you can’t just port over all your old files, and in many cases not even the settings since they have changed.

I suggest to run a dif between your existing config files and the new ones, I use Beyond Compare for that (my favorite tool!). That will show you quite clearly what settings are different, what new settings exist and what the default settings are. Not all of the settings are documented in detail in the WIKI so  … be careful and start slow.

Cognos … The uncharted land

This is a new one for us. I have never touched Cognos before and without the help of my main man Vijay F. (full name shall remain secret to protect the innocent …) I am not sure if we would have gotten through the experience unscathed.

We found a few problems in the install that have already made it into the documentation so you have the benefit of our sweat and Vijay’s expertise. Just make sure you install Cognos first and have the right client version of the DB system you use installed.  AND – having more expertise in SQL than I do helps – it seriously helps. More on this at a later stage.


Stay tuned for more . . .

This is the end of part 1, more will follow next week: database upgrade/migrationss and new iFixes for V4 that get released along with the new version … yippie! We will have fun!!

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