Wednesday, March 31, 2010

AXIGEN Mail Server - No import/export feature for calendar

I am a fan of Formula 1 Racing. The season has just started and I want to plan my schedule properly.

There are websites providing the Season Calendar in .ics format. What one has to do it to import the downloaded .ics into his calendar.

The import/export feature for calendar is fairly common in most calendaring solutions. 

Google Calendar

Sun Calendar (OpenMail.SG is our hosted solution based on Sun's technology)

However, AXIGEN does not have this feature yet.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Oracle Beehive - Big Picture

Today, I tried to get the overall picture of what Oracle Beehive is all about.

I logged into Beehive Central - all collaboration activities start from here.

Welcome to Oracle Beehive, a product built for the communication and collaboration needs of today's workplace. Use Beehive's integrated tools -- including conferencing, instant messaging, e-mail, calendar, team workspaces and mobile access -- to efficiently exchange and share information.
Beehive Central is your entrance to the Beehive collaboration experience. Get started with Beehive client downloads and install desktop extensions designed to add Beehive functionality to Outlook, as well as a Web and voice conferencing tool.

If you are looking for just a simple communications/messaging (email & calendar) platform, forget about Oracle Beehive. It's far too costly and complicated.

However, if you are looking for a Collaboration Suite, then you should take a look at Oracle Beehive. I am pretty impressed with Conferencing and Team Collaboration features.

Collaboration is the super-set of Communications. It offers so much more than simple email and calendar features.

PS: I'll elaborate on these 2 features in my subsequent blogs...


Monday, March 29, 2010

Oracle Beehive - Outlook Connector

My colleague just managed to get Oracle Beehive running in our labs, so I went ahead to play around with this Collaboration Suite.

I'm always curious how well is Outlook Connector being supported.

System Requirements
Operating System
•Microsoft Windows XP: Home or Professional
•Microsoft Windows Vista: Home, Business, or Ultimate
•Microsoft Windows 2003 Server
•Microsoft Windows 2000: Home or Professional

Microsoft Outlook
•Microsoft Outlook 2007 (with Service Pack 2)
•Microsoft Outlook 2003 (with Service Pack 3)
•Microsoft Outlook 2002 (with Service Pack 3)
•Microsoft Outlook 2000 (with Service Pack 3)

Much more comprehensive than what AXIGEN and SUN have to offer. See here.

However, it is still not the complete list. My favorite Windows 7 family is still not supported. It'll take time since Windows 7 has been out in the market for only a while.


Saturday, March 27, 2010

AXIGEN Mail Server - Upgrade

AXIGEN recently released version 7.3.3. 

I do not know why this release is so close to the previous. It was only released on 8th March 2010. Might have some really serious bug. Otherwise, no one will launch 2 releases within a month. :)

Anyway, it's OK. Since I am still fresh from the installation of 7.3.2, I might as well take this opportunity to evaluate the Upgrade Process.

If you have experience upgrading products for your customers before, you would agree with me the Upgrade Process for many products out there are not as pleasant.

Surprisingly, AXIGEN falls into the "Pleasant" category. It was a breeze upgrading from 7.3.2 to 7.3.3.

Stop AXIGEN server
[root@axigen ~]# /etc/init.d/axigenfilters stop
[root@axigen ~]# /etc/init.d/axigen stop

Backup (to play safe)
[root@axigen ~]# tar -cvf axigen.bk.26032010 /var/opt/axigen/*
[root@axigen ~]# gzip axigen.bk.26032010

Run Upgrade 
[root@axigen ~]# ./
Found an already installed package, axigen-7.3.2-1
Please select one of the options displayed below:
==== Main options
1. Upgrade to axigen-7.3.3-1
2. Uninstall axigen-7.3.2-1
9. Exit installer
Your choice: 1

Preparing... ########################################### [100%]
1:axigen ########################################### [100%]
Success unpacking Commtouch AntiSpam filter in /var/opt/axigen
New configuration file available: /var/opt/axigen/ctasd/ctasd.conf.dist
Installer finished.

Start AXIGEN server
[root@axigen ~]# /etc/init.d/axigenfilters start
[root@axigen ~]# /etc/init.d/axigen start
Starting AXIGEN Mail Server... [ OK ]

Done. Very simple.

PS: The rather bad experience was in trying to find proper endorsed documentation from AXIGEN on this upgrade process. In fact, there isn't any. 

Yes, I do understand upgrading is so simple. However, in a Product environment, which administrator will dare to try executing "". He would most probably need to read up on Release Note and Upgrade Instruction before requesting the green light from his superior to go ahead.

All this is part and parcel of performing due diligence just-in-case thing goes wrong.


Friday, March 26, 2010

Migrating to Sun Directory Server 7.0 -- Part II

Most customers are usually not comfortable with a 1-phase migration approach for their Directory Service. This is especially true for banks.

As such, usually, the Parallel Migration approach is adopted. This approach has the old and new Directory Servers running in parallel. Applications will be migrated one-at-a-time from utilizing the old Directory Server to the new one.

While the Parallel Migration is in process, there is a need for 2-way replication between the old and new Directory Servers. This ensures the data integrity.

2-way replication can only be configured for the following versions

1. DS 5.2 <-> DS 6.x
2. DS 5.2 <-> DS 7.0
3. DS 6.x <-> DS 7.0

Special Note: 
Sun Directory Server 5.1 cannot replicate directly with 6.x and 7.0, due to difference in schema.

A local customer was having the 5.1 version and they wanted to upgrade to 6.3.1. We had to configure the replication as such:

DS 5.1 <-> DS 5.2 <-> DS 6.3.1

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Migrating to Sun Directory Server 7.0

Migrating from previous version of Sun Java System Directory Server to the latest 7.0 release is simple.

The Directory Server migrating can be broken down into the following distinct steps:
1. Migrating the Schema
2. Migrating the Security Settings
3. Migrating the Configuration
4. Migrating the Data
5. Migrating the Plug-Ins
6. Post-migration tasks

Detail here.

Migration can be done automatically or manually. I prefer the manual approach where I have more control.


Monday, March 22, 2010

Oracle WebCenter Suite

Foreseeing that my existing customers will be persuaded to migrate from Sun Java System Portal Server to Oracle WebCenter Suite, I decided to read up on Oracle Fusion Middleware 11g.

It is a very gigantic product. A lot of reading up is required.

Oracle offers 3 Portal solutions at the moment:

1. Oracle Portal ( less than USD$5,000 )
2. Oracle Weblogic Portal ( formerly known as BEA Weblogic Portal )
3. Oracle WebCenter Suite ( USD$80,000 to USD$125,000 per CPU )

Recommended by Oracle:

If you do not have this budget, you should look at Oracle Portal instead.

Generally, the move is still towards Oracle WebCenter Suite eventually. It's a matter of time Oracle Portal and Oracle Weblogic Portal get discontinued.

What is most complicated is in digesting the below:

Oracle Fusion Middleware Supported System Configurations (See here).

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Fastest Virtual Directory - from Symlabs

I came across Symlabs's website today. Symlabs provides Identity Management Solutions.

Symlabs Virtual Directory Server is ranked #1 in the world. Pretty impressive!

Well done!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Sun Directory Server 7 - Installation Review

I'm losing my job soon as a Consultant providing Professional Service for Sun Directory Server Implementation.

The Sun Directory Server 7 Installation has become so easy that my customers can do it themselves. :)

Below is the step-by-step instruction for non-root install of Sun Directory Server 7 on Oracle Enterprise Linux 5.4:

Platform: Oracle Enterprise Linux 5.4
JDK: 1.6.18 32-bit (Note: 64-bit JDK does not work with Glassfish!!)
Application Server: GlassFish Server Open Source Edition 2.1.1

As ROOT user:

[root@localhost /]# ./jdk-6u18-linux-i586-rpm.bin

Java(TM) SE Development Kit 6 successfully installed into /usr/java/jdk1.6.0_18.

As AZLABS user:

[azlabs@localhost ~]$ gunzip DSEE.7.0.Linux-X86-64-zip.tar.gz
[azlabs@localhost ~]$ tar -xvf DSEE.7.0.Linux-X86-64-zip.tar
[azlabs@localhost ~]$ cd DSEE_ZIP_Distribution/
[azlabs@localhost DSEE_ZIP_Distribution]$ unzip -d /home/azlabs

[azlabs@localhost]$ cd /home/azlabs/dsee7/bin
[azlabs@localhost bin]$ ./dsccsetup war-file-create
Created /home/azlabs/dsee7/var/dscc7.war

[azlabs@localhost bin]$ ./dsccsetup ads-create
[azlabs@localhost bin]$ ./dsccsetup cacao-reg

[azlabs@localhost bin]$ ./dsadm create -p 1389 -P 1636 /home/azlabs/dsee7/var/dsInst
[azlabs@localhost bin]$ ./dsadm start /home/azlabs/dsee7/var/dsInst

[azlabs@localhost glassfish]$ export JAVA_HOME=/usr/java/jdk1.6.0_18
[azlabs@localhost glassfish]$ export PATH=/usr/java/jdk1.6.0_18/bin:$PATH
[azlabs@localhost glassfish]$ ./sges-2_1_1-linux-ml.bin

Installation Directory [/home/azlabs/SUNWappserver] {"<" goes back, "!"
exits}: /home/azlabs/gf
Please provide the path to a Java 2 SDK 5.0 or greater. [/usr/java/jdk1.6.0
_18] {"<" goes back, "!" exits}

Supply the admin user's password and override any of the other initial
configuration settings as necessary.

Admin User [admin] {"<" goes back, "!" exits}:
Admin User's Password (8 chars minimum):
Re-enter Password:
Do you want to store admin user name and password in .asadminpass file in
user's home directory [yes] {"<" goes back, "!" exits}?
Admin Port [4848] {"<" goes back, "!" exits}:
HTTP Port [8080] {"<" goes back, "!" exits}:
HTTPS Port [8181] {"<" goes back, "!" exits}:

Please choose installation options.

Do you want to enable Updatecenter client [yes] {"<" goes back, "!" exits}? no
Do you want to upgrade from previous Application Server version [no] {"<"
goes back, "!" exits}?

Installation Successful.

[azlabs@localhost config]$ vi /home/azlabs/gf/domains/domain1/config/server.policy

--> Add to end of file

// Permissions for Directory Service Control Center
grant codeBase "file:${com.sun.aas.instanceRoot}/applications/j2ee-modules/dscc7/-"

[azlabs@localhost glassfish]$ /home/azlabs/gf/bin/asadmin start-domain domain1
[azlabs@localhost ~]$ cp /home/azlabs/dsee7/var/dscc7.war /home/azlabs/gf/domains/domain1/autodeploy/

We're done!
  • Directory Server binary installed;
  • DSCC registry initialized;
  • Cacao Agent registered;
  • Directory Server instance created;
  • DSCC deployed on Glassfish application server

Yes, so simple. No joke.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Compatibility Issues with Sun Directory Server 7

I'm meeting a local bank next week for their Sun Directory Server migration. They intend to migrate from version 5.2 to 7.0.

Sun Directory Server 5.2 is indeed a very old version and reaching ESOL fairly soon.

A few things to note for this latest release of Sun Directory Server 7:

1. Solaris 10 x86 32–bit support is removed

2. Agent for Sun Cluster support is removed

The High-Availability approach will only be left with Multi-Master Replication (MMR), since Directory Server in Sun Cluster mode is no longer supported.

3. The DSCC is now supported on Sun Web Server 7, GlassFish 2.1, and BEA WebLogic platforms

This is in addition to the already supported Tomcat. What a relief, finally! I gave up deploying DSCC on Sun Web Server 7 last December in a customer's site in the Philippines. (See here)

4. The DSCC is no longer supported on Sun Java Web Console

Actually I prefer using Sun Java Web Console as it's installed as part of the installation process. Maybe I'm just lazy. Ha!

PS: Btw, if I'm not wrong, this should be the last release of Sun Directory Server based on the old code base. The next enterprise release will be based on OpenDS code. There might not even be another release because OpenDS is already selling as Sun OpenDS Standard Enterprise -- the commercial product based on the OpenDS project..

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Oracle Direct NFS Client - Any player?

I was reading up on Oracle RAC 11g Cluster and come across Direct NFS Client from Oracle.

Decreasing prices, simplicity, flexibility, and high availability are driving the adoption of Network-Attached Storage (NAS) devices in enterprise data centers. However, performance and management limitations in the Network File System (NFS) protocol, the de facto protocol for NAS devices, limits its effectiveness for database workloads.

Oracle Direct NFS Client, a new feature in Oracle Database 11g, integrates the NFS client directly with the Oracle software. Through this tight integration, Direct NFS Client overcomes the problems associated with traditional operating system kernel based NFS clients.

Direct NFS Client simplifies management by providing a standard configuration within a unified interface across various hardware and operating system platforms. The tight integration between Direct NFS Client and the Oracle database vastly improves I/O performance and throughput, while reducing system resource utilization.

Finally, Direct NFS Client optimizes multiple network paths to not only provide high availability but to achieve near linear scalability by load balancing I/O across all available storage paths.

I personally do not think there are many customers using Direct NFS Client. If I can afford Oracle Database license, I would not even bother about getting a cheaper alternative to a SAN.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

EOL - Sun Portal Server

Life is full of ups and downs.

Few months back in Nov 2009, I was still in the Philippines preaching Sun Glassfish Web Space Server. (See here)

Now that Oracle has completed its acquisition of Sun, many middleware from Sun are discontinued from further development.

One product that is definitely going to be discontinued is Sun Portal Server or Sun Glassfish Web Space Server.

Oracle already own Oracle Portal Server. After the acquisition of Weblogic, it has another Portal solution in Oracle WebLogic Portal Server. These 2 products then become part of Oracle WebCenter Suite.

It simply cannot maintain another Portal solution.

So what is going to happen to existing customers using Sun Portal solutions?

Simply put: Wait for EOL, then let's upgrade you to Oracle WebCenter Suite.

Oracle WebCenter Suite datasheet can be found here.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

AXIGEN Mail Server - Outlook Connector

I'm a Mac and Windows 7 user. So no luck with AXIGEN Outlook Connector.

My experience with Sun Java System Connector for Microsoft Outlook tells me that it's fairly tedious to develop and maintain Outlook Connectors. (See my previous post)

It's a 2-dimensional business:
  • Firstly, you need to develop a Connector for each possible Windows OS (XP, Vista, Wins 7)
  • Secondly, you need to develop a Connector for each possible Outlook application (2003 or 2007 and the upcoming 2010)

Saw it? Sun is also not ready for Wins 7

It's a constant catching-up game. And you are at the mercy of Microsoft. Whenever there is a new patch or release, the Connector has to be re-tested just in case it does not break.

If it does not break, great! Be happy and grab a Starbucks to enjoy!

If it breaks ... well, then you have to update the Connector ... then you have to arrange for a new Connector patch/release ... then you have to inform and arrange with your customers a date for whole round of trial testing in their Staging environment ... then you finally need to update the Connector in each and every PCs in your customers' premise .... That's really painful!

Monday, March 15, 2010

AXIGEN Mail Server - Mobile Integration

What I like about AXIGEN is that it already has Mobility Access built-in. No additional mobile gateway required.

What is required from the Administrator is to turn on the feature.

By enabling Mobile User Interface, the WebMail service will attempt to detect if the connecting browser is a mobile phone browser and, if so, will serve the light XHTML version instead.

I tried accessing Axigen WebMail via a iPhone browser, it works perfectly. It is able to render light XHTML version - similar to what you'll get when you access Gmail on your mobile phone.

On my BlackBerry browser, no luck though.

Mobile Synchronization with AXIGEN is easy with Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync.

See here for detailed instruction on how to configure your iPhone, Nokia or any Windows Mobile device.

Again, I tested with a iPhone. The setup was a breeze.

For BlackBerry device, you'll need AstraSync. See here for detailed setup instruction.

Note: AstraSync has a yearly renewal model. Each year costs US$49.

Anyway, I downloaded a trial version of AstraSync. My BlackBerry's calendar was sync-ed in less than 5 mins.

So far so good, installation and configuration was easy. Mobile integration was surprisingly easy as well.

What I learnt from Axigen so far:
  • Ease of installation is important
  • An intuitive administrative interface is very important
  • An architecture that can seamlessly integrate with external interfaces (mobile access in this case) is equally important

My observation is many administrators are not as technically inclined these days. Thus, products of tomorrow need to be fairly easy to manage and maintain. If integration is required, then it better be seamless.

PS: AstraSync was super stingy though. 6-days free trial only.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

AXIGEN Mail Server - WebMail First Impression

Once installation and basic configuration are done, I went ahead to test Axigen WebMail.

There are 2 WebMail interfaces to choose from - AJAX or Standard.

AJAX Interface

Standard Interface

Did you notice the logo in the AJAX interface?

Yes - "Technology Preview", it is still being developed. Currently, the Calendar and PIM features are not integrated yet. :)

If you choose to use this interface and click on Calendar, a pop-up window will redirect you to the Standard interface. I hate pop-up!

Integrated Email & Calendar in Standard Interface

For the moment, I'll stick to the Standard interface. Good enough for me.

What's next do I usually look for in WebMail?

Almost without fail, I'll look out for Filters (see Say goodbye to Yahoo Mail) and Auto-Responder.

I found an interesting feature - Temporary Email.

Users can request a one or more random temporary aliases for use when subscribing to public sites, in order to avoid spam; temporary email addresses expire after the time period defined by the administrator.

Technically, this is nothing but aliases.

But from end-users' perspective, this "user-self-service" feature is intuitive. And it saves them the hassle to apply temporary email addresses via Administrators, which takes days at times.

This proves again great feature does not have to be complex.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

AXIGEN Mail Server - Installation & Configuration

Installation of AXIGEN Mail Server for standalone deployment is fairly simple. It took 12 steps!

Yes, that's it. As simple as that.

(If you need screenshots of the installation steps, email me at cheechong @

After installation, the next most important step is to configure Security & Filtering. This is almost a must these days.

The default installation of AXIGEN comes with a number of built-in AntiVirus and AntiSpam softwares, including a free 1-month trial of Commtouch Real-Time Antispam Protection.

The beauty of the AntiVirus and AntiSpam feature is the ability to dictate the order in which you want each component to be executed.

Now, what if you want to integrate commercial products like TrendMicro InterScan™ Messaging Security Suite (IMSS) with AXIGEN?

Not too difficult. You can always create a detour (Axigen calls it the Sandwich Architecture).

Basically, when emails arrive at the SMTP-Incoming:
  • A detour is made to deliver the emails to the AntiVirus/AntiSpam server (it can resides on the same machine or a remote machine)
  • The AntiVirus/AntiSpam server will scan the emails and perform actions based on predefined rules
  • A detour is again made to deliver the "safe" emails back to the Message Store

See here for detailed implementation.

Friday, March 12, 2010

AXIGEN Mail Server

I just downloaded a copy of Mobile Office Edition 7.3.2 from AXIGEN and managed to get license key for the software.

FYI, the Mobile Office Edition offers Push Email and PIM Synchronization.

As per my normal practice, I usually begin with the Architectural Diagram of any product which I intend to evaluate.

To me, selling is about convincing buyers with a diagram. It's best to illustrate visually and the story has to be simple. If it takes time to explain what your product is capable of, then it's difficult for buyers to make decision.

Mobility support is crucial these days with dynamic workforce. The list of supported mobile devices is pretty comprehensive. See here.

Do note the following:

  • Microsoft® Exchange ActiveSync® - compatible handsets such as Nokia Symbian / Apple iPhone / all Windows Mobile devices (Smartphone, PocketPC, HTC etc)

  • BlackBerry® handsets (through the AstraSync™ or the NotifySync™ client)

I think most vendors are pretty good in providing ActiveSync® solution. I'm a BlackBerry user though, so I'll be testing AstraSync™ instead.

For a detailed features listing, you should read the PDF file from here.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Mobile Sync with Sun Calendar Server - Part III

Few days back, I came across an Open-Source Java program (GCALDaemon) that offers two-way synchronization between Google Calendar and various iCalendar compatible calendar applications.

Suddenly, an idea struck my mind!

There is now a cheaper way to implement mobile sync to Sun Calendar Server 6.

GCALDaemon is an OS-independent Java program that offers two-way synchronization between Google Calendar and various iCalendar compatible calendar applications. GCALDaemon is primarily designed as a calendar synchronizer but it can also be used as a Gmail notifier, Address Book importer, Gmail terminal and RSS feed converter.

What we need is to use the file-based synchronizer feature in GCALDaemon.


Slightly troublesome. However, it saves cost and is elegant enough. Personally, I'm using this architecture to sync my BlackBerry calendar with my Sun Calendar Server in the backend.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Mobile Sync with Sun Calendar Server - Part II

If you have followed my previous posting, you'll realize that Sun Calendar Server 7 is seldom used in the real world.


Simple reason: No one will use a Calendar Server that cannot integrate with WebMail.

Efficiency has become the norm today. Everyone wants a integrated, tightly-coupled office productivity tool to work with.

At present moment, most Sun Java Communications Suite 7 deployment will still be using Sun Calendar Server 6, until Sun Calendar Server 7 is developed to interface with Sun Convergence Server (WebMail).

Because of the same reason, if customers require mobile sync feature, they'll need to deploy Sun Java Mobile Communications Server - an additional component with separate licensing model.

This is costly. :)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Mobile Sync with Sun Calendar Server

The latest Sun Java Communications Suite 7 comes with 2 versions of Sun Calendar Servers - Calendar Server 7 and Calendar Server 6.3.

Why are there 2 versions of Calendar Servers?

  • Calendar Server 7 is the new CalDAV-based calendar server that interoperates with all leading CalDAV-compliant clients, including mobile CalDAV clients.

  • Calendar Server 6.3 is the calendar server that Sun has been deploying for years. However, if you need to sync the Calendar on your mobile phones with Sun Calendar Server 6.3, you need an additional component - Sun Mobile Communications Server.

Architecturally, both Calendar Servers are totally different. Calendar Server 7 is not an upgrade version of Calendar Server 6.

  • Calendar Server 6 has an internal HTTP daemon ("Calendar Express") that bridges between the WebMail (Sun Convergence or Communications Express UWC) and Calendar Server front-end. The Calendar Server front-end interacts with Calendar Server back-end subsequently.
  • The Calendar data is stored in Berkeley database.

  • Calendar Server 7 is developed as a Java web-application. It sits on top of an Java Application Server.
  • The Calendar data is stored in MySQL database.
  • Currently, there is no bridge between WebMail and Calendar Server 7.