Thursday, June 16, 2016

Cloud is great but IBM Verse misses a step in Business Continuity

Today's world is all about cloud. 

We have email in the cloud, document storage in the cloud, data, applications and even development in the cloud.

Why Cloud is Best

From one point of view, cloud is an excellent choice. You no longer need to worry about;

  • Physical servers which can suffer hardware failures.
  • Storage and rack space for servers
  • Local services, such as Air Conditioning and the Water Supply in the computer room.
  • Local environmental factors, such as storms which can directly impact your infrastructure.
  • Local backups, which can take hours and require special software
  • Tape management (or streaming backup services)
  • Server failover -- this is managed by the cloud sites.
  • Hotfixes and patches to operating systems and applications.

Most of the cloud systems offer some pretty good restore functionality too.

For example; IBM Connections has some great version control tools which allow you to roll back to previous versions of your file.  This means that if a user damages a file (or even if some malware damages the files), you can easily restore old versions of the files -- individually, of course.

There doesn't seem to be any kind of en-masse restore option. This could become a problem if something like CryptoLocker which traverses the directory structure, was involved. 

Verse Folder Issues and Restoration

So, apart from en-masse restoration, (and of course the myriad of much discussed privacy issues) what's missing? why am I worried?

We've been experiencing a few folder issues in IBM Verse lately because although IBM appears to be discouraging the use of folders, we have a number of users in our organisation who swear by them.

One thing that we've noticed is that IBM appears to have done some upgrades on the structure of our cloud-hosted mail files.  That's okay, we should expect that as a constant part of the general development of verse. 

What's not okay is that these changes seem to have affected how folders work in the Notes client.

We've also noticed that some of our users are reacting to these changes by attempting to move folders around via the Notes client. When they do this, quite often, the folders are disappearing entirely from Verse and from Notes.

Now, folders these days are just another form of tagging, so the original messages are all still okay. They're just no longer neatly organised into a folder.

Our users have been asking to get these folders restored.

In the pre-cloud days, we'd have restored a copy of the mail file and used that to determine which mails were in the folder and then rebuilt the folder and re-foldered that mail.  It's a time consuming task but it's one that many of our users would prefer to do, rather than lose the structure that the folder provided.

Guess what... that option is no longer available to us.

We talked to IBM. In fact, we raised a PMR on the issue.
It got noted.
and then....

we got this;

I have checked materials and discuss in whole team, I am sorry to say that there is no way to restore the folders deleted by user himself. He needs to create folder and restore emails from "All documents" manually.

Sure, I accept that it's a manual process but right now, we're still working with IBM to find a way for the user to get a LIST of what exactly was in their folder prior to its removal. 

How Wide is the Issue?

In our case, all of our mail is forced through the Symantec/Veritas Archive system -- another cloud service. Mail in that system can't be deleted, so it means we have a permanent record.   Of course, the system doesn't support foldering because it uses "Journalling" to capture mail as it is sent or received. Foldering tends to be something that occurs long afterwards.

I have to wonder though....  what about the organisations without a separate archive system?
Do they still think that they can restore their mail? Do they still think that they're compliant with their email retention policies?

How many of us have really done proper DR testing on our cloud infrastructure?


Anonymous said...

You aren't getting what you pay for yet, we will be on premise for as long as IBM is cheap. Microsoft at E3 $20 a user per month is the only reason we are not moving.

Anonymous said...

I think Verse is still a work in progress.

Verse of the interface is great, but under the hood there must be a motor that runs well
I think it will take some years before it becomes mature

It must become ripe to be sold.

They are doing act as "guinea pigs" their customers

In addition, the support must improve. so it is ridiculous

Note: Microsoft also did the same when it launched O365...It is now much improved