Monday, October 10, 2016

How to Use Microsoft Outlook with Your IBM Verse (in the cloud) Mail

So, all the newcomers in your company want to use outlook? IBM have put a lot of work into making the Notes client look and feel like outlook and they've given us Verse which is an acquired taste but if you like Google's inbox, it's good. 

Unfortunately, there's just just no pleasing some people. 

If you don't have Notes and Domino apps, then there's nothing at all holding you back. Nobody without Notes/Domino applications (or perhaps a huge investment in IBM Connections) should be using IBM's mail offerings.

On the other hand, if you do have apps for which there's no equivalent in the Microsoft world, here's another option that you might want to try...

Give your users Outlook but point it to their Verse Mail. That way, you can concentrate on either migrating your apps to another environment or webifying them to the extent that there's no reason to use the notes client. 

In this post, I want to discuss how to access Outlook mail - Note, this isn't a migration and you can seamlessly switch between Verse and Outlook whenever you want.

This is Cloud - You Can't Do it Alone

First of all, it's important to remember that since we're dealing with Cloud systems, you can't do anything significant without raising an IBM Support Request. Our mistake was to read the instructions online and assume that we could do the steps - we even added a quick script to add the required extra data to the person records in the address book. 

Unfortunately, you can't do this one by yourself. You have to get the cloud team on it. 

So, logon to the support portal and raise a request for them to add the IBM Mail Support for MS Outlook (IMSMO) entitlement. You'll have to specifically mention the users that you want to give access to. 

When IBM gets back to you and says it's done, you'll need to go into the Admin area on your IBM Connections portal;

  1. Login to IBM Connections
  2. Click on Admin, then Manage Organisation (Top right corner)
  3. Click User Accounts on the left hand side.
  4. Locate your user and open their record.
  5. Click past the first page to your user's subscriptions page.
  6. You'll find a new option called MS Outlook Access. Click it.
  7. Click Next and then finish to make your changes permanent.

...And you'll need to download the IMSMO Client

To do this, go to the IBM Connections portal;

  1. Click on your profile picture (top left corner)
  2. Choose Downloads and Setup.
  3. This takes you to a long and uncomfortably unexplained screen.
  4. The option to look for is called Software Download for IBM Notes Client and Other Entitled On-Premises Software (that wasn't obvious until you eliminated all the other choices - Who writes these titles?).
  5. In the "Find by Search Text" part of the downloads screen, type IMSMO and choose the option that appears.

  6. The one you want is the Client, so choose this and Agree to the licensing and click download.
  7. Then ... if you're like me, do the whole thing again because IBM defaults to the unsupported (I use Chrome) Java-based IBM Download director instead of http ... grrr IBM.
  8. Your download should start.

Install the IMSMO Client

So, once you've got your executable downloaded, it's simply a matter of running the executable to install it. It's just a standard install, with mostly, "next, next, next" options. The installer will need to pause and install the Visual Studio 2010 Tools for Office Runtime but it's a quick 38MB download and just a matter of clicking install 

Once it's all installed, you can start Microsoft Outlook. 

Configuring Microsoft Outlook

This bit needs to be done on the target person's computer. 

Start Microsoft Outlook. In my case, I'm using Outlook 2016 because we have an Office 365 entitlement. Presumably you can use other options though. 

  1. At the Welcome to Microsoft Outlook dialog box, click Next.
  2. At "Do you want to setup outlook to connect to an email account?", choose Yes and click next.
  3. At the next screen, ignore the detail and choose Manual Setup or Additional Server types and click next.
  4. Choose Other, then IBM Mail Sync (if this option isn't visible, you didn't install the software properly), then click Next.

  5. On the next screen, you need to put in your name and email address.
  6. Then choose the server type of IBM Connections Cloud and click Next.

  7. The IBM Mail/Connections login page will appear in a window. It's not pretty but it works. Type your email and password.
  8. If all goes well, you should see a screen of green buttons.  If these buttons are red, there's probably a problem with the cloud configuration (you get red buttons if you try to use the connector without having set up the entitlement).

And now you upgrade...

For some reason, IBM doesn't provide you with the latest version of IBM Mail Sync, so you'll be prompted to upgrade as soon as you're connected. You need to do this because your users probably won't have a clue ... and they'll keep getting prompted. 

The order of these next steps is important; 

  1. Click Yes on the IBM download prompt (you want it to fetch the software).
  2. In the meantime, outlook will prompt you to restart it and there's a finish button that needs to be clicked there too.
  3. The IBM Message will float above everything else. DON'T CLICK IT - It will fail if you just go clicking because it can't touch outlook while it's open.
  4. Move the IBM message out of the way and switch to Outlook.
  5. Click Close on the What's New Message
  6. Your computer will start to Synch.
  7. Close Microsoft Outlook.
  8. Now Click YES on the IBM Installation - it will walk you through another setup. Luckily again this is a Next, Next, Finish type install and it only takes a minute.
  9. Now you can start outlook again. 


So far, it all seems to work well. I've noticed a couple of things though;

  • It takes slightly longer for mail to reach outlook (or to come from outlook) than it does for Notes (and much longer than Verse).
  • When composing a mail ONLY the local address book is available - other ones cannot be selected from.
  • Only local email addresses and groups will work - It's not just that they don't display. You can't use them.  Of course, there are lots of ways to import existing contacts via CSV etc.  It's simply that if you have a central contacts system, it's not going to work properly in outlook. 

That's it. 
You've now moved over to outlook.... enjoy the "new world" where of course the grass is greener.