5 tips for planning an IBM Connections 4.5 upgrade
Colleen Burns 120000C4RP firstname.lastname@example.org | | Tags:  ibm_connections connections_4.5 paul_band connections
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By Paul Band, IBM Software Services for Collaboration
Are you using an earlier version of IBM Connections and yearn to take advantage of great new features such as Mail, profile social analytics, activity streams and embedded experience?
This blog identifies five key tips that will help you plan a more successful upgrade to Connections 4.5.
1. Side-by-side versus in-place upgrade
The first decision you will likely make is whether to upgrade the exiting environment in place or build a new environment and migrate the content. Both have their pros and cons.
In-place upgrades offer the following benefits:
Side-by-side upgrades offer the following benefits:
I favor the side-by-side upgrade approach because it allows the existing system to be used while the new one is built. I also find this a lower-risk approach because the existing system remains unmodified while new modifications are implemented.
One final point on side-by-side upgrades is that you must decide and communicate to users when the cutoff point will be. At some point you have to migrate the data to the new system and you don't want to leave anything behind.
2. Build a test environment to test your customizations
It's likely that you will make changes in the out-of-the-box install. The UI is often customized to feature your organization's logo and color scheme, for instance. The Connections 4.5 interface will have changed from the 3.0.1, so a good approach is to take a copy of the new source and make your modifications to those, rather than try and retrofit your old customized CSS, JSP, HTML, labels and strings. If you are performing an in-place upgrade, clear the customization directory prior to migration and then take a copy of the new source and make customizations to that.
A nonproduction environment helps reduce risk when you are developing and testing new Connections 4.5 customizations. Modifications can be safely tested without impacting the production service.
For more information about migrating customizations, see the Connections 4.5 wiki.
3. Plan to use community metrics
Community metrics leverages the analytical power of IBM Cognos Business Intelligence. The new metrics capabilities are aimed at community owners. Examples of metrics the owner could track include the number of unique visitors and a list of the most followed content. These metrics help community owners to monitor the adoption and highlight popular topics in order to make the community more useful for members.
Preparing to use community metrics requires some configuration. These are the high-level prerequisites:
You can read more on enabling community metrics in the Connections 4.5 wiki.
4. Plan to use IBM Connections Mail integration
IBM Connections Mail 1.3 integrates your existing Domino or MS Exchange inbox and calendar directly into the Connections 4.5 user interface. Users can process emails quickly (for example, reply, forward and so on), without switching to another application, as well as obtain a quick glance at their calendar.
Here are some tips to help you prepare to use IBM Connections Mail:
You can read more about Connections Mail integration in the Connections 4.5 wiki.
5. Decide how new features might affect your business adoption strategy
There are some really cool new social features in Connections 4.5, such as activity streams and improved microblogging with files, “likes” and @mentions. How are you going to communicate these features to your user population? Your communication could include some common hashtags and suggest how they might be associated to content. If you have an enterprise search facility then you will need to think about how to include hashtags.
Having said that, business adoption is not solely technology led. It should be based on your business processes and how your organization works. Therefore if that hasn't changed then you shouldn't need to drastically change your business adoption strategy, apart from embracing appropriate new features.
Bonus Tip! Don't forget to check IBM Fix Central for the most current fixes for IBM Connections 4.5.
Good luck preparing for your upgrade to IBM Connections 4.5, and please do respond with any further tips you have!