Lotus Connections Requirements and Architecture – Part 1 Components of Connections

So quite the coincidence I spent most of today planning and sizing a production environment for Lotus Connections, and planned on blogging about it, at the same time Yancy Lent of Planet Lotus fame was curious (yes he actually used the word curiosity so I had to answer him 🙂 ) What does it take to implement Lotus Connections.  So I hope this helps answer the question. If you are just looking to get exposed to the functionality of Lotus Connections there is a Pilot Install available, the pilot install will handle the WAS, DB2 and Lotus Connections install with a simple wizard.  I posted about the pilot install when it was introduced in 1.0.1.  The install is easy, you will be up and running in 30-60 minutes depending on the machine you install it on, and you can test drive connections.  The pilot install does not include the HTTP server so you have to include the port number in the URL, not a big deal for a test drive.  In addition conversion of a pilot install to production is supported. Moving on to a production install, I will address each component and it’s requirements, I am not going to cover LDAP here as most organizations already have their LDAP directory in place, and will use the existing directory for Connections. (supported LDAP Servers are Domino 7.0.2 or later, Tivoli Directory Server, Sun Java System Directory 5.2, or Microsoft Active Directory 2003) Websphere Application Server (WAS) – The five Lotus Connections services are Websphere applications so the first task is to install Websphere, note that there are two versions of websphere WAS or WAS Network Deployment, (WAS ND) if you are planning on doing clustering you must use the WAS ND Installer.  You can install Websphere on Windows 2003 (Standard or Enterprise), Red Hat ES 4, SUSE Enterprise 10 Server, or AIX or later.  The installation of Websphere takes anywhere from 20 minutes or longer depending on your hardware. You also need to install the WAS Update Installer, and install the Required Fixes, I would plan 2 hours to get Websphere and all the patches installed.   Database – There are three supported Databases, DB2 9.1, Oracle 10g  or MS SQL 2005 Enterprise (note should you go the SQL Route you need to use Windows 2003 Enterprise not standard for both the DB as well as WAS).  In a production environment it is recommended that the DB Server be on separate hardware from WAS.  Remember you will be creating 5 databases one for each feature. I would suggest the following guide to selecting a database platform, if you have any one of the supported databases in your organization already, and a dedicated team of DBA’s who manage it, go with that and nicely convince them to create and manage your databases.  If you don’t have an existing database environment, then use DB2 as you get the limited license to use it with Connections when you purchase Connections. Tivoli Directory Integrator (TDI) – TDI is used to populate the Profiles database, and sync data from different sources (LDAP, HR System etc) on an ongoing basis, the recommendation if possible is to install TDI on the same box as the database. At this point you have the minimum requirements you need start the actual Lotus Connections install, but…. there are some other recommended components IBM HTTP Server for WAS (IHS) – you need to install the HTTP server which is an IBM implementation of apache if you want URL’s that don’t contain port numbers when you access Lotus Connections, simply put it is the difference between a link like this “http: //myconnectionssever:9080/activites” or “http: //myconnectionserver/activities”.  I would also caution you that each Connections service will have it’s own port number, so you probably want to use an HTTP server, you can map all five services to one HTTP server.  Again in production you want this on a separate box then WAS or the DB.  When installing IHS make sure you install the plugins for WAS.  You will need  an hour to install and configure IHS. Caching Proxy – it is strongly recommended to place a caching proxy in front of the IHS Server, if you have an existing caching proxy you can use that, or you can use Websphere Edge Components.  This can greatly improve performance, and maximize the resources of you IHS and WAS servers. There are a few tasks left before you are ready to install Lotus Connections Database Creation, depending on your database platform the Infocenter contains instructions on creating the databases for Connections, and the scripts are contained in the install.  I have created the databases on DB2, it will take you five minutes to create the databases for Activities, Blogs, Communities, and Dogear.  Profiles will be a little more involved as you need to install TDI, create the database, map the fields from your directory, and then populate it from your LDAP.  Depending on the size of your directory this could take a while to run.  Once I had TDI configured and my fields mapped it took about 20 minutes for my database to populate 20,000 users.   At this point you have some decisions to make regarding your WAS architecture, you can create multiple WAS Profiles with in one WAS installation and install each feature in it’s own profile (this is recommended and supported) or you can have multiple installations of WAS which means more hardware of course.  I will talk more about how to do this and sizing in Part 2 (hopefully tomorrow).  If you are looking to do a simple proof of concept install (and did not use the pilot install) you can install all 5 services in one profile, however this is not recommended for  production, and if you are doing clustering will provide some serious limitations. Once you have created your WAS profiles, you need to configure Federated Repositories, this connects WAS to your LDAP directory. Congratulations you are now ready to install Lotus Connections.  As you hopefully realize at this point, Lotus Connections is made up of five services (Activities, Blogs, Communities, Dogear, Profiles)  each service is it’s own install so if you are planning on running all five services you will be running the installer five times. So this is Part 1, in Part 2 I will
talk about WAS and considerations for how many profiles, some more detailed requirements, and clustering.  In Part 3 I will cover more on the specific requirements for each Connections feature, ,and in Part 4 I will cover more on TDI, so stay tuned for more.  

11 Responses to Lotus Connections Requirements and Architecture – Part 1 Components of Connections
  1. Bruce Elgort
    February 14, 2008 | 12:20 am

    So Mitch how many physical servers does it take for a company wanting to run a clustered WAS/DB2 Connections site require for say 1,000 users?

  2. Michelle O'Rorke
    February 14, 2008 | 1:20 am

    Bruce – I count 10 from the above description

    WAS x 5

    Even if a company already has a database server, ldap, http and proxy servers, that’s a big commitment. If you then need to duplicate your production environment for ongoing testing ….. even on virtual servers that’s a lot of hardware AND support services Emoticon

  3. Yancy Lent
    February 14, 2008 | 10:06 am

    This is PRICELESS! Thank you!

  4. Bruce Elgort
    February 14, 2008 | 10:10 am


    Thanks for the response. I am speechless.

  5. Nathan T. Freeman
    February 14, 2008 | 3:19 pm

    “how many physical servers does it take?”

    One, of course. We live in a world of virtualization.

    I am intimately familiar with a large, public-facing Connections implementation with 1000 users that’s on one physical piece of hardware.

  6. Bruce Elgort
    February 14, 2008 | 3:19 pm


    I meant Michelle not Mitch in my previous comment.

  7. Mitch Cohen
    February 14, 2008 | 8:59 pm

    @ Bruce / Michelle

    10 is probably a very high end number. You counted 5 instances of WAS, which is not required, you can install all 5 services with in one WAS instance, and certainly for 1000 users that would do. TDI can go on the same instance as the DB.

    A more realistic number would be 5 if you did


    This does not include redundancy, you need to make a decision how important that is to you, to me it is worth the extra hardware to have redundancy.

    Part 2 with more details on WAS configuration is coming, just might not get it done before the weekend.

  8. Chris Whisonant
    February 15, 2008 | 11:34 am

    Mitch – thanks for the posting!! It’s been dogeared… Emoticon

    @7 – Yes, you can achieve very good performance on a single piece of hardware running the 5 VMs you listed Mitch. You can even throw in a Sametime server and dev Domino box too… Emoticon

  9. Randy Davison
    February 15, 2008 | 3:00 pm

    @8 – What kind of box do you need to run the 5 VMs?Emoticon

  10. Bruce Elgort
    February 15, 2008 | 4:15 pm

    One other thing to address is how much all of this costs. That would be appreciated.

  11. Paul Ryan
    February 15, 2008 | 6:46 pm

    @8 Chris, what are the basic specs on that “piece of hardware”? TIA!