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How to get Lotus Notes 8.5 work with slow network?

Posted on 2012-09-11
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We consolidated our Lotus Notes email servers to central site (Europe) several months ago. We notice steadily increase of Notes traffic on the Asia to Europe WAN link. It consumes now over 60% of total bandwidth.
Since the users have Notes client on their PC working on the local replica, we thought it should be fine to limit the bandwidth for Notes. Last night, we applied traffic police on the WAN router and cap the Notes traffic to 40% of bandwidth.
Unfortunately, it became a disaster. When users send mail, they may fail to connect the server (that is expected) and then stuck, can not do anything in Notes client until times out, and then get the error saying can not connect server. While what we thought when Notes client fails to connect to server, it should drop the mail into the local mailbox and wait for next replication. But it is totally not the case.
The Notes client setting was controled by the central Notes team. We have only one location, and in there the mail file location is 'on Server' un changable. My questions are
1. what if we keep one location but change the Mail file location to local?
2. is there standard or better way to get Notes client work in a 'slow' network environment?
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Question by:MatthewLiu
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Expert Comment

by:nikko31330
ID: 38389856
Hello ,
Several options can be done :

On  clients :

1. change in users names.nsf in the location , the location of the mail file to local
2. Network preferences  , you can setup to compress and encrypt TCP port

On servers :
1. policy for the mail file of users can be setup to managed replicas

regards,
Nicolas
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Expert Comment

by:Sjef Bosman
ID: 38390311
You could indeed configure everybody's Notes client for local mail, but I don't see that as a permanent solution. Users will start to complain even more, about mail arriving late, either on their side or the destination, since replication happens only every hour, normally. You could of course increase the replication frequency, but that would increase bandwidth usage and lead to congestion too.

IMHO there are 2 potential solutions:
1/ a Domino environment is especially designed to support multiple servers with low band-width connections; you could place one or more servers (a cluster) in Asia, thereby reducing the number of connections to the Europe environment
2/ you could add one or more WAN interfaces (or allow access to your servers via Internet)

I understand that you consolidated all servers in one location to reduce costs, but what you created is a far from optimal solution in Notes terms. If you had asked this before the consolidation, I would have strongly advised against it.
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Expert Comment

by:akhafaf
ID: 38390507
Hi there MatthewLiu,,,

In fact, we had a similar problem and only 10% of the network band wedth was assigned to Lotus notes users of the branches which was a real night mare !!!!
The solution we implemented almost 3 years ago when 8.5.3 version was luanched is to make all the braches users ( more than 1500 users ) to access their emails using the Inotes Lite Edition ,, The network problem was solved , it required less support efforts only you need to train users how to use it and that's it .... and not extra charges

So, try it with one user and see..

Please have the time to look at these URLs :
http://www-10.lotus.com/ldd/dominowiki.nsf/dx/Feature_comparison_in_Lotus_iNotes_8.5.1_full_lite_and_ultra-light_modes
http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/lotus/library/inotes-lite/
http://publib.boulder.ibm.com/infocenter/domhelp/v8r0/index.jsp?topic=%2Fcom.ibm.help.domino.admin85.doc%2FH_LOTUS_INOTES_LITE_MODE_OVER.html

Best Wishes
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Author Comment

by:MatthewLiu
ID: 38390877
Nicolas, the mail file location field in locked (not changable). The Notes admin just told me that even it is shown as 'on Server', it is actually 'on local'. He asked me to confirm this by checking the properties of the mail database. It does show as 'local'. See attachment.
and from the picture, you can see we are using manged replica.
As the data compress,  seems the confgure tab is hidden by admin. but anyway, as said we have had CISCO WAVE box that optimizes the Notes traffic up to 50+%. See no more room to improve.
Notes.PNG
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Author Comment

by:MatthewLiu
ID: 38390944
sjef_bosman, I cannot agree more on your comment of Notes distributed architecture. actually, that was the way. Unfortunately, it was changed for many other reasons ...
Today, all clients are already on local copy. and it was communicated clearly that email is NOT a realtime communication tool. However, the problem now is that it is unacceptable to users that the Notes is totally 'hang' when sending mail ...
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Author Comment

by:MatthewLiu
ID: 38390982
akhafaf, iNotes (webmail) is used here for shared PC users (bluecollar in workshop). I feel it will be quite challenging to convince office users switch from Notes client to iNotes. Howerver, this could be last thing we can do before we get WAN upgraded.
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Expert Comment

by:Sjef Bosman
ID: 38390991
And I agree with you 100% that mail is inherently slow, but dead slow just isn't acceptable. Are there other valid reasons than cutting costs to consolidate everything in one data centre? It seems to me that one too many cost was cut. You need some redundancy in a network, also to allow for peak charges. Can your users connect to your servers via the Internet, on the Domino port (1352)?
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Author Comment

by:MatthewLiu
ID: 38391155
sjef_bosman, we did have another project called hybrid WAN to offload non business critical traffic including Notes to Internet VPN, which should be much cheaper. However, mandatory security requirements make the total cost ridiculous high. I do not think it will move anymore. btw, we are a French company.
eventually, top management has agreed to upgrade the bandwidth. but due to long leadtime, it will be 3 months later.
I am searching the doc on 'managed replica' to understand whether it is possible to do 'asychronized' sending
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Expert Comment

by:Sjef Bosman
ID: 38391371
What security measures could be more stringent than Domino already offers??
1/ you can encrypt all network traffic between Notes and servers, on port 1352
2/ if that isn't enough, you can put a pass-thru Domino server in a DMZ, and then use it to allow users to access internal databases

See https://supportforums.cisco.com/thread/221359 especially the image

btw I am a French citizen (but I do not have the French nationality)
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Author Comment

by:MatthewLiu
ID: 38391684
sjef_bosman, as I understand, per our security guys' requirements, we need have 2 layers of firewall from 2 different vendors and with full redundant links, routers, firewall. sometimes, I just can not understand what they are thinking ...
anyway, I find some interesting articles and looks our system is not working as designed I think.
this one is much clearer.

http://www.domino.club.tw/bbs/bbs2002.nsf/%28$All%29/B6D179EA2A29BCF348257A2F000BE0A3?OpenDocument&View=

One of the goals of the managed replica is to never block the user interface due to network latency/connection issues. This is especially important in the cloud environment. For this reason, a managed replica should always be used with the SendOutgoingMailThreshold parameter set to one. When the user sends an e-mail, it will be dropped locally in the mail.box file and the user can continue on to the next operation without waiting for the transfer to the server to complete. If the threshold is set correctly (to one) the background replicator will immediately transfer the message to the server's mailbox. Because this happens in a background process, the user interface is not blocked or delayed.

but my notes.ini has the line OutgoingMailSendThreshold=1...
something else needs to be checked.
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Author Comment

by:MatthewLiu
ID: 38393756
I think based on all the info, managed replica should be the solution, but there seems problem in our setting. may raise another question separately. thanks all for the comments.
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Author Comment

by:MatthewLiu
ID: 38401727
I've requested that this question be closed as follows:

Accepted answer: 0 points for MatthewLiu's comment #a38393756
Assisted answer: 100 points for nikko31330's comment #a38389856
Assisted answer: 200 points for sjef_bosman's comment #a38390311
Assisted answer: 200 points for akhafaf's comment #a38390507

for the following reason:

comments are helpful. but I may need further help to dig in our settings
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Expert Comment

by:Sjef Bosman
ID: 38394052
Yes: you might check the Notes/Domino versions... You never replied on our (implicit) question which version you have. R8.5.0 is crap, R8.5.1 isn't much better, R8.5.2 is passable, and R8.5.3 is a good one.

Anyway, your problem isn't Notes or Domino. Your problem is the security guys. You could call them in in a meeting, and ask them to prove that Domino security over port 1352 isn't enough. A warning: you won't be making friends if you do that!

If security is such an important issue in your company (apparently that is the case, for you have to find uncommon solutions to a common problem), better find a better way to handle it.
Interesting reading:
- http://www-01.ibm.com/support/docview.wss?uid=swg27009326
I can recommend the RedBooks on Security, especially the Lotus Security Handbook.

I'm not going to object, but I think it's a pity you intend close the question like you do. Some important information was left out, i.e. the fact that the whole question is about the use of managed replicas. The answer you wanted to hear isn't there, but the overall answer is present: the approach needs to be reviewed. It's like you're in a car, it doesn't go fast enough, we find out that someone is afraid and holds the brakes all the time, and you propose to lower the roof for less friction...

My question: am I still making friends here?

Good luck in finding a solution. I'd love to hear the outcome! ;-)
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Author Comment

by:MatthewLiu
ID: 38394917
sjef_bosman,  yes, I really appreciate all the comments and discussions. They are all very relevant to the topic 'How to get Lotus Notes 8.5 work with slow network'. The distributed infrastrucutre, lightweight client, separated link are the right direction which we should follow.
Unfortunately, I am not the decision maker. The decision has been made to upgrade bandwidth (triple).
unless I can figure out the exact error in the Notes setting, seems no one here is willing to talk about Notes any more. So I am going to close this 'strategic' topic and switch to 'tactic' one :-)
btw, our Notes client is 8.5.2 PF3.
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Expert Comment

by:Sjef Bosman
ID: 38395161
Aaaaaaargh! Sometimes, these French...
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Accepted Solution

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ThomasMcA2 earned 1500 total points
ID: 38400022
Here is a quote from the Beginners guide to Lotus Notes and Domino:

Lotus Notes is as secure as they come. In fact, the CIA was an early Lotus customer (and still is), and much of Notes' security was built to CIA specifications. A full treatment of security features would take an entire book.

1) The graphic of the mail file that you showed merely shows that a database lives "On Local." It does not show that Notes is using that local file instead of the server one. For that, check the current Location Document > Mail tab. If the Mail file location says Local, then Notes is using the local database that the Mail file setting points to.

2) To alleviate the performance issue when sending mail, change the bottom setting (Transfer outgoing mail if) in the Location document > Mail tab to 1.

3) Change the replication to 10 minutes in the Location Document > Replication tab. Also set/enable the Replicate when Notes starts option, and the Prompt to replicate when Notes shuts down options.

We had 1,500 users on 2 clustered servers, and 1,200 of them were remote WAN users. Performance was fine, in part because of using local replicas for every database, not just mail databases.

Point 1 (above) tells Notes to use the local mail.box. Point 2 tells Notes to replicate in the background immediately after a new email is created. Point 3 will help alleviate the delay in receiving email. Since Point 3 did not make the process fast enough for some users, we trained them to hit the Start Now button on the Replicator Page when they needed something right away.
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Author Comment

by:MatthewLiu
ID: 38401726
ThomasMcA2, noted point 3.
For point 1, as mentioned, the mail file location is 'on Server'. However, our Notes people told me it is not the effective one. what does matter is the Application | Properties ...
For point 2, I guess the setting you mentioned is on server. on client, it think it is the OutgoingMailSendThreshold=1 in Notes.ini. Actually, I just found onething interesting thing.
From backup copies, I can see this option (OutgoingMailSendThreshold=1) was in my note.ini before 2PM. However, at about 3PM, when I tried to send a meeting invitation without connecting VPN, I found Notes tried to connect server and eventually failed with error saying 'The remote server is not a known TCP/IP host'. I checked the notes.ini, and that line is gone.
I noticed that the copy of Notes.ini in DesktopManager does NOT have this line. (BTW, DesktopManager is the tool installed on each PC during the Notes mail upgrade (from 6.5 to 8.5) and migration (from local server to central). I'd guess it might be related, and reported to the central support team. If that is the case, it is kind of problem of our specific environment...
mailsetting.PNG
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Expert Comment

by:ThomasMcA2
ID: 38402501
My Point 1 described the R7 way. Sorry about the confusion.

My Point 2 is also the R7 way, but OutgoingMailSendThreshold=1 is the 8.5.2 way.

I have seen corrupted notes.ini files that "lost" entries. Does DesktopManager ever restore notes.ini? Maybe it restored an older version.
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Expert Comment

by:Sjef Bosman
ID: 38402988
PS I truly hope for you that mail performs better after you applied the changes. Now, could you please give us some feedback when you have some results, so when all user PC have been updated and you you did some tests? Bandwidth, user experience, mail throughput, etc? I'd really appreciate it!
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Author Comment

by:MatthewLiu
ID: 38403104
ThomasMcA2, I have raised the case to central team to check the DesktopManager. Yes, it may restored default or very old version.

sjef_bosman, I will try to share the progress. But you know the speed in FR company :-).
and another good and bad news. we found 1 of 5 E1 lines got circuit issue and high packet drop. It was particially fixed this weekend. People believe now with appropriate QoS, Notes traffic (which is in low priority queue) should not impact business critical applications any more. Thus it becomes less urgent to control Notes traffic. We will see.
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