I had been asked, what exactly I will be missing, if I don’t have the Component Pack / Customizer Lite / Elasticsearch standalone installed, as these add additional functionalities, which in some parts integrate seamlessly and it is hard to tell which component it is based on. The reason behind this question is, that the Component Pack requires a different technology stack (Docker, Kubernetes, Helm) than the base Connections one, which is built on WebSphere, so some customers have not deployed that, yet.
The Component Pack right now basically has 3 major components it provides: Orient Me, Customizer as well as the Elasticsearch stack.
Orient Me – a smarter Homepage for you
Orient Me gives you the new, sleek and smarter Homepage. Using some of the great features from Verse, such as the important to me bar, it allows you to easily find out what happened in your network, supported by analytics helping you to focus on things relevant to you as well as offering great and easy to use filtering mechanisms to drill down to the news you need.
Customizer – have Connections your way
Customizer on the other hand allows you to change the appearance of IBM Connections without having to change actual Connections files and allows for easier integration of other solutions as well as changing the way Connections behaves (for example remove buttons such as “Create Community”). The targeting options allow you to provide certain designs and functions down to single persons. This way you can have a specific design and color scheme for one part of a company, a different one for another part and the administrators can see everything in an IBM default theme. This allows for a much better appearance and acceptance. IBM also delivers new themes such as the code named “Periscope” Visual Update for Connections via Customizer.
Elasticsearch – know your Connections
Elasticsearch, as a search engine, is in IBM Connections also used to collect information and have them ready for analysis. Last year IBM has made a switch from Cognos for Connections usage metrics to Elasticsearch. So if you want to explore the usage patterns of IBM Connections, then the Elasticsearch based Metrics application is the default tool for it.
But Elasticsearch is also used in a feature introduced in Connections 6.0 CR3: Recent Files. Only when you have Elasticsearch deployed, this extra navigation point appears in your files application and allows you to see all documents, that you have recently accessed. It does not need to be shared with you, be in one of the Communities you are part in or be one of your own files. If you found it somewhere, viewed it, Connections will remember it and show it here along with easy filtering for finding something specific. This of course makes it much easier to find Files that you remember you had accessed earlier.
What is based WebSphere technology?
Essentially everything else. 😉 Also the completely re-designed Community catalog page including the recent communities as well as the highlights app introduced in CR3 are built on the WebSphere stack.
So while you can live without the component pack, it does deliver some great additional value to Connections 6.0.