Ion General FAQs

What is Browsium Ion?

Browsium Ion is a web application remediation and browser management solution for enterprise, designed to simplify browser migration and enable IT to maintain control over browser compatibility and security.

Ion enables legacy IE-dependent line of business applications to run in modern versions of Internet Explorer, without rewriting applications or installing expensive and complex virtualization solutions. Ion also provides granular control for maximum compatibility and security, while allowing multiple versions of Java to run side-by-side on a single system. And, Ion works with your existing IT infrastructure, requiring no new servers or changes to your desktop management strategy.

With Ion, there is no longer a need for organizations to spend millions of dollars to rewrite web applications or to install expensive and complex virtualization solutions before upgrading OS and browser platforms. Instead, they can spend their valuable IT resources upgrading desktops, deploying new solutions, and running their core business. With Ion, organizations can upgrade their OS and browser platforms organization-wide immediately and then rewrite or replace legacy applications on an independent schedule.

Ion is part of Browsium’s browser management platform which provides enterprise IT with granular control of their browser environments, to optimize both web application compatibility and security. This platform enables a quick and cost-effective response to changes in web technology, without compromising legacy or modern business applications.

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How does Ion work?

When IT administrators deploy the Ion add-on to all PCs that need some legacy compatibility, set of opt-in profiles and rules are created that control which sites (usually intranet sites) need to be rendered using legacy rendering modes and specific browser settings for backward compatibility. The profiles and rules are deployed via Group Policy or an XML file. Sites that are not explicitly designated in the Ion configuration run in the native, unmanaged IE window. End users have no control over, or knowledge of, the Ion configuration. They simply access Internet and intranet sites as they normally would (links, favorites, searches, typed addresses) and Ion ensures that the page loads with the appropriate rendering mode and settings to ensure the application functions properly.

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Can I implement Browsium Ion myself or should I hire a professional?

If you’re an IT professional managing a large-scale Windows migration for your organization, you and your team are experts in the things that matter the most to your success. These include PC hardware, Windows image configuration and deployment, user state migration, application packaging, and software distribution systems. Odds are that remediating web applications is not core to your daily job. And remediating them with Browsium Ion is yet another challenge as Ion is a very powerful, yet also very complex, tool.

So the short answer is that yes, you can use Ion yourself and some customers have had great success using it. But for most customers, hiring a professional who understands both the science and the art of using Ion to remediate large scale web applications is a far better choice. This will save you both time and money, while accelerating your browser and operating system migration project – which is what you’re paid to deliver in the end anyhow. The Browsium JumpStart Program is a turnkey solution, delivered by Browsium consultants or our Certified Partners, enabling a single IE6- or IE7-dependent application (of your choosing) to run on IE8, IE9 or IE10, from initial discovery of application defects through complete remediation and production deployment of Browsium Ion to the end users of that application. Please read about the JumpStart Program, and then let’s talk.

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Can’t I just use virtualization to achieve application compatibility?

Virtualization is a tactical solution for web application compatibility issues. This solution gives no thought to a long-term browser management strategy which is essential in today’s enterprise web browser environments.

Virtualization requires the expensive and complex simulation of underlying hardware and software infrastructure.  It also requires organizations to purchase additional software licenses; secure, patch and configure each operating system and browser; and install additional servers and network capacity. This not only creates on-going excessive IT management overhead and recurring hardware and software costs, but it also creates confusing functional environments at the user’s desktop.

Web application compatibility can be accomplished more effectively and strategically with a browser management platform.  Browsium’s browser management platform enables your organization to run legacy applications on modern browsers and pair all web applications with the most compatible browser without adding infrastructure and the associated management costs. The result is forward compatibility for web applications, backward compatibility for browsers, and a more secure browser environment.

Browsium’s solutions are less expensive, with less recurring cost and management overhead, and provide a better user experience when compared with virtualization.

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Can’t I achieve application compatibility by rewriting our custom applications?

Rewriting applications is an expensive and often unproductive strategy – both in financial terms and in terms of opportunity cost.

Some companies estimate that re-writing just one legacy application to function properly in a modern browser can cost millions of dollars. Compounding the problem – and increasing the cost – is the possibility that the developers who wrote the code may no longer work for the organization or be available for legacy application maintenance assignments; the software supplier may be out of business (if a 3rd party was used); or the application may rely on technology which is no longer supported.

In addition, committing engineering resources to rewrite legacy applications means there will be fewer engineering resources available to use technology to innovate and improve competitiveness. Furthermore, IT groups often don’t have managerial control over development teams, so IT has limited ability to manage priorities and schedules.

Web application compatibility can be accomplished more effectively with a browser management platform which enables your organization to run legacy applications on modern browsers and pair all web applications with the most compatible browser.

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Can’t we achieve application compatibility by upgrading our commercial applications?

Upgrading commercial applications is often far more difficult and expensive than expected. First, it assumes the software vendor still offers a viable upgrade path for your legacy application. Don’t be surprised to find that your vendor has discontinued the product or stopped supporting it. Even if the product is being kept current, do you still have an active maintenance contract? Renewing maintenance can be cost prohibitive. In addition, with an upgrade, the cost of installing the software, testing your business processes, and training users can be staggering. Reintegration of data and customization of the upgraded application can be as hard as rewriting the entire application or deploying something new, so an upgrade can often be more complex than anticipated, with costs far exceeding the value realized.

By managing your organization’s browsers instead of constantly upgrading legacy applications, you can continue using your business-critical web applications until you’re ready to upgrade or replace them, thus avoiding the endless cycle of upgrading, installing, reintegrating data, customizing, testing, and training users. A browser management platform will enable your organization to run legacy applications on modern browsers and pair all web applications with the most compatible browser.

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What can Browsium products do for my company in the long-term?

Browsium is dedicated to “future proofing” your enterprise browser environment for optimum compatibility and security. Change in enterprise web browsers is inevitable. Browsers are continually evolving with new features and security, while older versions – the versions you have deployed – are quickly unsupported by the vendors. New applications, with modern browser requirements, are constantly required by the business, while legacy application replacement projects take far longer than planned. Together, these changes burden you with the seemingly impossible task of supporting modern and legacy applications and browsers side-by-side.

But this task is not impossible. You can upgrade your applications and your infrastructure when it makes sense for you – not on a timeline dictated by your OS and application vendors. You just need a browser management platform to shield your organization from the pain of compromised compatibility and security, while allowing you to use the systems and solutions your business requires today and in the future.

Browsium’s browser management platform, brings your organization comprehensive browser compatibility today and for the future. Specifically, our products enable you to run legacy applications on modern browsers and pair all web applications with the most compatible browser, be it Internet Explorer, Chrome or Firefox. The result is forward compatibility for web applications, backward compatibility for browsers, and a more secure browser environment.

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What are the minimum system requirements for Ion?

Browsium Ion has been designed to be lightweight. In general, if your system can run Windows, it can run Ion. The specific minimum requirements for Ion 3.3 are:

Operating System Windows XP
Windows 7
Windows 8
Windows Server 2003
Windows Server 2008 R2
Windows Server 2012 R2
Browsers Internet Explorer 8
Internet Explorer 9
Internet Explorer 10
Internet Explorer 11
.NET Framework Version 3.5 SP1
Processor 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
Memory 1 gigabyte (GB) RAM for desktop PCs
2 gigabytes (GB) RAM for multi-user servers

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How does Browsium Ion enable my enterprise to use legacy applications?

Browsium Ion cost-effectively enables legacy IE-dependent line-of-business web applications to run in modern browsers with no server-side code changes. This web application remediation tool also allows you to manage and secure Java. Ion is not virtualization, does not run a separate version of Internet Explorer, and does not change the default browser or normal browsing behavior. It is simply a granular management tool for Internet Explorer that provides the control to enable legacy applications to run properly in a modern browser, without security or compatibility tradeoffs.

When IT administrators deploy Ion to all PCs in need of legacy application compatibility, end users have no knowledge of, or control over, the Ion configuration. They simply access Internet and intranet sites as they normally would (links, favorites, searches, typed addresses) and Ion ensures the pages load with the appropriate rendering mode and settings to ensure the applications function properly.

Learn more about Browsium Ion.

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Are multi-browser environments the trend in IT organizations?

Yes. As browsers have become a critical component of every enterprise infrastructure, Gartner Research* has advised against enterprises standardizing on a single browser. This recommendation was first delivered in 1997 and continues today as web-based business applications become more and more pervasive, whether hosted internally or delivered via global SaaS providers. In addition, Gartner long ago outlined the tradeoffs between manageability and agility, along with the serious security implications of a single browser strategy in the enterprise.

* Source: Gartner Report “Organizations Should Still Say No to Standardizing on One Browser” Published 26 February 2010.

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Can I use Browsium’s products, Ion and Catalyst, together?

Yes. Together, Browsium Ion and Browsium Catalyst create Browsium’s browser management platform. Our  platform provides enterprise IT with granular control of their browser environments, to optimize both web application compatibility and security today and for the future. This enables a quick and cost-effective response to changes in web technology, without compromising legacy or modern business applications.

Here is how each software solution in our platform works:

Browsium Ion

Browsium Ion is a web application remediation and browser management solution for enterprise, designed to simplify browser migration and enable IT to maintain control over browser compatibility and security.

Ion enables legacy IE-dependent line of business applications to run in modern versions of Internet Explorer, without rewriting applications or installing expensive and complex virtualization solutions. Ion also provides granular control for maximum compatibility and security, while allowing multiple versions of Java to run side-by-side on a single system. And, Ion works with your existing IT infrastructure, requiring no new servers or changes to your desktop management strategy.

Browsium Catalyst

Browsium Catalyst is a multi-browser web traffic manager for the enterprise, enabling IT to pair all web applications with the most compatible and secure browser.

Catalyst works with Internet Explorer, Chrome, and Firefox on all PCs in the enterprise. IT creates the Catalyst rules to govern which browser opens each web application throughout the organization. This configuration is then deployed to end user PCs using management tools already in place.

Catalyst delivers browser choice, a more secure computing environment, and a transparent end-user experience, resulting reduced IT management costs and improved end user productivity.

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What features are being added to Ion and Catalyst in the future?

Browsium is committed to creating products which “future proof” your enterprise browser environment for optimum compatibility and security. To that end, we are making ongoing investments in adding capabilities such as: improved performance, easier configuration development, browser usage metrics and reporting, improved support for virtualized browsers, and much more.

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What is the difference between Catalyst and Ion?

Browsium Catalyst

Browsium Catalyst is a multi-browser web traffic manager for the enterprise, enabling IT to pair all web applications with the most compatible and secure browser.

Catalyst works with Internet Explorer, Chrome, and Firefox on all PCs in the enterprise. IT creates the Catalyst rules to govern which browser opens each web application throughout the organization. This configuration is then deployed to end user PCs using management tools already in place.

Catalyst delivers browser choice, a more secure computing environment, and a transparent end-user experience, resulting reduced IT management costs and improved end user productivity. It’s simple to use, requiring no outside professional services for configuration and deployment.

Browsium Ion

Browsium Ion is a web application remediation and browser management solution for enterprise, designed to simplify browser migration and enable IT to maintain control over browser compatibility and security. 

We have published an overview of the specific environments which will benefit from Ion, Catalyst, or both products used together.

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Can Ion be used to upgrade to IE8 on Windows XP?

Yes, Ion works on both Windows XP and Windows 7. It enables end users to use IE8 on Windows XP as their default browser but render specific websites (determined by IT administrators) using legacy rendering modes for backward compatibility.

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Does Ion support Windows 8 or IE11?

Yes, beginning with Ion 3.2, Windows 8.1 with IE11 and IE11 on Windows 7 are supported.

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Does Ion support IE7?

No, Ion starts support at IE8 on Windows XP and also supports IE8, IE9, and IE10 on Windows 7. Ion can help today if your web applications render properly using Compatibility View feature but require specific browser settings, Java plugins, or ActiveX controls. Ion includes two IE7 Profiles (called “Emulate IE7″ and “IE7 Standards”). Using those Profiles you can get the required rendering behavior combined with the ActiveX controls and browser settings you want – without compromising your default IE configuration.

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What are Profiles?

Profiles are groups of settings and configuration options tied to a particular browser engine. Profiles enable you to set specific registry values or define custom ActiveX settings to ensure a web application runs properly if it requires specific versions or settings. For example, Profiles enable you to have the granular control to set the 1.05 version of the JVM for a single page, while the rest of that web application uses JVM version 1.3, etc.

Using Profiles, you can isolate the settings required for one application to run from all your other applications, meaning that for one application or web page you can invoke a legacy IE engine, an old version of Java, and custom security settings, but for everything else, the default software (IE8 or IE9, the latest version of Java, etc.) will be used.

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Does Microsoft support Ion?

Ion is a 3rd party product created and sold by Browsium and Microsoft is not responsible for supporting any 3rd party products. However Microsoft is responsible for supporting Windows and IE (per Microsoft’s support lifecycle policy) and will continue to do so after any 3rd party product is installed, including Ion. Ion does not modify the core Windows system or configurations and like other 3rd party add-ons for IE, Ion can be easily disabled if directed by Microsoft support in order to investigate issues with the natively installed IE version. Browsium is responsible for supporting the Ion product. If Ion is not working at parity with a standalone legacy installation of Internet Explorer, Browsium will make commercially reasonable efforts to modify the Ion software or provide guidance for the customer to resolve the issue.

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Microsoft says that running multiple instances or versions of Internet Explorer is unsupported. Is Ion affected by this?

No, Ion complies fully with this Microsoft policy. Ion does not install or run a separate instance or version of Internet Explorer, and doesn’t repackage executable components of Internet Explorer. Instead, it provides granular management of the rendering engines and settings built into IE8, IE9 and IE10, thus enabling configurations that allow legacy applications to run unmodified in modern versions of Internet Explorer. Running Ion inside of IE8, IE9, or IE10 is very similar to Internet Explorer’s own Compatibility View which invokes a legacy rendering engine inside of the Internet Explorer application. Ion does this with even more granular control so that each browser tab can use the built-in rendering engine and settings required for a specific web application. Tabs not managed by Ion use the modern and secure default engines and settings provided by Internet Explorer.

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Isn’t Microsoft trying to get customers to stop using IE6 because of security concerns?

Absolutely. That’s why Ion is such a smart solution to the problem. Ion allows IT administrators to upgrade all of their desktops to modern versions of Internet Explorer (IE8 on Windows XP and IE8, IE9, or IE10 on Windows 7) and define which intranet websites will render using one of Internet Explorer’s built in legacy rendering modes and custom settings required to properly run the application. All other sites use default modern rendering mode and the default settings. With Ion, enterprises can say goodbye to legacy Internet Explorer  immediately, while still continuing to use their business-critical applications that were built for, and only work with, much older versions of Internet Explorer.

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If Ion is such a simple and clean solution, why didn’t Microsoft just include that functionality inside modern versions of IE?

Ion achieves high degrees of compatibility with legacy web applications via a combination of granular control over the rendering modes built into modern versions of Internet Explorer, along with the ability to modify browser and security settings application by application. Browsium’s patented technology makes this all possible.

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What happens if Microsoft releases a security patch for Internet Explorer? Will Ion be updated?

Browsium Ion has been carefully built using only supported and documented APIs and features provided by Microsoft. Patented technology in Ion enables the software to deliver granular control over Internet Explorer rendering modes and settings while remaining in compliance with Microsoft development guidelines and without modifying any Windows system components. Therefore Ion will not be affected by routine Internet Explorer security patches. When Microsoft releases patches for Internet Explorer, you can update your client PCs with the security updates on your normal schedule.

Typically Microsoft will only modify supported and documented APIs in major new releases of the browser, as changes of this magnitude can affect many Internet Explorer add-ons (toolbars, browser helper objects, ActiveX Controls). Browsium always evaluates every new Internet Explorer release to determine if Ion must be modified to be compatible. If we determine that an update is needed, we strive to release the new version of Ion soon after the new browser release.

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How do I create a Profile?

Profiles are created using the Configuration Manager. Simply create a Project then choose “Add Profile” from the action pane on the right side of the manager. Choose the IE rendering mode you need and then name your new Profile. That’s all it takes. From there you have the option to make custom file, registry and ActiveX settings and more for the Profile if your web applications require that level of system configuration.

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How do I manage Ion rules?

All Ion rules are managed through the Configuration Manager. Making a rule is very simple – just select your options from the dropdown lists, enter the URL, domain name or pattern to be matched and select which Profile should be used to render that rule. You’ll also need to give the rule a unique name. More information about Ion rules are provided in the Ion Administration Guide.

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What is Adaptive Quirks Mode and how does it compare to IE’s Quirks Mode?

Quirks Mode can solve issues for many websites.  Unfortunately, there are two issues with Internet Explorer which prevent Quirks mode from being effective:

  1.  The inability to properly determine the correct time to invoke Quirks mode (based on the where and how a page invokes a DOCTYPE).
  2.  The lack of granular control beyond the domain level without a code change.

The Adaptive Quirks Mode solves both of these problems by providing an intelligent, adaptive Quirks mode that analyzes the code on a webpage and makes a decision at runtime when and how Quirks Mode should be invoked for a specific page or pages. More information can be found in the Adaptive Quirks blog post.

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Does Ion require system admin rights?

No, Ion has been designed as a per-user application. We worked hard to make sure Ion is very lightweight, easily deployed and requires no special configurations to run. Ion will work the same if the user has local admin rights or on locked down machine configurations.

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How do I deploy Ion?

Ion can be deployed using any infrastructure technology you are using today. We don’t make any assumptions about or put requirements on your infrastructure in order to deploy Ion. The user mode package is created as an MSI, so you can choose to distribute it as is or you can extract out the pieces and rebuild it for your preferences or needs. If you prefer not to use an MSI installer, you can unpack the Ion files in a single directory and run it right from there, even a thumb drive! Ion doesn’t require a restart or replace or update any system resources so the deployment options are really up to you.

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What must be considered when deploying the Ion Client software?

When deploying Browsium Ion in the enterprise, planning and proper execution are critical to ensure a successful outcome. There are three components which must be considered when approaching a deployment. These are: (1) upgrading Internet Explorer itself, (2) the Ion Client software installation and (3) deploying the Ion configuration. Administrator rights are required to install the Internet Explorer upgrade as well as the Ion Client software. The first thing to consider is how software is currently deployed in your enterprise. Ion was designed with enterprise deployment in mind, and should work seamlessly within your current software deployment and management processes. How you deploy software today should dictate how the Ion solution will be deployed – not the other way around. The Ion configuration can be deployed as a flat file using any software distribution system, or you can export the configuration to an ADM or ADMX template for Group Policy deployment. The Ion Configuration Manager presents both of these options when building the configuration.

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Can multiple teams independently manage their own set of Ion rules and profiles?

Absolutely. The Configuration Manager is installed as part of the admin mode installation, and is simply an interface to edit and configure Ion settings. Administration isn’t done centrally by design – Ion doesn’t have any infrastructure or server components – so the ownership can be shared by members of team, or even as broad as teams around the entire company. Using the Configuration Manager an application owner can manage the rules and configurations for their own application, and exported rules are merged with other Ion rules when imported to the Group Policy environment. For flat file distribution systems the files are merged on the target system instead.

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Does Ion change my default browser?

No. Whether IE is your default browser in your organization or not, Ion does not affect your default browser choice. By design, Ion is meant to be used to provide a compatibility experience and should be used when needed rather than as a default setting. Ion itself is not a browser but a management layer that works with the existing IE browser; if IE8, IE9 or IE10 is the default on your system, it can remain so with Ion installed.

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What changes does Ion make to the system?

None. Ion was designed to run as a per-user application so it can actually be run without being installed on the system if needed. No system configurations are changed or values modified, and Ion can be fully uninstalled at any time.

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Can the Ion Configuration Manager be used by multiple users simultaneously?

The Ion Configuration Manager was designed to be used individually by application owners, IT administrators, and remediation consultants working on a given application. The Ion Configuration Manager can be installed on multiple PCs if there are IT administrators, developers or even Help Desk resources that have been trained to use the software to troubleshoot and remediate applications, or if multiple developers/consultants are engaged in remediation of an application. The caveat to multiple resources working on the same application is that they need to be working in concert and communicating constantly about what they are working on and what is the appropriate solution for a particular application defect. For each end user PC, there can only be one configuration. This configuration can remediate multiple applications. The Ion license does not limit the number of Administrator workstations that the Configuration Manager can be installed on. It is not recommended that end users gain access to the Configuration Manger; only specified people in your organization should be authorized to build and modify configurations you create or you could end up with incorrect configurations causing application failures, crashes or even potentially exposing users to security threats.

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Does Ion replace any operating system components?

Ion is designed using software isolation, so we are able to provide the rendering experience as needed without replacing system components. When a user enters a URL, Ion evaluates the request against the rules list and determines if the resource requires Ion rendering. If yes, the URL is passed to an Ion-managed instance of Internet Explorer. If no, the URL is passed off to the unmanaged instance Internet Explorer using the IE defaults on the PC.

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How does Ion compare to Google’s ChromeFrame plug-in for Internet Explorer?

Google’s Chrome Frame plug-in is an add-on for Internet Explorer that can be used to run web sites with the Chrome browser engine. It was designed so that customers running older versions of Internet Explorer (like IE6) can get the latest features from Google services like Gmail and Search. It does not improve or change IE’s compatibility with older web applications, nor does it offer any enterprise-level management features. In addition, in order to enable the Chrome engine to render a web site, the web site itself must be updated to instruct the Chrome Frame plug-in to run. Browsium Ion allows users of newer versions of Internet Explorer (IE8, IE9 or IE10) to get IE6 and IE7 compatibility when required in an easy-to-manage way and without requiring any change to the underlying web site.

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More questions? Search the Ion Knowledge Base.