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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Windows Server: Enable Execution of PowerShell Scripts

This post describes the steps to enable execution of PowerShell scripts on the Windows Server operating system.

1. Click Start, All Programs, and click "Administrative Tools"

2. Right-Click Windows Powershell Modules, Select "Run as Administrator"

3. At the command prompt (PS C:\Windows\system32>), type the following:
Set-ExecutionPolicy RemoteSigned

4. The Execution Policy Change prompt will display. Respond with "Y":

Execution Policy Change
The execution policy helps protect you from scripts that you do not trust. Changing the execution policy might exposeyou to the security risks described in the about_Execution_Policies help topic.
Do you want to change the executionpolicy?
[Y] Yes [N] No [S] Suspend [?] Help (default is "Y"): Y

Monday, December 27, 2010

Windows Server 2008: MSInfo32 and Winver

System Information - To locate OS version, edition, and many details about hardware and software components.

Start > Run > Type "MSInfo32" and press Enter



About Windows - To locate OS version, edition, service pack level, and memory.

Start > Run > Type "Winver" and press Enter

Monday, December 13, 2010

Microsoft Word 2010: Hanging Indent

This post explains the steps to format a list with a hanging indent, using Microsoft Word 2010. In this example, I am starting out with a list of references which are indented to the left.


1. Highlight the text to be formatted.
2. On the Ribbon, next to the word "Paragraph" click the chevron to open the paragraph formatting window.
3. Beneath the Indentation heading, set the "Special" field to "Hanging" and set the "By" field to "0.5."
4. Click OK


5. At that point, the list should be reformatted with a hanging indent.

SharePoint 4.0: Locating or Verifying Farm Version Number

This post explains how to tell the version of a SharePoint 2010 server farm. In order to verify the complete farm, it is necessary to verify the version of DLLs as well as the Configuration Database.

A. Verify the version of DLLs.
Steps:
On each server where SharePoint 2010 is installed:
1. Open Windows Explorer.
2. Navigate to \Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Web Server Extensions\14\ISAPI
3. For each of the following DLLs, locate the file. Right-click the file > Properties > Details.
4. Note the version

OWSSVR.DLL (SharePoint Foundation)



Microsoft.SharePoint.dll (SharePoint Foundation)


Microsoft.SharePoint.Portal.dll (SharePoint Server)
B. Verify the version of the Configuration Database
Steps:
From SharePoint 2010 Central Administration:
1. Navigate to SharePoint 2010 Central Administration > System Settings > Manage servers in this farm.
2. Note the "Configuration database version."

SharePoint 4.0: Records Center Behaviors? or Bugs!


I have been busy developing a proof-of-concept (POC) environment based on some design patterns involving SharePoint 2010 Records Center and Search. In this POC, Records Center is acting as a top level site collection and is storing quite a bit of content. There are numerous content types and site columns, carefully planned and configured on the site collection, to support tagging Records Center documents with lots of metadata.

In this POC environment, I have dedicated a Web application to Records Center and for discussion purposes, the URL of the site collection can be http://recordscenter.domain.com. As I write this blog post, it is December 13, 2010. My SharePoint 2010 environment is running at version 14.0.5128.5000, which reflects RTM with the October 2010 Cumulative Updates. The SharePoint Foundation and SharePoint Server DLLs, and SharePoint Database are all current with the same version. I have tested with Site Collection Publishing and Site Publishing features enabled and disabled.

During the testing process, I have discovered some unexpected behaviors related to Records Center. Microsoft Support may stamp these with the trusty "By Design" label, but since I am currently in the process of pushing these issues through the Microsoft Support channels, I cannot speak to their response at this time. I do know that these behaviors are inconvenient and troublesome. Below is a list.

A. Cannot template a sub-site beneath a Records Center site collection.
To recreate the issue, follow these steps:
1. Start from a Records Center site collection.
2. Create a sub-site using the blank site template.
3. Attempt to save the site as a template.


Problem: Error: An unexpected error has occurred.




B. Cannot export a document library and then import it as a different name, in a Records Center site collection.
To recreate the issue, follow these steps:
1. Start from a Records Center site collection.
2. Create a sub-site using the blank site template.
3. Create a document library in the blank sub-site.
4. Using STSADM, export the document library to a .cmp file.
E.g.
C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Web Server Extensions\14\BIN>
stsadm.exe -o export -url
http://webapplication/subsite/library -filename \\server\fileshare\templatelibrary.cmp -includeusersecurity -nologfile

5. Using STSADM, import the document library .cmp file, as a different name.
E.g.
C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Web Server Extensions\14\BIN>
stsadm.exe -o export -url http://webapplication/subsite/library -filename file://server/fileshare/templatelibrary.cmp -includeusersecurity -nologfile
...
Finished with 15 errors.A list, survey, discussion board, or document library with the specified title already exists in this Web site. Please choose another title.

Problem: Error: The .cmp file cannot be imported because an existing document library having the same title (different than name, which affects the document library URL) already exists.
This behavior might make sense in a Records Center given the Content Organizer and its functionality which routes documents, based on content type, to appropriate document libraries using the Title of the document library. Still, templating document libraries in a Records Center is especially important, since Records Center typically have well defined site columns. It is only natural that we will want to template document libraries efficiently in a Records Center.

References
Microsoft SharePoint Team Blog (2010, December). October 2010 Cumulative Updates for SharePoint & Project Server 2010 Republished. Retrieved December 13, 2010 from http://sharepoint.microsoft.com/blog/Pages/BlogPost.aspx?pID=957.

Microsoft Support (2010, October). Description of the SharePoint Server 2010 Cumulative Update Server Hotfix Package (MOSS server-package): October 26, 2010. Retrieved December 13, 2010 from http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;EN-US;2394320.

Microsoft Support (2010, December). Hotfix Request. Retrieved December 13, 2010 from http://support.microsoft.com/hotfix/KBHotfix.aspx?kbln=en-us&kbnum=2394320.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

SharePoint 4.0: Where to Locate Details for Errors with Correlation ID

The Correlation ID error seemed to be especially common in Beta versions of SharePoint Server 2010. However, I have managed to surface this one a few times in RTM. The screen print below illustrates what the error looks like on the Web page.

The error doesn't provide much information about the root cause. So, to uncover the details, it makes sense to investigate further by examining the log files. Here is how to do that:

1. Note the date and time of the error message.
2. Open a local console or RDP session to a SharePoint server in the farm.
3. From Windows Explorer, navigate to Program Files > Common Files > Microsoft Shared > Web Server Extensions > 14 > Logs.
4. Sort the log files by Date Modified, Descending. Then, open the file containing the event using a text editor, such as Notepad.
5. CTRL +F to locate instances of the word "Error." Then match the date/time stamp.

It isn't likely that this information will provide a direct answer, but at least you have more words to work with while researching.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

SQL Server 2008: Edit Top 200 Rows

SQL Server 2005 and earlier versions had an Open Table command available when you right-click a table. This allows you to open the table and make edits to fields. In SQL Server 2008, the Open Table command is replaced with the Edit Top Rows command. The default for this is 200, which of course, is obnoxious.

To change this setting, follow these steps from SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS):
  • Tools > Options (This opens the General Scripting Options Dialog Box)
  • SQL Server Object Explorer > Commands
  • Table and View Options: Value for Edit Top Rows command (Change this value)

After modifying the setting, you will see that the menu is updated accordingly.

Reference
Microsoft (2010). Options (SQL Server Object Explorer/Commands). Retrieved December 2, 2010 from http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc280381.aspx.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Focus More on Birdhouse Less on Hammer

Mauro Cardarelli recently plugged something I said, "focus more on the birdhouse and less on the hammer." If Mauro hadn't used that analogy with me a few times before, I probably would have used a different one like, "focus more on the crazy noodles and less on the fork."

The birdhouse analogy refers to the focus of conversations and presentations at SharePoint related conference sessions, meetings, and discussions.  My underlying criticism is that it seems that the community has become more focused on what the SharePoint platform can do and not focused enough on the business solutions that we are building with the platform.  I think the community stands to gain a lot if more emphasis was placed on what we are building with the platform, why, and how we measure value to the businesses receiving these solutions.

I understand that we do need to know the SharePoint product well in order to develop useful business solutions with it.  However, I think it is easy for us become consumed by the SharePoint platform; and its capabilities and limitations and lose sight of the fact that SharePoint is merely a vehicle that helps us get to a destination.  The business solutions are the true end game, not the platform and tools we use to build the solutions.  Some of the design patterns and methodologies we find to be effective may even be transferrable to other technologies. 

As workers, we in the SharePoint community are responsible for ensuring that the solutions we develop will provide the outcomes that the sponsors and stakeholders expect. I think that if we spend too much time trying to figure out the best ways to get "there," and too little time on establishing complete and clear visions of where "there" is, then we are missing the target.  As a community, I think we may miss valuable opportunities to share lessons learned and best practices for solving common business problems using the SharePoint platform. 

When we only focus only on the hammer, we miss the point.  Let's have more conversations and presentations about the birdhouse, how we designed it, why we designed it a certain way, and what we learned from the whole experience.

Use SharePoint Worfklow Like Robots on a Conveyor Belt

The idea of automating a business process with SharePoint workflow to make things more efficient and consistent sounds like a novel concept and a way leverage a technology investment. However, if you examine any major business process from the top down, what you will find is that it is made up of several tasks (some linear, some not) as well as decisions which are based on a constantly changing environment and context. These decisions are not only in support of executing the process, but often times the process itself is being evaluated real time.

Take for instance, the beginning portion of a new hire process that a company might have. This might involve a series of human interactions between candidate and recruiter. An application is submitted and the recruiter would evaluate the application, comparing it to an open requisition. The recruiter would interpret the information on the application and ask for clarification. If a match is made, then an interview might occur, and so on.

When the people involved are attempting to execute a process such as this, it is only natural that the changing conditions of the work environment will prompt questions about what tasks need to be completed, who should complete the tasks, what information should be gathered, how should that information be evaluated, what laws exist, etc.

Although, it is possible to automate certain tasks in this process, SharePoint workflow is not designed for automating the entire business process. Where SharePoint workflow really comes in is making discrete tasks more efficient. For example, the workflow technology may be used to transfer an applicant's information into a database where it can be easily compared with open requisition criteria.

The technology is not going to do a human's work, though, and it is not practical to even try to make it. No, instead, a more appropriate approach to leveraging SharePoint workflow is for efficiency gains which target small steps or tasks; ones that are completely black and white, like modifying and loading records into a custom list or database, moving documents, or sending out an e-mail when a specific event occurs.

Portal site designs which help guide the human through a series of steps is essential to a workflow solution. The portal provides the framework to guide the user, while the workflow elements provide automation for specific tasks that occur during the process.

Whatever the application, the goal is usually to provide tools that allow the human to logically string each step together, flowing as if the site is a virtual conveyor belt and the workflow elements (conditions/actions) are specific robots that do stuff at each stage. The overall solution should help guide and progress the overall process in a consistent direction so that humans can participate, contribute, and derive the needed results.

Still, in an ever changing environment, it is only natural that the conveyor belt will need to be stopped and participants will ask each other whether the process is effective and efficient enough, and what might need to happen differently. The simple fact is, every business process is a work in progress.

Friday, October 15, 2010

NESQL 2010 October 14 Virtualizing SQL Server

I attended a New England SQL Server User Group meeting last night. Brent Ozar did a presentation on Virtualizing SQL Server.

During the last few years, I have become a fan of virtualization for SharePoint environments, including the SQL Server database server role. I know many in the SharePoint community are skeptical about this, so, it was interesting to observe the opinions and responses from the local SQL Server community. I think the majority of the room was still skeptical (as expected) about virtualizing SQL Server. However, Brent did a good job of providing guidance on how to get the best performance out of a SQL environment when it is virtualized.

Beyond enlightening me about some of the finer details of how virtualization impacts I/O, Brent's presentation provided greater validation for my opinion of virtualizing SQL Server. At this point, I believe the technology is definitely mature enough to handle all roles (including database role) of most production SharePoint environments. That is; if adequate hardware is allocated and if virtualization is implemented well.

Some of the take-aways I scribbled down include the following (no warranties with these notes because I can barely read what I wrote):

CPU
- CPU-Z is a great, free utility for monitoring true CPU performance on guest systems
- In a virtual environment, more cores assigned to a SQL Server VM may actually leads to worse performance due to overhead related to instruction assignment behavior in shared environments relative to processor caching.

RAM
- In VMWare, set memory reservations, don't over commit RAM, use large pages (Microsoft, 2010).
- In SQL Server, remember to set min/max memory appropriately.

Storage
- Group DBs logically based on purpose, maintenance schedule, security, etc.
- Still separate Temp DB in virtual environments.

I believe Brent will be presenting the complete version of his presentation at the PASS Summit in November. Either way, if you are reading up on this topic, then check out his blog post on Virtualization Best Practices.


Reference

CPUID (2010). CPU-Z supports the new Intel Sandy Bridge processors. Retrieved October 15, 2010 from
http://www.cpuid.com/news/26-cpu_z_supports_the_new_intel_sandy_bridge_processors.html

Microsoft (2010). SQL Server and Large Pages Explained. Retrieved October 15, 2010 from http://blogs.msdn.com/b/psssql/archive/2009/06/05/sql-server-and-large-pages-explained.aspx.

Ozar (2010). Virtualization Best Practices. Retrieved October 15, 2010 from http://www.brentozar.com/sql/virtualization-best-practices/.

Reference: Tab Navigation

I'm always looking for ways to improve navigation. Tab navigation can be useful sometimes, depending on the situation. The resources below are helpful when exploring tab navigation options with SharePoint 3.0 and SharePoint 4.0.

Easy Tabs 5

Tab Navigation using CSS only


Reference

Humbert, C. (August, 2010). Easy Tabs Version 5.0. Retrieved October 15, 2010 from http://www.pathtosharepoint.com/sharepoint-user-toolkit/Pages/Easy-Tabs-v5.aspx.

Solomon, H. (August, 2005). Tab Navigation using CSS only - Great for SharePoint. Retrieved October 15, 2010 from http://heathersolomon.com/blog/archive/2005/08/10/1434.aspx.

SharePoint Saturday Boston #3 Webinar Series

The SharePoint Saturday Boston #3 Webinar Series schedule was recently announced. As part of this series, I will be presenting "Implementing SharePoint for Enterprise Search: Methodology and Mechanics" on Friday, December 10, 2010 at 11:45 AM.


Click Here to Register


Agenda
11:45 AM EST – 11:55 AM EST Welcome and Sign-In
11:55 AM EST – 12:00 PM EST Speaker Introduction
12:00 PM EST – 1:00 PM EST Presentation

For more information or to register for other Webinars, visit the SharePoint Saturday Web site, SharePoint Saturday Boston #3 Webinar Series: http://www.sharepointsaturday.org/boston/Pages/SPSBos3WebinarSeries.aspx

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Reference: Location Codes

I was doing some ETL work today and needed to translate location codes from one system to another. These resources were helpful in creating a reference table.

Official USPS Abbreviations

List of U.S. States by Time Zone


Reference

United States Postal Service (2010). Official USPS Abbreviations. Retrieved October 14, 2010 from http://www.usps.com/ncsc/lookups/usps_abbreviations.html.

Wikipedia (2010). List of U.S. States by Time Zone. Retrieved October 14, 2010 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_by_time_zone.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

SharePoint 4.0: How Search Indexing Works

The crawl process is essential to the Indexing side of SharePoint 2010 Search. Exploring the Search Service Application screens provides some insight to the configurable components that make up Search in SharePoint 2010, but you may actually have to dive deep into the system documentation and other resources to gain an understanding for the steps that occur within the subsystems, when SharePoint is instructed to crawl content.

The crawl process goes something like this:
1. Full crawl started
2. Start address moved to queue
3. Protocol determined
4.Connector selected
5. iFilter opens files
6. Content index created on crawl server
7. Index moved in batches to query server
8. Data written to Crawl and Property databases
(Microsoft, 2010)

One myth about SharePoint 2010 crawl process is that when content is crawled it never touches the file system of the Crawl Server and goes directly to Query Server...this isn't true. The way it works in environments that have crawler and query roles on separate servers is; a content index is built on the crawl server initially, but is moved in batches to the query server(s). The point when all batches have propogated to the query server, then it may appear as if there is no foot print on the Crawl server's file system...this is because all the batches have been moved up.

From a server topology perspective, Search requires three different server roles. These include Crawl Server, Query Server, and Database Server. Each of these roles plays a role in the crawl process. For scalability and availability, the architecture supports configurations that include one or many of each of the server roles. Determining the best topology is a balancing act of capacity requirements with available resources.

Reference

Microsoft (2010). Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Product Information Capabilities Search. Retrieved September 22, 2010 from
http://sharepoint.microsoft.com/en-us/product/capabilities/search/Pages/default.aspx.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Enterprise Search Summit Fall 2010


There will be an Enterprise Search Summit in Washington D.C. November 16-18, 2010. The event is taking place at the Renaissance Washington, DC Hotel.
For more information, click here.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

SPS Boston: Implementing SharePoint for Enterprise Search: Methodology and Mechanics

On Saturday, September 25, 2010 I presented a session at SharePoint Saturday Boston.

Title:
Implementing SharePoint for Enterprise Search: Methodology and Mechanics

Abstract:This session explains how following a proven approach and using certain configuration techniques can ensure the success of a SharePoint Search implementation. The prevalence of search technologies available on the World Wide Web has caused stakeholder expectations to remain high. Yet, an Enterprise Search solution is an excellent opportunity to introduce exciting capabilities and productivity gains for a business. Included in the presentation is a walk-through of project phases, a review of key design considerations, and examples of recommended configurations.

Click HERE to access slides.

In the near future, I do intend to create individual blog posts from some of the presentation slides so that I can expand on some of the topics in greater detail. If you would like to request that I write a blog post explaining a particular Search topic, please submit a request using the comments feature of this post.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Microsoft Project 2010: Outline Number and Fill Down

I was recently updating a Microsoft Project file and encountered a couple items worth mentioning.

First, by inserting a column called "Outline Number," Project automatically populates the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) task ID (WBS column does the same thing). This is much better than doing it manually.


Secondly, Microsoft Project doesn't let you paste a value into a range of cells like Excel. So, instead of manually typing in durations or pasting one at a time, there is a "Fill Down" menu option. Select the cell that contains the value you want, select the range, right-click, and select "Fill Down."



This will fill in the range with the source value.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Why Move to SharePoint 2010?

From a technology road map perspective, I think it makes sense to migrate to the SharePoint 2010 platform to be current with technology. Doing so extends the lifespan of platform support and work efforts by three years (typical product cycle). The 2010 platform provides a more stable and scalable architecture too. Furthermore, innovation in the community occurs with the most current version, so to participate in the knowledge sharing on the Web, at events, and conferences, it requires remaining current.

Beyond these reasons, business needs continue to evolve and mature. The product features of the latest version enable the delivery of better solutions, with less effort, with less customization. Aggregating information from different systems is easier now (Search, BCS). It is easier to provide end user conveniences, such as Outlook calendar integration or multi-select actions in document libraries. Branding is easier with the themes engine. There are more Search tools (e.g. navigators) available, allowing search experiences to be more like what people expect from using Web. In fact, the 2010 Search technology is rich enough to use as a development tool. Taxonomy and Folksonomy features help make organizing and navigating through content easier, while Managed Metadata Services help ensure consistency.

Different scenarios require different thought processes and approaches to 2010. For example, existing SharePoint Web sites which are flat and primarily exist to push Web content to many consumers, may benefit from a straight software upgrade. On the other hand, redesign opportunities exist for other types of SharePoint applications which are more interactive; which support business processes or facilitate workflows.

At this point, it makes sense to design and develop anything new directly in 2010, to take advantage of the technology and community benefits. Doing so also reduces duplication in efforts since there will not be a future need to upgrade the new solutions to 2010; they will already be there. That, by itself, is a legitimate reason to go 2010.

Reference

Microsoft (2010). SharePoint 2010 Product Information Overview. Retrieved August 5, 2010 from http://sharepoint.microsoft.com/en-us/product/capabilities/Pages/default.aspx.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Missing the Point on Spirit of Governance

Over a short period of time in the SharePoint community, the term "governance" has evolved to describe a class of software products or features. Yet, IT governance has nothing to do with what tools a SharePoint administrator has. Instead, IT governance has everything to do with the people and processes side of things; and the decision making framework that, when in play, can be used to determine that a portal should exist, who should manage it, who it should serve, how decisions will be made affecting it. Governance is really about policies, processes, roles, responsibilities, and priorities (Ross, 2004).

The scope of an effective Information Management Governance Model spans beyond a specific solution, such as SharePoint Intranet or collaboration portal, and encompasses the Information Management practices occurring throughout the organization. A SharePoint governance model should be a subset to that. Putting this in the context of documentation, an overarching Information Management Statement of Governance document should exist and define the framework at the global level, while specific statement of governance documents should be maintained for each Information Management system within the organization; SharePoint being one of those.

The IT project management framework is another significant and relevant topic to governance. The project management framework established the processes followed to initiate, plan, and execute IT projects. These processes should include such activities as the evaluation of new SharePoint projects in the context of the organization's overall information architecture. Aligning the project management decision making with Information Management, business, and IT decision making results in solutions that have backing, are sustainable, and actually provide business value.

The spirit of governance is really about defining what the processes should be, and if generous enough, explaining why to some extent. In the end, governance models maintain decision making integrity amongst people...that is not something a portal administrator can do by running a report or recovering a deleted site.

Reference

Ross, J., Weill, P. (2004). Recipe for Good Governance. Retrieved August 4, 2010 from http://www.cio.com/article/29162/Recipe_for_Good_Governance.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Event: SharePoint Saturday Boston 2010

SharePoint Saturday Boston, 2010 (#3)


When:
Saturday, September 25th, 2010


Where:
Microsoft Corporation
201 Jones Road
6th Floor
Waltham, MA 02451

Three SQL Server Settings for SharePoint Environments: Autogrowth Option, Auto Shrink Option, Shrink Database Task

As I was tuning a SharePoint environment today, I thought it would be a good opportunity to post a brief message about three SQL Server settings: Autogrowth, Auto Shrink, and the Shrink Database Task.

1. Autogrowth - Fixed Amount:

This setting applies to data files (.mdf) and transaction log files (.ldf). Autogrowth allows or prevents SQL Server from automatically increasing the size of the files when the need arises. In SharePoint environments, it is best to do capacity planning in advance and set the intial database sizes appropriately. Then, set the Autogrowth value for both the data files and the log files to a fixed amount. This ensures that the files grow in consistent increments. The fixed amount should be somewhat substantial, relative to the size of the database. This ensures that the growth does not occur too frequently.



2. Auto Shrink - Turn it Off:

Auto Shrink is an option that allows or prevents SQL Server from automatically reducing the size of database files. By default, the SQL Server Model database has the Auto Shrink option off. As Paul Randal points out, enabling Auto Shrink can lead to Auto-Grow, Auto-Shrink loops as well as database fragmentation, and other performance issues (Randal, 2007). As a general rule of thumb for most SharePoint environments, this option should remain off for system and content databases.




3. Shrink Database Task - Don't Schedule It:


The Shrink Database Task is an available Maintenance Plan Task. If set, this operation will reduce the size of a database according to a schedule, leaving a specified amount of free space. As with the Auto Shrink option, the Shrink Database Task leads to performance issues and is not recommend in SharePoint environments.

So, if an existing SharePoint environment does have a scheduled Shrink Database Task, then a suggested action would be to remove the Shrink Database Task and then plan to monitor and manage database size using a manual approach. When determining a plan for managing database size, it is important to keep Database Recovery Models in mind.

Reference

Randal, P. (August, 2008). Top Tips for Effective Database Maintenance. Retrieved July 30, 2010 from http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/magazine/2008.08.database.aspx?pr=blog.

Randal, P. (March, 2007). Turn AUTO_SHRINK off!! Retrieved July 30, 2010 from http://blogs.msdn.com/b/sqlserverstorageengine/archive/2007/03/28/turn-auto-shrink-off.aspx.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Why Information Silos Are So Persistent

Information silos are disparate entities that exist as rogue systems, utilities, spreadsheets and Access databases. Actually, an information silo might be anything that is not centrally managed or does not conform to existing design patterns. Silos may or may not be considered an official part of the enterprise...awareness about the silo doesn't change its definition.

Most of the time, these tools were developed to fill a gap. A gap between what the enterprise offers and what certain areas of the business actually need to function. They serve a purpose; and in many cases they are significant to the processes that they support.

Considering where technology is today, why are are information silos so persistent, more prevalent than ever? Why can't IT just build something into the enterprise architecture?

One reason (or cause) is because of the technology, which has become easier to work with and more accessible to people inside and outside of IT Departments. A person of any role can go on the Internet and figure out how to set up an Access database. In many cases, this is much easier than approaching a centralized IT department with their requirements. The Internet isn't going to say "no." By circumventing IT, nobody asks for funding, tries to minimize or question the need, or compromise the intention in any way. But, if the request did go to the IT department might, there might be resistance.

Secondly, a rogue solution is much less risky for a business person in terms of exposure and process transparency. By setting up a tool of their own, a business person may struggle a bit with configuration, but at no point is their process going to be visible to other people for criticism. If the person was to bring their requirements to the table and ask for help, then a lot of questions might be asked, putting guarded knowledge at risk. Unfortunately, for protective types, this means that the process would, in fact, become more transparent. The original process owner would become a "stakeholder" with influence rather than an "owner" with full control.

Beyond that, information silos also exist when an organization's methodologies and practices for providing holistic solutions are not mature enough to truly help. For example, IT organizations which are disorganized and reactive, might not be capable of helping the business person with their needs. There's no process, no authority, no plan to handle this sort of thing.

All of these situations challenge a centralized Information Management strategy.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

General Business Requirements vs. Solution Requirements

What came first, the solution or the need? Let's hope the need, but we all know that is not always (often not) the case. With the great technologies available to us today, rapid application development enables us to solve problems. But, does the ease of development actually create a new set of problems? Yes, it does.

When the software development process is lengthy and drawn out, it forces many planning activities such as requirements analysis, design specifications, and planning. Not doing these things leads to costly adjustments later. The lengthy process also forces organizations to really think about what solutions they are developing and how these solutions fit into the big picture. We've got it pretty easy today. With portals, collaboration, search, BI, content management, and workflow platforms today, some times doing it "wrong", undoing it, and doing it again is actually less expensive than the cost of planning and documenting.

Yes, I am familiar with the twelve principles of the Agile Manifesto (Agile Alliance, 2001). I like agile development when it follows some organized processes and produces artifacts that can be used for reference later. You still need documentation for future development, disaster recovery, and repair.

However, what I don't like is "rapid solutioning" or the practice of directly jumping from a problem to a solution design without any sort of further questioning, analysis, thought, or sanity checks. When you encounter a problem, and immediately form a solution and begin developing it, a lot is lost. You are not considering what other stakeholder needs are, what other colleagues are already working on, and how this "fly by the seat of your pants" solution actually fits in (or doesn't) into your overall information architecture.

Working with my colleagues, we recently began formalizing our thoughts around the solutioning process. One of the first roadblocks we encountered had to do with semantics. We began observing that our push for "requirements" was being misunderstood. When a problem-solution situation arose, we would explain that we needed to analyze requirements. The response to this typically included design specifications. We would then stop and say, no, we don't want detailed design specifications, what we want is to understand the problem better and understand how it impacts other people, so we can create a solution that will fit into our information architecture in a way that adds value and doesn't undermine anything else we are doing.

After a few more of these scenarios we decided that we had to make others aware of our solutioning process and how we think, so that everybody would be able to communicate with each other better. The first thing we did was make a distinction between the types of requirements that we would discuss in the course of solutioning.


We decided on the following:

General Business Requirements - Facts and opinions that help understand the problem better. These are not design specifications and do not explain a solution. Instead, this information explains what the business needs are.

Solution Requirements - Facts and opinions that define how a solution is supposed to look, feel, or act. This information directly dictates the design specifications.


So, now when a new request arises, we start by gathering "general business requirements." We then consult with stakeholders, policies, procedures, standards, goals, etc. and analyze the information. Once we have all the facts, we begin to design a solution. At that time, we ask stakeholders to help us define the "solution requirements." The result of the latter activity is a design specifications document. Next, we schedule and plan the development activities and proceed from there.


Reference

Agile Alliance (2001). Principles Behind the Agile Manifesto. Retrieved July 24, 2010 from http://agilemanifesto.org/principles.html.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

SharePoint 4.0: Summary Links Data Column Type

In SharePoint, there is a column type called, "Summary Links Data." Microsoft desribes this column type as "Columns that represent summary links for a page. Summary Links include a title, description, image, and URL and are used on publishing pages to present grouped links by using a set of shared styles" (Microsoft, 2010).

This column type is brilliant in theory, but unfortunately they don't appear to work as expected. Here is my assessment of the Summary Links Data column type.


In SharePoint 2010, if I add a Summary Links Data column to document library, then add a new document, the new or edit document properties page looks correct. The Summary Links Data column is represented by an editable summary links control.


However, after the links have been added and the document uploaded, you return to the document properties using the "View Properties" page. The result of this is that the links are not visible. Huh?


OK, so let's try a custom list. Added the column to a custom list. Adding or editing an item results in a non-editable field. So, the Summary Data List story just got even worse in custom lists...


Reference

Microsoft (2010). Create a site column. Retrieved July 22, 2010 from http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepoint-server-help/create-a-site-column-HA010177759.aspx.

Site Columns: SharePoint 2010 vs. SharePoint 2007

When comparing the "create site column" screen of SharePoint 2010 versus the one in SharePoint 2007, the features are mostly similar except for three enhancements in 2010. These include:

1. Column types for Rich Media and Managed Metadata.
2. "Enforce unique values."
3. Column validation.

(Microsoft, 2010)


During the past few years, I do remember occasions when I was "wishing" for the ability to apply unique permissions at the site column or content type level, but these abilities are not something available in SharePoint 2010.

I imagine field level or content type security would require a more dynamic design at the list and library level, since the list and libraries still work off the static template model, storing their own column definitions in XML as they were defined at the time of list or library creation, and maintaining their own security settings. This is evident when you delete a site column that is being used in a list or library. The site column is removed from the site column gallery, but a local instance of it still remains on the list or library.

In order for field level or content type security to be possible in SharePoint, each site column and local column definition would need to be expanded to include a security definition. List and library views would also need to become more security aware, rendering different columns based on varying security contexts. So, pushing down unique site column or content type security is more than the platform can handle at this time.


Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010



Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007



Reference

Microsoft (2010). Create a site column. Retrieved July 22, 2010 from http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepoint-server-help/create-a-site-column-HA010177759.aspx.

Microsoft (2010). Introduction to Columns. Retrieved July 22, 2010 from http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms450825.aspx.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Fiddler

A gentleman named Eric Lawrence has developed a very useful Web debugging tool named, Fiddler. The Fiddler Web site is http://www.fiddler2.com/fiddler2/version.asp. I've used this tool recently to pinpoint performance issues, security issues, and authentication issues.

"Fiddler is an HTTP debugging proxy written by Eric Lawrence of Microsoft.[1] It seamlessly captures HTTP traffic and logs it for the user to review.[4] It can also be used to "fiddle" with HTTP traffic as it is being sent.[3] By default, traffic from Microsoft's WinINET HTTP(S) stack is automatically directed through Fiddler at runtime, but any browser or application can be configured to route traffic through Fiddler.

The new version, known as Fiddler2, offers support for interception and tampering with HTTPS traffic."
(Wikipedia, 2010)

To install Fiddler, follow these steps:

1. Download Fiddler.
2. Run the setup.exe.


To run a trace, follow these steps:

1. Open Fiddler (Start > All Programs > Fiddler2).
2. Begin a trace (File > Capture Traffic).
3. Launch Internet Explorer and produce the activity you would like to trace.
4. Stop the trace (File > uncheck Capture Traffic).
5. Save the trace file (File > Save > All Sessions).
6. Now, you are able to analyze the activity and pinpoint issues. You may also consider comparing the Fiddler trace to the Application Event log from the client and server machines.


Reference

Lawrence, E. (2010). Fiddler2 - Installation Information. Retrieved July 20, 2010 from http://www.fiddler2.com/fiddler2/version.asp.

Wikipedia (2010). Fiddler (software). Retrieved July 20, 2010 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiddler_(software).

Microsoft Certifications for SharePoint 2010

For the 2010 generation, the Microsoft SharePoint certifications tracks have been enhanced. Below is a breakout of the certifications available.


Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP): SharePoint Administrator 2010

70-668 PRO: SharePoint Server 2010, Administrator
http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/Exam.aspx?ID=70-668

70-667 TS: Microsoft SharePoint 2010, Configuring
http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/Exam.aspx?ID=70-667


Microsoft Certified Professional Developer (MCPD): SharePoint Developer 2010

70-576 PRO: Designing and Developing Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Applications
http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/Exam.aspx?ID=70-576

70-573 TS: Microsoft SharePoint 2010, Application Development
http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/Exam.aspx?ID=70-573


Microsoft Certified Master program (MCM)
http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/certification/architect.aspx


Microsoft Certified Architect certification (MCA)
http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/certification/master.aspx#tab2



Reference

Microsoft (2010). Microsoft SharePoint – Training Portal. Retrieved July 21, 2010 from http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/training/sharepoint.aspx.

Prometric (2010). Microsoft Certifications. Retrieved July 21, 2010 from http://www.prometric.com/Microsoft/default.htm.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Connected Lookup on Codeplex

It is called many names; Connected Lookup, Cascading Dropdowns, Dependencies, etc. Whatever the nomenclature, the requirement to have one choice column drive the choices in a another choice drop down is an extremely common requirement in SharePoint applications.

There is a Codeplex project that I discovered today, for WSS 3.0 and MOSS 2007. I've pretty much halted future development on MOSS 2007 at this point but I thought I'd post the link regardless.


Reference

Codeplex (2010). SharePoint Connected Lookup. Retrieved July 12, 2010 from http://cl.codeplex.com/.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Link: Process Monitor

Microsoft offers Process Monitor as a free download. In short, this tool helps capture detailed events and isolate issues. I recently used Process Monitor when I encountered a performance issue with one of my portals; the default.aspx page was taking a long time to save. Process Monitor helped me isolate the issue and determine that the cause was a buffer overflow.



Reference

Microsoft (2010). Windows Sysinternals, Process Monitor v2.91. Retrieved July 6, 2010 from http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb896645.aspx

Friday, June 25, 2010

SharePoint Datasheet View, Office 2010 Compatibility

When considering when to upgrade to Microsoft Office 2010 on your client machine(s), there are many considerations, one of those being the level of compatibility of between the Office Suite and SharePoint Server 2010 and/or SharePoint Server 2007.

As it stands, Microsoft Office 2010 Standard Edition lacks many key compatibility features with SharePoint Server, while the Editions such as Office Professional and Office Professional Plus offer much more (Microsoft, 2010). One of the most important usability features of compatibility is the ability to manage information inside SharePoint lists and libraries is datasheet view. I know that once this feature is adopted by a user base, it is not something that can be taken away because people rely on on datasheet to manipulate data fast and easy.

Regardless of whether Office 2010 is 64-bit 0r 32-bit, the edition of office must be ABOVE STANDARD. This means that if you have Office 2010 Standard, you DO NOT have datasheet view. I cannot imagine having a SharePoint environment in which I do not have access to datasheet view, and so I would base my decision on which Office Suite to use solely on datasheet view...in other words, Office 2010 Standard is dead to me and I only care about Professional and higher from this point forward.

In the process of upgrading my primary client system to Office 2010 Professional Plus, I also had to decide between 64-bit and 32-bit. 32-bit is still recommended for maximum compatibility with add-ins and third party products, while 64-bit is intended for individuals who are working with large amounts of data (Microsoft, 2010). 32-bit is also more convenient to run. Datasheet view is automatically available to use if you have Microsoft Office 2010 (above Standard Edition) 32-bit. Datasheet view isn't automatic for 64-bit though, as evident by this error message:

Error: "The list cannot be displayed in Datasheet view for one or more of the following reasons:..."


To make my life as complicated as possible, I decided to go with 64-bit. So, how is does 64-bit Office 2010 complicate the datsheet view capability? Well, I quickly learned that as of the 64-bit flavor of Office 2010 has additional requirements in order for datasheet view to be available. After installing the 64-bit Office suite (remember, must be Standard Edition or higher), you must do one of the following, in order to avoid the obnoxious pop-up error above:

A. Download and install the 2007 Office System Driver for Data Connectivity Components.

or

B. Install the 2007 SharePoint Services Support, which is available on the Microsoft Office 2007 installation media.


Reference

Microsoft (2010). 2007 Office System Driver: Data Connectivity Components. Retrieved June 28, 2010 from http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=7554F536-8C28-4598-9B72-EF94E038C891&displaylang=en.

Microsoft (2010). 64-bit editions of Office 2010. Retrieved June 28, 2010 from http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee681792.aspx.

Microsoft (2010). Compare server integration features between Office suites available through volume licensing. Retrieved June 28, 2010 from http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/buy/compare-server-integration-features-between-office-suites-available-through-volume-licensing-FX101850719.aspx.

Microsoft (2010). Compatibility Between the 32-bit and 64-bit Versions of Office 2010. Retrieved June 28, 2010 from http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee691831(office.14).aspx.

Microsoft Office 2010: About 64-bit

As the computer industry as a whole is evolving 64-bit to the de facto standard, even for client systems, we seem to be at a cross roads with this next wave of Microsoft Office products where we still need to choose between 64-bit or 32-bit.

One important thing to be aware of is that running 64-bit AND 32-bit versions of Microsoft Office on the same operating system is not supported. Here are some links that provide information about the 64-bit version of Office 2010 as well as information about compatibility in general.

Microsoft TechNet: 64-bit editions of Office 2010

Microsoft TechNet: Application compatibility assessment and remediation for Office 2010


Reference

Microsoft (2010). 64-bit editions of Office 2010. Retrieved June 25, 2010 from http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee681792.aspx.

Microsoft (2010). Application compatibility assessment and remediation for Office 2010. Retrieved June 25, 2010 from http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff394407.aspx.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

SharePoint 3.0: Command for Forcing Hotfix Installation

From "%COMMONPROGRAMFILES%\Microsoft Shared\web server extensions\12\bin", run this command:

psconfig.exe –cmd upgrade –inplace b2b –force


Reference

Microsoft (2010). Command-line reference for the SharePoint Products and Technologies Configuration Wizard (Office SharePoint Server). Retrieved June 17, 2010 from http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc263093(office.12).aspx.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

SharePoint 4.0: Attach Content Database to Web Application

An especially important administrative capability for disaster recovery, upgrading from SharePoint 3.0, and general administration of Web applications is the ability to attach a content database to a Web application.

Here are the steps:

1. Attach the content datbase to the SQL Server instance. If moving a content database in from a different farm, then this may require doing a SQL Server database restore. Be sure that the MDF and LDF files are created in a location which is consistent with your other content datbases.

2. Open PowerShell. With the security context of an administrator account having shell access, open PowerShell on a SharePoint 2010 server.
Start > Administrative Tools > SharePoint 2010 Management Shell

3. Test the content database.
Type the following command:
Test-SPContentDatabase -Name %ContentDbName% -WebApplication %WebApplicationName%

4. Attach the content database to SharePoint Web Application.
Type the following command:
Mount-SPContentDatabase -Name %ContentDbName% -WebApplication %WebApplicationName%

5. Verify the attached content database. Navigate to SharePoint Central Administration > Application Management > Manage Content Databases. Verify the database name, database status, and current number of site collections. If necessary, adjust the Site Collection Level Warning and Maximum Number of Site Collections settings appropriately.


Reference

Microsoft Technet (2010). Add a content database (SharePoint Server 2010). Retrieved June 2, 2010, from http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc825314.aspx.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Three Nice Enhancements to the Send To Functionality of SharePoint in 2010

1. Multiple connections. In 2007, you could only configure one Sent To (presumably a Records Center) location per farm. In 2010, you can configure multiple Send To Connections.

2. Turn on or off manual submission from the Send To menu. For each configured Send To connection, you can check a box to either enable or disable this location from appearing in the context menu of a document.

3. Sent To action. Last but not least, for each configured connection, you can configure the Send To action to be copy, move, or move and replace with link. If you can remember in 2007, this was a mighty gap that required some workflow trickery to make it practical. Now we have some out of box comfort.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Thoughtful Quote

"To make knowledge work productive will be the great management task of this century, just as to make manual work productive was the great management task of the last century."

- Peter Drucker, 1978

Friday, May 21, 2010

How Communication Gaps Can be Viewed as Opportunity for Business Analyst Function

I find myself analyzing things quite a bit throughout the day. Some people accuse me of thinking too much. I don't know, it is just a natural thing I do, I guess. I ponder a lot.

One thing I ponder about from time to time is the impact that words have on work, people, and communications in general. Words are very significant in my profession. Words appear everywhere. In Web portals, they are used to instruct people how to use the Web site or how to perform a function. In presentations, words are used to concisely deliver a big message, one little message at a time. A funny thing about words is how they conjure up different emotions and different meanings to different people.

So, how does all of this relate back to the theme of this blog? Well, UX topics aside, there are some interesting behavioral patterns that I recently noticed, because I had been fixated on words. Recently, I happened to be observing a debate between colleagues, regarding the best way to configure a feature of a new Learning Management System (LMS). For background, this LMS Web application is intended to deliver courses and track professional development information for employees. It happens to be a third party product.

During the course of debates I realized that there is a distinct difference between the way that the software developer interpreted the name of a software feature versus the way that a business stakeholder interpreted it, in the context of them working together on the system implementation. Both individuals were working together, exploring how the third party application works, and trying to figure out the best way to leverage the product in order to meet the business requirements.

During this adventure, the two individuals came across a product feature called "curriculum." Here is the behavior that I noticed:

The software developer evaluated and experimented with the "curriculum" feature and tried to figure out different ways to use the feature in order to meet the business requirements.

The business stakeholder, performing the same experiment, forcefully attempted to make the software behave as they understand the word "curriculum" to mean in normal business context.

The two individuals then reached a disagreement when the software developer offered various options for how the feature could be used, while the business stakeholder argued that "no, a curriculum means this and so it must only be used like this." Not only did the two disagree on what the word means in general business context, but both also disagreed on the appropriate way to approach the software configuration task.

Do you see the distinction?

The software developer views the "curriculum" not for what the label means, but for what the actual program capability is and how it interacts with other related capabilities in the system. On the other hand, the business stakeholder had a fixed idea because of the label.

What is the point of all of this? Business analysis. A business analyst function is extremely important on a Web application project. Whether this function is performed by a dedicated expert, absorbed and performed by the project manager (or other resource), there needs to be a person who can understand the business requirements while also understanding the developers' way of thinking so that these two perspectives can be united and a common goal can be met.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

SharePoint 4.0: Formula for Estimating Content Database Size

Formula

((D × V) × S) + (10 KB × (L + (V × D))) = C

C = Database Size in KB
D = # Documents * 3
L = # List Items
S = Average size of documents in KB
V = Average # Versions in a Document Library (Greater than 0)



Reference

Microsoft (2010). Storage and SQL Server capacity planning and configuration. Retrieved May 13, 2010 from http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc298801(office.14).aspx.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Links: MSDN Ramp Up Track, SharePoint for Developers

Microsoft has a Ramp Up program on MSDN, to help facilitate learning and professional development, http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/rampup/default.aspx. There are some interesting tracks, including the following ones related to SharePoint:

MSDN Ramp Up Track, SharePoint for Developers Part 1
http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/rampup/dd221355.aspx

  1. Introduction to Web Parts
  2. Data Lists for Developers
  3. Programming Event Handlers
  4. Workflow in SharePoint
  5. Silverlight and SharePoint

MSDN Ramp Up Track, SharePoint for Developers Part 2
http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/rampup/dd320759.aspx

  1. Page Navigation – Integrate navigation into your SharePoint application
  2. Page Branding – Brand a SharePoint site to look like your existing web application
  3. Web Services – Access list data using built-in web services
  4. Custom Content Types – Implement behaviors from different document types
  5. User Management – Manage web site users without code

Links: Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Launch Event


Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Launch Event
http://sharepoint.microsoft.com/2010launch/en-us/Pages/home.aspx


Webcast
May 12, 2010
11:00 AM EDT
Keynote to be delivered by Stephen Elop.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Links: SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) SDK for PHP

Here are some references for information on interoperability between SQL Server Reporting Services and PHP:

Interoperability Bridges and Labs Center
http://www.interoperabilitybridges.com

SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) SDK for PHP
http://www.interoperabilitybridges.com/projects/sql-server-reporting-services-sdk-for-php

SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) SDK for PHP on Codeplex
http://ssrsphp.codeplex.com/

(Microsoft, 2010)

Reference

Microsoft (2010). SQL Server Reporting Services SDK for PHP. Retrieved May 11, 2010 from http://www.interoperabilitybridges.com/projects/sql-server-reporting-services-sdk-for-php.

SharePoint 3.0: Setting Default Expires Date on Announcements

Description:

When using the out of box Annoucements web part in SharePoint 3.0, items do not have a default value. For practical purposes, when using the web part in sites, it usually makes sense to limit the number of announcements that display in the view that is positioned on the Web page.

So, in order to limit the items in a view, it makes sense to use sorting on a field such as Expires in conjunction with an item limit on the view. And, if you are going to sort (on Expires), you need to make sure that all items have a value to be sorted on. Otherwise, those items lacking the Expires won't appear.

Solution:

An easy way to ensure that all items have an Expires date is to set the default value of the column. To do this, navigate to the Announcements list, to Settings, List Settings. In the "Additional Column Settings" area, set the "Default Value" to a "Calculated Value" of =[TODAY]+60. This will default the Expires date to be sixty days from when the announcement item is cerated.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

User Experience (UX) in Web Portals

Planning and executing information management projects accounts for a major portion of the overall effort. However, there is still quite a bit of time that is required to be spent on refining and communicating concepts to colleagues and to the business. Perceptions about why you are developing a portal or system and what it will look like have a tremendous amount of impact to the success of a project.

User Experience tends to be one of the facets of information system design that draws quite a bit of controversy because it is very subjective. Combining information architecture concepts, system capabilities, features, security models, business requirements, functional requirements, standards, and policies to develop a design will get you most of the way there. However, there are still some very volatile aspects to the design process; these include emotion and perception.

The measure of user experience of a system is highly subjective. People's attitudes, situations, level of knowledge, and other factors produce an emotional response every time the person uses the system. Although I have lots of past experiences, projects, and communications to draw from for guidance on how best address matters related to UX debates; I've decided that I really need to collect some factual information to keep in the toolbox. I think that behavior studies, polls, statistics, and other sources of research are required to build a solid fact base to support decision making. It is simply not good enough to speculate how people think and how people will respond to a particular system design.

I plan to invest some time in this topic and then reflect on my findings in subsequent posts.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Sample Sizing Estimate for SharePoint Server 2010 Search Environment

Below is a sample search storage estimate for environment with 500GB content databases. This was calculated by adding up the sum of MDF files. There are so many considerations for storage, and this is just a rough sketch of the storage aspects related to the Search Service Application. This does not consider base installation overhead nor does it factor in other SharePoint Service Applications (SSA), Office integrations, User Profiles, Usage Database, PowerPivot, etc..

1.
ContentDBSum = Measure the size on disk of MDF files. For this example, 500 GB.

2.
IndexTotalIndexSize = ContentDBSum * .035 or
17.5 GB
QueryComponentIndexSize = TotalIndexSize / Number of Index Partitions
StorageQueryComponentIndexSize * 3 single query component with space for index merging
QueryComponentIndexSize * 4 single query component with space for index repartioning or 70 GB

3.
TotalPropertyDBSize = ContentDBSum *.015 or
8 GB
TotalPropertyDBLogSize = ContentDBSum *.0031 or 2 GB

4.
TempDBSize = TempDBSizeContentDBSum * .00034 or 1 GB

5.
TotalCrawlDBSize = ContentDBSum *.046 or
23 GB
TotalCrawlDBLogSize = ContentDBSum *.011 or
6 GB
ContentDBSum *.011 = TempDBSize = 6 GB

6.
SearchAdminDBSize = # items in index * .3 or override as
5 GB
In this case, I don't know how many items there will be in the index so I am going to allocate 5GB.

7.
Backup Size = basically, add all of the database sizes together.

Reference

Microsoft Technet (2010). Performance and capacity test results and recommendations. Retrieved April 27, 2010 from http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff608068(office.14).aspx.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Windows Server 2008 R2 Data Center VS Enterprise

Here is a quick overview when comparing Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter vs. Enterprise. Based on the licensing model for Windows Server 2008 R2, it may be more cost effective for many virtual infrastructure environments to license Datacenter Edition rather than Enterprise Edition. Furthermore, the hot pluggable hardware features of Datacenter Edition may be a key discriminator.


Role: No difference

Core Installation Features: No difference

Features: No difference

Technical Specifications: See Below

Datacenter
· hot add processors
· hot replace memory
· hot replace processors
· Virtual image use rights = Unlimted
· X64 sockets = 64

Enterprise
· No - hot add processors
· No - hot replace memory
· No - hot replace processors
· Virtual image use rights = Host plus 4VM
· X64 sockets = 8



Reference

Windows Server 2008 R2: Overview of Editions
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2008/en/us/r2-editions-overview.aspx

Friday, April 09, 2010

Inconsistency in Information Management System Governance, Projects is Kryponite

I continue to revisit the thought that a SharePoint governance model (policies, procedures, standards, resources, etc.) can be undermined if an organization does not employ proper and consistent governance for all of its information management activities and systems.

Consistency is important because it level sets the way that people approach information management projects, including SharePoint projects. If some projects were to take a fly by the seat of your pants approach, disregarding governance concepts, it is bad because the resulting deliverables will be inconsistent from what the guiding principles that the governance model is supporting. What is worse is the sloppy result is the one that is achieved first, since it takes less time to do things when you circumvent processes.

Meanwhile, you might have some projects following the rules and progressing a bit slowly while the wild wild west ones are moving fast and crossing the finish line earlier. By the time the "good" project finishes, the wild wild west has already become the de facto standard. A precedent is set and now all of those "unnecessary" rules are perceived as pockets of resistance and momentum builds in avoiding the rules rather than following them. This is a vicious cycle and requires quite a lot of effort to reverse the damage. It is much easier if the executive sponsors can support the governance concepts, then promote and mandate accordingly.

The benefits of the formal approach to projects and adherence to information management governance is obvious to anybody who has experienced a complete project life cycle and then stuck around long enough to observe the after effects. This topic is very much philosophical; do you want to manage projects short-sighted to get the project completed or do you want to manage projects for the greater good, long term to support the guiding principles of the governance model?

I will draw an analogy. You live in the mountains and have a wood stove. You can spend cheap money buying an axe, then hurry to chop wood with it to meet an immediate need of filling the stove once. Or, you can invest more money on a chainsaw and then be able to provide wood for the stove, more efficiently, every time you need it moving forward. It is called return on investment. Sustainable efficiency and the ability to produce higher quality deliverables (which are easier to maintain) is the result of following a slow and steady approach to information management projects; taking the time to remain aligned with the principles of the governance plan.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Documenting Your SharePoint Server Search Design Specifications

During a SharePoint Server Search implementation, it is especially important to document the technical design specifications of Search, prior to configuring. By creating a Search Design Specifications document and continiously managing changes in it, the document acts as a good reference for future projects, knowledge transfer, upgrades, migrations, and disaster recovery scenarios.

When I document search specifications, I do it in a Word document and capture detailed information in a similar format to how the actual configuration screens appear. Here are some samples:



Content Sources




Crawl Rules




Crawl Schedules



Metadata Property Mappings



Scopes

Blog Archive

Followers