10 Things I Learned From Microsoft’s SharePoint IT

Was great to get a reminder of how Microsoft Does IT. Today I attended the IT Showcase by Microsoft’s own IT Group. Mike Rian the IT manager over the internal SharePoint environment delivered a great session designed for IT managers. If you’ve followed me for a while you’ll know I spent 7 years at Microsoft and 5 of those years in Microsoft IT. I still have fond memories.

Here are some of the key takeaways.

  1. SharePoint Does Really Scale – They are supporting 30TB globally on SharePoint across 199,786 Site Collections. I’m aware of a couple of other environments that stretch the imagination one with America as the scope of potential users at recovery.gov run on Amazon’s infrastructure as a service, and one e-commerce portal with 2 million monthly users (SharePoint 2010 plus Commerce Server). I’ve heard of environments even larger than 30TB, but you don’t want me to tell you about some of these, ’cause I’d have to take you out.
  2. SharePoint Governance comes in the form of a service offering – Microsoft has a vanilla Utility SharePoint service offering where my sites, collaboration & team sites, and small medium portals are provided with separate purchasable service levels and now offer a custom service offering including charge back for storage needs over 10GB. Mike mentioned on the webcast that the custom service offering charge back (quarterly) now pays for the scale hosted vanilla hosted offering.
  3. SharePoint is an application and a platform (consider chargeback for custom deployments) – With on premise SharePoint you’ll likely need to provide SharePoint integration with other platforms and line of business apps. Microsoft calls this service SharePoint PLUS which provides just that including small and medium portals integrating and becoming Line of Business apps.
  4. Engage & Measure Adoption and Satisfaction – Microsoft surveys their users on a quarterly basis to gather "NSAT" the statistic that gives them customer satisfaction including pain points, and ensures that service teams are meeting service level commitments. Focus is on driving adoption not deployment. They’ve built a feedback tool to measure and track feedback into the NSAT statistics.
  5. Don’t be afraid to buy or build – MS IT built their own site classification tool for following up to ensure data is properly secured. It also trips off groups that are not allowed on high business impact sites. Out of the box sharepoint can meet many needs, but some needs carry beyond. They also built their own site recycle bin, which I’m excited to see as a feature in SP1. I’m sure it’s a re-write, but great to see the functionality to meet a pain point I spec’ed out in 2005 be incorporated into the product.
  6. Stay in front of demand – Those who say we’ll build it and then later figure out how to govern it are missing the point. As well if you do nothing you’re also missing it. Microsoft realized they needed to provide services early in the process to stay ahead of the viral site growth. They are growing at 1TB ever 2-3 months.
  7. You Must Life Cycle Manage your Sites (data) – Not only is provisioning a key part of the lifecycle and support for your users, but offboarding is just as important. We need to know why a site is being created, understand its nature and when it should expire. Not all sites are created equally and life cycle must take this into account. Site ownership changes, data leakage, and poor search all result in a lack of life cycle management. I pushed Mike to share their code for how they lifecycle manage and classify their sites. I really think it would be great for the community.
  8. IT should not operate in a vacuum – Governing by committee and including advisors from the business in a cross section of roles will help include a broader perspective. These days in business transparency is so important. I’m working on creating my own advisory group. It’s a challenge to get them gathered together, but once they see we’ll actually listen and incorporate their feedback I expect we’ll get a captive audience who will give us key pieces of feedback on challenges and our roadmap.
  9. Education Strategy – It’s so easy to see how lack of education simply puts the pressure on the business to take time to struggle with the updates and releases, where a little training goes a long way. Training materials need to be accessible. We recently rolled out the productivity hub along with some videos. It seems training and education comes up in every conversation these days. A good deployment has accessible training and resources.
  10. Governance includes enforcement
    Remove broad based security groups on sensitive sites (like authenticated users), email->lock->delete sites owners for sites out of policy. Microsoft has built an alert and popup mechanism to notify users that go to a site that’s out of policy where the owner has not corrected the problem with the necessary action. Enforcement simply needs the rules and backing.

One slide that Mike Rian shared provided a list of pain points. These are worth including….

Pain Points

  • Difficulty finding content due to outdated and irrelevant results
  • Users inability to remember URLs
  • Orphaned team sites, mysites, doc and mtg workspaces
  • No rollover of site ownership
  • Users hitting site quotas
  • Complicated and painful restores due to lack of site recycle bin
  • Leaked information because content not properly secured

Here’s the PDF deck from the Webcast: How Microsoft IT Does Governance on SharePoint 2010

Get more detail on TechNet: Microsoft IT and SharePoint 2007 and SharePoint 2010 case study and showcase whitepapers

IT Showcase: Microsoft IT Uses Service Infrastructure and Governance Policies to Manage 29.9 TB of SharePoint Data

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