SharePoint Plastic Revisited

I was in Burma a few weeks ago and came across this scary Robot Barbie.  It made me realize just how crazy we can make things out of plastic.  Ironically I’ve heard of some pretty crazy SharePoint deployments as well.
 
Robot Barbie
If you’re doing SharePoint to do SharePoint you could end up with a Robot Barbie that won’t sell on any market.

Automating and Scripting SharePoint Administration

First off let me thank Todd Klindt, my good buddy who’s shown me the light on the fact that IT Pro geeks really get into STSADM and the fact that you can get good scores showing off the black command line screen for over an hour.
 
I’ve used a few of his slides as inspiration (plus a bit, thanks buddy) for my talk here in Teched South East Asia.  Wish he was here doing this himself.  Maybe next year.
 
Here’s my Teched SEA Automating SharePoint Administration with STSADM deck.  Click "cancel" if you get prompted.
 
For my Scripted Administration talk I divided it up into 3 main sections.  1) Understanding the command line SharePoint Tools and other cmd line tools, 2) Understanding the containment hierarchy and it’s relationship to the stsadm commands 3) Things you can only do in STSADM and STSADM Extensions and Powershell
 
SharePoint Command Line Tools (Scripted Deployment more in previous post.)
  • Setup.exe
    • Install bits
    • Use Answer file to provide needed details to automate.
  • Psconfig.exe
    • Create or Connect to config db
       Start or stop services
       Change server roles
  • STSAdm.exe
    • Create Web Apps
    • Create Site Collections and sites
    • Backup/Restore
    • Import/Export
    • Maintenance and management
Non SharePoint Command Line Tools
 
IISWeb – query/create/delete empty IIS Web Applications (IIS Web Sites)
 
IISApp – List application pools with process id and use to recycle
 
Copy/Xcopy/Robocopy – Copy and Manage files.  There are various ways to connect and bulk upload.  Bamboo solutions has some nice very cheap import tools.  Beyond this there are a ton of third party tools for migrating data into SharePoint from BinaryTree, Tzunami, Quest, AvePoint and on and on.  Don’t forget Excel and Access and interfaces for getting list data into SharePoint.
 
Containment Hierarchy Creation and Management with Cmline tools
 
Farm
      (Setup.exe and Psconfig.exe) Setconfigdb, AddSolution (for farm solutions/features and below)
Servers
      (Setup.exe and Psconfig.exe) setconfigDB, addServer
Web Applications
      extendVS, extendVSinfarm, createAdminVS, createSSP, addcontentDB, AddZoneUrl, Managepolicypermissionlevel
Databases
     createDATABASE, createSSP, setconfigDB,
Site Collections (Site, SPSite)
     CreateSITE, CreateSITEinnewdb, AddUser, AddGroup
 Sites (Web, SubWeb, SPWeb)
     createWEB
Lists
     (automate list creation through list and site templates) (or with STSADM extensions or Access or Excel to add entire custom lists)
Items
    (copy, xcopy, and robocopy can be used to add documents, use Excel and Access to insert or update items.)
Maintenance/Operations
 
Farm
   Quiesefarm, listlogginglevels, setlogginglevel, backuphistory
Servers
   renameServer
Web Applications
   preparetomove, unextendVS, addpath, editSSP
Databases
   DATABASErepair, preparetomove, AddContentDB
Site Collections (Site, SPSite)
   CreateSITE, CreateSITEinnewdb, GetSITElock, enumSITES
Sites (Web, SubWeb, SPWeb)
   createWEB, renameWeb, enumSUBWEBS
Lists
   forcedeleteLIST
Items
   blockedFILElist
 
Advanced Cmdline Admin
 
STSADM Extensions – Gary Lapoint’s STSADM extensions are the most verbose list of extensions anywhere.  Tons of em.  My favorite… Createsiteindb (create site collection in existing database without all that unnecessary jumping around.)
 
Powershell – There are lots of powershell references out there now.  There’s one codeplex community project at http://www.codeplex.com/pssharepoint  and Darrin Bishop (blog) did a session at TechEd called "ehancing automation with SharePoint" that I recommend.  There are quite a few other powershell projects on codeplex.
 
Caution: All those dispose concerns you might have heard about in development applies to anything you’re doing in Powershell.  There can be common mistakes with not properly disposing when walking the site tree.
 
Also check out SP1 and the Infrastructure update and future updates to include additional things… such as MergeContentdbs the most useful STSADM command for managing your databases.  You might not have heard of a SharePoint Admin Toolkit built by Microsoft.  The Move, Lock, and Delete in Batch in a web UI is very nice.
 
Other SharePoint Admin Tools should also be considered if you’re having manageability issues.  There is a lot of good work being done by third parties to make admin easier.
 
Additional References
 

TechNet STSADM Reference and Poster

Minsharp STSADM References (premium content) Mindsharp.com

Todd Klindt MVP blog

Ben Curry’s “SharePoint Admin Companion” (MS Press Book)

Gary Lapoint’s STSADM extensions

SharePoint Backup and Disaster Recovery Updated Resources for Teched South East Asia

I’m here in Kuala Lumpur doing some last minute prepping for my SharePoint Backup and Disaster Recovery session and figured I should share some of my content.

Infrastructure Update Issues Informal Interview with Troy

I ran into Troy Star my favorite SharePoint tester yesterday in Friday Harbor, Washington.  You have to appreciate the size of the SharePoint world and the randomness.
 
So with my 5 minutes with Troy, what did I do?  I drilled him on the Infrastructure update and O14.
 
He first mentioned the AAM (alterate access mapping) regression.  Regression meaning a bug that was actually unfortunately introduced and not caught before the release of the rich pack.  The regression only appears to impact environments that use AAMs and not ISA.  (ISA apparently can transparently work around the issue.)  Not all the details have been released on this yet.
 
So I asked him who was affected and he said a basically anyone who was using internal and external alterate access mappings.  It was defaulting to internal mappings.  Didn’t get the full explanation, but basically it was messing up the AAMs.
 
So I asked him if people should hold off, he said no not everyone, that people should test it first.  I explained that many customers don’t have AAMs that would replicate their production environments that would make the regression apparent.
 
There’s so much goodness packed in that update it’s unfortunate, but I would have to say that if you have an internet or extranet environment that even has basic AAMs I’d suggest waiting until this is fully vetted and we have post update rollups.
 
Dan Winter’s (of product support) Blog has infrastructure update info on this.  I expect him to have updates as we find out more.  Of course the WSS Infrastucture Update KB itself should keep us up to date as well. 
 
What did Troy say about O14?  What can he say?  He said they hadn’t forgotten about it, but a lot of time was spent on the update.  I totally understand, it’s something I’ve been anticipating for over 7 months.  Unfortunately many will see this regression as a temporary delay, for Internet and Extranet sites that use AAMs I’d have to agree.
 
In the meantime there is some functionality testing that can and should go on.  Did you see Brenda Carter’s search federation post?  It’s very thorough and even if you don’t have "geo-distributed" environments it’s relevant for pulling in search results from Live.com or other search federation scenarios.  It also gives you an idea of the richness of the update.
 
There are quite a few posts on the Infrastructure update these days:
 

The SharePoint ITPro documentation team blog – Infrastructure Updates

Office Sustained Engineering blog – Announcing Availability of Infrastructure Updates

Get the Point, Microsoft Office SharePoint Blog – What’s new in the MOSS 2007 Infrastructure Update? 

SharePoint and World Economics

The economy is definitely on the mind of people in the U.S.  Maybe yours too?  I’ve spent time abroad lately and around the world gas prices and currency is a common topic.  What about SharePoint?  How does it relate to economics…

In a recession SharePoint will continue to do well.  Why?  SharePoint principals are:

  1. Consolidation of Legacy applications – so many custom .NET and Java apps could be quicker and more simply deployed on out of the box SharePoint Apps 
  2. Consolidation of local and distributed collaborative shares – When every team has their own shares and/or servers there is a lot of unnecessary redundancy, power consumption, rack space, etc…
  3. Economies of scale with Operations Teams – consolidate division or departmental solutions
  4. Access to Line of Business Data – licenses to those expensive LOB apps are pricey, so why not expose the data in SharePoint search with custom actions?
  5. What doesn’t SharePoint do – You can do so many things with SharePoint I call it plastic.  Obviously having it all in one platform you get more out of it, especially when you have it deployed as a service.

You won’t save money by moving file for file to SharePoint from file shares.  I’ll save you that math.  It is more than 2-3X the cost just for storage.  You could see another 2X or more with ops.

Career/Job Growth Continues

While the U.S. economy goes down and pressure on IT increases, more and more SharePoint deployments are happening and are not slowing.  The demand for SharePoint expertise both in the corporate and consulting world and top dollar/Yen/Euro is required. 

I got a message from my bank saying they were "safe and sound."  Well, rest assured "SharePoint is safe and sound."  You don’t have to take my word for it.  A recent CMS Wire article talks about the "One Collaboration Platform to Rule Them All."  In this dark article which talks about SharePoint as a virus and puts a negative spin to the wave of deployments pushes governance (something I push as well) it explains quadrupling of SharePoint applications.  It talks about poorly planned and poorly executed deployments, which unfortunately will likely get worse before it gets better.  SharePoint deployments are not a commodity that you can get turn key from SharePoint consulting shops… unfortunately.  MCS would like to make you think so with SDPS (SharePoint Deployment Planning Services).  Heard about it?  Partners get certified where you can use your EA bucks for free SharePoint deployments.  Be cautious.

FYI: There’s a SharePoint Skills shortage!  Redmond Developer magazine agrees in their SharePoint Dev skills Shortage article.  SharePoint Dev skills… not a commodity.  A big complaint of companies is what they’ll pay for SharePoint dev skills.  Guess what?  You pay for the experienced guy and get it done faster and done well, or you pay the cheap guy to do it wrong until you learn it takes experienced and today unfortunately or fortunately (for the dev) high pay.

Alert there is not enough SharePoint skills on both Dev and IT sides.  (Hush – Don’t tell anyone. 🙂  Even consultants who have been doing just SharePoint for a year are still struggling to understand the "best practices" and plan for scalability.

While SharePoint deployments have exponential growth, most IT departments will attempt to roll over existing resources and with economic challenges they are going to try to do it without training.  That part definitely concerns me.  People (Devs and IT and Business Analysts/PMs) need training to ramp up.

Announcing the SharePoint Planning and Governance 3 day course for Project Managers and Business level Implementation teams.  I will be co-teaching this with Nicola Young and John Ross on 9/23 in Cincinnati, OH for a steal.  That’s our first class.  So go ahead and sign up now.  Note this is not a techncal class, it’s about governance and planning and successful deployments.  You’ll leave the class with a project plan, a governance plan.