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.

Where is the change log?

Shane today in class was looking for where the SharePoint change log is.  I did a quick search and found a decent answer on MSDN with detail on Change Log Freshness
 
"The Change Log is a physical table in each content database, and each transaction writes to the log." The Change Log recevied by hitting the lists web service http://<Site>/_vti_bin/Lists.asmx  GetListItemChanges with GetListItemChangesSinceToken method of the Lists Web service to get changes starting from a specified point in time."
 
Found a great WSS 3.0 web service one page quick reference on Look Alive blog which I’m sure came from across the various MSDN pages.
 
Note: The change log is security trimmed.  "The change log returns a list of SPChange objects for changes that happened, for example, to the following object types:
  • Items, files, and folders
  • List metadata
  • Site metadata
  • Security"

I want verbose SharePoint errors when things break!

If you hate those generic general or unspecified error or unknown error occurred or even errors that failed and told you to contact the admin without telling you why you should contact your administrator?  I really hate it when I am the administrator and it tells me nothing! Well you can turn on verbose errors that actually tell you something.
 
The web.config calls the application default as custom errors.  It may seem counter intuitive to say "turn custom errors off," but essentially you’re saying those friendly errors aren’t telling me what I need.  Here’s three simple steps…
 
1) During your maintenance window, find in your web.config file in the <SharePoint><SafeMode> section the following line <customErrors mode="On"/> and simply change the "On" to "Off" (case sensitive).
 
2) Then look for Callstack="False" and change it to "True" (again case sensitive) this will actually give you the verbose (rich) details beyond the simple error codes.
 
3) Reset the affected app pool or app pools (or run iisreset on the command line if you’re lazy or have no idea what I’m talking about…)
 
I know I’m not the first to say this, but I want to make sure this is more broadly understood.  This is a great troubleshooting tip.  Note it will require an app pool cycle to get this to take effect since the change is in the web.config file.
 
Also to note, if this is on the intranet and not exposed to external users you may find keeping the errors verbose reduces troubleshooting time.  I can’t argue with that.  I caution for Internet sites for revealing too much detail.
 
Looking for more detail on this?  Andrew Connell one of my favorite MVPs, has a developers quick post of making sense of SharePoint errors on this.  This is obviously not new, but often not well understood that you can even do this.  (Also, kudos to Shane Young for calling this out in SharePoint Survival Admin Class).