I have spent the last 3 days at the International SharePoint Conference in London, organised by Combined Knowledge.
The event was well attended and by all accounts was a big success. Interestingly the organiser (a friendly chap named Steve Smith) made a decision to structure the event in such a way that each session was a continuation of the previous one, allowing an overall story to evolve over the course of the event. Personally I think the format worked and from what I have heard the speakers enjoyed collaborating to achieve this (I wonder if they used a SharePoint site?). It certainly allowed a more in-depth look at topics that might have otherwise been skimmed over (this was particularly the case for the PowerShell sessions that kicked off the IT PRO track).
Although I did take a bunch of notes, I thought that a concise, albeit slightly terse way of documenting the highlights would be a list of my favourite quotes from each of the sessions that I attended. This is really for my own future reference but hopefully it’s useful for those that weren’t able to attend too. You will notice that the sessions aren’t purely technical – I dipped into a few “fluffy” (read: business) sessions to see what all the fuss is about.
The number of bullet points is not representative of the quality of the sessions – it really depends on the speaker style, whether the sessions were demo heavy and whether or not a point could be generalised to avoid misinterpretation.
Let me know if you spot any mistakes or have any queries.
Gary Lapointe, Spencer Harbar, Chandima Kulathilake
- Utilising a combination of PowerShell with a separate XML input file allows for “static scripts and dynamic parameters“, avoiding the need to re-test for each environment.
- “Using SQL aliases is a no brainer“. – you can’t point to a specific SQL instance using DNS
Wayne Ewington, Ben Curry, Neil Hodgkinson
- When troubleshooting disk performance issues, always ask “what else is on the SAN?”
- “Different LUNs does not mean different spindles” – when troubleshooting disk throughput issues
- “A large number of smaller disks will perform better than a small number of large disks”
- “Disk performance is about throughput, not capacity“
- “Say NO to virtual disks for SQL server” – mount LUNs directly
- Ask yourself “What specific problem are you trying to solve?” – when considering RBS
- “The closer your RPO/RTO numbers are to 0, the more expensive your solution will be“
- “Consider multiple farms” when naming databases – e.g. SP_Farm1_Content_Intranet
- “It depends on the provider” – the answer to most RBS questions
- “SQL indexes are based on GUIDs” – which contributes to fragmentation in SharePoint
User Profile Service (IT105)
Spence Harbar, Kimmo Forss
- “User profiles can be augmented using BCS” – e.g. to add data from a HR databases
- “Identity management is primarily a political discussion, not technical”
- “AD assessments should be performed up front, prior to a SharePoint project starting”
- “You cannot do identity management without a metadirectory” – FIM being an example of a metadirectory solution
- “Logging on as the farm account is one of the top 5 worst practices in SharePoint administration”
Delivering Business Applications (CS706)
- “SharePoint is typically a higher up front cost but lower long term cost, meaning it’s a strategicinvestment” – compared to traditional custom built apps.
- “Sometimes scoping the problem is more work than solving it”
Building a new Intranet (IW507-IW508)
- Your Intranet should be a “many sites experience” – as opposed to one monolithic portal
- “Analogous to a shopping mall” – i.e. food labels (metadata), “get in, get out” ideal
- “Focus on definitions, not labels” – e.g. not “How we work”, focus on “The place to find out what I need to perform my role”
- “SharePoint is not a solution – it’s a dirty word that should be removed from our vocabulary”
- “Enable people for solutions, not SharePoint”
- “Consider content publishers, not just consumers” – how will the content be edited?
- “Bend > buy > build” – start with bend, only build if absolutely necessary.
- “Prove before you move” – through prototyping, to justify moving from “bend” towards “buy” and “build”
- “Train the trainer allows for scalable education”
- “Searching everything doesn’t work” – use scopes.
- “The default search config is not recommended – split it” – 1 schedule and 1 content source is inflexible.
- “Instant indexing is not possible” – it takes 1 minute to spin up
- “Crawler impact rules are an easy way to DOS a farm”
- “Search results removal is instant” – URL is dropped from the index
- “Configuring search with PowerShell can be invasive” – e.g. due to DB moves
Capacity planning and performance testing (IT112-IT113)
Steve Smith and Ben Curry
- “Try to break your farm to establish a baseline and thresholds” – obviously not in production hours J
- “Visual Studio 2010 is a great tool for load testing and is not just for developers”
- “An old client may not be able to tax a new server” – ensure your test rig(s) have enough hardware
- “Build in think times” to ensure more accurate testing.
- “Test search queries when load testing” as more developers start to utilise search in custom code
- “Additional hardware can have an order of magnitude improvement” – in the demo we added an additional CPU core to each WFE, which drastically improved our RPS figures
- “Test third party products too”
Exploring SharePoint Enterprise features (BUS314)
- “It’s difficult to partition Enterprise and Standard functionality” – e.g. site templates that include Ent features
- “Best bets are analogous to search engine ads”
- “Put effort into reviewing search queries, especially failed ones”
- “Don’t buy Enterprise just for chart part Web parts”
- “SPD is a great BA prototyping tool” – e.g. for workflows
- “InfoPath is great for validating user input”
- “The Microsoft BI stack delivers functional, zero vanity output – PerformancePoint adds shine” – for flashy exec dashboards J
- “SharePoint should not be considered mature yet” – compared to some other products/vendors
What’s next? (BUS315)
- “Business requirements should always be technology agnostic“
- “SharePoint will surface business dysfunction” – probably my favourite quote.
- “Politics can screw up a great technical design“
Office 365 (IT116)
Spence Harbar, Kimmo Forss
- “The Office 365 Dedicated team are doing what every IT PRO team should be doing” – when it comes to validating custom solutions being deployed to the environment.