Team Axceler is back in the office after a fantastic few days in (sometimes) sunny Florida where we attended DevConnections Orlando 2011. Coming from Seattle, I was one of the few folks happy to welcome the showers and cooler temperatures mid-week, but we were book-ended by beautiful weather. While my primary focus at the event was around two sessions in the SharePoint business and social tracks, Axceler was also an exhibitor, and s I spent a good amount of time talking to customers at the booth. We had strong traffic throughout the event, and were able to finally meet many of our happy customers in person - which is always a treat.
Amidst the many ControlPoint and Davinci Migrator demos, I was able to spend time talking with various partners and SharePoint experts, and capturing additional footage for my video series, The One Thing You Need to Know About SharePoint 2010. I was able to capture footage with Cathy Dew from Summit 7 Systems, Inna Gordin from BA Insight, and Jeff DeVerter from Rackspace, among others.
For the social track, I presented part of an ongoing analysis of competitive social tools in the enterprise space, comparing and contrasting their features to the latest capabilities in SharePoint 2010:
For the business track, my new session explored aspects of migration transformation, focusing on best practices to clean up and reorganize taxonomy, templates, content and configurations before and during migration:
I look forward to participating in two of the upcoming DevConnections Coast-to-Coast events this spring (I'll be presenting multiple sessions in Boston
April 25-27, and San Diego
May 2-4), and their June event (June 13-15) in London
. See you there!
As I made my way down to DevConnections in Orlando, my thoughts were on my two sessions, and the tweaks I wanted to make to my presentations. I’ll be introducing a new session this week, entitled “Don’t Just Migrate – Transform Your SharePoint Environment” that shares multiple examples where customers, partners, and my own projects were successful – and not so successful and why. Based on solid project management and business analysis fundamentals, this session will help you avoid some of the most painful and even embarrassing errors made during a SharePoint Migration.
If you’ve seen me present, you know that I love lists of practical information – and content that is actionable. One of the lists I’ll be presenting this week contains some of the most common SharePoint migration pitfalls and how to avoid them:
- Rushing the process.
In the movie Spaceballs (I love to quote classic American films), the antagonist’s spaceship overshoots their target by miscalculating their jump into hyperspace by fractions of a percentage, landing them in the wrong galaxy (and with a plaid vapor trail). The point here is that small mistakes in rushed planning cycles can lead to huge gaps further down the road, which can be expensive to overcome. In SharePoint for example, data model and taxonomy flaws may not show up for months down the road – and it is harder and more expensive to correct the problems later.
- Not identifying all of your customizations.
If you’ve performed previous SharePoint migrations, then you have likely run into the pain of digging through error logs to find out why a migration failed – only to come across a rogue web part or custom site design. As Murphy’s Law dictates, these failures always happen at the most inconvenient time: over a weekend, during crunch time. In addition, they usually cause the maximum amount of duress to you, your management team, and your end users .
- Treating all sites and end users the same.
Three out of four teams may use SharePoint out-of-the-box, but treating that fourth team – with their custom workflows, extensive dashboards, and customized integration to the CRM system – the same way as the other would be disastrous. Why? The OOTB sites should, in theory, migrate cleanly, but the fourth site will need care and hand-holding. Treating them the same could break the site, leaving the team that actually uses SharePoint in turmoil. Understand the individual needs and requirements of each team, especially your power users – the folks who depend on SharePoint day in and day out.
- Not testing.
Migrations are iterative. This is because different teams, sites, and site collections have different priorities and requirements. You need time to validate what has been moved both from a technical standpoint, and from an end-user standpoint. A robust migration strategy allows for verification that permissions, navigation, look and feel, and content are all working as planned.
- Going in without a rollback plan.
A good project manager has a plan for and mitigates all risks with a solid rollback plan. Why should a SharePoint migration be any different? You may be able to recover from problems caused by rushing into the process, not identifying all of the customizations in your environment, treating all of your sites the same, and not employing healthy test practices – but you will not recover (without severe pain) from roll back failure (one of the reasons why in-place upgrade is rarely recommended). So plan accordingly. Have your backups ready, otherwise Mr. Murphy and his Law will likely join you on this little endeavor.
Migration is an opportunity for your organization to clean up, transform, and realize your SharePoint vision. It is not just a technical activity, but should be a much more thoughtful and planned process.
Our goal here at Axceler is to help you better manage your SharePoint environment, from better planning and pre-migration analysis with Davinci Migrator, to centralized management of permissions, features, analysis and reporting with ControlPoint. I’ll cover more on these topics in Orlando this week. Hope to see you here!
I am finally back in the Seattle office after two weeks abroad helping to launch our new North Sydney, Australia office, and presenting at the regional SharePoint conferences in downtown Sydney, Australia (#AUSPC) and Wellington, New Zealand (#NZSPC).
As a Bronze sponsor of both events, the Axceler team was able to meet many of the participants, introducing ourselves and having great discussions around ControlPoint and Davinci Migrator and the opportunities for growth in each market. Joining me on the ground in Sydney were Garry Smith, Sergio Otoya, and our new in-region Channel Manager, Vijay Raghvani – who also joined me for the event in New Zealand. Thanks again to Debbie Ireland, Mark Orange (Mr Anti-Twitter), and Nick Hadlee for their hard work in organizing these conferences, and giving us the opportunity to participate. New friendships were forged, business partnerships discussed, and customer opportunities uncovered.
I was also able to squeeze in fantastic day of hiking over the weekend on the Tongariro Crossing, which is where they filmed scenes from Mt. Doom in the Lord of the Rings films (pictures on Facebook).
In addition to my sessions on metadata (my slides from New Zealand are below), I was invited to participate on the experts panel on the main stage at both shows. As always, there was great participation and ample questions from the attendees, inside and outside of the sessions – which will fuel blog posts here and on my personal blog for weeks to come. But as I was sitting on the flight home, I started thinking about my “Lessons Learned” from these events, and thought I’d share my takeaways:
- People need a personal connection.
Having managed people and teams remotely, you quickly learn that there is no replacement for face-time. One layer deeper is the value of spending time with partners and customers at these events, and building lasting relationships. These global events are hard work, and generally include working across 2 or 3 time zones, getting your regular work done while on the road. But the long-term value of building those personal connections can be invaluable.
- You can’t trump real world experience.
No amount of planning and quality assurance preparation can prepare you entirely for what your user community throws at you. There is no such thing as a homogenous SharePoint deployment – that’s why it makes sense to spend as much time as possible talking to customers and the end user community about that they are experiencing.
- Insert a little humor – people appreciate it.
I’ve attended dozens of SharePoint events over the past year, and the most memorable (whether business or technically-focused) were those where the presenter made an effort to entertain as well as inform the audience. My perception is that the SharePoint crowd is a pretty funny group, thankfully.
- My rear end is not built for long flights.
I am open to ideas on this one. Seriously.
As for my sessions, I gave a 100-level introduction to metadata and governance entitled ‘Looking Under the Hood: How Your Metadata Strategy Impacts Everything You Do’ and had over 100 participants at each location. Based on feedback from the events, I plan to add some additional examples around Lists and List Views, and am thinking about inserting a video with examples of taxonomy and folksonomy in a 2010 environment. I’ll be presenting this session again at SharePoint Saturday Boston on April 9th. Here are the slides:
SharePoint consultant Andy Dale has opened polling for the "Best SharePoint Administration Tool 2011" and ControlPoint is on the short list!
We'd be honored if you took a moment to vote for ControlPoint. Simply go to Andy Dale's Awards Page, scroll down to "Best SharePoint Management Tool 2011", check off ControlPoint and click "Submit Vote."
Voting is broken up into two halves. The first half is an open online poll, the second is scored by a panel of SharePoint experts. Winners should be announced in mid-April.
As always, thank you for your support!
This past week I was able to travel to Sydney, Australia to participate as a speaker and expert panelist at the Australia SharePoint Conference. Axceler was onsite as a sponsor, and also celebrated the opening of our new office in North Sydney. Joining me for the event from the Seattle office was Garry Smith, GM of the echo products at Axceler, as well as Sergio Otoya, Architect and Project Manager of our migration development team, who is based out of Sydney. Also on site was the newest member of the Axceler team in Sydney, Vijay Raghvani, who leads our channel sales and business development efforts in the region.
The event brought in more than 500 SharePoint professionals, and some of the leading ISVs and integrators serving the region. My session at the event was a business user topic that walked the 100+ attendees through the basics of metadata -- what it is, where you can find it, and why it is important to your SharePoint strategy. The full title is "Looking Under the Hood: How Your Metadata Strategy Impacts Everything You Do" and the slides are below:
It was a tremendous week in Sydney with dozens of partner and customer introductions, and a great start for Axceler in the region. We're all looking forward to doing more in Australia and New Zealand this year.
I'm now in Wellington preparing to attend the speaker's dinner for the New Zealand SharePoint Conference, delivering the same topic as above. Hope to see you there!
For more information about partner opportunities in AUS and NZ, please contact Vijay (vijay.raghvani@Axceler.com)
It's your last chance to register for today's webinar
"How To Drive End User Adoption" with special guest Chris Bortlik of Microsoft.
In today's webinar, Chris will help you improve user adoption rates of SharePoint by showing you:
- Best practices in rolling out SharePoint
- The technical and organizational blockers to user adoption
- How to create strategies for addressing them
Chris will bring his real world experience as a former customer to this discussion, as well as what he has learned working with enterprise customers and partners in the Northeast. We hope you can join us for this exciting webinar!
In my previous article on reporting in SharePoint 2007, I discussed the need for SharePoint Administrators to have adequate data and reporting on their environments, and went on to discuss the gaps in out of the box reporting. The goal of this article is to show you how Axceler can help Administrators fill those gaps.
Reports on permissions are not easily generated with out of the box SharePoint 2010. It can be a manual process to collect and track this data, or may require custom reports using the SharePoint object model. Permissions reporting is critical to your business for a number of reasons – from regular auditing, to maintaining accurate user access, to troubleshooting functionality problems that, commonly, stem from end users trying to perform a task without having the correct permissions.
In ControlPoint, reports on Permissions can be filtered by User, AD Group, SharePoint group, or Permission level. They can also be generated on different scopes of the Farm, for example several Web Applications, Site Collections, or Sites. The flexibility allows users or Administrators to tailor the reports to the needs of the business.
The two main ways to generate permissions reports are by User or by Site. This example shows Comprehensive Permissions by Site. This Report shows a site and all Users that have access to any securable object:
Reports on Usage and Activity can be generated by Site Collection Administrators and Site Administrators. A few examples of these reports are as follows:
- Number of Page views
- Number of Daily Unique Users
- Top Pages
Reports on Usage can be generated a number of different ways in ControlPoint. The reports allow for increased insight into how SharePoint is being used. For example, you can see who is accessing what, what sites are most active, and what is trending. ControlPoint reports span many SharePoint Sites at once, and can be filtered for long periods of time.
This example shows the top 10 most active sites in the farm for the past 12 months:
Reports on Storage can be generated by Site Collection Administrators. The reports show storage usage by site, and a trend on growth based on time frame. In SharePoint 2010, there is actually less detail in these reports than was available in 2007.
Much like Permissions and Activity, Storage reports can be generated across many SharePoint sites at once. Analyzing storage is extremely important for planning for growth, and insuring optimal performance. ControlPoint provides a number of powerful reports to extend SharePoint capabilities. This example is a Storage report on Content Databases. The report indicates how big the database is and how much each Site Collection is using:
SharePoint records audit data when auditing is enabled on a Site Collection. Site Collection Administrators can view audit records.
- Audit records include data on events that get recorded
- Events detail includes user IDs associated with event, site of event, item type(page, document, list), event date and time, event description (view, check out), and item name and URL
Auditing is a growing area of focus for many SharePoint administrators as SharePoint is more widely adopted and as it becomes more business critical.
ControlPoint Audit Log Analysis provides an easy way to filter the SharePoint audit logs. This provides meaningful reports that show what people are doing, where, and when. Audit records can be filtered by date, user, event, scope, site, and URL. Below is an example of an Audit report that was filtered by one user James Joyce:
Out of the box, SharePoint 2010 provides you with the essentials you need to manage your SharePoint environment – but comes up short in a number of areas. Getting the data you need requires you to be a little creative, and to either build something yourself – or buy something off the shelf. Fortunately, ControlPoint provides rich reporting capability out of the box that allows you to better monitor and manage your SharePoint environment.
For a more comprehensive review of the out of the box reporting capabilities of SharePoint and how ControlPoint improves upon them, please download the free Axceler whitepaper Good, Better, Best Reporting in SharePoint.
Jamie Aliperti is a Senior Sales Engineer
in Axceler's Los Angeles office.