Tuesday, July 17, 2012

SharePoint 2013 Preview Summary - Managing Your Current SharePoint 2010 Initiative with 2013 in Mind

AIIM SharePoint Expert Blog Article - Original Post on AIIM.ORG (Click Here)

Overview

With the SharePoint Server 2013 Preview being released yesterday there are a lot of organizations who are currently involved in large SharePoint 2010 deployments who are wondering how best they can adjust or minimize any system architecture or information architecture changes as well as governance updates to their current initiative.

I have had the pleasure of being able to test SharePoint Server 2013 for about the past year and with the preview and public information becoming available I wanted to put together this article to cover some of the major changes that are coming with SharePoint Server 2013 (also SharePoint Foundation 2013) and things for you to think about in your current or planned SharePoint 2010 implementation.

Due to some release information restrictions I will use a lot of information verbatim that Microsoft released publically yesterday but it is key to go with a Hybrid SharePoint Deployment methodology in your current SharePoint 2010 deployment to adapt properly to a future upgrade of SharePoint 2013.

Note: As I have seen with SharePoint 2003, 2007 and 2010’s releases, some features may change or be put into a future Service Pack but this is where the product stands publically today.

A Few Quick Security Points:

In SharePoint 2013 Preview, claims-based authentication is the default and preferred method of user authentication and is required to take advantage of server-to-server authentication and app authentication.

The use of classic mode authentication, also known as Windows classic authentication, is discouraged in SharePoint 2013 Preview and you can only create or configure web applications for classic mode authentication with Windows PowerShell cmdlets.

Server-to-Server Authentication

“Server-to-server authentication enables you to share resources that live on various servers in a SharePoint farm and access services, such as Exchange Server 2013 Preview and Lync Server 2013 Preview that are distributed among servers. Server-to-server authentication in SharePoint 2013 Preview also supports resource sharing and access with additional services that are compliant with the server-to-server authentication protocol.”

For SSL:“Web applications that include server-to-server authentication endpoints for inbound server-to-server requests, or that make outbound server-to-server requests must be configured to use Secure Sockets Layer (SSL).”

When Configuring SharePoint 2013 My Sites

SharePoint 2013 My Sites are hosted by a web application and rely on a User Profile service application. SharePoint 2013 My Sites also requires a managed metadata service application and you should also have a Search service application to use with My Sites as without the Search service application the 2013 My Sites functionality will be affected. 2013 My Sites should also be configured on their own Web Application (hence your SharePoint 2010 My Sites should as well) as well as Site Collection (called the My Site Host Site Collection).

SharePoint 2013 - User Profile Service Application - Activity Feed Job

The User Profile Service Application - Activity Feed Job creates system generated posts in the feeds for the following events:
  • Following a tag
  • Tagging an item
  • Birthday celebration
  • Job title change
  • Workplace anniversary
  • Updates to Ask Me About
  • Posting on a note board
Note: Organizations who are developing custom web parts or features for Birthday Celebrations, Workplace anniversaries, etc. should note this feature is out of the box in SharePoint 2013.

SharePoint 2013 – New Communities Feature (with Microblogging)

This feature allows you to create communities within your organization. You can create Community Sites (with an OOTB template) as well as Community Portals. This is outside of your department hierarchy that you currently use in SharePoint 2010 and should continue to go with in SharePoint 2013 but a mindset change should come into play around Departmental Sites vs. Communities and Community Portals as this is getting into Social Collaboration \ Professional Networking in SharePoint 2013.

SharePoint 2013 – The “Following” Settings

“In the SharePoint Server 2013 Preview, following is a user-initiated action that indicates the user's interest in a specific document, person, site, or tag. When users follow an item, new activities about that item appear in the users’ newsfeeds on their My Sites. Users view all their followed items from their My Sites.”

Note: This is something that will need to be added to your SharePoint 2010 \ SharePoint 2013 upgrade Governance Strategy in the future as there are settings \ governance around “Following” that should be taken into consideration.

The SharePoint Server Feed Cache and Last Modified Time Cache

“The SharePoint Server 2013 Preview feeds require the Feed Cache and Last Modified Time Cache. The Feed Cache maintains recent conversations and activities of entities. The Last Modified Time Cache maintains the last modified time for all items in the Feed Cache. The Distributed Cache service manages both the Feed Cache and the Last Modified Time Cache.”

Note: This is another example of added features coming out in SharePoint 2013 that organizations should keep in mind as you may be developing custom features in your SharePoint 2010 deployment around activities cache, etc.

“Last modified time information for recent conversations and activities” for much improved auditing as well as user participation, etc. within a community or within SharePoint 2013 in general for collaboration.

SharePoint 2013 eDiscovery and In-Place Holds – “eDiscovery Centers”

In SharePoint 2013, you can create eDiscovery Centers. There are Search service applications as well as the determination of what content each Search service application should crawl. You can have a single “eDiscovery Center” or multiple “eDiscovery Centers” and even associate the different centers with the Search Service so that all discoverable content is crawled by a particular Search Service.

This is an extremely exciting new feature and will only add to SharePoint’s stance as a leader in not only collaboration but a True ECM \ Records Management Platform with industry leading Social \ Professional Networking.

Configure Communication Between SharePoint Server 2013 Preview and Exchange Server 2013 Preview

If you will use a SharePoint eDiscovery Center to discover content in Exchange Server, you must configure SharePoint Server 2013 Preview and Exchange Server to interact.
Note: To discover content in Exchange Server from a SharePoint eDiscovery Center, you must be running Exchange Server 2013 Preview.

Also, Content is only discoverable if it is crawled and indexed by the Search service application that is associated with the web application that the eDiscovery Center is in. It’s important to identify this Search service application when you are planning for eDiscovery in SharePoint 2013.

SharePoint 2013’s Business Connectivity Service (BCS)

“Every Business Connectivity Services solution is unique because each business has unique data integration problems that it is solving by using Business Connectivity Services. The solutions can range from something simple and straightforward that a power user or IT professional (who has the appropriate permissions) can perform by themselves, to complex solutions that require developer, IT professional, and end-user solution development involvement”

This is a shift to an extent from SharePoint 2010’s BCS mindset as instead of creating a centralized BCS for the entire organization to pull from you can tailor it more towards specific departmental or project needs and even to a type of role like a Power User. This is an extremely exciting new feature as reporting is going to be more powerful with audience driven capabilities.

SharePoint 2013 and Mobility

Microsoft is absolutely committed to mobility in SharePoint 2013 to work on pretty much every mobile or edge device out there. Also, there is a concept of a Microsoft Office 2013 Applciation being licensed to a user and not just a device which is a new concept. A roaming type of license will be released so that users can access "their" copy of Office 2013 wherever they are on which ever device they have with them.

The Single Biggest Change – SharePoint 2013 “apps”

“The apps for SharePoint provide a new method to deliver specific information or functionality to a SharePoint site. An app for SharePoint is a small, easy-to-use, stand-alone app that solves a specific end-user or business need. Site owners can discover and download apps for SharePoint from a public SharePoint Store or from their organization's internal App Catalog and install them on their SharePoint sites.

These apps for SharePoint integrate the best of the web with SharePoint 2013 Preview. They do not replace SharePoint features and solution packages, which customize or enhance SharePoint sites. Unlike features and solutions, which farm or site collection administrators have to install, apps for SharePoint are stand-alone applications that owners of sites can add to their SharePoint sites.

The apps for SharePoint have a simple lifecycle - they can be installed, upgraded, and uninstalled by site owners.”

The following are examples of apps for SharePoint that site owners could add to their sites:
  • An app that provides event planning tools.
  • An app that provides a shopping cart experience for a site.
An app that sends a note of recognition for good work (kudos) to someone in the organization.
This is where Microsoft is offering a public SharePoint “App Store” concept as well as the private onsite company specific “App Store” concept. Your organization can have an “App Store” or almost along the same lines as the “Center of Excellence” concept where you have reusable solutions that can be deployed across the organization. Workflows, Web Parts, etc. (apps) can be more prevalently displayed to the organization.

I think “private clouds” (i.e. Onsite or On-premise” environments, probably 70% of the SharePoint world will not feel comfortable purchasing apps from Microsoft’s app store right from the beginning due to information security risks or perceived risks as they will more than likely insist that the code be provided with the “app”.

I have been a longtime proponent of the “Solutions Gallery” in an onsite Center of Excellence and this is a similar concept and is great for Microsoft to roll out in SharePoint 2013 as it will be more prominently featured and promoted throughout the organization.

There is also a consideration of an app license as well as support and any change requests for that app and will the developer support that and if so what is the cost and if its internal, can there be charge backs to that department, etc. This will all be part of SharePoint 2013’s governance model and should start to be added to your existing SharePoint 2010 governance strategy.

Service Applications in SharePoint 2013 and Upgrade Considerations to Test the SharePoint 2013 Preview

“The following service applications have databases that can be upgraded when you upgrade from SharePoint Server 2010 to SharePoint Server 2013 Preview:
  • Business Data Connectivity service application
  • Managed Metadata service application
  • PerformancePoint Services service application
  • Search service application
  • Secure Store Service application
  • User Profile service application
Attaching and upgrading these databases configures these service applications. Settings for other services will have to be reconfigured when you upgrade.”

Supported Editions for Upgrading from SharePoint 2010 to SharePoint 2013 Preview

“The following table lists the editions available for SharePoint Server 2010 and the supported and unsupported ending editions when you upgrade to SharePoint Server 2013 Preview.”

Starting edition
Supported ending edition
Unsupported ending edition
SharePoint Server 2010, Standard edition SharePoint Server 2013 Preview, Standard edition SharePoint Server 2013 Preview, Enterprise edition
You can convert to Enterprise edition after upgrade.
SharePoint Server 2010, Enterprise Edition SharePoint Server 2013 Preview, Enterprise edition SharePoint Server 2013 Preview, Standard edition.
SharePoint Server 2010, Trial edition SharePoint Server 2013 Preview, Trial edition SharePoint Server 2013 Preview, full product
You can convert to the full product after upgrade.

Summary

SharePoint 2013 has a lot of exciting new features and it will be interesting to see how the SharePoint Product Team at Microsoft continues to build and package but the features and solutions within 2013 should give you and your organization added confidence in the fact that you have selected a solution that Microsoft is backing with its full support and has tagged SharePoint as its flagship product.

Monday, July 9, 2012

 

SharePoint integration considerations for every Exchange organization

Many companies that rely on Exchange Server and Microsoft Outlook also use SharePoint for things like data warehousing, workflow reporting and social networking. However, not every company integrates these products in a way that takes full advantage of SharePoint’s capabilities.
We recently spoke with Errin O’Connor, founder and CEO of the EPC Group, a SharePoint consulting firm based in Houston, about some little-known ways to take advantage of Exchange, Outlook and SharePoint. We also discussed some common issues, some of the least efficient ways to use these tools and when to consider a move to the hosted version of these offerings as part of the Office 365 suite.

Errin O'ConnorWhat are the major pain points for companies that run Exchange Server and SharePoint? What can they do to mitigate those issues?
Errin O’Connor: When you consider how often email is used and how people use it, you run into not only a training issue, but a fundamental change in mindset. There are email quotas for users’ Exchange accounts, sure, but defining a clear migration path or determining when an email should be moved to SharePointrepresents a big shift in how most people are used to working.

Email-enabling SharePoint discussion boards and lists are two ways to begin helping users see the benefit of not having 150 folders in Outlook. The problem is, many users may say it’s a lot easier for them to find their data [using Outlook] because it is how they’ve been doing it for years.
We’re seeing technology change; mobile devices proliferate, and records retention policies are being enforced more than ever.

This is due in part to the litigious environment in which a lot of organizations operate. Email is definitely a record 85% of the time and it should be stored in the system of record for the organization -- Microsoft SharePoint Server.
Limiting mailbox size and enforcing email storage to 90 days or 120 days may seem like a drastic approach to essentially force a mindset change, but it’s one I’ve seen work when the right amount of user communication and public relations are put into the mix.

What are some lesser-known ways to use Exchange and Outlook in conjunction with SharePoint that many companies don’t usually take advantage of?

O’Connor: SharePoint 2010 supports two-way synchronization. With that comes the ability to email-enable SharePoint lists like calendars, tasks, document libraries, discussion boards and contacts. Of course, you can also create custom alerts for actions taken on said lists.
A lot of users don’t always take advantage of the option to manage SharePoint contacts from Outlook and don’t add SharePoint tasks or calendars into Outlook. Of course, we also want users to minimize the number of passwords or applications they interface with on a daily basis.

I also don’t see a lot of organizations taking advantage of OWA SharePoint Web Parts. Users can ensure that alerts -- whether daily, weekly, etc. -- are consolidated, helping minimize repetitive alerts throughout the day and maximizing their time. You can walk users through this process or create a three- to four-minute training video using something as simple as Camtasia Studio. Seeing these capabilities [in action] often leads to that light bulb moment for users and increased efficacy.

Can you describe how you see smaller companies use SharePoint vs. how large companies use SharePoint?

O’Connor: It’s interesting as smaller companies are willing to take on that “bigger company” change management task or hurdle. On the other hand, larger organizations tend to go more toward true records management. They go through the more challenging tasks of coming up with the company’s core content types or metadata and investing more in training and overall communication to users.

One of the worst mistakes a company can make, big or small, is implementing SharePoint in a way that is just meant to meet the initial and functional needs of the business at hand. It’s so critical to view each implementation of SharePoint as a hybrid platform; it should be your Intranet as well as something you can use for future document management, workflow or as a professional, social collaboration platform.

I always harp on developing that 24- or 36-month SharePoint roadmap. If you take the hybrid approach to your SharePoint implementation, you can avoid having to modify major configuration areas to meet needs down the road.

What lessons can [small and large companies] learn from each other?

O’Connor: A very common area in both large and small SharePoint implementations is the need for strong power or super users who are passionate about SharePoint and improving collaboration and business processes. It amazes me when someone shows off their workflow and/or automation of a business process. Again, you see that light bulb effect trickle down throughout the organization.
Communication and public relations regarding SharePoint and its powerful features or cool new ways companies can do business with their day-to-day tasks is so powerful and a huge key to success. A handful of vocal, helpful and passionate power users really cannot be measured from an ROI perspective.

Office 365 includes both Exchange Online and SharePoint Online. What advice can you give for companies considering a move to the hosted collaboration suite?

O’Connor: I’ve really seen Office 365 be more effective for smaller organizations of around 100 users or less. With data aggregation and the need to access other internal data sources for things like creating PerformancePoint 2010 KPIs or dashboards, it can be a real challenge in externally hosted environments.

Also, customization requests from users can affect the overall SharePoint platform and cause a lot of push back to companies who want to implement customizations to meet their users’ needs.
It’s always a best practice to implement custom solutions as features that can be activated or de-activated. Think of them being turned on and off like a light switch. Those can typically be reviewed by the hosting company and approved. But do you want to wait or can you afford to wait for another firm to tell you what you can and can’t do with SharePoint?

Errin O’Connor is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer for EPC Group. Errin focuses on implementing Microsoft technologies in organizations throughout the United States. He also manages EPC Group’s corporate strategy and architects the proven methodologies around collaboration, enterprise content/records management and custom application development.

Article Published July 9th, 2012 on TechTarget.com - Article written by Matt Gervais

Friday, July 6, 2012


Join EPC Group's CEO as the Guest Speaker for July 25th's AIIM.ORG Webinar: Maximizing Process Automation Value from Office365

Dates & Locations

July 25, 2012 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM EDT (Online)
02-03 PM Eastern (GMT-4); 01-02 PM Central; 12-01 PM Mountain; 11-12 PM Pacific
07-08 PM British Time; 08-09 PM Central Europe Time

General Information
Whether your business processes begin with paper or natively electronic files, the key to being a nimble and scalable organization is being able to automate, create and modify business processes that can grow with your ever changing business need.

Join our panel of industry experts as we discuss various ways to take advantage of process automation in Office365 and SharePoint to improve organizational effectiveness.

In this webinar, we'll discuss:
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  • bringing this together, whether behind your firewall or in the cloud, in Office365 and SharePoint
This webinar is pre-approved for one AIIM Certified Information Professional (CIP) and ICRM Certification Maintenance Program credit.

Speaker(s) for this Webinar


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