Hi,

Few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to express to the SharePoint Product Management team various ideas I have around SharePoint and IT Pros audiences.

Based on my different experiences and engagements with customers, the discussion was very interesting. I often thought back on topics we could cover, as Microsoft, to ease the life of IT Pros with SharePoint. They can be improved by different ways like code, tools, guidances or documentation...

I'd like to share some of these ideas:

  • MOF/ITIL processes with SharePoint:
    • One of my difficultly learned lessons in my past lifes in Quality, Process Imporvement and ERP projects management, is that processes are necessary in IT operations. MOF (standing for Microsoft Operations Framework), inspired by ITIL, really lacked me when I was managing ERP projects, where any little new feature or bug fix can creaete huge disasters in 120 ERP systems widely deployed and used for evryday business in a company .... (to block the invoicing of many companies for days is not something you want to live, believe me ...)
    • I also learned that most IT Pros and IT organization, apply or inspire themselves with these principles to operate their IT.
    • The use of development, integration, validation, pre-production then production environment, is a must in MOF/ITIL processes
    • The challenge of Release, Configuration and Change Management, is key for IT Pros ...
    • To apply MOF concepts to SharePoint is difficult because :
      • the platform is based on different servers technologies (Windows Server, AD DS, SQL Server, IIS, .net +  SharePoint)
      • the line between binaries, settings and data is difficult to draw (are SharePoint Designer modifications data or settings ? depends on the point of view you have)
      • the transfer of data and settings from a platform (for example integration) to a production environment is complicated, and harldy reproducible
      • automation is partial and a study between automation effort and the earned value is often necessary
      • etc.
    • There are features and techniques in SharePoint to support this Enterprise way of operating IT, but they are not documented "that way"
    • SharePoint misses an Operations mindset oriented documentation, like "Change Management in SharePoint" or "Release Management in SharePoint".
    • I think White Papers could help here...

 

  • SharePoint and virtualized servers:
    • Most of the IT teams I worked with are in the process of evaluating, migrating or operating part of their platforms on virtualized servers
    • Since our last summer announcements, SharePoint community lacks studies, guidances, and documentation on virtualization with SharePoint
    • There is a lot of questions out there, with no answers (yet), and almost no real examples posted :
      • what to virtualize (SQL, WFE, Application servers, VLANs, ...)?
      • for which performances?
      • how (at least for the Hyper-V customers)?
      • for which benefits (costs, administration time, ...)?
    • I hope we'll be able to give more data around this topic in the next months

 

  • SharePoint Logs & Errors understanding and use improvements:
    • SharePoint logs a lot of things but doesn't help you to understand
    • Just make this experience : setup MOSS 2007 with the "Autonomous" option, then let the server run few hours, and, guess what, you'll have a lot of logs!
    • Did you already experienced the "SharePoint error page" ? You definitely had this page. The one that says "there has been an error ....." and don't help you at all to understand or even start an investigation (if you're lucky, you have the user and the error time .... to try to find what happened)
    • There's definitely a need here for guidance and practical how-tos:
      • Which settings to choose in the Central Admin parameters, when and why
      • Where to look (SharePoint logs files, Windows event viewer, SQL profiler)
      • How to interpret ......
      • How to find solutions ....

 

  • Create SharePoint posters:
    • That sounds stupid, but organizing the data, and seeing it really helps
    • I think we need to publish posters on SharePoint farms, services, main menus, architecture, etc.
    • That should be possible as Exchange and SQL Server teams did it
    • .... and Mindhsarp partner also did !

The others topics were more internal and cannot be discussed here, but what would be yours? Please share.

Being positive and improvement oriented, I can say that Microsoft SharePoint 2010 will bring great improvements on some of these topics, and ease the IT Pros life. Very exciting things to come. Don't forget to join the SharePoint Conference 2009 to see them closely.

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