Interesting turn of events this week. Had our first mini SharePoint User Group (SUG) with admins from three state agencies participating.
Our infrastructures vary widely. Mine is the smallest, with 1 Windows Server 2003 running SharePoint & and a SQL Server. The second agency is significantly larger, with 2 WFEs, MS Project Server, a box for SharePoint Services, and a clustered SQL Server group. This agency plans to migrate the currently split content dbs to a single dedicated SQL Server. The third agency is launching an environment to host SharePoint sites for several smaller agencies that have no IT departments of their own. This admin plans to create one SharePoint farm with multiple Web Apps to insulate the content.
While my inherited environment has been established for a couple of years, I’m quite new to the administration side, so talking with the admins from the other two agencies with their very new implementations made for good discussion at this sessions. Foremost among the topics were design strategy and challenges of implementation.
Since mine is the only fully-deployed, working environment, we plan to use it as a example case for tricky settings, like having both an HTTP and HTTPS address resolve to the same content on port 80. As such, I sent the other admins copies of my piped out Alternative Access Mappings along with the STSADM command to pipe out their own for backup, since this is not part of the built in SharePoint backup functionality. (Thank you, Todd Klindt, for providing this info).
We also discussed issues with BlackBerry authentication on SharePoint sites, a problem which needs more exploration to determine if connectivity problems are device specific, or BES policy specific. Additionally, an idea was presented to create a group test environment on a virtual box so we could explore different authentication and partitioning techniques outside our production environments. Cool idea, Eric!
Some other topics of interest (thank you Twitterverse for good discussion and referrals to blog posts):
Audience targeting is not security trimming. This met with some resistance, but I told them of the discussions I’d had on Twitter and my own testing which confirmed this. I could log in with my test user account and not see the calendar I had set as unreadable with audience targeting, but a global search not only showed the target appointment, but clicking on the result in the result set displayed the full calendar appointment with all its details. Audience targeting, then, should be used only to determine what and how content is *displayed* on a particular page. Only breaking inheritance and manually setting security access will prevent a user from seeing a particular item. Other observations on audience targeting: does the most good, but also causes the most performance drag, on the main page of a site or site collection: use with caution!
SharePoint 2010 will be 64-bit only. This includes all servers in the farm, including SQL Server housing the content databases. A welcome bit of news for the two admins working on refining an existing, but not fully deployed, SharePoint environment. They’d wanted to upgrade to 64-bit servers, but since they are running SharePoint 2007, they had the allowable mixed environment. Knowing the future would be all 64-bit gave good rationale for implementing a hardware upgrade at the same time as their infrastructure update.
SharePoint Service Pack 2 (SP2) reverts converted paid product back to a trial subscription. The admin has 180 days to reenter the license key. This was news to even our seasoned admin, who while not concerned for his current deployment, did mention he should contact his former employer to make them aware.
Overall, I think everyone was happy about the collaboration and the amount of information exchanged at this first meeting, even within a small group of people. We had some followups to finish for one another, and plan to meet once a month, with perhaps some other agencies invited. I’m the newbie of the group, but had plenty to share because of my reading and paying attention in the community groups. This is a testament to the power of the User Group. If you have no grand expectations, but come willing to seek information and share what you know, the group’s value can be more than the sum of the individuals involved.