My week with SharePoint

A shorter than normal week with SharePoint for me – I had Monday off in recuperative mode from my motocrossing, and I had a couple of days back in the office for the first time in weeks which meant the usual catching up with expenses and the other admin sort of stuff that happens.

Tuesday marked the completion of an exercise in productionising of a SharePoint pilot that has been running for several months on a small farm running on a couple of virtual machines. This had a few interesting attributes, due to budget we found ourselves going from Enterprise Edition to Standard Edition, and we also had the small interest of going to a medium farm – dedicated hardware for two Web Front Ends, an Index Server and SQL Server. We also had another physical server to use as a SQL Mirror. My job on Tuesday was picking up some snagging once the migrated site went live and setting up the SQL Mirror.

Generally the migration was ok, but we had some challenges around network infrastructure – I’ll be compiling a list of network prerequisites which will help future processes go more smoothly. This time it was more the change control around the infrastructure rather than anything to do with patches or the like.

It was a good opportunity to get some hands on work with Network Load Balancing – unicast with two network cards, but make sure you have them all patched in to your switches correctly.

Then I had a nice visit to a company to talk about Disaster Recovery and SQL Server 2005 Mirroring, so good for me from a consulting perspective as I had to be able to explain what happens with transactions so that we could set up server monitoring properly and also plan a suitably nasty and representative DR test with the application. I’d recommend that in the absence of a DBA that you get the right events coming through to a central monitor such as System Center Operations Manager but if you haven’t got there yet then SQL Server Agent alerts are very easy to set up to work with Mirroring Monitor.

And a great opportunity to remind myself how useful System Center Data Protection Manager (DPM) is for looking after SQL Server if you don’t have one of those DBA types around – it gives you a very nice UI to hide you from the fun of Full Recovery Models and Log File Restoration. The tech is still there behind the scenes, but DPM uses it on your behalf.

And after I laid down my SQL Server 2005 hat on Friday, I helped out with a small deployment challenge to a website developed with SharePoint – approval workflows were making the deployment of new landing pages quite interesting. The workflows had been created quite correctly from a user perspective, with a nice decentralised page approval model. Unfortunately those little site navigation changes we were trying to deploy led to a little fight between the developer who was doing sterling work on Good Friday and approval workflows set up during the week before. It will all be good once the site moves in to production, but as a developer we have to take a little more time navigating the system.

My week with SharePoint