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Admin vs. Dev

by dave 0 Comments

Standard disclaimer – the ‘migratenotes’ posts come from a Notes Migration blog that I wrote from 2007-2010.  More Info

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A few months back, I had stated that setting up a basic SharePoint environment really isn’t all that painful. And that is still true.

However –  what I have found is that only basic dev or proof-of-concept environments actually stay that basic. We have about 2 dozen servers in our environment, for example.

And we have spent the VAST majority of our time on administration issues, not on development efforts. In theory, everything will be wonderful once we get everything stabilized. But getting there is taking more effort than anticipated.  Every time we work on one issue, we find three more. The theory sounds much better than the practice.

I think that SP will still come through for us. But the process to go from nothing to a full-blown stable multi-server SharePoint install that actually benefits a business organization… Whew.  It is a doozy.
There was always a half-true joke in the consulting world that to accurately scope out a project, you take the estimate from the technical team and double it. For SharePoint, I’d double it again. If you are hiring consultants to do it, double it once more for good measure.

Uninspired

by dave 0 Comments

Standard disclaimer – the ‘migratenotes’ posts come from a Notes Migration blog that I wrote from 2007-2010.  More Info

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A little over a week ago I had 6 full posts I wanted to write, and was going to kick this blog back into high gear.

So why did I lose my inspiration?

A full week of literally babysitting the SharePoint environment, testing it every few hours, rebooting services and servers when they went down, just trying to keep it afloat.  Tens of hours researching errors and problems, to find that we are not alone in our tribulations, but nobody else has answers either. Being told that other organizations had to rebuild their server farm from scratch to resolve these kinds of issues. Starting to do so ourselves just in time, as our initial farm dying a tortured death. Piecing things back together, getting 90% of the functions in place, but beating our heads against the last 10%. Hiring some of the top consultants in town only to have them shrug their shoulders at our problems.

It is hard to be unbiased about a technology when you spend your Christmas just trying to keep it alive. I wasn’t alone in this… one other member of my team has put in just as much effort and made sacrifices as well.  Perhaps even more than I.

So I have lost a lot of inspiration to write this blog.

It still is my job to do this mirgration, though. So I will still write. But I have nothing unbiased to say right now.

Better Today

by dave 0 Comments

Standard disclaimer – the ‘migratenotes’ posts come from a Notes Migration blog that I wrote from 2007-2010.  More Info

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Well, the previous post was not so unbiased, I will admit.

But I’m feeling better about SharePoint today. I had a number of small problems to fix, and was able to fairly quickly and easily get into the site, make the udpates, get everything tested, and declare the problems resolved.

We’re starting to realize that going into SharePoint with a “Notes vs. SharePoint” attitude is dangerous. While they try to be competitive products, their architectures and techniques are so vastly different that comparisons inevitably leave us frustrated, wishing we could stay with Notes. But that just isn’t reality in our organization.
So we are trying instead to discipline ourselves, taking SharePoint for what it is, finding its strengths, and enjoying the experience of learning a new technology.

Notes vs. SharePoint Analogy

by dave 0 Comments

Standard disclaimer – the ‘migratenotes’ posts come from a Notes Migration blog that I wrote from 2007-2010.  More Info

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After a couple days of fighting SharePoint, and spending hours getting small details into just the right place, an image came into my mind.

Imagine Notes/Domino as a trainyard – while it has a lot of power, and definitely needs some technical knowledge, once you are set up properly, you just need to know which switches to throw to get the results you want. Your ‘train’ smoothly goes in the direction you desire.

Sharepoint is quite similar. Except that instead of a trainyard, your train is sitting in a big open parking lot, and you have lots of monkeys throwing crowbars under its wheels, and you need to see what happens and keep giving the monkeys new directions until you get the result you want.

SharePoint is fun. Really.

Migration Status

by dave 0 Comments

Standard disclaimer – the ‘migratenotes’ posts come from a Notes Migration blog that I wrote from 2007-2010.  More Info

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I have not been posting very often in the past few weeks…. mostly because I’ve been swamped with working solely within SharePoint, learning some more of its details, and how it was configured in our environment. But I’ve been working 100% within the browser-based areas of SharePoint, so I haven’t written any code to share or devised anything profound.

I do have a stronger sense of how to “think SharePoint”. If you recall, a while back I wrote out a list of analogous Notes and SharePoint components to help me wrap my head around SharePoint, but I’m now getting past that. I’m beginning to think of SharePoint as if it were Legos. No single feature within sharePoint is very complex. You need to build them on top of each other to reach your goals. You have some moving parts that you use to connect your pieces and make them move in some limited ways. The more creative you are, the more you can make it do. To work with the out-of-the-box features, you almost have to stop thinking like a coder — it isn’t code.

Its security is also more open-ended. While Notes/Domino has many layers of security, they all come down to the same IDs and groups. Not so in SharePoint. While you do often use your Windows Login as your primary identification and authentication, it gets blurry after that. You can use SharePoint groups, you can use AD Groups, you can use LDAP queries, you can write your own membership provider. In some places, you can mix and match, while in others you cannot.

I’ve always maintained that a Notes/Domino system is exactly as good as the people who design it. There are world-class systems out there and there are catastrophes. I think SharePoint is going to exaggerate this trend even more. You will find elegant, wonderful implementations, and you will find utter disasters, and the key will be the people behind it.

The problem is the level of expertise in the industry – Domino has been around a long time, each new version compatible with its predecessor. This has built a core group of developers who have well over a decade (or two) of experience, and can really put together a nice architecture. SharePoint 2007 is brand new. There is no expert with 10 years experience. The most senior folks out there are still working out the kinks of the latest version. And as each new version is its own beast, and not built upon the previous version, I fear that this will always be the case.