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SharePoint 2010: Enterprise Readiness

Print | posted on Tuesday, October 13, 2009 2:39 PM

SharePoint 2010 has made huge investments in enterprise readiness, from core architecture to the deployment experience, to runtime diagnostics and operational service management. Along with significant investments in tooling, and field readiness, SharePoint 2010 delivers the promise of enterprise readiness. This article highlights key feature areas and their impact on your deployments.

One of the biggest complaints surrounding SharePoint 2007 from enterprises were the gaps in the product's "enterprise readiness". This term encompasses much and no one single facet alone could be considered a deployment blocker for which an adequate compromise couldn't be made. However for large deployments, many of these elements together could add up to cause significant impact on the deployment, usually from an operational service management perspective.

Whilst in most cases there are no fancy new features apparent on the surface, or whizz bang UI innovations in this realm with SharePoint 2010, the investment in the area of enterprise readiness by the SharePoint product group has been significant. SharePoint 2010 is truly enterprise ready and enterprise scalable. In a manner not matched by many Microsoft products except perhaps Active Directory and SQL Server, and certainly not by any other vendor's integrated portal solutions.

Over the coming months I will be diving in deeper in many of the areas highlighted in this article, and providing examples of the improvements using common scenarios which have caused problems in the past. By no means is this article a complete list of all the improvements made, but rather a taster of what is to come.

Pre-requisites Installer
SharePoint 2007 wasn't hard to install. It wasn't hard on a single server, and it wasn't hard on dozens. But being "hard" is relative. Many enterprises have a desire for platform hygiene in the data centre and rightly so. Having a base platform correctly configured is one of the most important initial steps before you get to the point of hitting the first "next" button on the SharePoint installer. In addition, the number of messed up platforms I've seen which have more often than not needed to be rebuilt so that IT could be confident in it is significant. SharePoint 2010 has more complex pre-requisites than 2007. As such one of the most admirable investments is the new Pre-requisites installer similar to those found in other products such as SQL Server. This guy makes sure you have everything SharePoint needs. SQL Client, .NET, Geneva etc. it takes care of it for you, if necessary downloading bits from the 'net. This guy is also something that could have easily been ignored in preference to some fancy new feature. So props to the teams involved here for making this happen.

PowerShell Management
As I'm sure you've heard PowerShell is the "new" command line for Windows, providing a rich scriptable shell environment. As other products like Exchange Server have done, SharePoint is now fully manageable and scriptable using PowerShell, and for most things PowerShell becomes the preferred approach to SharePoint management. Lots of new things are possible here, and you can expect to see much coverage of this area on the Interwebz in coming months. From an enterprise readiness perspective PowerShell provides an enormous automation opportunity both for in-house IT and also ISVs. The bottom line is if you are SharePoint IT Pro, you must learn PowerShell! Over 300 cmdlets will be available with SharePoint 2010.

Solution Management
Solution management (of WSPs) gets significantly improved granularity and management controls which allow enterprises to have more control other all those pesky widgets which have a tendency to wreak havoc on deployments.

Managed Accounts
You've all heard the stories about the 100k user deployment which went out of service for half a day when the service account passwords were reset by policy. SharePoint 2010 includes a new concept of Managed Accounts which once registered can participate in automatic password reset before the policy expires. In addition, a related aspect allows you to specify by Group Policy which machines can run SharePoint.

Health Analyzer & Diagnostics
Built in to Central Administration is a new UI providing a analysis of Farm Health with recommended actions and best practices. Diagnostics is also improved with correlation ID tracing and PowerShell management of ULS logs. The new Event log Flood Protection can also be used to prevent repeating events annoying you. 3rd parties can also hook into ULS.

Service Applications
The biggest improvement in terms of enterprise readiness in SharePoint 2010 is that of Service Applications. In short, they've fixed Shared Services! The Services Application architecture is a huge leap forward in terms of readiness and scalability. Available in SharePoint Foundation and SharePoint Server, Service Applications enable SharePoint to scale to the enterprise and the cloud, and reduce the burden on farms. There's no SSP Admin web sites and there is no longer an association limitation. The new model has been leveraged by key elements of SharePoint Server such as Search, which no longer has a single Index server per SSP limitation, Business Connectivity Services, and the new Web Analytics Service. In addition third parties can build their own Service Applications.

This is the big one! Shared Service Providers were often the key planning elements of large scale deployments and they were very badly understood by the field. Service Applications, a significant refinement with many new possibilities will enable SharePoint to reach new heights of scalability, whilst being a good and proud citizen in the enterprise data center. I cover Service Applications in more depth in my article: SharePoint 2010: Service Application Model & Architecture.

Field Readiness
Not to put too fine a point on it, field readiness at the RTM of SharePoint 2007 was severely lacking. With SharePoint 2010 Microsoft have made a significant investment in this area with a wide range of field material available to partners and their consulting services. Programs such as Ignite will continue and you can expect to see much more in this space as Microsoft ready the release. Now of course, no new product can have 100% field readiness at launch (and to aim for it would mean the product would never launch!). However Microsoft have heard the feedback loud and clear, and will deliver on providing improved field readiness at launch, by an order of magnitude better than for SharePoint 2007.