Friday, December 31, 2010

SBS 2003 Companyweb migration – Part 1


Series Posts:

Introduction – Overview
Part 1 – Caveats and Considerations
Part 2 – Preparation steps on v2
Part 3 – Upgrading v2 database to WSS v3
Part 4 – Attaching upgraded database to WSS v3
Part 5 – Check WSSv3 for migration to Foundation 2010
Part 6 – Move database to SBS 2011
Part 7 – Post migration steps and considerations




If you are planning to migrate your Companyweb information from SBS 2003 you are going to be taking the long road I’ll tell you now. As I mentioned in a previous post there is not a simple way to move from Companyweb on SBS 2003 (SharePoint v2) to Companyweb on SBS 2011 (SharePoint Foundation 2010). The path you’ll need to follow is firstly a migration to Windows SharePoint V3 and then to SharePoint Foundation 2010.

So, before you even commence this process you should ask yourself whether all the migration effort is really worth it? In many ways simply copying over the data and starting a fresh maybe the most effective solution. You may lose some meta data but there are so many points along the migration path that can cause pain I would really recommend that you honestly ask yourself the question as to whether a migration is really going to worth the trouble? Start by asking yourself exactly what Companyweb on SBS 2003 is being used for.

When you are considering whether a migration is worthwhile you need to consider a few things:

1. If SharePoint is just being used a file storage location, then simply copying those files via Windows Explorer to SharePoint Foundation 2010 is probably a better bet since it effectively avoids the two step migration process.

2. If you have lots of lists and information other than files in your existing SharePoint then the most effective method to shift these is via migration. It is certainly possible to export and import lists to spreadsheets and then back into a newer version of SharePoint but if you have lots of lists then it is probably going to take too long to work through all the items. Conversely, if your site is only relatively small then exporting and importing maybe much easier.

3. If you lots of customizations to your existing SharePoint, by this I mean those done with a HTML editor like FrontPage, then I’d caution that migration will most likely be problematic. Likewise, if you added custom template and web parts then many of these will not survive the migration process and will most likely need to be removed/uninstalled prior to migration. That will al take time and generally break things.

4. If your SharePoint site is large (say >1GB) or is overly complex in its structure (i.e. lots of subsites) then migration is probably going to be more effective. The migration method basically involves detaching, copying and reattaching databases between SharePoint versions. If you have a lot of data then it is probably going to be much easier to do all this via a single file rather than trying to export and copy the data individually. However, beware of the default database limitations of Companyweb on SBS 2011 (10GB) because if your existing SharePoint data is already larger than this you are going to have to take appropriate steps on the destination SBS 2011 server to accommodate your data before you commence any migration process.

5. The migration process from SBS 2003 Companyweb is going to require the installation of a Windows SharePoint Services v3 (WSS v3) server. Where are you going to install this? On the SBS 2003 server? On a stand alone members server? On a virtual PC? To my way of thinking it really doesn’t make much sense to install WSS v3 on the existing SBS 2003 server simply because doing that isn’t straight forward. Do it wrong and you’ll screw up all your existing SBS 2003 wizards. For me the best bet is to use Virtual PC as a staging server to move the content to WSS v3. This provides greater flexibility (roll backs, snap shots, etc) as well as effectively costing nothing (Virtual PC is free to download, you can use a trail license of Windows Server will migrating, etc). It will also leave your source SBS 2003 server more or less untouched providing roll back if required. Whatever you decide you are going to need to install WSS v3 somewhere!

6. Are your backups working? If you plan to migrate part of pre-scanning process will make slight changes to the existing SBS 2003 Companyweb databases. I am yet to see a situation where this caused an issue BUT that doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen. Anytime you plan to make changes to the source during a migration you need to ensure that you can return it to exactly the way it was before you made changes. I’d always recommend you do a stsadm –o backup on your existing Companyweb site on top of whatever else you are doing to backup the database. An stsadm –o backup command gives you a single data file that can easily be restore to a blank SharePoint site which in my experiences provides a huge amount of flexibility.

With all this mind I’ll cover the migration process from SBS 2003 to a temporary WSS v3 server in an upcoming post.

Image: jacqueline-w

Monday, December 27, 2010

SBS Companyweb migration


Series posts:

Introduction – Overview
Part 1 – Caveats and Considerations
Part 2 – Preparation steps on v2
Part 3 – Upgrading v2 database to WSS v3
Part 4 – Attaching upgraded database to WSS v3
Part 5 – Check WSSv3 for migration to Foundation 2010
Part 6 – Move database to SBS 2011
Part 7 – Post migration steps and considerations



So SBS 2011 Standard is now available and Microsoft has even released a document on how to go about migrating Companyweb from SBS 2003 and SBS 2008. You’ll find that document here:

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/gg563792.aspx

Rather than simply re-hash that document I’m going to do a series of blogs posts on general migration to the latest version of SharePoint. That means both SharePoint Foundation 2010 on SBS 2011 and Office365 in the ‘cloud’. So let’s start with a high level overview.

General

1. You can’t simply back up and restore Companyweb web from SBS 2003 to SBS 2008 or SBS 2011 for that matter.

2. Each version requires a conversion process to be run on the databases. Thus, from Windows SharePoint v2 on SBS 2003 to Windows SharePoint Services v3 on SBS 2008 the database requires an upgrade. Likewise, the same applies from Windows SharePoint Services v3 to SharePoint Foundation 2010.

3. If you want to jump from Windows SharePoint v2 to SharePoint Foundation 2010 you are going to have upgrade to Windows SharePoint v3, then upgrade to SharePoint Foundation 2010. There is no direct process. This means you will need a functioning Windows SharePoint Services v3 site somewhere during the migration to SharePoint Foundation 2010.

4. SharePoint Foundation 2010 on SBS 2011 is limited, by default, to a database size of 10GB (because it uses SQL Express 2008 R2). If you have content large than this you need to look at moving SharePoint Foundation 2010 to a commercial version of SQL (i.e. standard).

5.  Some of the customizations and templates in each version may not migrate and in some cases may actually prevent migration. The general rule of thumb is that the less modifications you make to SharePoint the easier the migration. You’ll need to test for these customizations prior to migration to determine what changes may be required on the original site prior to the migration.

6. Tools such as SharePoint workspace 2010 will not be of assistance for a migration since they ONLY function with the current version of SharePoint (i.e. 2010).

7. You will need to re-establish things like search indices, PDF indexing, etc in the latest version (which can require very different configurations from the original version).

8. Beware of long filenames, blocked file types and filenames with special characters. They may not all be supported in the version of SharePoint you are moving to.

9. Make sure you have enough disk space on your destination server for the SharePoint databases as in most versions of SBS the default location for SharePoint databases is on the system drive (i.e. C:). Best practice is to relocate the databases before you start populating them.

10. There are a few different paths that can be taken for a migration but at the end of the day you typically want a site that is a combination of the existing blank site and you old content. This will means running a merge, which typically means you need to create an import file of your old data in a SharePoint 2010 format first.

From SBS 2003 to SBS 2011

1. You are going to need to ensure that SharePoint v2 on SBS 2003 is full patched. This means at least SharePoint v2 Service Pack 3 needs to be installed.

2. You’ll need to run the prescan.exe tool on SharePoint v2. This will provide you with any warnings that may prevent migration. Note that prescan.exe also changes the databases so that they can’t be upgraded WITHOUT running this tool.

3. Then you’ll have to install Windows SharePoint Services v3 somewhere (on the SBS 2003 box, another box or a virtual machines) and migrate the v2 databases there.

4. You’ll then need to run the v3 command:

stsadm –o preupgradecheck

and resolve any issues.

5. Finally you can migrate the databases to SharePoint Foundation 2010 on SBS 2011.

From SBS 2008 to SBS 2011

1. Again, you’ll need to ensure that SharePoint it totally up to date. Migration will not work unless certain minimum versions are met.

2. You’ll then need to run the v3 command:

stsadm –o preupgradecheck

and resolve any issues.

3. You can then migrate to SharePoint Foundation on SBS 2011.

To BPOS

1. BPOS is currently equivalent to Windows SharePoint Services v3 (like that on SBS 2008). So if you have anything prior you will need to bring the source content up to that level first.

2. You can’t do a database migration under BPOS so you’ll have to use a number of export and import mechanisms to get the content across. This will mean exporting lists to spreadsheets and databases. It will mean using SharePoint templates to save calendars. It will also means using drive mappings to shift data.

3. At the end of the day it is a very manual process and will most likely result in data loss. There are third party tools available, but in my experience they are not cost effective unless you are doing a lot of SharePoint migrations.

To Office365

1. When BPOS is upgraded to Office365 it will upgrade SharePoint from v3 to 2010 which generally means the content from previous versions (i.e. v3) will not migrate easily. This means that any content will need to be converted into 2010 format before it is imported into a 2010 site. That is why it is a good idea to move your SBS 2008 Companyweb data now into BPOS so when it gets upgraded to SharePoint 2010 your data will as well.

2. You can’t migrate a database straight into Office365 (is my understanding although powershell may allow this), thus you are going to have to use a number of import and export mechanisms to get the content across. This will mean exporting lists to spreadsheets and databases. It will mean using SharePoint templates to save calendars. It will also mean using drive mappings to sift data.

3. At the end of the day it is going to be a very manual process and will most likely result in data loss (from what I can currently see). There are third party tools available, but in my experience they are not cost effective unless you are doing a lot of SharePoint migrations.

Conclusion

There are plenty of issues I have glossed over here but hopefully this gives you some idea of what you may be up for during a SharePoint migration.

I’ll provide more details of each of these migrations over the coming posts.

Image: Kevin Eddy

Friday, December 24, 2010

Last minute shopping?



Looking for that last minute Christmas gift (grin)? Well here’s a list of the resources that I make available for people:

Free

Downloads – http://www.ciaops.com/downloads 
Podcast – http://ciaops.podbean.com
Presentations and documents - http://www.slideshare.net/directorcia
YouTube channel – http://www.youtube.com/directorciaops
YouTube channel 2 – http://www.youtube.com/saturnalliance
Blog – http://supportweb.ciaops.net.au/blog
SharePoint site – http://supportweb.ciaops.net.au
Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/ciaops
Linkedin - http://www.linkedin.com/in/ciaops
Delicious - http://www.delicious.com/directorcia
Twitter - http://www.twitter.com/directorcia
Email newsletter - http://us1.campaign-archive.com/home/?u=e641b9327b1cf4c45ad4e593f&id=c851ddf6cf

Commercial

SharePoint Operations Guide – http://www.wssops.com
Overcoming email frustrations with Outlook 2007 - https://www.lulu.com/commerce/index.php?fBuyContent=5445421
Windows SharePoint Masterclass: Optimizing Search - http://www.lulu.com/product/ebook/windows-sharepoint-master-classoptimizing-search/13575801

Merry Christmas to all.

Robert Crane (director@ciaops.com)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Customer logic Part II



After my post yesterday on a major reason why customers will look at Office365, I received a very valid comment on the post about how if you multiply the amount out it ends up being more than the cost of Office if you simply purchased it over 1 – 2 years.

Yes, some customers will multiple that out but let me give you another example of where this ‘rational logic’ fails the customer test. Firstly, what about the way most people purchase mobile phones? They don’t buy them outright they buy them on a plan and end up generally paying many more times the value of purchasing the handset outright. Example two, many business people don’t purchase a car, they lease it. This is typically more expensive than buying it outright but they do it to receive other deductions.

I certainly agree there will be rational customers who will simply multiply the cost out but most I feel have become accustom to paying per month for many ‘business’ expenses. And here’s another reason customers will go with a subscription offering for Office. When a new version becomes available they are entitled to that version (provided their subscription is current). This is basically like volume licensing but now available to users of any size.

So add all the benefits of Office365 with the subscription to Office Professional Plus on the desktop and I still think it will ring most customers bells.  

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Customer logic

I’ve been pondering what the appeal might be of Office365 for customers and you know what I reckon will be the number one draw card? I reckon it’ll be that they’ll see it as a way to get Office cheap.

 

Office365 will offer the ability to install Office Professional Plus 2010 on the desktop (depending on which license is chosen). You can read more about this here:

 

http://office365.microsoft.com/en-US/office-web-apps.aspx

 

A few technical people I have spoken to about this have scoffed at my notion (which isn’t uncommon for one of my notions), yet I still think it may be the case. Why? May be because customers still don’t understand all this cloud stuff but they understand Office on their desktop and getting that cheaper is better in their minds.

 

You gotta stop thinking like a technician and start thinking like a customer I reckon if you want to sell this cloud stuff. I shouldn’t be telling you that because I plan to sell the cloud to your customers so I’d better shut up now eh?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Digital story of Nativity

Couldn’t resist this one:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GkHNNPM7pJA

 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all readers of this blog.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Santa, just before you leave

image_2_286C8441

Dear Santa,

 

Just before you head off on your rounds Christmas Eve (I still don’t know how you do it all in one night), I am wondering whether you can drop by the Google office’s and put in a good word for me in regards to getting a Chrome notebook to test?

 

I’ve been pretty good all year and used Google’s products. I use their Chrome browser extensively and applied for the notebook using Google’s chrome browser as well. I’ve stacked up my email in my Gmail account, I have my Google Adwords and Adsense running. I’m moving many of non-commercial website to Google Sites so I don’t know what else I can do (except perhaps use Google Buzz).

 

So when you call into Larry’s and Sergey’s homes on your way through Christmas Eve anything you can do to help my cause would be greatly appreciated. I do however appreciate that there are many far more deserving than me and if it comes down to the notebook or the Ferrari 458 Italia I also asked for this year, well I’ll take the Ferrari.

 

Thanks in advance

Robert

Sunday, December 19, 2010

New SharePoint options for SMB

So SBS 2011 Standard has been released and will soon make its way onto the servers of SMB customers (so they say). SBS 2011 Standard includes an on site version of SharePoint 2010. This version is SharePoint Foundation 2010, which is kind of the upgrade from Windows SharePoint Services 3.0.

 

Now SharePoint Foundation 2010 is a free download from Microsoft, which you could install on a Windows 2008 server without the need for SBS 2011 Standard. SharePoint Foundation 2010 also has a bigger sibling know as SharePoint Server 2010. SharePoint Server 2010 comes in two flavours, standard and enterprise both of which are really priced out of the market for SMB customers.

 

SharePoint Server 2010 enterprise has plenty of really great features including Access Services which allows you to host an Access database in SharePoint and using it through a web front end. It includes InfoPath services that allows you to host intelligent forms created with InfoPath on SharePoint without the need to have InfoPath installed on the desktop. Along the same lines you’ll also find Visio and Excel services. SharePoint Server 2010 also includes features like social networking so people can ‘like’ and rate results which improves their relevance to the organization. It includes something known as My Sites that gives each employee their own portal as a way of aggregating information about them and what they are working on. Finally, SharePoint Server 2010 includes a much improved and extended version of search.

 

Typically all this was out of the reach of smaller customers because SharePoint Server 2010 requires both server and client licensing, thus they settled for the reduced functionality in SharePoint Foundation 2010. But guess what? They don’t have to any more. Why? Because when Microsoft makes it’s latest version of cloud services available via Office365 customers can get access to almost the complete functionality of SharePoint Server 2010 for a few dollars per user per month.

 

Many of the projects I get engaged with are looking to develop an intranet using their SBS server. That’s great, and for some customers that will work well but when I speak to most customers about the benefits they receive from hosted SharePoint Server 2010 via Office365 combined with the reduction in administration, reduction in licensing complexity and so on, most are choosing to go with the online offering.

 

Until Office365 officially launches clients need to sign up with BPOS which is currently limited to Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 but they all see the benefits of getting on board sooner rather than later and can’t wait for the upgrade to Office365 to take place. Personally, I can’t either because it is going to give businesses of all sizes access to enterprise software for a few dollars per month per user.

 

Roll on Office365.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Upgrade or downgrade?

I’ve been testing the limits of SharePoint Designer of late as I work on an automated vacation calendar that I’ll be making available soon. If you didn’t already know, here are some interesting issues I have found with SharePoint Designer so far.

 

Firstly, you can only use the latest version of SharePoint Designer with the latest version of SharePoint. Thus SharePoint Designer 2007 only works with Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 while SharePoint Designer 2010 only works with SharePoint Foundation 2010. The same applies to the bigger SharePoint Server versions as well. So, if you are like me and need to work with both versions of SharePoint you need both versions of SharePoint designer installed on a machine. Couldn’t have the newer version supported the older version of SharePoint? I know it is completely new technology but….really?

 

Now, the thing that really has my nickers in a knot is the fact that Microsoft seem to have deprecated (read removed) a feature that I make extensive use of. In SharePoint Designer 2007 you can send an email as part of a workflow. Thus an email like this:

 

image_2_684419C8

 

allows you to also embed HTML so that the result looks like:

 

image_4_684419C8

 

This allows you a great deal of formatting flexibility to improve the presentation ability to end users.

 

BUT try exactly the same formatted email using SharePoint Designer 2010 and this is the end result:

 

image_6_684419C8

 

that is, HTML is no longer rendered. What the hell? How come this was removed from a NEWER version of SharePoint Designer? I can’t see it being because of the newer SharePoint 2010 technology, because all it is doing is sending an email.

 

This makes it very difficult to format professional looking emails from SharePoint 2010 now doesn’t it? I find it interesting that Microsoft touts SharePoint Designer 2010 as the tool for creating workflows yet it removes this sort of basic functionality.

 

There are a few places on the Net where a potential work around is provided for this but that usually requires modifying the web server configuration files on the actual SharePoint server, something not generally possible on hosted SharePoint now eh? What’s the bet that isn’t enabled with the Office365 version of SharePoint when it becomes available either? (Pretty high I reckon).

 

So, the only solution seems to be to design with Visual Studio but that means I gotta go out and buy, install, and learn how to code before I can do something as simple as format an email!

 

Surely there has to be an solution to this, surely?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Need to Know Podcast – Episode 11


The latest episode features Microsoft Security MVP Dana Epp from Scorpion Software (http://www.scorpionsoft.com/) speaking about the insecurities of wireless technology. Dana also delves into topics such as selling security to customers, how to monitor security and what to do if breeches are detected. He also spends some time discussing why ‘community’ is so important to the SMB segment.

You can access the podcast directly from:

http://ciaops.podbean.com/2010/12/14/episode-11-dana-epp/

as well as view all previous episodes at:

http://ciaops.podbean.com

where you can not only subscribe via mediums such as iTunes but also leave comments and ratings on each episode.

If you are interested in, or know a business that is, sponsoring the show please contact me directly (director@ciaops.com). Also if you would like to appear as a guest or would like to hear from someone specifically again contact me (director@ciaops.com). Finally, if you think the show has provided you with value I'd appreciate any donation you'd care to make. All donations go to helping me improve what is offered (http://www.ciaops.com/donation).

Sunday, December 12, 2010

No work at work

One of the best books that I’ve read this year is Rework. If you haven’t read it then you should no matter whether you run a business or not. I’ve also posted previously about how the authors are focused on improved productivity, unlike so many other businesses these days. Thanks to Hilton Travis there’s now another video of Jason Fried where he talks about how most people say that the office (i.e. work) is not the place they go to actually do work (i.e. be productive).

 

You’ll find the video here:

 

http://edition.cnn.com/2010/OPINION/12/05/fried.office.work/index.html

 

and it is only 15 minutes or so long but well worth the watch if you want to begin to understand why being at work destroys your productivity. Jason also provides some suggestions for boosting the productivity of the work place by not having meetings and having a period of silence to allow people to concentrate. Now that’s novel eh?

 

It is amazing to me how many businesses, large and small, are still struggling to be more competitive. My advice? Take a look at your environment and see whether you are actually allowing your employees to work. If you are an individual I challenge you to closely examine how much uninterrupted time (no emails, no phone calls, no interruptions, etc) you allow yourself in a day. If you are honest about it then I think you’ll find out that you really are just spinning your wheels.

 

If you want more free time I say then you need to commit to being more productive. Until then you are simply in denial.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

iTunes star

I’m proud to say that my podcast series has been accepted by iTunes and now appears in their podcast directory. The web page for it can be found here:

 

http://itunes.apple.com/au/podcast/ciaops-need-to-know-podcasts/id406891445

 

image_2_714D142B

 

It is also nice to see that someone has already gone in and given it a rating (thanks VM Guru).

 

For all the episodes and easy ways to subscribe visit http://ciaops.podbean.com. A new episode due out next week and this one will be with noted security professional Dana Epp.

My biggest mistake with SharePoint

A long, long time ago when I first started getting into SharePoint I installed just about every addon I could find (yes, I was an out of control addict I admit it). One these was the Groupboard Workspace 2007.

 

Since then it has been the bane of my existence. It has caused no end of problems with the SharePoint box I installed it on. It has cause numerous patches to crash. It has prevent the box being migrated to SharePoint 2010 and worst of all even when I uninstalled it, it remains as the screen below shows.

 

image_2_6E1E997C

 

At the end of the day I’m going to have to probably migrate the data manually using templates and Office applications. After that I’m going to incinerate the box it is installed on and throw the ashes to the wind.

 

In short? Don’t install it on Windows SharePoint.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Too much SQL

On my SBS 7 (a.k.a. Windows 2011 Standard), I’ve been testing some SharePoint functionality of late as you can see from recent posts. I do so on a virtualized server to allow me to easily and quickly roll backwards and forwards. As such I try and run these machines a lean as possible because there is only limited RAM.

 

One of the most common memory hogs is SQL which, by default, has no memory cap. This means that it consumes as much as it can. Using the SQL Management Studio you can go in and set a limit to keep it under control. On SBS 7 (a.k.a. SBS 2011 Standard) I did this for the sharepoint and sbsmonitoring instances which both run on SQL Server 2008 Express R2 (settings it to 256MB). Problem was, when I started getting sluggish performance I found that I had 3 SQL instances running and one was exceeding the memory limit I had set. What the hell?

 

As you can see from the following screen shot, on the right is task manager displaying the three sqlservr.exe instances (sqlservr.exe), with two at the top of my memory consumption values. Now I know one is sharepoint and the other is sbsmonitoring but what is the third one? And why is running at a value above what I limited it to (at 341,828K)?

 

image_2_1FB9E63B

 

To find out what’s going on I add the PID column to task manager so I can see the culprit is process 3188. Then at the command prompt I run tasklist /svc (which is displayed on the left) and discover that task 3188 belongs to mssql$microsoft##ssee! This is the embedded edition of SQL Server 2005. What ….would….that…be…running…. Of course, WSUS!

 

Much to my amazement Windows Server Update Services on SBS 7 (a.k.a. Windows 2011 Standard) is still using SQL Server 2005 Embedded Edition. That means another version of SQL installed on the server. That means another program that needs to be updated in the future. That means, as you can see, another SQL application which you’ll have to limit memory on.

 

I can understand perhaps why SQL 2005 Embedded Edition remains, it has unlimited database sizes unlike the SQL 2008 Express R2 version which is also on the machine and limited to 10GB databases. However, even though WSUS in theory could get >10GB does that really warrant not running WSUS on SQL Express R2 and doing away with the Embedded Edition? Surely some sort of warning mechanism could be created is the WSUS databases approach 10GB in some rare circumstance.

 

This indicates to me that SBS 7 (a.k.a. SBS 2011 Standard) is simply a progressive upgrade to SBS 2008 (i.e. more like SBS 2008 R2). Out of the box it is going to try and consume as much memory as it can for the three SQL instances installed by default (sharepoint, sbsmonitoring and WSUS). Unless these are trimmed they are going to affect performance. Again, after all this time I still can’t understand why there is no wizard to allow you to limited the memory of the SQL instances (maybe I just haven’t found it?).

 

To me this adds more complexity to the next release of on site SBS. It increases its maintenance due to the different versions of SQL installed (i.e. more patches). It increases its complexity and makes it harder for the average person to optimize. It also means that out of the box it is potentially going to be a memory hog and therefore have its performance degraded and potentially turn people away from it as solution. This has always been one of the downsides of SBS, running so much on one box. In this case, I honestly believe that one application (SQL 2005 Embedded Edition) could have been removed.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Search Server Story Sequel

In a recent post I detailed how on SBS 7 I needed to know the SharePoint farm passphrase to allow the completion of the SharePoint Configuration Wizard that the following dialog warns you about just prior to uninstalling Search Server Express:

 

image_2_6B0A083E

 

A few people let me know that there is in fact a way to set the password using PowerShell. One such example is:

 

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/raresm/archive/2010/05/26/easy-farm-passphrase-recovery.aspx

 

which says all you need to do at the powershell script console is run:

 

$passphrase = ConvertTo-SecureString -asPlainText -Force
Set-SPPassPhrase -PassPhrase $passphrase –Confirm

 

Yep, great but in this case, after Search Server Express has been removed you get:

 

image_4_6B0A083E

 

Thus, the ability to set the SharePoint passphrase only works if SharePoint is properly configured, which after the removal of Search Server Express it isn’t!

 

So the advice seems to be, at least with what I’ve seen on SBS 7, is that once you have SBS 7 all running go in and use the above powershell script and set the SharePoint passphrase to something you know to avoid the situation I detailed in the previous blog where you need configure SharePoint Foundation 2010. Because unless you know the passphrase you won’t be able to re-configure the farm, all you can do is rebuild it and migrate the data and that is messy by any standards.

 

I have successfully confirmed that by setting the SharePoint passphrase prior to removing Search Server Express and running the SharePoint Configuration Wizard does allow you to complete the wizard and get companyweb back. You still need to do a little more configuration on SharePoint Search after that, but in my testing you can get SharePoint fully operational again, that is PROVIDED you know the passphrase ahead of time!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Search Server Story

So I’ve been playing with the beta of SBS 7 specifically looking at SharePoint 2010 Foundation. At the moment I’m concentrating on search and I have an interesting story to tell you.

 

Out of the box SBS 7 (Beta) comes with SharePoint Foundation 2010. If you upload a document to a document library (in this case a Word document) and wait for it to be indexed you can search on information inside that document.

 

clip_image001_2_40B7EA53

 

Ss you can from the above I’ve uploaded my Word document to SharePoint, if I now use the default SharePoint Foundation 2010 search (after waiting enough time for the document to be indexed) and search for something I know appears in the document like the word ‘understand’ say, this is what I expect to see.

 

clip_image0015_6EA53D0B

 

Ok, all fine and dandy. As expected my document appears. Take special note of what the search results screen looks like because things are about to change.

 

One of the unsung products from Microsoft is Search Server Express 2010 which is a free download and allows you to index not only SharePoint but also Exchange Public Folders, network shares and other web sites. I honestly can’t understand why it hasn’t been already added to SBS but alas it hasn’t. However, if I do download and install it on my SBS 7 server, configure it appropriately and run exactly the same search I see:

 

clip_image0017_6EA53D0B

 

Same result but differ display. This is the result of Search Server Express being installed. Now some people claim that to allow indexing of PDF you MUST install Search Server Express 2010. As I demonstrated in a previous post, with out further configuration this just isn’t true.

 

Let’s now say that you installed Search Server Express 2010 in this mistaken belief it will index PDFs. You find that it doesn’t so you decided to uninstall it. You go into Control Panel, Add/Remove programs, Search Server Express 2010, click, click, click... until it is all gone. You now try and view your companyweb site and you see:

 

image_2_6EA53D0B

 

Oh dear. Not good. Now no SharePoint! You however remember as you were madly clicking to uninstall Search Server Express 2010 that a message popped up saying that you might have to run the SharePoint Configuration Wizard after Search Server had been removed. You run the wizard and you reach a point where it asks you:

 

image_4_6EA53D0B

 

You know that your SharePoint data is already there (somewhere) so it is probably not a good idea to create a new server farm so you go with the first option to Connect to an existing server farm.

 

You now see:

 

image_6_6EA53D0B

 

You know that the SQL instance that runs SharePoint on SBS 7 is called server_name\sharepoint (well now you do!). You enter that in for your server and press the button to Retrieve Database Names and amazingly the SharePoint config database automatically appears. Feeling good you continue and are greeted with:

 

image_8_1C928FC4

 

As the window says - ‘This passphrase is used to secure farm configuration data and REQUIRED for each server that joins the farm.’

 

So what’s the passphrase? You’d know that if YOU installed SharePoint wouldn’t you but you didn’t install it did you? It was already preinstalled on SBS 7. So who did that? Microsoft. So does Microsoft know the password? Good question. Is it documented somewhere? Even better question. Not that I can find.

 

Unfortunately, this story doesn’t seem to have a happy ending now does it?

I said that too!

Here’s an article about the move to Cloud computing and the challenges it presents to resellers from SMB Nation Fall 2010 (which I presented at).

 

http://rcpmag.com/articles/2010/12/01/bracing-for-a-cloudy-future.aspx

 

I suppose that I’m one of the several (un-named presenters) that concluded:

 

“Many such companies currently earn much of their income deploying and maintaining hardware. Thanks to the cloud, however, that's a doomed business model, according to several conference presenters.”

 

My friend Karl Palachuck lays it out even more plainly:

 

"Ninety percent of your clients have bought their last server, and they're moving to the cloud with you or without you," he warned his audience.

 

and I totally agree with him, especially in light of the imminent release of Office365. A great example is that when Office365 is released it will give all businesses access to the enterprise version of SharePoint for a few dollars a month. That is a huge amount of power and functionality for no upfront cost and a small ongoing monthly amount per user.

 

When you combine Office365 with Windows InTune it allows the deployment of the latest version of Windows and Office to a customers desktop for a single monthly cost. It also means that as new versions become available subscribers are eligible for updates automatically. This is effectively giving even the smallest business access to the benefits of volume licensing.

 

You can access my presentation from SMB Nation here:

 

http://www.ciaops.com/storage/docs/gs103.pdf (6.3MB)

 

but honestly if you are not looking to the benefits the cloud can provide then I suggest you take a look at this video which demonstrates how even 10 year olds understand the benefits:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_eq3Sj1GGs8

 

This video certainly makes me feel old and I reckon I understand the benefits of the cloud, but I’d hate to think what it makes you feel if you only starting to come to terms with what the cloud offers.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Bored with Kinect?

The latest ‘gadget’ on the market is the Kinect add on for the Microsoft Xbox. It is actually pretty cool technology as this video shows:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r7nRKU0nFxA

It is actually thousands of little beams of light that record your every location and then translate that back to the XBox. So you can jump around the room and interact directly with the game.

 

But what happens, inevitably, a few days after Christmas when you’ve become a bit bored with it? Well if you are a geek then you hack the Kinect and make it do something like this:

 

Kinect Titty Tracker from Dan Wilcox on Vimeo.

 

(if the embedded video doesn’t show click this link - http://vimeo.com/17095170 and don’t worry it is ‘work friendly’).

 

Who says the Kinect was only for games?

December update of SharePoint Guide


Subscribers to my Windows SharePoint Guide can now access the latest updates from the subscription site (now running under SharePoint 2010). This month some of the additions include:

- Follow through of Microsoft install method on SBS 2008
- Installation and configuration of Microsoft Online SharePoint (BPOS)
- SBS 2008 SharePoint Exchange server configuration


Also, all subscribers get automatic free access to my recently released eBook:

Windows SharePoint Masterclass: Optimizing Search

I am now working on the next title in the Windows SharePoint Masterclass series which will focus on databases operations. That is, it will provide you with a wealth of information about installing, maintaining, configuring and troubleshooting the Microsoft SQL Server versions used by Windows SharePoint. I expect to have it out very early in the New Year, so stay tuned.