April newsletter now available

I’ve completed the CIAOPS April newsletter. If you are not a subscriber you can view it at:

 

http://us1.campaign-archive1.com/?u=e641b9327b1cf4c45ad4e593f&id=a72f20c8cd

 

It even has the ability to retweet, and ‘Like’ on Facebook. If you want to be a subscriber you can sign up at:

 

http://ciaops.us1.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=e641b9327b1cf4c45ad4e593f&id=c851ddf6cf

 

and past editions are found at:

 

http://us1.campaign-archive.com/home/?u=e641b9327b1cf4c45ad4e593f&id=c851ddf6cf

 

as part of the these newsletters there is also a video edition which you can view at:

Reality check

I heard a number of people recently say that they wouldn’t store their data in data centres because it is more likely to be hacked and stolen. Ah, …say what…? Rather than get into the technicalities of cloud security let me draw an analogy here.

If you really wanted to you could stick all your money under you mattress at home. Does that make in immune from theft? Nope. Most people elect to trust their money to a bank. You’ll pay a fee for this but you gain a certain amount of increased security and convenience. Given that banks are holding the assets of many people they can spread the cost of improved security across all the customers as well as given them the convenience of accessing their money just about everywhere.

Does this mean you won’t maintain some money at home and in your wallet? Nope. It just means you don’t have to maintain all your savings with you all the time. Does this mean that a bank isn’t subject to theft? Certainly not. But generally you’d have to agree that it is less likely to be subject to theft even though it looks after a lots of people’s money.

Security is never perfect, security is journey not a destination, security is about human beings and human beings are far from perfect and finally it is about risk and return. Sure you could keep all your money under your mattress but is it really more secure? And what price do you pay in convenience over trusting it to a bank? Seems to me that most people see the rewards of being with a bank much greater than the risk. Banks are also commercial entities, which means they need to abide by legislation on how they deal with people’s money. They are also private enterprises whose reputation (and stock price) will suffer if theft occurs. These is just two powerful incentives for banks to ensure they keep people’s money secure.

So how is it that people seem to think their data is more secure if it is saved on a server in their office? Chances are that server is connected to the Internet full time. This makes it its own data centre. Why is it people believe their own little in house data centre is less subject to attack that a large commercial data centre? It really just doesn’t make any sense.

Of course there is the argument that if you money gets stolen while in a bank it will generally get refunded by the bank but what happens in the case of your information being stolen? Once your information has been stolen there is generally not a lot a way to ‘replace’ it. However, let’s look at the fact that people are happy to send emails full of that same information to people they have never met, unencrypted and unsecured across the public Internet without a moments thought. Even given this hugely insecure process it still remain wildly popular doesn’t it? Why? Because the convenience trumps the security issues. Risk and reward at work again.

There are certainly challenges with cloud computing including the storage and security of data. Yes by all means lets have a debate about the issue, but lets have a debate about the reality of the world we live in not some hysterical emotional response to a perception of the truth.

Humming to the tune


I attending a hands on training course for Windows Intune this week. Firstly, what is Windows Intune? Well, according to the marketing blurb:

The Windows Intune cloud service delivers management and security capabilities through a single Web-based console so you can keep your computers and users operating at peak performance from anywhere. Give your users the best Windows experience with Windows 7 Enterprise or standardize your PCs on the Windows version of your choice.

It is basically a cloud based security and management subscription service from Microsoft that also includes a Windows 7 Enterprise license. This allows you to manage the security updates for a desktop, maintain anti-virus/malware, as well provide remote support. This is all done via a subscription of about $13 per PC per month.

One of the benefits that Windows Intune provides is the ability to aggregate a number of different PC’s into a single console. This would allow an IT Service provide to manage and maintain a number of clients PC’s all from a single web console without the need to invest in their own infrastructure.

There has been plenty of noise from IT Service providers who already have these features via other third part suppliers that Windows Intune is not worth their time and effort (as evidenced in the low turn out for my course). On that score I beg to differ.

Firstly, Windows Intune allows customers to nominate a partner or record. This means that any business so nominated receives a small ongoing commission. Secondly, no other third party management software I know of comes with a Windows 7 Enterprise license. This license allows the user (provided they maintain their subscription) to always upgrade to the latest version of Windows. This is an excellent method to ensure that customers are up to date with their operating system as well as generating migration and upgrade revenue for the service providers.

Windows Intune is certainly not as feature rich as other third party applications already in the market but remember that this is only a version one product from Microsoft. If you want to understand the potential of this product then you only have to look at the onsite monitoring Microsoft already has with the likes of System Center. If Microsoft can deliver this type of solution via a hosted cloud subscription, including a Windows OS license, then it will certainly be a strong player in the market in my opinion.

At this stage I have rolled out Windows Intune to my families PC’s and it is working quite well. I can easily see the machines, their status, security level and what software they have installed. I am interested to see when the next patch Tuesday rolls around how easily I can deploy updates to the machines but it looks very straight forward.

I like what I’m seeing in Windows Intune so far and I am very hopeful for the quick enhancement of this product. Hopefully at the next release they can integrate it with on site Windows Update Services to allow patches to be delivered from a central on site repository. However, as long as the product keep improving I am confident that it is great solution to add to my arsenal.

Setting maximum upload size in SharePoint 2010

By default SharePoint has a limit of 50MB per uploaded file. This value can be changed via the SharePoint Central Administration console.

 

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Select Start | All Programs | Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Products | SharePoint 2010 Central Administration. Right mouse click on the program and select Run as Administrator from the menu that appears.

 

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Accept the User Account Control dialog that appears by pressing the Yes button.

 

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When the SharePoint Central Administration is display select Manage Web Applications from under the Application Management section in the top left.

 

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Select the Web Application you wish to change by clicking on it once so it is highlighted. From the Ribbon menu select the pull down arrow below the General Settings button. From the menu that appears select the General Settings option.

 

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Scroll down the window that is displayed until you locate the Maximum Upload Size section.

 

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Adjust maximum file upload size to the desired amount. Scroll down to the bottom of the window and select OK to save the changes.

 

Exit the SharePoint Central Administration.

April release of CIAOPS SharePoint Guide

 

The April 2011 version of my SharePoint Operations Guide is now available for subscribers. In this month’s edition you’ll find out how to change the passphrase on a SharePoint farm which is really  important if you are now using SBS 2011 Standard. Why? Because it is installed with a random passphrase and if you need to repair the installation of SharePoint Foundation 2010, and you don’t know the passphrase then you’ll have no option but to uninstall and reinstall SharePoint Foundation 2010. Yuk!

 

You’ll also find some information about Office365, especially in regards to SharePoint online.

 

I’m also please to welcome along a number of new subscribers who have received my Guide after signing up to my upcoming SharePoint bootcamp. When you sign up you’ll get a whole days hands on training PLUS a 12 month subscription to my Guide. Even better, if you sign up now the subscription won’t start till May, so you’ll get 13 months of the Guide.

 

Would you believe that next month marks 3 years of the Guide? Who’d thought, all those years ago that it would grow to what it has become today? Not me that’s for sure. So I take this opportunity to thank all my subscribers for their continued support.

SBS 2011 Companyweb upgrade gotcha


Hopefully people know that Companyweb content databases on SBS 2011 Standard are limited to 10GB in size total because SBS 2011 Standard uses SQL Express 2008 R2 as its storage mechanism. What you may not appreciate is that there is NOT a 1:1 conversion process during a migration.

This means that if you are migrating your content databases from SBS 2008 or SBS 2003 Companyweb they may end up being significantly bigger in SBS 2011 Standard. This is something I didn’t appreciate until recently. I was working on a migration of a 7GB Companyweb site to SBS 2011 when I uncovered the issue. I had successfully migrated the databases to WSS v3 from WSS v2 but during the migration to SharePoint Foundation 2010 on SBS 2011 Standard I received the following error part way through the conversion process:

Action 4.0.98.0 of Microsoft.SharePoint.Upgrade.SPContentDatabaseSequence failed

After a bit of Googling it would seem that this error is due to lack of free space on the source drive. That wasn’t the issue for me but when I looked at the Companyweb content databases they had grown to almost 10GB in size. Given that 10GB is the limit of the version of SQL that SBS 2011 Standard uses I had no option but to use a full blown version of SQL, which doesn’t have the database size limitation, to at least complete the migration process.

After completing the migration process I found the databases had grown from their original 7GB to over 16GB. This raises an important gotcha when migrating old Companyweb content. Even though your existing databases are less than the 10GB limit imposed by SQL 2008 Express R2 on SBS 2011 Standard you need to allow for the databases to grow substantially during the migration process. This would indicate that you can’t comfortably convert databases that are greater than 4GB without the risk of the conversion process exceeding the database limitations.

I can’t say for certain if different types of content (i.e. files versus lists) makes any difference and whether coming from Companyweb on SBS 2003 via WSS v3 or Companyweb on SBS 2008 directly makes any difference during the conversion process. I do however suggest that if you are looking at conversions of Companyweb data around the 4GB mark or more you test to ensure that the conversion process will run within the 10GB limit that you are restricted to on SBS 2011 Standard.

Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Administration Cookbook


I have recently completed providing technical feedback for the book :

Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Administration Cookbook from Packt Publishing

Which covers:

The book starts off by demonstrating the various upgrading and post-upgrading tasks to be performed in SharePoint 2010. Next come recipes for managing SharePoint service-level applications and for monitoring the SharePoint environment. The book introduces one of the best new tools that should be in your arsenal, PowerShell, and the commands you will need to script your tasks with Powershell.

You can purchase the book from :

https://www.packtpub.com/microsoft-sharepoint-2010-administration-cookbook/book

and is a worthwhile addition to any IT Professional who administers SharePoint 2010.