SharePoint Online Price Drop

November 4, 2009

Microsoft is cutting its Exchange Online pricing from $10 per user per month to $5 per user per month. It also is cutting the price of the BPOS bundle — which includes SharePoint Online, Exchange Online, Communications Online and Live Meeting — from $15 per user per month, to $10 per user per month. [From Microsoft chops prices of its hosted enterprise cloud offerings | All about Microsoft |]

SharePoint Server 2010 – Getting Started link guide for developers

November 4, 2009

SharePoint Developer – General info

SharePoint Developer – Specific topics

Background info

[From SharePoint Server 2010 – Getting Started link guide for developers]

The Scoop: SharePoint 2010 Records Management

November 4, 2009

What is Records Management The session began with a brief description of what records management is and what constitutes a record. Wikipedia defines records management as “the practice of maintaining the records of an organization from the time they are created up to their eventual disposal.

This may include classifying, storing, securing, and destruction (or in some cases, archival preservation) or records.” The time that an organization considers information to be relevant or valuable is on a per case basis.

Although not always the case, a primary driving factor in records management is compliance with legal standards. A document or email becomes an item of record when it contains information about the running of the business, contains information that must be retained with statutory requirements or contains information about an employee or a potential employee.

Because judicial bodies can classify records as potential evidence in lawsuits, it is very important to include RM with your SharePoint deployments.

How SharePoint 2010 Improves on ERM
In Place Records Management
One of the new industry trends is the idea of in-place records management rather than a central repository of documents that requires a routing service. In this method, the documents stay in the current location, and they are classified as business records.

This will allow the document to gain the appropriate security, retention and disposition without ever having to be routed to a centrally managed location.

This saves IT resources and will more than likely decrease time spent during eDiscovery. New in SharePoint 2010 is the adoption of this technique, which will surely be a good choice for many organizations looking into RM.

Updates to Records Center
The live demo showed off the new slick, AJAX-friendly UI on top of the new Records Center site. For some organizations, the dedicated records center repository is more ideal, so Microsoft has given the site a major face-lift.

Not only is it a lot easier to submit a record (as seen below by the large “Submit a Record” button), but the overall layout of the site is cleaner. You can also search for document IDs right on the main page.

During the demo Darrin Bishop showed us how he created new content types with information rights management (IRM) configured. He was able to very quickly set up retention stages for multiple scenarios relating to documents.

One stage created was one that would delete all previous drafts of a document 3 years after the document was created. Another was a stage that would move the document to the recycle bin after a lifecycle of 7 years.

Auditing, barcodes and labels have been retained from the features seen in SharePoint 2007.

SharePoint 2010 – Records Management

The big push in this release is for greater adoption from end users themselves. The Records Center site has been redesigned so that it is easier for a records manager to maintain the order of the site. The RM configuration page displays step-by-step instructions to guide the user in how to properly setup the hierarchy.

Content Organizer
The routing rules from 2007 have been replaced by the content organizer, which is actually a new SharePoint feature available in all document libraries. The content organizer is used to route documents to the right folder based on content types and any other metadata that you require. The takeaway here is that folders have been given a whole “new” spin in SharePoint 2010.

Changes to Folders
Folders have no functionality in 2007, and the standard best practice is to avoid them in most situations and use metadata columns instead. For 2010, folders will now be able to act as true parents to any child objects below it.

The idea now is to set metadata at the folder level, so that the child objects can inherit that information. So as this may not be new to anyone familiar with other popular DMS/CMS solutions, this is a completely different approach from Microsoft that is already being applauded.

Compliance Details
Another new feature is that every document in SharePoint 2010 now has a “compliance details” option on the context menu. This allows you to check out all the relevant settings that have been applied to a specific business record.

This looks like a great feature that will easily allow administrators to make sure that specific documents are inheriting the right policies and retention settings.

As with most context menus in SharePoint 2010, you won’t have to leave the page to see this information, and you’ll even be able to change the exemption and/or hold status based on what you see here.

SharePoint 2010 Compliance Details

These new and improved features all come together to help attain a higher efficiency when relating to eDiscovery, which is the process of discovering electronically stored data. Because there is a set of Federal rules (Federal Rules of Civil Procedure) that govern the request of information in litigation, it is very important to be able to produce electronic data when requested in a court of law.

It is also important that the data is accompanied along with the metadata that was associated with it in the system.

In SharePoint 2010, content types are now service-based rather than being tied to a site or site collection. Content types will automatically be available in all sites throughout the farm, so there is no need to deploy content types to separate site collections.

Since records are tied to content types, the time required to get a records management solution up and running in SharePoint has been greatly reduced across the board.

New in SharePoint 2010
In-place Records Management
Document Sets
Persistent Document IDs
Content Organizer
Compliance Details Menu Option
Improved in SharePoint 2010
Record Center Site Definition
Record Center Management Interface
Document Routing
Information Policies
We are only scratching the surface here for what will eventually be in the RTM version of 2010, but this was a good overview of what’s to come.

Support for in-place RM within all libraries is a major plus if you are looking for SharePoint 2010 to be your solution. Not only does this reduce IT overhead, but it allows your end users to live in the appropriate libraries for all relevant information. They won’t have to leave the confines of their collaborative environment to find a business record that relates to their project.

But for organizations that rely on dedicated librarians, the existing records center site from 2007 has been greatly enhanced visually and structurally.

We are still in early beta stages with 2010, so some of this information is subject to change. But enough has been shown here to prove that Microsoft is not putting RM on the back burner with the new release.

About the Author Mike Ferrara is an independent consultant and editor with He specializes in document and content management systems including SharePoint and the Autonomy/Interwoven family of products. [From The Scoop: SharePoint 2010 Records Management]

Product Driven Development – Reduce the Cost of Implementation

October 21, 2009

So we now have a strategy, or have a strategy for defining one, and we have a project, all things being equal we are good to go. Maybe not. Before you go down the road of no return it might be worth evaluating how consultancy can be used to add value up front rather than at the tail end of delivery when things have gone, well lets just say not so well.

Through my various engagements at Microsoft and various other client projects have implemented a delivery framework targeted at product development paradigms. The Framework in concept is addresses the need for a structured approach to solution delivery harnessing the platform (product) features.

The framework enables teams to collaboratively develop application on the platform and through the application of process and technology I was able to create an environment that support the following aspects of delivery that is not natively supported by products that allows for runtime configuration aimed at power users:

·      Configuration Management

·    Automated Infrastructure Deployments

·    Continuous Integration

·    Integrated Unit Testing

·    Automated User Interface Testing framework.

The Framework delivers the following benefits:

·       Provides the opportunity for deployment artefacts to be created, maintained and continuously regression tested throughout the development lifecycle de-risking final deployments.

·       Enables the use of a modular approach to delivery and facilitates the reuse of artefacts between projects and deployments, enabling the organisation to create IPR.

·       Efficiency of resource through the capability of rapid team mobilisation using a standard framework ultimately reducing cost.

·       Time to Market (TTM) is reduced through the application of well established processes and practices.·       Collectively the Framework aim to maximise profits through reuse and productivity.

Below is the Project Delivery Outline and it identifies Composition and elements that requires focussed effort in terms of delivery.


When we look at how the functional components are developed and the quality controls are put in place the following diagram depicts the process that forms the foundation for the framework.


In broad terms the framework has proved its worth in terms of simply reducing the Cost of Implementation whilst promoting quality controls. Please feel free to contact me should any of the objectives in the article align with what you may want to achieve in your Project, Programme or more importantly Organisation.

Product Driven Development – Realising the Value

October 21, 2009

How often have you encountered a person saying “we need to use SharePoint for this Application”. That in most cases is a valid response however when it comes to doing the math and begging the CFO to release some of his well guarded cash, the story changes.

Why is this the case ? Well in simple terms buying a whole lot of infrastructure and investing the time and money to get up to speed with the new technology costs money, and when that gets allocated to a project to do Application X, the numbers simply does not add up and will sees you retiring back to your desk in the dark room with no windows.

How do successful organisations then make the most of these products ? Simple really, they have a strategy that is collectively defined by the business and IT allowing for innovation in technology to influence the strategic direction. As opposed to “here is your budget, see you next year”. In most cases organisations that differentiate themselves from the competition are proactive about what they do and see technology as enabler to be responsive. As this is a technology blog I’ll not say Agile in case we start sprinting and scrumming.

So back to the value argument, how does this work then? When we strategise IT has on its radar things that will move and change the landscape in terms of trends and technologies. If they don’t, well that is another problem that broadly involves HR and is not suitable for this audience ;-)

We take these trends and more importantly technologies and define a strategy for implementation. This includes a portfolio of projects that most likely will enable the organisation to take another step towards nirvana in terms of their strategy. Now we can do the numbers, inline with what we are trying to achieve.

Having identified the technologies and projects we can now assign the base cost proportional to a number of projects (Economies of Scale), and the implementation cost to each individual project (Realise the Value of each project)

Does this make sense? Well in most cases it does, the challenge is being brave enough to make these changes and planning for a portfolio rather than individual projects.

Ultimately SharePoint is one of those products that can be used as a product for say a Corporate CMS or as an Applications platform on which all the noise (other apps) can be aggregated into a stable provision that standardises implementations and makes life easier for operational support to name but a few long term benefits.

Making a decision on which one it is and then formulating an argument in terms of Return on Investment(ROI) and Total Cost of Ownership(TCO) will not only make the CFO love you(as he now understands what you are saying) but also make the CEO realise that you might be on to a winner. Good luck.