Monthly Archives: July 2017

Azure and other Cloud Comparison – Series

Posted by Jim on July 29, 2017
Azure / Comments Off on Azure and other Cloud Comparison – Series

Out there in the Clouds … there appears to be three main players of business cloud services have an array of products covering all you can possibly need for you and your online operations. But there are differences not only in pricing but also in how they name and group their services, so for fun I thought I would compare one next to another and find out what they offer.

I will focus on services provided by Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and Microsoft Azure. We won’t cover all of them, or get into much detail about the infrastructure of cloud computing. However, you will be exposed to many of the products you can use, and hopefully get familiar with some cloud concepts.

This will be a compare and contrast post over the next few months.

Why the Cloud

Iconic companies from both the public and the private sector — such as Netflix, AirBNB, Spotify, Expedia, PBS, and many, many more use the power of Cloud Computing or supporting their online operations. This allows them to better focus on doing what they’re known for, and let many of the technicalities be taken care of by an infrastructure that already exists and is constantly being upgraded. If they had to implement the physical infrastructure they actually need for their operations themselves, they would need an army of technicians, lots of extra budget and time, and many startups would never get past these technical challenges.

For everyone

But this is not limited to big names. Today, we live in a world in which both a huge business, and two youngsters at home with virtually no initial capital, can access world-class infrastructure for storage, computing, management and more, to make the next massive online service, and pay as they go — literally — by the hour.

Flexible (and sometimes intricate) pricing

What you pay will vary a lot depending and how much processing power you demand, how many instances (that is, how many virtual servers) you deploy, and where you deploy them (more on this on the “Locations” section). There will also be significant discounts for bulk usage. In any case, you’ll have these advantages most of the time:

  • no upfront costs
  • no termination fees
  • pay only for what you use
  • per minute billing

For precise details, you’ll need to read the pricing fine print of AWS, GCP and Azure.

Products vs Solutions

We will use the terms “products” and “services” rather indistinctly; a solution, however, is a more specific concept that you’ll hear a lot about when dealing with cloud services. Simply put, a solution is a set of preconfigured products oriented to a very specific need, with plentiful documentation, use cases and testimonials that will guide you through the process of adopting the cloud infrastructure.

Some typical “canned” solutions are:

Do you need an Isolated Search Server

Posted by Jim on July 23, 2017
O365, SharePoint 2013, SharePoint 2016 / Comments Off on Do you need an Isolated Search Server

When do you introduce a search server. The current farm was searching document at 6 hour intervals with incremental search only focused on a small segment of the 2 terabyte content in the farm. The reason for such slow search was because of the impact of running the search more aggressively. It has always been know the impact of search on the application tier of a farm but I never thought anyone would not see the need to scale and isolate given the need to produce search results in a small to medium farm.

So when do you introduce a search server into a SharePoint farm.

The volume of content that you have in your search index affects what resources you need to host the farm. Work out approximately the number of items that you plan on making searchable. Here are some examples of items: documents, web pages, SharePoint list entries, and images. Remember that each entry in a SharePoint list counts as one item.

When you have established a figure, multiply it by what you think the expected growth of that content will be over the next 12 months.

For example, if you’re starting out with 12,000 indexed items, and you expect the volume of that content to triple over the next 12 months. You should plan for 36,000 searchable items.

It’s not always easy to assess how big or small to make your search architecture. The size of your search architecture depends on the volume of your content, the crawl rate, the query throughput, and the level of high availability that you require. There are sample search architectures that we advise using as a basis to plan your own farm. The sample search architecture that you choose depends on how much content has to be searchable:

Volume of content Sample search architecture
0-20 million items Small search farm
0-80 million items Medium search farm
0-200 million items Large search farm
0-500 million items Extra large search farm

Although these sample search architectures use virtual machines, you can use both physical servers and virtual machines according to the strategy of the overall SharePoint Server 2016 solution of your search architecture.


If you have up to 20 million items, the small search farm will probably be the most suitable farm for you. We’ve estimated that this search architecture can crawl 50 documents per second, and serve in the order of 10 queries per second. With a crawl rate of 50 documents per second, it takes search 110 hours to crawl 20 million items in the first full crawl.

If you have between 20 and 80 million items, the medium search farm will probably be the most suitable farm for you. We’ve estimated that this search architecture can crawl 100 documents per second, and serve in the order of 10 queries per second. With a crawl rate of 200 documents per second, it takes search 280 hours to crawl 80 million items in the first full crawl.

Large search farm

 If you have between 80 and 200 million items, the large search farm will probably be the most suitable farm for you. We’ve estimated that this search architecture can crawl 200 documents per second, and serve in the order of 10 queries per second. With a crawl rate of 200 documents per second, it takes search 280 hours to crawl 200 million items in the first full crawl.

In my case the performance of the farm was very poor. The general introduction of an isolated search server would help improve the crawl process but the solution could also be achieved by improving performance by increasing RAM and retuning the search crawl.  To test this I went to my O365 tenant and to the existing site Farm and preformed a search test:

  1. Up loaded a small document with a unique word pattern that could be searched and timed for how long it took to introduce the document to the crawl results.
  2. MY O365 Ternate was almost immediate. The document showed up within seconds.
  3. The Farm took hours.

It’s obvious there needs to be some changes.


We need to be a workforce of the future not the past.

Posted by Jim on July 11, 2017
O365, Office 365, SharePoint 2016 / Comments Off on We need to be a workforce of the future not the past.

SCOPE OF Discussions:

Over the last 10 months under my direction our development team developed a new communication portal for CSM Bakery Solutions. It was first developed in an 0365-development environment both my personal Environment (owned and managed for 6 years) and further developed in a second O365 environment which became our production environment and finally moved to a 2016 production environment where the final alterations and adjustments were made just as they had been made in all the other previous environments.

Throughout this time both my developers and myself as well as our marketing team of in experienced SharePoint users were utilizing site content administrator permissions at the site content level. Subsequently 20 days ago the Cognizant team (Our third party administrators) removed our top-level permissions without warning or provocation .. and we then had to try and support the system in a dysfunctional architecture that was not by design.

At that point and at the request of the Business, I engaged the organization to open a ticket with Microsoft for two reasons:

  1. Firstly, to get a better understanding of what is and is not best practice when managing Content Management Systems such as SharePoint from an administrative, user and developer perspective and,
  2. Secondly to begin undertaking a review and Analysis of next steps for us to move from 2016 to O365 given the hick-ups missteps and failed delivery.

It has always been our intent to be on O365 and at this point and the Business has raised significant concerns about IT capabilities as well as concerns about Cognizant as a third part manager, there role and cost and conflict of interest in managing our systems.

It is my contention that however the security and governance of this system was framed using older versions of SharePoint, our currently framed structure it is improper, incorrect and does not lend itself to the standards and capabilities given the level of knowledge expertise and capability of the Development team who engage a full level of support for the system.

Now having moved CSM’s System to the most mature and secure version of SharePoint, and knowing that we will be moving to a single tenant in the other O365 environments in the next three to six months, we need to review our Governance considering these changes and in light of the leaps in security and environment protection Microsoft has built into its current systems.

With mine now 17 years of experience working with all flavors and versions and all features and capabilities and all pillars of the SharePoint environment overseen senior Architects and Developers in my organization and many other roles, it is my contention that we no longer need to have such over bearing security boundaries placed on the Developers and Architects roles in that it hampers the process of development and administration which is the Dual role.

Given the isolation of systems in Site Content Containers, Sandbox solutions, other features in tenant solutions and our development approaches that use nothing but Out of The Box capabilities this old governance model we have now is overly protective and produces un-necessary cost and inefficacies that more represent the old-style application models we used in SharePoint 2007 than the new age model more aligned with the capabilities of the cutting-edge Microsoft technologies.

Moreover, our movement to O365 will introduce more economies and opportunities to reduce administrative overhead by third party companies that pray on companies by enforcing overly restrictive control models to hi-jack and hamstring use of inhouse personnel expertise and abilities (e.g. un-necessary hand holding that produce inefficiencies and make customers un-necessary reliance and developers and advanced users pray to uneasy rules and regulations).

And in an extension of this thought, I must question the UAT environment we have now hurriedly stood up. This environment created at significant expense (both to stand up and maintain) to proffer the vailed value proposition that it offers in that developers now have got a safe place to build and create “Workflow” Forms, List Libraries service such as excel, Visio or capabilities such as access service Information Rights Management, Customized Search, eDiscovery strategies, External access, or to provision master pages or templates or layout pages or Records management, PowerPoint Services, Power Pivot Score Card, Performance Point, on an on … etc. and then move to the third party to enable in the production environment.

What then are we going to do when we go to O365. Should we then also have a “UAT O365 so the developers can build and deploy in the antiquated old school application model. Are should we not start using OOTB features and capabilities builds in production as intended? And assigning the correct rights to develop and build such in production?

Are we to believe that our UAT can maintain synchronized images like the old style 2007 and 2010 systems did when developers were had building customization to the frame work? NO App Model or Web Part development or solution.

At the core of this request .. my concern is that CMS and management is just missing the point that this tool (“SHAREPOINT”) was designed to be used. And used by all at all levels. The capabilities and fail safes built into the system no longer present the risk of damage of failure that the older 2007, 2010 systems presented.

We need to evaluate the risk and rewards that stifle innovation and motivation of our employees and talent base and rather enable them to work with the cutting-edge technologies without unnecessary and obtrusive constraints. We need to be a workforce of the future not the past.

Just a comment I wanted to share – JIM


Want to Learn SharePoint?

Posted by Jim on July 04, 2017
O365, Office 365, SharePoint 2013, SharePoint 2016 / Comments Off on Want to Learn SharePoint?

Anyone looking for structured training and wants to learn some of SharePoint best practices before you engage your next site build – I encourage that you consider some formal SharePoint Training. There are plenty of choices out there by many many providers, from whole-day online training sessions to week-long boot camps. Such training is a great way to take your skills to the next level by learning industry best practices and expanding on the skills you picked up yourself.

Things you can do to learn SharePoint?

1: Start using it

When you want to learn how to drive a car, I am sure you can read books and view videos or listen to friends’ advice. However, until you put yourself behind the wheel and start pushing pedals and shift transmission, you won’t learn how to drive. SharePoint is no different. The best way to learn SharePoint is by starting to use it. Before you start taking formal training, I highly recommend that you test drive the tool and try to do things with it. Whether you will just try to upload and share documents or do more advanced stuff like creating sites and pages, you will get some idea about SharePoint.

2: Become a SharePoint addict

Follow SharePoint blogs, watch videos. When you want to learn SharePoint, as I stated in one of my previous posts, Google is your best friend. There is wealth of information out there on Internet, (and all free too) for you to start using. If you encountered a question or a problem on SharePoint, the chances are, someone else did as well.

3: Attend Some Free SharePoint Webinars

Lots of SharePoint consulting companies are doing free SharePoint webinars these days. They might not necessarily be thorough, but are a great way to learn certain SharePoint topics and review capabilities of SharePoint in general. By the way, I run several SharePoint webinars myself on various topics, feel free to check out a schedule here.

4: Join a SharePoint User Group in your area

Lots of large cities worldwide have some sort of SharePoint User Group (meet ups), meeting regularly to listen to SharePoint experts talking about SharePoint. Also, once a year, big cities also host SharePoint Saturday events, where once a year, on Saturday, they have big, one-day conference with lots of SharePoint experts sharing knowledge about SharePoint. Both of these are completely free and great way to learn SharePoint something in fun atmosphere.

Responsive User Interface Package for SharePoint on Premises

Posted by Jim on July 02, 2017
SharePoint 2013 / Comments Off on Responsive User Interface Package for SharePoint on Premises

Having the ability to work from your mobile device gives you the power to collaborate 24/7, from wherever whenever you want.

The new mobile and browser views in Office 365, which will roll out to SharePoint 2016. Source:

Microsoft also introduced a Responsive User Interface Package for SharePoint on premises, designed to adapt SharePoint views to your screen size so you can work on any device. Microsoft Senior Program Manager Vesa Juvonen illustrates the different views in his blog post and video on Channel 9.

The previous mobile experience wasn’t the greatest, since Microsoft offered no dedicated app or responsive design. However, during the live announcement of SharePoint 2016, Microsoft really blew me away with the look and feel of the mobile app – it’s modern, clean, and fresh. They are really focusing on the user experience and moving toward a cool, new feel that will ultimately help users be more productive from an easily accessible mobile platform.


Is SharePoint 2019 the Likely Next On-Premise Release

Posted by Jim on July 01, 2017
O365, SharePoint 2016 / Comments Off on Is SharePoint 2019 the Likely Next On-Premise Release




Well how can we know …?

  1. Because Microsoft Has Said It

On May 4, 2016 Microsoft gave a fairly clear indicator that there will be yet another SharePoint version that will be on-premise. You can read all about it here.

  1. And Because We May not Be Ready For The MS Cloud

While Office 365 makes life so much easier for system administrators (i.e. no patches, upgrades, cumulative updates, and yes, even custom code) there are literally billions of documents stored by thousands of organizations worldwide that are still living on-premise. These will continue to live there for at least another decade. Think about how long FileNet has been around!

Let me know what you think?