10 Tips For IT Managers To Better Manage Microsoft SharePoint

All businesses need to collaborate, share documents, build internal (and external) web sites and overall ensure they are optimally communicating. Microsoft SharePoint is one of many products growing businesses can use to ensure their teams (be it a team of 5 people or 500 pepole) can effectively communicate in the office or on the road.

While there are many free and low cost tools on the market – such as Google Apps, Zoho, Box.net and Hyper Office, Microsof’t’s Share Point offers the enhanced security, feature set, advanced user interface and integration with Microsfot Office that some growing busineses might nead. For small businesses that want the familiarity of Microsoft, check out Microsoft Office 365.

Microsoft managed services provider Azaleos provides these quick, very technical, tips in how you can ensure SharePoint is operating at optimal efficiency.

1.Plan, Plan and Plan some more

Planning for authentication, performance, capacity and future growth, either at the initial design phase or after deployment is one of the most important exercises of building and maintaining SharePoint 2010.  SharePoint is deceptively complex and lack of planning both in the initial stages as well as the long term can cause pain points within service applications, storage and server resources that start small and become major headaches in the future.

2.Use site quota to maintain sustainable growth

This is one of the most underutilized features within SharePoint yet is critical to maintaining a properly functioning environment.  SharePoint isn’t capable of self-managing the size of its database and with users constantly adding new content the data store will continue to the grow if you don’t impose defined limits. Quotas give you the opportunity to ask the right questions in order to keep the content stored in SharePoint relevant and fresh, while maintaining a supportable database.  Always start with a small quota template (typically 1GB) and grow out from there.

3. When sizing, it’s more about overhead than content

SharePoint 2010 has a lot of additional services beyond the ability to store content within a list or library.  These other services also consume storage and resources and need to be taken into consideration when sizing a SharePoint environment. Specifically, the Search, User Profiles, Web Analytics and Usage and Health Services can quickly create storage issues and pain points that will impact performance and perceived latency. Take the time to size SharePoint appropriately for the requirements of your environment.

4. Recycle bins will consume space outside of the site collection

There are 2 stages for the recycle bin. The first stage is used for user recoverable content and is stored within the site collection. This consumes space against the site collection quota (see above). User recoverable content has a default limit of 30 days, and then it is moved to the second stage recycle bin. The second stage recycle bin is used by the site collection administrator and/support staff to recover content that may have been deleted and/or expired from the first stage recycle bin. It consumes 50% of SharePoint’s total quota size, so you should enforce a quota or it will continue grow out of control.

5.    Site collections are very valuable, but can be a double edged sword

The only types of site that can be easily moved between content databases are site collections. Utilizing site collections to manage database storage can provide flexibility, but also puts additional boundaries within the environment. Maintaining a site collection structure based on teams, projects and departments will allow individual sites to grow organically. It also imposes some security limitations and gives each site collection a different look and feel. Understanding this beforehand will help you better plan your site collection structure.

6. Identify the AD resources for the User Profile Service

Assigning the correct organizational units/containers within the Active Directory structure will allow the User Profile Service to only target the required users and groups. This will prevent SharePoint from accessing service and other miscellaneous accounts and ensure the optimal performance of the User Profile Service.

7. External search has a lot of rewards, but a lot of risks as well

SharePoint’s ability to index and present query results from content sources outside of SharePoint can provide a huge benefit in an organization’s ability to find content quickly and effectively. However, it comes at a price. If your SharePoint environment is utilizing the out-of-box search (OOB) capabilities then plan for 15% of the total sum of external content to be stored in order to generate the index file. If the environment is utilizing FAST Search for SharePoint 2010, then assume 30%.  These are conservative estimates. You can possibly use as little as 10% for OOB search and 20% for FAST, but you will need to monitor it carefully as you add additional content. It is common for SharePoint administrators to overlook storage requirements for these content sources when planning for SharePoint search.

8. Understand SharePoint limitations for long term planning

SharePoint 2010 is extremely scalable and flexible depending on the deployment architecture, but it does have limitations. Microsoft provides some guidelines around limits and boundaries for SharePoint, but these should be taken with a grain of salt. They are based on controlled lab testing that is not always representative of real world scenarios.  A good rule of thumb is to stay within 50% of Microsoft’s suggested limits and boundaries. This doesn’t apply to all of them, but it’s a good starting point.  This will ensure that the administrative sub-systems within SharePoint stay intact and perform as expected.

9. Storage sub-systems planning is crucial

Poorly designed storage architectures for SharePoint content and services databases as well as the associate log files and index files are one of the leading causes of performance problems. Proper planning for storage requirements and understanding the reads and writes that individual databases and file stores utilize will ensure SharePoint maintains expected performance levels over its lifetime. SharePoint database logs and temp DBs typically consume the majority of the storage sub-system resources, followed closely by the search and services database and file stores. Content has much lower impact on the overall performance.  If your deployment is experiencing latency, whether actual or perceived, it’s always good to start here when trouble shooting.

10. SQL is the heart and soul of SharePoint, keep it healthy

A proper SQL deployment can mean the difference between a high performance SharePoint deployment or a constantly sputtering system that consumes support resources and time. Ensure that your SQL deployment is adhering to best practices and that the SQL environment has the resources it needs. This includes memory and CPU resources. Make sure your SQL Server configuration is tuned optimize performance, especially if the SharePoint deployment is an instance within a larger SQL cluster that is sharing resources. Play close attention that the instances within the cluster aren’t over committing resources and competing.

Following these 10 tips now and in the future will ensure that your SharePoint environment experiences very low latency and downtime, and requires minimal administrative resources. Next time we will look at tips to boost Active Directory performance.

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About Ramon Ray

Ramon Ray, Marketing & Technology Evangelist, Smallbiztechnology.com & Infusionsoft. Full bio at http://www.ramonray.com . Check him out on Google Plus, Twitter or Facebook