Last week I was speaking at SharePoint Conference Ukraine in Kiev. The conference content owners had picked SharePoint governance from my suggested list of topics, and I tried to put together several examples to highlight what governance is and what it is not.

What struck me as I was preparing was the idea that the term itself (“SharePoint governance”) is somewhat unique across all Microsoft applications. Have you ever heard about Exchange Server governance? Or Dynamics CRM governance? Even with SharePoint, the term appeared in late 2007 – early 2008 and was quickly picked up by the community. Thanks to internet search technologies, we can see the relative frequency of use for terms “SharePoint governance” and “Exchange governance” in the IT related sources over time:

trends

You cannot really see ANY mention of Exchange governance – why is this so? Do users share less sensitive content over email? Are there fewer business risks associated with email compared to SharePoint? Less need in protecting personal information, controlling exponential growth, complying with content retention requirements?

Obviously, no. Companies have to govern all of the IT infrastructure to adequately address the business needs and maintain controllable and predictable costs. For whatever reason the term resonated so well only with the SharePoint community.

Does this mean SharePoint governance is only a buzz word that various Microsoft partners are glad to use to sell their services and tools? What do you think?

P.S. In my conference talk I tried to give examples why it might be a good idea to start thinking about SharePoint governance. Here’re the slides (in Russian).

P.P.S. Once again, many thanks to the entire SharePoint Conference Ukraine team and personally to Anton Vityaz. Hope to see you in Kiev next spring!

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Someone added an interesting comment to the announcement of my “Backup and recovery planning 101” session at SharePoint Conference Ukraine. The guy said they had a problem recently when a SharePoint restore did not work. So the comment was “backups don’t save you from trouble“, and I think it’s worth looking into in more detail. Here’s the situation as it was described:

  1. Several designers are working on a custom application in production SharePoint
  2. One of them leaves the desk with a bunch of unsaved changes on screen
  3. At the same time, another member of the team makes edits and removes “unnecessary” roles (permission levels)
  4. The first designer comes back and saves objects that are dependent on no longer existing permission levels

Well… of course backups don’t save you from trouble when you did everything to get into that trouble! Here’re my 5 tips that could have helped to avoid the failure – and most of this is not about backups:

  • Never develop or test an application in your live production system. If you think you do not have a test environment, you are wrong – you do have a test SharePoint farm. It’s just by mistake you call it your production.
  • Define roles and responsibilities. These two designers making simultaneous changes to the same app could have probably better split their work to mitigate risks and dependencies.
  • Implement change control processes. With a proper change control in place, all team members would have reviewed and signed off on all of the suggested changes before anyone started editing anything.
  • Assess different SharePoint failure scenarios and their business impact, ranging from entire farm disaster recovery down to a single item recovery. How critical is the failure on each of these levels for the business processes? What happens if all SharePoint services become unavailable? How much data your business can afford to lose?
  • Develop and implement backup and recovery plan based on these findings. Establish a practice for testing backups and performing fire drill recoveries to ensure the plan continues to work as the SharePoint environment evolves.

What we have here is an example of extremely poor SharePoint governance. As much as the term itself may be confusing, the lack of governance is usually obvious. See this great post by Susan Hanley for a broader discussion of governance and guidance.

A proper backup and recovery plan is designed to minimize the business impact in case of data loss or service unavailability, based on the estimated scale of this impact. However, backups are only a part of the organization’s efforts to ensure business continuity. Having a backup in place cannot be an excuse for ignoring the need to properly govern your SharePoint customization and deployment.

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Just got another question about SharePoint 2010 remote BLOB storage (RBS) and its impact on the backups. The topic is already covered by so many posts and articles, I will just add a quick summary and few links to more details.

There are three simple things to remember about RBS and backups:

  • It is the RBS provider implementation that defines how backup works for externalized content. External content may or may not be included in your backups, depending on the provider you choose.
  • With the out of the box SQL 2008 R2 RBS FILESTREAM provider, externalized content is included in traditional VDI backups (“virtual backup device interface”). That is, native SQL and SharePoint backups will include both the database and the external content. Same is true for all 3rd party SQL backups that use VDI.
  • The out of the box SQL 2008 R2 RBS FILESTREAM provider does not support snapshots. Any SQL backup based on snapshots (such as Microsoft Data Protection Manager) will NOT automatically protect the external content.

If you plan to leverage RBS to reduce the size of your databases in SQL, you may have to change your backup strategy based on the above. Major questions are:

  • What is your current backup strategy, do you use snapshots or traditional backups?
  • How does the RBS provider of your choice work with the existing backup? Will external content be automatically included in backups?
  • If yes, make sure you and your SQL DBAs are aware that backup files can be MUCH larger than SQL database size
  • If not, how will you handle backup and restore of the external content? For example, if your backup is snapshot-based, you should take same time snapshots of the file system or NAS location with the external content. Make sure you test and thoroughly document all recovery scenarios in this case.

See also Plan for backup and recovery on Microsoft TechNet for other considerations.

Configuring RBS FILESTREAM for SharePoint 2010 and SQL 2008 is not a trivial task. Ghazwan Khairi recently started his SharePoint Quester videoblog, and one of his posts goes step by step through installing and configuring RBS for SharePoint 2010. This includes all script snippets and command line examples that you’ll need. Very helpful and detailed, check it out.

Finally, if you wonder why anyone may want to go into all this trouble with configuring RBS, it is worth reading Chris McNulty’s blog series on top SharePoint performance killers.

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SharePoint 2010 Service Pack 1 introduced several exciting features, including the long-waited-for site recycle bin. This allows you to restore a deleted site within 30 days (default setting that can be changed) after deletion. The functionality is available to site collection administrators and can be huge relief for organizations where users tend to spend too much effort on keeping the site hierarchies “neat” and deleting everything that seems to be “not important any more”.

However, there is a gotcha you should be aware of if you rely on this functionality. The issue is already fixed in August 2011 Cumulative Update Package, but I thought I would share the info, since I could not find any KB describing it. Here you go:

Issue. A list cannot be restored from recycle bin after the parent site is deleted and restored from SharePoint SP1 site collection recycle bin.

Details. A list or document library is deleted in a SharePoint 2010 SP1 site and is available in the user recycle bin. The parent site itself is then deleted and appears in the administrator recycle bin on the site collection level. After you restore the site from site collection administrator recycle bin, the deleted list still appears in the user recycle bin, but any attempt to restore the list fails. List contents is unavailable to users.

Steps to reproduce:

  1. Create a new site in the site collection. For example, the name is New Product Version Team Site: http://MyPortal/sites/MyProduct/NewProductVersion
  2. Create a document library in the newly created site (Project Specs) and upload several documents.
  3. Delete the newly created document library. The library appears in the user recycle bin in the New Product Version site.
  4. Delete the site. The deleted site appears in the site collection recycle bin.
  5. Restore the site from site collection recycle bin.
  6. Open the restored site and go to the user recycle bin. The document library appears there as expected.
  7. Select the document library (Project Specs) and click Restore.

Expected result: The library should be restored from Recycle Bin.

Actual result (on SharePoint 2010 Service Pack 1 without August 2011 Cumulative Update Package): Restore attempt fails with error: “A list with this name “Project Specs” already exists. To restore the list, move or rename the existing list and try again.”

In addition, deleted document library (Project Specs) unexpectedly appears in the “All Site Content” after the site restore. An attempt to open the Project Specs document library from All Site Content page fails with 404 error.

Resolution: Luckily, the SharePoint team already fixed this issue, all you need is obtain and install SharePoint 2010  August 2011 Cumulative Update Package before trying to restore the deleted site. You can find information about August CU here for SharePoint Sever and for SharePoint Foundation. I only posted this issue description for reference, since there seems to be no description of the symptoms in Microsoft Support KB articles.

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It was a very pleasant and unusual experience for me this week to speak at the SharePoint Conference Russia – 2011. The conference was awesome and the crowd was much more interested in SharePoint than I was expecting. My session was the last before conference wrap up, and we stayed for almost half hour after the session for Q&A! The biggest challenge for me – surprisingly – was to keep speaking Russian, and not switch to English completely when using all the SharePoint terminology.

Having been to a number of different industry events in the US and Europe before, I cannot help comparing this conference to some of those. As far as I can tell, SharePoint Conference Russia is very close to the SharePoint Saturdays. The event is completely driven by community, in this case – Russian SharePoint User Group, and it is completely free to attend. (Thanks to the sponsors, and I am happy that my employer participated as the sponsor as well!)

There are some differences from the few of the SharePoint Saturdays I’ve seen:
  • SPConfRu had simultaneous live stream online from all 3 concurrent sessions. Never seen this at any other SharePoint event really.
  • The food was absolutely awesome :-) I’m not complaining about the food at other events, but here it was way better than one can expect to get a free event.
  • Unlike other SharePoint Saturdays, good part of the attendees were seriously looking people in good suits – IT directors and CIO’s, not a typical attendee for a free event. I think this shows there is a lack of (and the need for) SharePoint-centric events targeted more at the business users and IT decision makers in Russia. There are no SPTechCon or SharePoint Best Practices here.
  • Finally, the event was on Monday – so they had to call it SharePoint Conference instead of SharePoint Saturday :-)

So once again I’d like to say thank you to the SPConfRU organizersOksana and the team did absolutely great job, and I really look forward to more events from the user group in Russia.

BTW, here’re the slides from my “Planning SharePoint 2010 backup and recovery – where do I start?” session

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Just a quick post for those of you who have been following the Quest SharePoint For All community. We have moved the site to Quest Communities home and it is now available at http://communities.quest.com/community/sharepointforall.

I just posted my first blog entry there, a brief look back at the evolution of  SharePoint administration and the challenges Quest Site Administrator has been helping to address since its first release in 2006.

So come join Quest experts, get insights from the product teams, connect with other users and the developers of Quest SharePoint products! And don’t forget to update your blog rolls and RSS feeds.

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Ever searched for a document or list item in SharePoint 2007 Recycle Bin with no luck? You know the document was deleted from the SharePoint site, so why does it not show up here? Here’re possible reasons for that:

  • Are you looking at the correct site? Recycle Bin in SharePoint is site-specific, a document deleted from http://myportal/sites/projects/manhattan will not appear in the top level site’s (http://myportal/sites/projects) Recycle Bin.
  • Were it you who deleted the document? Recycle Bin is not only site-specific, it is also specific for each user. Thus the Recycle Bin contents you see is limited to documents, items, lists and libraries that you’ve deleted, content deleted by other users does not show up here.
  • How long ago was it deleted?  Recycle Bin does not keep deleted items for ever. The default setting in SharePoint is to keep content in Recycle Bin for 30 days after deletion, this can be changed by the SharePoint farm administrators. When this grace period is over, items are moved to the second stage aka Site Collection Recycle Bin.

If any of the above seems to be the likely reason, the Site Collection Recycle Bin can help. To access this, you should have the site collection administrator privileges. Site Collection Recycle Bin shows all the deleted content from all sub-sites within this site collection, regardless of who deleted this data. By default it keeps the data for the same period after it was moved from the first stage Recycle Bin, or until it reaches certain percentage of the site collection’s quota.

Still there can be situations when a deleted item/document does not appear in both site and site collection Recycle Bins. The most common is when a folder or entire list or library is deleted. Recycle Bin only shows the object that has been deleted, with no ability to expand or search its contents. When looking for a document make sure you consider that possibly its parent folder or library can be showing up in the Recycle Bin instead.

Finally, there are site deletes, which are not captured by the Recycle Bin. If this is a common situation in your SharePoint, you might want to extend your deployment with the MSIT Site Delete Capture tool (available at http://governance.codeplex.com/releases/view/3830), or looks for 3rd party granular recovery tools.

Same applies to SharePoint 2007 as well as 2010, there are no changes in how you work with the Recycle Bin in SharePoint 2010.

Some useful links and resources for planning and using the Recycle Bin in SharePoint:

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