A Few CIOs are Out But Not Down

December 3, 2009 Leave a comment

CIO Position Eliminated

On April 13, 2009, after experiencing a 10% salary reduction department-wide, my CIO friend (serving as the Head of ITS of a large integrated school district) had his position eliminated due to budget reductions and departmental reorganization. His position…and several others…now replaced by a single Executive Director I role. These cuts and realignment project $25M in savings to the company department-wide.

On Dec 01, 2009, a CIO mentor of mine, serving as regional CIO of a large nationally known financial institution, had his position as Regional CIO eliminated due to CEO budget cuts. He described his last week as “hectic” to say the least.  He stated in an  email, 

“My employer eliminated the CIO role (and my job) yesterday. That was a first for me. I thought firms of a certain size always had CIO’s.”

Out…But Not Down

As part of their search for a new opportunity to “take IT to the next level”, these two guys share a similar game plan. They plan to:

  • Work on their personal brand. (I recommended they become more active in the blogosphere and twitterverse and
  • Stay focused and actively seek new opportunities. (I recommended they take advantage of social networking sites like LinkedIn. It helped me get my current role.)
  • Stay in the game and don’t give up.

They are out of work for now…but actively seeking new opportunities. So, please offer any advice you might have for these two leaders. I’ll pass it on to them.

— John

Categories: CIO, CIO Career Tags: ,

Leadership Blog

November 13, 2009 Leave a comment

I found a very useful blog on Leadership I’d like to share with you. There is lots of great content here:

http://www.bretlsimmons.com/

Bret does a great job of mixing video and print within his blog. Go check it out when you can.

— John

 

Ethics 101 – Integrity Before Profit

November 5, 2009 Leave a comment

I just finished reading (again) The Power of Ethical Management by Norman Vincent Peale and Kenneth Blanchard (Author of The One Minute Manager.) The book has been in my library for several years where it serves as  a reference all year-long. 

I recommend this book not only because it is short and concise, but also because it will encourage your company’s leadership to empower all employees to think (and act) ethically by implementing a simple checklist system of “five principles of ethical power.” 

According to the authors, there are 5 basic principles to keep in mind when creating your company’s ethics policy:

The 5 P’s of Ethical Power:

  • Purpose. A purpose combines both your vision as well as the values you would like to see upheld in your business. It comes from the top and outlines specifically what is considered acceptable as well as unacceptable in terms of conduct in your business.
  • Pride. Pride builds dignity and self-respect. If employees are proud of where they work and what they are doing, they are much more apt to act in an ethical manner.
  • Patience. Since you must focus on long-term versus short-term results, you must develop a certain degree of patience. Without it, you will become too frustrated and will be more tempted to choose unethical alternatives.
  • Persistence. Persistence means standing by your word. It means being committed. If you are not committed to the ethics you have outlined, then they become worthless. Stand by your word.
  • Perspective. In a world where there is never enough time to do everything we need and want to, it is often difficult to maintain perspective. However, stopping and reflecting on where your business is headed, why you are headed that way, and how you are going to get there allows you to make the best decisions both in the short-term as well as the long-term.
  • — John

    SharePoint 2010 Governance – Differing Views from the SP Conference 2009

    October 26, 2009 Leave a comment

    During the SP2010 conference in Las Vegas, I had an opportunity to sit in two different sessions on Governance with two different approaches to creating SharePoint Governance:

    • Governance, Politics, and Diplomacy with SharePoint: Success Factors Beyond Technology by Craig Roth of the Burton Group
    • SP2010 – Still a need for IT Governance, by Dana Berg and John Roe at SpeakTech.com

    The first session (SpeakTech) drilled into more of the technical inclusions needed and gave an example around building a SP2010 Governance plan, albeit from an “IT Governance Plan” perspective.

    The second session (Burton Group) focused on Governance from a “website umbrella” or theory point-of-view and then gave a very useful slide listing all the things a good SharePoint Governance plan…or Statement of Governance…should contain.

    SharePoint Governance definition one: (SpeakTech)

    “The set of people, process, procedures, guidelines, and tools affecting the organization in order to maximize the potential for providing business value, reduce risk during deployment, ensure compliance, eliminate gaps in accountability, set appropriate steering of the service, and ensure the solution can scale with growth and increased usage.”

    The speaker went on to describe governance as, “…a balance between users and IT; a balancing of IT systems with the Service, Application, or tools users need; with compliance as a foundation…” He also answered basic questions around:

    • What is Governance and why do we need it?
    • How to Conquer Governance
    • Key Governance Considerations in SP2010
    • A look at some common business needs

    SharePoint Governance definition two: (Roth – the Burton Group)

    “Website governance uses people, policy, and process to resolve ambiguity, manage short and long range goals; and mitigate conflict within an organization. Roth went on to explain that, “…ambiguity exists because development teams are often led by unspoken rules…” He mentioned that the inclusion of governance allows you to mitigate conflict – a major value point as it helps to predetermine who wins in an argument before it elevates to a meeting with the business leader. He described the short and long range goals needed as, “…something that optimizes for the organization as a whole…”

    While both presentation sessions were very good, I think I took more notes in the Burton Group (Roth) session primarily because I’ve created many detailed IT Governance Plans in my past global SharePoint implementations and I wanted more information from a higher level point-of-view. Roth’s presentation offered that. (I know I’m biased in my note taking, but this was just what I needed. I’ve included more of my notes from that session below:

    According to Roth, Governance is not:

    • A maintenance manual
    • Standards list
    • Information architecture
    • A rule book
    • Management
    • IT Governance
    • A place to put chargeback information (although place it in an appendix if you must include it in your governance plan.)
    • Anything that doesn’t deal with people, process, or policy. Separate these things into a different, more lover level document.

     Governance is:

    • Governance provides a framework for the above docs and lists and helps ensure their success. Use a federated model to set high level policy but allow for freedom for other groups to make decisions within your framework.
    • Governance describes the “why” as well as the “how”
    • The authority of governance derives from executive buy-in which is lost or difficult to obtain for low level details.
    • A set of issues that HAVE to be addressed.
    • Main audience is owners of SharePoint sites and portals, both the business owner and his/her IT partner. (although IT audience should be considered as the secondary audience, which is often not the case.)
    • SharePoint Governance is adopted gradually if the organization has a culture of conforming to website governance.

    According to Roth, Governance helps prevent many forms of SP pain:

    • Wasted investment in time and software
    • Internal competition among similar communication mechanisms
    • Difficulty finding info across sites
    • Posting of abusive, frivolous, offensive, and legal actionable information

    …and SharePoint has proven vulnerable to chaos when ungoverned due to:

    • Ease of deployment
    • Grass roots nature (placing creation in non-IT hands)
    • Lack of multi-farm management
    • Frequent overlap with installed capabilities

    Creating a Governance plan – a “Statement of Governance”

    Roth offered the following points in his session:

    • Don’t talk Governance without also discussing compliance. (How you will actually check up on it.) Talk with business folks on policies, risk, internal politics, to create a statement of Governance.
    • Include social enforcement in addition to central control.
    • Remember a “Statement of Governance” is a living document


    Governance Authority:

    • Executives…Governance Committee… Owner…Resources and stakeholders

     An example Statement of Governance (SOG) Document Outline: 

    1. Introduction
      • Includes scope, problem statement, and relationships to other documents
    2. People – a seat at the governance table
      • Includes the governance team members, rotates members via a fair practice to pick team representatives.
    3. Policy
      • Anticipates and answers the audience question, “why?”
      • Is like the constitution in that it lays the intentions and directions that processes will attach to.
      • Grants authority and justification for governance processes
    4. Process
      • Includes one level of detail drill down on policy that answers the question, “how?”, for each policy
      • Ideally, each process is attached to one policy
    5. Measurements
      • Answers the question, “How will compliance be measured?”
      • Answers the question, “How will the effects of compliance be measured?”
      • Step 1 – Benchmark before you deploy SharePoint, so improvements after SharePoint project can be tracked
      • Step 2 – Use surveys or polling to measure policy
      • Step 3 – Use iterations over time to measure process.
    6. Timelines – place a rollout schedule in this section
      • Publish a schedule of when new processes will take effect, and desired metrics over time
      • Include time for socializing the Statement of Governance

    All-in-all the SharePoint Conference 2009 gave plenty of insights into SharePoint Governance. If you are looking for more information on Governance, send me a comment, contact the Burton Group directly, or contact the guys over at SpeakTech. 

    I’ll try to post more later…John

    Cloud SLAs Aren’t Enough Assurance

    October 22, 2009 Leave a comment

    There are many people talking about Cloud Computing, risk, and SLAs. My CIO friend Arun Manansingh has written a very good blog post to a recent MacWorld article on the subject.  I agree with my peers when they say the companies offering cloud computing services aren’t yet able to sign the service level agreements (SLAs) or give the expected level of assurance that our customers need to entrust their core computing tasks to. 

    But an SLA certainly doesn’t keep outages from happening. (At least not in my experience.) I believe an SLA is no substitute for good old fashioned failover capability.

    Infrastructure level SLAs for cloud computing are still emerging as the market and services mature, but the same is not true at the application level. I’m seeing some A-M-A-Z-I-N-G stuff in the works as my customers are architecting applications at design time with the cloud in mind. Folks, this a very big shift from just taking an existing application and trying to retrofit it for the cloud.

    Still, we are still a very long way from the reliability expected from my Financial and Oil and Gas customers in order to move core apps to the cloud.

    SP 2010 Notes and Observations from the SP Conference Las Vegas – Day 3

    October 22, 2009 1 comment

     

    Here are my notes from the sessions I attended today. Please keep in mind this is me paraphrasing what I saw and heard. This is in no way meant to take credit for the below content as many folks smarter then me are the original gurus behind what looks to be a great version of SharePoint.

    Business Continuity Management in SP2010

    This session focused on the combination of high availability and disaster recovery that can be achieved in SP2010. It focused on Database Mirroring Support, Search Improvements, Backup and Restore, Read Only Databases, and Disaster Recovery Planning.

    Database Mirroring Support

    • Can now have a failover database server for enabling automatic failover.
    • Support for better database mirroring!
    • Mirroring benefits – You always have an active copy or replica of your data; increases the avialibility of data.

    Search Improvements

    • Crawl Component is now what used to be the Index Server. It is now a service (instead of an actual server role as in SP2007) and no longer stores a copy of the index on its server.
    • SP 2010 no longer has dedicated roles tied to the server anymore. You can place service applications on any servers. (This seems to be a recurring theme in the new version.)
    • Search is now a high availability solution with mirror database right out of the box. (This had to be configured complex in SP2007.)
    • With larger scale comes greater responsibility
    • Query servers now process queries in parallel.
    • Asynchronous database mirroring still NOT SUPPORTED for SP2010 Search. Synchronous mirroring is supported. Failover clustering is still supported, but Microsoft pushing synchronous mirroring as the average DR config.

    Back Up and Restore

    • Based on SQL Server backup and restore
    • Ranges from backing up entire farms to just individual databases.
    • What’s New?
      • Support for backup and restore of farm config settings
      • Can back up your customizations if packaged and deployed as a solution package…aka “.WSP” (This is cool and eliminates risk!)
      • IIS host header bindings
      • Timer jobs
      • Can backup multiple SQL server Database files
    • Backup size supported is only <200 GB using SP tools offered OOTB. For Anything bigger in size, Microsoft is pushing Systems Center Data Protection Manager (aka…DPM)
    • SQL Server backups do not back up full farm configurations because some files are still stored on the file server.
    • Site collection now backs up as a .BAK file and is stored on the file server.
    • SQL backup only deals with backing up SQL databases. This means Service Applications running on the servers or things on the server are not backed up using SQL backup. Need 3rd party tool.
    • Granular backup is finally here! You can now browse an offline database and browse its content. From there you can export a site collection, site, lists, etc.
    • Unattached restore can take snapshots of your database in order to restore without attaching the database to SharePoint. This improvement allows you to take content out for examination or restore.

    Read Only Database Support

    • Support for marking a database as read only database. This locks the content in the site collection from writes and edits. Think of the uses for this!
    • The only issue is that when you mark a database as read only, that DB is no longer participating in mirroring.

     

    Best Practice – Stated in many presentations…Configure more than one machine for each of the service applications.

     

    Best Practice – Custom code or changes should be implemented as a packed solutions file (.WSP) in order to be backed up.

     

    Best Practice – Use unattached databases to restore Site Collections, Sites, Lists, and Docs (OM)

     

     

    Advanced PowerPivot…aka “Gemini”

    This session focused on the PivotPoint client and numerous excel formulas that can be used to filter and report on data, basically taking EXCEL to the next level.

    • The presenter retrieved over 3 million rows of data in a spreadsheet.
    • I found out that PowerPivot uses a compression algorithm that is column based and not row based like traditional result sets. This is how Microsoft can speed up the query and results. The client composes data into highly compressed columns to find patterns…not the same as data mining – works along side data mining solutions.
    • Only limited by the amount of memory on your machine
    •  Accessing and importing data from Reporting is a great way to get data into PowerPivot.
    • The PowerPivot client and PowerPivot datasets is a read only environment. If you want to change the data, you have to export the data as an excel services workbook.
    • Like most BI, PowerPivot is good for aggregation
    • Results and calculations – PowerPivot sums on the entire table object and keeps it in memory.

     

    Planning, Deploying, and Administering Excel Services and PowerPivot in SP2010

    This session picked up on the PowerPivot conversation but focused on the relationship between Excel Services and PowerPivot from the server side…as well as the integration points and pains.

    • The product is so new that the best practices are still being developed by Microsoft from lessons learned in their implementations.
    • Deploying PowerPivot server applications and related pieces into an existing SP2010 farms is a complex server side installation and configuration. This is all hidden from the user and makes the “magic” on the PowerPivot client and from within Excel Services workbooks look easy.
    • If you choose to deploy PowerPivot on its own server in a “new farm”, then most of the configuration seems to be scripted for you. Else, you have to choose which PowerShell scripts to run.
    • The server side of PowerPivot requires two service applications:
      • SQL Analysis Services Mid-Tier Service
      • SQL Analysis Services Engine Service
    • SP2010 Central Admin has a PowerPivot Management dashboard that is basically just a webpart page with web parts linked to excel workbooks. The dashboard is for Gemini settings for server/service health monitoring and quality of service from ECS (Excel Calculation Services) web parts.
    • In a SP2010 implementation PowerPivot actually uses information stored in the content database(s), Config database, and PowerPivot database(s).
    • Unlike Excel Service, PowerPivot does NOT use URL based load balancing. It uses true Round Robin or Health based load balancing due to the sheer size of the data it is hooked to.
    • PowerPivot’s OLEDB Provider talks to ECS and uses WCF calls to SQL Analysis Services.
    •  

     

    Excel Services 101 – SP2010 Changes

    Part of the same presentation above took a look at the Excel Services changes for SP2010.

    • Excel Services is a real server. Many customers thought it was just a published excel workbook.
    • Excel Services fro SP2010 is now coded as an SOA model service application in WCF for scalability.
    • It has a high integration and fidelity with the Excel Client.
    • Keeps user sessions in memory on the server – this is controlled by the SP central admin config for Excel service application.
    • Excel Services is built ON TOP OF SharePoint 2010. It is now a service application and works OOTB with default settings with little to no config setup required.
    • While users requests hit the web front end and a proxy service, the real action of Excel Services happens on the service application called ECS (Excel Calculation Services)
    • When planning for Excel Services, the number of ECS servers you deploy depends on the number of users and the workbook mix…plus the delay time the client is willing to accept for results and refreshes…J So, like the other new service applications in SP2010, you can now run multiple service applications per SP farm. (In SP2007 you could only have one per farm.)
    • In SP2007, Excel Services is load balanced based on the URL of the workbook. SP2010 uses a round robin model for “Health based load balancing” requests and sessions for excel services
    • There are two types of major settings for Excel Service:
      • Global Settings
      • Trusted Location Settings
    • Excel Services will only load files from trusted locations. This location can be anywhere in the farm, site, doc library, UNC path, or HTTP location.
    • Claims based Authentication – Kerberos is used between SP2010 and the data source if delegating identities. No more need for Kerberos between SP2010 components. Uses an unattended account credentials which are stored in the new SP2010 Secure Store Service (SSS) which encrypts ID.
    • External Data (Data Refresh) Setup steps:
      • Must enable Secure Store Service
      • Configure unattended account App ID in Secure Store Service (aka…SSS)
      • Add unattended account to Excel Services
      • Get Workbook author to choose “Server Authentication.”
      • Data Connection libraries are required in advanced security scenarios

     I hope to post more tomorrow…

    SP 2010 Notes and Observations from the SP Conference Las Vegas – Day 2

    October 22, 2009 Leave a comment

    Here are my notes from the sessions I attended today. Please keep in mind this is me paraphrasing what I saw and heard. This is in no way meant to take credit for the below content as many folks smarter then me are the original gurus behind what looks to be a great version of SharePoint.

     

    SP2010 Search Deep Dive

    Microsoft’s new search statement: Search is Social

    • Social networking drives search quality
    • Search click through behavior drives relevance ranking
    • Social tagging influences item’s ranking

     

    SP Search End User Enhancements:

    • Easier to extend
    • Improved “Did you mean” suggestions
    • New “View in browser” link (opens item in office web app) for office documents…No more need to download or save as and open the rich office client…although this is still an option.
    • Metadata refinement
    • Better hit highlighting
    • Recently authored content
    • New feature – top searches and top searched documents
    • Pre-Query suggestions based on what you are searching for…as you type!
    • Phonetic search – search by typing what the word sounds like…SharePoint Search will use phonetic and multi lingual comparisons to find your documents.
      (EX: vic kranford will return Victoria Cranford in results, etc.)

     

    Scaling Out the Search Architecture is made Easier

    • Stateless Crawlers
    • Query servers can run on virtual machines / virtualized
    • Multiple Indexers – You can now have index partitions! (Partitioning the Index can allow for mirroring partitions.)
    • Crawl Distribution – Componentize the system – You can now have more than one indexer per farm! Indexer is no longer the single point of failure. Can have multiple property databases now.
    • Indexer server role is now just a true crawler…it doesn’t actually store a copy of the index anymore. Crawlers partition indexed data and then propagate it to the query servers…no more storing the copy of the index on the index server.
    • Search Admin component added
    • Search Admin database added
    • Enhanced multi-lingual support & synonyms
      • Integrated Language auto-detect now a feature with SP Search and FAST
      • Improved language dictionary support
    • Support for Boolean operators for free text queries and property queries
    • Improved operator search
    • Crawl time significantly reduced (Microsoft beta case study – from 2weeks to crawl reduced down to 4 days…175 items per second crawled at Microsoft)
    • Content Distribution – Built in load balancer distributes the hosts over to crawl databases.
      • Site Admins can tell crawler what content to search and ignore; admins can set up crawl rules so crawler only crawls content covered by that content database.
    • Query Distribution – Distribution by a hash of the Document ID
    • Industrial Strength Resiliency – a search machine down doesn’t result in crawl downtime…now have the ability to add multiple crawlers each targeting different partitions across the enterprise
    • Search security – Item security is grabbed at the crawl time for SharePoint content. Security trimmed.
    • Still need to write a custom security trimmer for non SharePoint content

     

    Additional Search Enhancements Based on Microsoft Responding to Customer Feedback:

    • Support for full regular expressions in crawl rules
    • Native support for case sensitive repositories
    • Ability to prioritize the content sources so as to distribute the crawler’s resources
    • New configurable “Crawl Policy” to define how crawler treats error conditions it encounters.
    • Low indexing downtime as it runs during search backups

     

    SP2010 Search Extensibility Enhancements:

    • All out-of-the-box search web parts are public and not hidden and easily extended (you weren’t allowed to mess with these in sp2007 as they were hidden)
    • Query Federation! – can now bring in external search results into SP2010 Search
    • Inline caching – for caching search results in server memory better for faster results.
    • Can now search through BDC connections using the BDC model file
    • New Search Connector Framework Enhancements:
      • Support for searching attachments and BLOBS!
      • Better Item level security
      • Richer crawl options
        • Time Stamp based incremental crawls
        • Can crawl CHANGE logs and DELETE logs now

    SP2010 Deployment and Manageability:

    • Deploying SP Search gets easier through better Farm configuration wizards and setup configuration wizards.
    • Search now has its own management and monitoring dashboard to show system status, content source views, and monitor what search is doing – the inner workings.
      • Consolidated Admin UI Dashboard
      • Using Powershell, everything in search setup and deployment is now scriptable with over 500 OOTB scripts
      • Views of errors by breakup / error type, etc.
      • Filter dashboard results by content source and transaction type to get an idea of how much time is spent when doing crawls. (Finally answers customer question of “how long are my queries taking?”)
      • Finally! A view where query time is spent to figure out bottlenecks.

    Best Practice

    • Low query latency can be achieved if all indexes partitioned in equal size
    • Remove search system bottlenecks through scale out

     

     

    Advanced Services and Topologies:

    I didn’t get much out of this presentation (I think the speaker didn’t have global deployment experience and was just talking to the slides.)

    Principles behind designing a SP Architecture

    • Flexible Deployment model – support for more deployment models that the old small farm / medium farm / large farm topology published by Microsoft
    • Scales further due to everything now a service (SOA model)
      • Each Shared Service Provider (called an SSP in 2007) upgrades to a 2010 services farm with the following example services:
        • A Search Service
        • A User Profile Service
        • An Application Registry Service (for Backwards compatibility)
        • A NEW Managed Metadata Service…and more.
    • Improved Security Model
      • Support now for claims based security
      • All cross farm communication now via web services
    • Simplified Admin model
    • Services Isolation – Services can now be configured to use different database and app pool…cool!
    • Multi-tenancy model – companies can now host SharePoint in an ASP type model
    • Scale is the most important physical aspect of a SP Architecture
    • Next important is link latency
    • Next important is Directory Architecture (ex: user profiles synch to AD)
    • Upgrading will require a phased hybrid approach

     

     

    Document Management Deep Dive:

    • Microsoft strategy is ECM for the Masses…The changing face of ECM (Enterprise Content Mgmt) includes the user experience, social networking and collaboration, and traditional document mgmt.
    • 3 ECM tenets – Easy to use, Everyone participates, Enterprise ready…scalability…easier to manage…Breadth across repositories.
    • Sp 2007 was about the content type…but SP 2010 is about Content Type Syndication…where content types can be utilized via hubs to share and manage content across farms (finally, in sp2007 the content type was limited to the site collection and it took lots of custom code to synch / copy them across the farms.)
      • Many site collection Content Types can be grouped into ‘HUBS” which allow them to act as one logical site collection.
    • NEW – OPENXML
    • NEW – RBS…Remote BLOB storage…Sp 2010 and SQL 2008 R2 will support external storage of blobs (binary large objects) configured per content database.
      • Benefit is better CAPEX for large scale deployments greater then 5TB storage.
    • NEW – CMIS Support (Content Mgmt Interop Servics) is an Emerging Interop Standards by Microsoft and 17 vendors
      • Enables apps to target one or more ECM repositories uniformly across the enterprise
      • Rationalize the interoperability story between repositories across the enterprise
      • Support for REST and SOAP
    • NEW – Document ID – Documents stored in SP 2010 now have document Ids that move with the document across the enterprise. (finally)
      • Can now move, copy, or move and leave a link in document libraries and fileshares.
      • Office web app -à so you do not have to download and open in rich office client. Can preview office documents without needing to download. (this can be turned off per document item if security warrants.)
    • NEW – “Content Organizer” moves documents around the environment based on metadata, can now move between different sites.
    • NEW – Managed Metadata Services (enhancement requested by top TAP customers)
      • Metadata driven navigation OOTB (Finally!)
      • Can be consumed by multiple farms (I spent thousands of hours creating the same functionality for a recent project…now this is a feature OOTB in SP 2010.)
    • Multi-stage retention policies can be applied to documents
    • NEW – Content type synching across farms now enables central management of a distributive records archive.
    • NEW – ability to group document into a “Document Set” (think folder ++)
      • New objects to manage documents as a set
      • Guides users through what used to be a complex process
      • Manage related work products, no matter the file type now as a set.
      • A foundation for document assembly

     

    BEST PRACTICE – collocate the profiles, search, and managed metadata services close together on network where possible.

     

    My Sites and Social Networking

    • My Sites Privacy policies and Governance whitepaper coming (Microsoft)
    • Profile pictures are a big deal in SP2010 MySites
    • Must work with your AD and Identity Management teams because mysites now use a picture picker and store pics in a central picture library per enterprise AD.
    • Images are resized by sharepoint in 3 ways:
      • 32×32 for SP use
      • 48×48 for Ad use and client apps
      • 96×96 for user’s profile page
    • Mysite use something called a Bookmarklet instead of 2007’s “My Links”
    • Mysite has its own site collections (2) and web application
    • Mysite uses the following services application proxies (think SOA):
      • EMM Service
      • UPA Service
      • Search Service
    • NEW – Mysite uses Activity Feeds for social content:
      • NEW – Social Database
      • User Profile Database and change log database
      • Extensible Enterprise Activity Feed…can create custom gatherers for activity
      • Web Part
      • Atom 2.0 Feed
    • There are two types of activity feeds in SP 2010:
      • Consolidated – feeds of content that only you can see
      • Published – feeds of content someone else in the org give you rights to see

    I hope to post more tomorrow.

    SP 2010 Notes and Observations from the SP Conference Las Vegas – Day 1

    October 22, 2009 Leave a comment

    I arrived late Sunday night at the Las Vegas hotel along with 7500 of our closest competitors and potential clients anticipating the low down on SP 2010. Today consisted of an overview of the SP 2010 features and ended an hour ago. I attended the following sessions today:

    Overview & Keynote address by Steve Ballmer

    Basically much work behind the scenes went into making the keynote presentation and SP2010 overview quick demo a success.

     Overview for IT Pros

    There are a lot of new features that directly address many of the key pain points and opportunities that we have met over the past 3 years of SharePoint implementations. In particular:

    • The new search has built-in faceted searching, tightly integrated into the SharePoint interface.
    • A document rating system is built-in to document libraries and the ratings become part of the relevance ranking of search results.
    • The search platform allows integration between structured and unstructured content.
    • Visio services are directly integrated into SharePoint, which allows Visio diagrams to become one option for an interface into SharePoint content.

    ECM for the Masses – Changes in SP Records Management

    1) A filterable metadata picker that allows users direct access to enterprise taxonomies. It appears that it will be much easier to create a filtered list of metadata values (filtered by site or library) such as we have long thought about doing programmatically. In fact, the new version may have this functionality built in.
    2) The new version has built-in media streaming, cool.

    Microsoft BI Vision & Strategy

    BI for everyone…Something called PowerPivot for SQL and PowerPivot for SharePoint – A compression technology that allows Excel like views with over a million rows to show support for large lists and libraries and datasets.

    Something called “Slicers” which are improved easier ways to allow end users to create advanced pivot tables that are basically tiny SQL analysis applications running in SharePoint.

     Web Content Management changes in SP2010

    A document rating system is built-in to document libraries and the ratings become part of the relevance ranking of search results. Ability to manage multiple documents at a time, finally documents get a real Document ID like in Documentum…Numerous changes to Taxonomy and content types in SP2010 making this a real challenger to Documentum and FileNET implementations. Still, with much coding to do to get it to work, a hybrid solution is still recommended.

    Experience and Mentors Shape Great Leaders

    October 15, 2009 Leave a comment

     

    I think every aspiring CIO or IT Leader needs a good mentor….or several good mentors. Everyone needs to have someone they can talk to about their career and problems at work. According to CIO.com’s “State of the CIO” research, just 41 percent of CIOs put time into developing the IT talent within their ranks.

    Are you a mentor? Did a mentor help you succeed in your career? Or do you credit experience with helping you become a great leader?

    This makes me think about an old commercial. Remember the commercial with the Tootsie pop owl? (See Video Below.)

    Boy: Mr. Cow…

    Mr. Cow: Yeeeeesss?

    Boy: How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?

    Mr. Cow: I don’t know, I always end up biting. Ask Mr. Fox, for he’s much clever than I.

    Boy: Mr. Fox, how many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?

    Mr. Fox: Why don’t you ask Mr. Turtle, for he’s been around a lot longer than I? Me, hehehe, I bite.

    Boy: Mr. Turtle, how many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?

    Mr. Turtle: I’ve never even made it without biting. Ask Mr. Owl, for he is the wisest of us all.

    Boy: Mr. Owl, how many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?

    Mr. Owl: A good question. Let’s find out. A One… A.two-HOO…A three…

    (crunch sound effect)

    Mr. Owl: A Three!

    Boy: If there’s anything I can’t stand, it’s a smart owl.

    Narrator: How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?

    (crunch sound effect)

    Narrator: The world may never know.

     

    Did you notice (in the commercial above) that all the animals were passing on the answer…except the owl.  The Owl says, “A good question. Let’s find out.” (Which, to me, translates to “you will get your answer through EXPERIENCE.”)

    Everyone knows that experience is the better teacher.  In honor of Mr. Owl, perhaps I should rename the title of this post to:

    “How many licks (e.g., battle scars, mistakes,lessons learned from experience) does it take to develop a great leader?”

    — John

    IT Strategy Lesson Learned

    October 14, 2009 Leave a comment

    I’ve only been involved in creating two IT strategies. One for my company and one for a small medical manufacturer. In hindsight, they centered around only addressing business requirements. I realize now this was a design mistake and I learned from this. So, I set out to learn more about creating an effective IT Strategy. And I’m not alone.

    According to Forrester.com, two of the top five most read Forrester documents (decision tools) by CIOs in 2009 are on the subject of creating an IT Strategy plan. These plans come in all sizes and formats, but the most effective ones are designed to provide clarity to stakeholders and offer measurability for CIOs.

    Forrester states that, “…Every IT organization must develop and maintain a strategic plan; without one, IT will struggle with being the “master of its own destiny” — it will not have a means to document and communicate priorities and constraints nor to get business support for changes in IT…”

    I’ve learned that it is critical to align the business with IT’s capability. Business drives IT and not the other way around, right?

    But if an IT Strategy sets the direction for the IT function in an organization, creates shareholder value, and maximizes the return on a company’s IT investment(s), then shouldn’t this process be iterative?

    If you have any insight or want to leave a comment on creating an effective IT strategy, please feel free to drop me a line. My research and learnings in this area continues…John

    Bridge the Governance Driven by IT and Business

    October 13, 2009 Leave a comment

    Question of the day: How do we bridge the governance driven by IT, yet pulled by the business?

    I mean think about it…IT will always need to push governance to the business to create stability, security, manageability, reuse, and etc. (Think ERP system) On the other hand, business driven governance has needs (think Accounting user friendliness and flexibility) and is sure to drive value from IT. 

    So, back to the question…Is there a way to create a bridge between these two aspects of governance? Software by itself isn’t the solution. Since it is created by IT or a vendor, it is naturally engineered as more IT friendly than business friendly. Perhaps we should look to an integrated framework or architecture as the bridge between IT and the Business to will allow us to bridge the two aspects of governance.

    Your thoughts?

    Preparing for an upgrade to SP 2010 – what we know so far

    October 9, 2009 Leave a comment

    Here is some of the information I’ve compiled so far from going through the Microsoft videos, blogs, and technet. If you wait until the actual (RTM) release of SharePoint 2010 to get ready, you’re going to be behind. Remember, it is going to take you awhile to ramp up because there are system requirements and checks that could be completed now.

    On the server roles:

    • Ensure your hardware (to include memory and processor) will support 64-bit OS. (Are you going to buy new hardware or be upgrading existing hardware?)
    • If not there already, plan to upgrade your Windows Operating System as Windows Server 2008 is the required OS
    • Upgrade your database to 64-bit SQL Server 2005 or 2008
    • Start thinking about running virtualization and running SharePoint on slices in your environment

    To optimize your data and get it ready for upgrade, you can:

    • Optimize your databases and large lists. (See sneak peek videos)
    • Archive site collections not used…(This is all standard best practice stuff you should do anyway, even if you do not upgrade.)
    • Ensure you have enough disk capacity for an upgrade

    Within the configuration itself:

    • Identify any development assets and customizations you’ve made (3rd party components, solutions, timer jobs, event receivers, URLs, and etc.) as you might want to mirror your environment to test (or worse case you might have to rebuild the farm)
    • Reduce your dependency on features you aren’t using
    • Check with your 3rd party web part provider or solution to see their upgrade guidance
    • Get service pack 2 (SP2) tools to  pre=”to “>identify customizations (WinDiff, PreUpgradeChecker) to help you clean up orphaned sites, lists, fix variations, and etc.

    On the desktop, now is a really good time to make sure your users have upgraded desktops

    • Your users will need Internet Explorer 7 or FireFox 3.x or higher in order to author content.
    • Also, according to Microsoft’s SP Team blog, there will be no support for IE 6.

    For those of you only using WSS, this new release is a good time to upgrade. (See my Value Proposition post below.)

    Also…to my buddy John who is not proactively monitoring his environment:

    • Migrations and upgrades are a good time to catch those sites that do not follow your governance and best practices and pull them into the fold.
    • It is agood time to change governance policies and gear them towards reuse and consistency…packaging your configuration into solution packages, features, and etc.
    • It is also a good time to revisit your look and feel and catch those rogue sites not adhering to branding best practices or guidance from your communications group. (Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.)

    So, start planning your upgrade SharePoint Server 2010 strategy now so you can communicate with your stakeholders the need to upgrade. Step one starts with an assessment of your current environment with inputs from above. The output will be an upgrade strategy.

    SP Conference 2009 imageWhen I get back from the SharePoint conference, I’ll post more after Microsoft lifts the experts from any NDAs…See you then…John

    WIIFM (What’s In It For Me?) is Not a Game

    October 5, 2009 Leave a comment

    The number of acronyms we IT folks use in an average meeting or daily conversation amazes me. For example, while talking with a CIO friend of mine about how he got his managers to delegate more, he mentioned…”WIIFM.”

    “WIIFM?”, I thought. “What the heck does that mean? Is he talking about the newest version of the Nintendo WII?”

    I didn’t know what it stood for. (I had to ask…then go look it up.)

    So, according to Dictionary.com’s Slang Dictionary, WIIFM is defined as:
    What’s in it for me?and WIIFM

    1. sent. & comp. abb.
      What benefit will I get from this activity? : Sounds like a plan, but WIIFM?

    Oh, I get it. This is Marketing and Leadership 101. Putting yourself in the shoes of your target audience and understanding what motivates or influences them. Gosh, I think we all use this in some form or fashion.

    —John

    Categories: Leadership, Marketing Tags: ,

    Enterprise Search Improves Productivity, Report Finds

    October 5, 2009 Leave a comment

    According to an article published by Information Week, “…the top 20% of companies using enterprise search achieved notable productivity gains: executives surveyed spent six hours less personally looking for information each week, compared to a one hour reduction reported by executives at companies not among the best performers; and staff at top performing companies spent 28 hours less searching for information each week, compared to a one hour reduction at other companies.

    At top performing companies, 67% of searches returned the most relevant results on the first search results page, while lower rated companies saw relevant results on the first page for only 42% of searches.

    Leading companies also saw a 15% reduction in support costs, compared to a 3% increase among other companies.

    A common approach at organizations placing among the top users of enterprise search was striving to create a single view of all enterprise assets. Sixty-seven percent of top 20 companies did this, compared to 27% of the non-leaders.

    David White, senior research analyst for the Aberdeen Group and the author of the report, said that Google dominates enterprise search among smaller companies while Microsoft dominates in larger organizations…”

    See the entire article here:

    http://www.informationweek.com/news/internet/search/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=220300901

    A Few Bullets on The Value Proposition (a.k.a Pillars) of SharePoint 2010

    September 30, 2009 Leave a comment

    I’ve worked with SharePoint for about 8 years now. I’ve led several global SP implementation teams including SharePoint architecture and design for Chevron, BP, and now the Army and Department of Defense. 

    After working with the many little nuances and limitations over the last few years, I’m very excited about sharepoint’s new promise. The product itself has come a long way. This is no longer your daddy’s portal product!  In fact, Microsoft’s marketing material is calling the SP 2010 version, “the business collaboration platform for the Enterprise and the Web.”

    According to the sneak peek video starring Tom Rizzo (Senior Director, SharePoint) in Microsoft’s overview video, SharePoint 2010 pillars represent ,  “…a change in thinking on what SP2010 provides.” It allows enterprises to:

    Connect (and Empower People)

    • Changes the dynamics of collaboration
    • Great to build on top of
    • Platform brings people together
    • Connect to any device (PC, phone, browser)
    • Social Computing
    • Connect across different boundaries (inside firewall & outside firewall)

    Unified Infrastructure

    • Cut cost with a unified infrastructure
    • SP as a unifier – combine solutions into one unified infrastructure – Search / portal / BI / Forms / Processes
    • Lower TCO – Train employees once, Train IT admins once, Train developers once
    • Build solutions across infrastructure and capabilities 

    Rapidly Respond to Business Needs

    • Out-of-the-box (OOTB) blogs, wikis, team sites
    • Build business apps
    • Not a rip-n-replace environment
    • Solution Platform – build apps, deploy apps, work on apps (expect more capabilities behind the scenes in SP2010)

    Here is the new value proposition, a.k.a. Value Pillars of SP 2010 (as transcribed from my notes while watching the SharePoint 2010 Overview Video.)

    Pillar 1 – Sites

    • Expand across environments and share information securely with employees (intranet) , partners (extranet), and consumers (Internet facing sites)
    • Improved user experience
    • WYSIWYG web edit capability with LIVE preview editing (like office), rich media into sites with Silverlight webpart, color themes can match your PowerPoint theme
    • Firefox and other browser support
    • Visio 2010 Diagram rendering support within SharePoint
    • Image edits and video edits within the site editor
    • SP workspace (Groove) offline synchronization of content and LOB data (take your site offline, edit offline, synch lists and libraries when online)
    • Seamless data integration between SP, LOB data, and Office clients (Word, Excel. Visio, etc.)

    Pillar 2 – Communities

    • Ad hoc type communities of interest
    • Hierarchy type work style communities
    • Business partner communities

    Pillar 3 – Content

    • (Securely manage, Share, Discovery of content)
    • Collaboration content, People centric content, LOB content
    • Manage content lifecycle from creation to disposition and destruction of that content and every step in between
    • Connect people to the right content at the right time

    Pillar 4 – Search

    • Investment in FAST technology coming
    • Rich search, reliable, highly scalable
    • (Getting the right results on the first page is crucial)
    • Search content, Search people, Search business data (LOB, Transactional, etc.) across you environment

    Pillar 5 – Insights

    • Insights into data, people, systems using business intelligence
    • Visualize business processes with Visio 2010 diagram rendering support

    Pillar 6 – Composites

    • Rapidly create dynamic business solutions that meet your business needs using workloads, SP Designer, and Visual Studio 2010.
    • Create, Read, Update, and Delete LOB data using Business Connectivity Services with read/writable data connectivity

    A few hard benefits come in the form of consolidated hardware and licenses, and reduction in network traffic due to posting a document to a SharePoint library versus sending it out via email attachment. Some soft benefits are usually productivity gained, reuse, and ease of information sharing. But there are plenty more.

    While this changes somewhat (above) for the next release, here are the core services SharePoint 2007 currently offers that folks don’t normally take into consideration when looking at SharePoint from a business case POV. You should evaluate SharePoint’s strengths and weaknesses from the following capabilities:

    • SharePoint as a Collaboration & Portal Service
    • SharePoint as a Social Computing Service (Wiki, Blogs)
    • SharePoint as a ECM Service
    • SharePoint as a Records Management Service
    • SharePoint as a Web Content Management Service
    • SharePoint as a Content Management and Publishing Service
    • Content Publishing (Development/QA/UAT/Production)
    • SharePoint as a Business Intelligence Service
    • SharePoint as a Forms Processing Service (InfoPath Forms, Workflows, BPM)
    • SharePoint as an Enterprise Search Service

    After the RTM release (hopefully next year), I’ll post more insight based on my experiences integrating Microsoft’s newest version of SharePoint. I hope to create a series of posts that can continue to answer the value proposition question on the new version. 

    Good luck!

    John

     

    Legal Notice: This post contains my views and notes from watching the sneek peek video. This post does not reflect technical design authority consulting advice, the views or opinions of Microsoft, or the views or opinions of my employer.

    Training Strategy Lessons Learned

    September 29, 2009 Leave a comment

    According to MichaeL E. EchoLs’ book titled “INVEST IN PEOPLE AND WIN THE FUTURE Creating Value with Human Capital Investment,” leaders can change their view on the value of the people who work for them by presenting training as a strategy investment for the future and not a tactical expense. Echols also adds that the right employee training provides big payoffs for the employer in increased productivity, knowledge, loyalty, and contribution.

    As a Lessons Learned from a previous role, I wrote down these points to remember when working on a training strategy:

    • Employee training is a big cost for my organization
    • Do not regard Training as a luxury handed out when time and budgets allow
    • Do not think it is wise to think of training as “remedial”
    • Do not think of training as a magic way of improving bad or weak employees
    • Leadership – be clear about what you want from training
    • Connect training with the overall company strategy or goals
    • View training strategically not tactically (MichaeL E. EchoLs)

     Do you have more wisdom or lessons learned I can add to the list?

    A Lost Marketing Opportunity?

    September 28, 2009 Leave a comment

    I love company sponsored local events. I try to attend, take part, and mostly make it a fun family outing. This weekend was no exception. We pulled the team together for the JDRF walk here in Houston over the weekend and we raised money for a really good cause.

    From my observation of the charity event, it was like a small tent city. Corporate tents stretched as far as the eye could see. While it was clear some companies spared no cost to support the cause, for some companies, it was just another lost marketing opportunity. 

    As teams gathered for the walk, I couldn’t help but notice the sea of red T-shirts worn by employees of a company I often compete with in the marketplace. They proudly wore their company t-shirts, embossed with the company name and logo, marketing slogan, and a catchy phrase stating their support for JDRF and why they were walking the 3.5K or more in the humid Houston heat. It was obvious they had PRESENCE. They were on a mission to have fun and support a good cause. I wondered, could this presence help them create new business opportunities?

    I also noticed a few company teams participating with a presence that gave a negative impact on their brand and made me wonder why they were casting such a shadow on their corporate reputation. Some had no corporate image, team shirts, etc. Others only had one or two walkers (No real PRESENCE.) 

    Lesson Learned – I think it is very important to understand the opportunities that your team’s presence and sponsorship can create at charity or company sponsored events. It’s good to have a plan or strategy before you show up on walk day. That way you present yourself, your team, and your company in the best possible light.  Besides presenting your company as a leader in the local city, proper planning with presence can:

    • Get your company’s name out there in the market
    • Enhance company name recognition
    • Build relationships with potential and existing clients

    SharePoint Connections Conference – Las Vegas

    September 26, 2009 Leave a comment

    ms_sharepointYes! I just received confirmation that I’ll be attending the SharePoint Conference 2009 in Las Vegas in October. (There are 2010 questions that need answers. I hope Microsoft listened to all our MS WISH feedback.) Anyway, I’m really looking forward to this event and can’t wait to see all the new features of SharePoint 2010.

    See you there?

     

    Here is the agenda (as of this post date) for those who do browse to the site:

    • SharePoint 2010 Overview and What’s New
    • Upgrading to SharePoint 2010
    • SharePoint 2010 Capacity and Performance Planning
    • SharePoint 2010 Security and Identity Management: What’s New.
    • Visual Studio 2010 Tools for Office Development
    • SharePoint 2010 Ribbon, ECMAScript and Dialog Framework Development
    • Developing with REST and LINQ in SharePoint 2010
    • Upgrading SharePoint Server 2007 Code to SharePoint 2010
    • Building SharePoint Composite Applications with the Microsoft Application Platform
    • What’s New in Business Connectivity Services (The Business Data Catalog Evolves!)
    • FAST Search for SharePoint – Capabilities Deep-Dive
    • Advanced Dashboard Creation with PerformancePoint Services for SharePoint 2010
    • Overview of Visio 2010 and Visio Services for SharePoint 2010
    • SharePoint 2010 Web Content Management Deep-Dive
    • If You Build It, They Will Come: Driving End User Adoption
    • Understanding Office 2010 and the Office Web apps
    • Office Web apps: Deployment and Manageability
    • Customizing Office 2010 Backstage view and Ribbon
    • What’s New in Office 2010 for Developers
    • Deep-Dive into SharePoint 2010 My Sites and Social Networking Architecture
    • SharePoint 2010 Governance: Planning and Implementation
    • SQL Server Best Practices for SharePoint Deployments
    • Overview of Access Services in SharePoint 2010
    • Introduction to SharePoint Applications Using InfoPath and Forms Services 2010
    • Launching and Supporting Large Global Sites: Lessons Learned from AMD.com (Customer Session presented by AMD)
    • How SharePoint Helped Employee Communications Do More with Less (Customer Session presented by Dow Jones)
    • Planning, Deploying and Administrating Excel Services and Project “Gemini” in SharePoint Server 2010
    • Advanced Web Part Development in Visual Studio 2010
    • Enterprise Content Management for the Masses: How SharePoint 2010 Delivers on the Promise
    • The 2010 Lineup: SKUs and Licensing