Having recently attended SharePoint conferences in Europe and the United States we at GSX have had the fortunate opportunity to speak with many individuals regarding their experiences with Microsoft SharePoint. As a result we’ve put together a list of common headaches that administrators experience in the ongoing and day to day operations of Microsoft SharePoint which we've delivered over the last six weeks. Let’s take a look below at the headaches, the questions that are being asked and what solution is needed for each. If you click on "GSX Solution" it will take you to more in depth information and a video.
Headache 1: Load-testing your environment
SharePoint Administrators often face a daunting task when it comes to capacity planning, how much, for how many? SharePoint usage tends to grow exponentially so it’s important to plan ahead and to be sure that your environment can support its users. As such many administrators employ load testing tools prior to deployment. What though is done after the systems are released to production? How can we ensure that the environment we designed continues to support our users as they expect?
Solution Needed: A way to experience load as a user
GSX Solution: From GSX Monitor we can simulate user load by performing actual user transactions, only by doing this can we monitor availability then measure and report on its performance.
Headache 2: Anticipating Capacity Issues
As mentioned previously SharePoint usage grows exponentially and usually unpredictably. Your SharePoint environment will continue to evolve as users upload documents, create sites, and update files. Unchecked, this can become a nightmare if administrators do not have access to usage and growth data about their SharePoint environment and SQL backend, they don’t have the ability to track trends and forecast for the future. How can we gain access to this information?
Solution Needed: Statistical Collection, Analysis and Alerting
GSX Solution: GSX Monitor will collect and alert on the critical information, then the information can be parsed and analyzed using GSX Analyzer. Using GSX Analyzer you can configure trends over the past couple of weeks, the last 3 months, or even the last 2 years. It takes only five minutes to configure reports, and automatically send them to the appropriate personnel.
Headache 3: Trusting your Data
Exponential growth in a SharePoint environment also can lead to problems with replication, indexing and availability. How can we be certain that when users search they are actually searching all items? How do we know that they return the latest version? Issues like this can cost companies time and money. It is critical to know that you can trust the data presented. How can we ensure this?
Solution Needed: Indexer Monitoring, data validation
GSX Solution: From a GSX perspective we provide administrators with critical indexer alerts. In addition, we test the web services for accuracy functioning as a user would, selecting data, including versioning information and search.
Headache 4: Improving Service
At some point in the evolution of you SharePoint environment you’ll likely need to take action to expand or enhance due to lagging performance. How can you know that what you add or improve is helping? Administrators face a number of day-to-day problems, in terms of performance, downtime, etc. Projects to improve the SharePoint user experience often require external resources, and a significant amount of time and money.
Solution Needed: User performance statistics
GSX Solution: As above, test it from the user’s perspective and collect statistics on performance. With GSX you can ensure the enhancements you implement have the impact you desire.
Headache 5: Resource Constraints
Skilled SharePoint architects and administrators are scarce therefore it’s best to allocate their time for improving the environment and enhancing its usefulness, improving your company’s ROI. If administrators have to spend all of their time testing and manually monitoring SharePoint they can’t add value. Value means features, functionality and performance. This is where we want our time spent. How can we free up these resources for tasks of value?
Solution Needed: Automated monitoring and reporting
GSX Solution: GSX Monitor and Analyzer are out of the box tools that do not require any server side agent. You install it, configure it in one hour, and let it run. After that monitoring and reporting for SharePoint is taken care of, automatically, allowing your experts to focus on your ROI.
Headache 6: User Experience
Most monitoring solutions will tell you how your server is performing, if for example your CPU is over-utilized or not. In the grand scheme of things, what’s really important? Your CPU is under 90%? The truth of the matter is, that’s great but it doesn’t mean that the service is performing as expected for users. So how do we ensure that our users are happy?
Solution Needed: Automated User experience tests
GSX Solution: We test it as a user would. GSX constantly tracks the user experience, giving administrators a view into the true performance of their environment from a user perspective. GSX will test all SharePoint features and services from a user perspective, in real time, alerting in case of performance issues and collecting the statistics for later analysis. This enables you to anticipate user complaints and availability issues, as well as justify system enhancements. SLAs are automatically trended, KPIs are monitored, and users are happy because GSX aligns your IT view with the user experience, and not the other way around.
I can speak from experience and say that there are at least a few more administrator headaches than mentioned above, however these are some of the most common. What’s important is that we do our best to minimize the amount of time we spend on each of these distractions, ensuring that our efforts are spent making improvements and adding features. At GSX we know what your headaches are, let us fix those so you can focus on adding value to your organization. If you would like more information on how GSX can solve your SharePoint issues please see our webpage for our SharePoint solutions.