In this brief post, I talk about my first in-person event (SPFest Chicago) since COVID hit. I also talk about and include a recent interview with the M365 Developer Podcast.
It's Alive ... ALIVE!
I had the good fortune of presenting at SharePoint Fest Chicago 2021 at the end of July (about a month ago). I was initially a little hesitant on the drive up to Chicago since it was the first live event that I was going to do since COVID-19 knocked the world on its collective butt.
Although the good folks at SPFest required proof of vaccination or a clear COVID test prior to attending the conference, I wasn’t quite sure how the attendees and other speakers would handle standard conference activities.
Thankfully, the SPFest folks put some serious thought into the topic and had a number of systems in-place to make everyone feel as “at ease” as possible – including a clever wristband system that let folks know if you were up for close contact (like a handshake) or not. I genuinely appreciated these efforts, and they allowed me to enjoy my time at the conference without constant worries.
Good For The Soul
I’m sure I’m speaking for many (if not all) of you when I say that “COVID SUCKS!” I’ve worked from my home office for quite a few years now, so I understand the value of face-to-face human contact because it’s not something I get very often. With COVID, the little I had been getting dropped to none.
I knew that it would be wonderful to see so many of my fellow speakers/friends at the event, but I wasn’t exactly prepared for just how elated I’d be. I’m not one to normally say things like this, but it was truly “good for my soul” and something I’d been desperately missing. It truly was, and I know I’m not alone in those thoughts and that specific perception.
Although these social interactions weren’t strictly part of the conference itself, I’d wager that they were just as important to others as they were to me.
There are still a lot of people I haven’t caught up with in person yet, but I’m looking forward to remedying that in the future – provided in-person events continue. I still owe a lot of people hugs.
Speaking Of ...
In addition to presenting three sessions at the conference, I also got to speak with Paul Schaeflein and talk about SharePoint Online Performance for a podcast that he co-hosts with Jeremy Thake called the M365 Developer Podcast. Paul interviewed me at the end of the conference as things were being torn down, and we talked about SharePoint Online performance, why it mattered to developers, and a number of other topics.
I’ve embedded the podcast below:
Paul wasn’t actually speaking at the conference, but he’s a Chicagoan and he lived not-too-far from the conference venue … so he stopped down to see us and catch some interviews. It was good to catch up with him and so many others.
The interview with me begins about 13 minutes into the podcast, but I highly recommend listening to the entire podcast because Paul and Jeremy are two exceptionally knowledgeable guys with a long history with Microsoft 365 and good ol’ SharePoint.
CORRECTION (2021-09-14): in the interview, I stated that Microsoft was working to enable Public CDN for SharePoint Online (SPO) sites. Scott Stewart reached-out to me recently to correct this misstatement. Microsoft isn’t working to automatically enable Public CDN for SPO sites but rather Private CDN (which makes a lot more sense in the grand scheme of things). Thanks for the catch, Scott!
2020 is here and we are screaming through a new decade at light speed. In this post, I share my goals for 2020 (gulp!) and why they matter to me. I also share some upcoming events and recent efforts that may be of interest (and are free!)
The new decade is in full swing at this point, and it is certainly moving along without showing any signs of slowing down soon. Like many others, January began for me a little like a jet being thrown off an aircraft carrier. I’m adapting to the uptick in activity and the pace at which things are moving, but whoa – whiplash!
Planning for a New Year
A good friend of mine and Microsoft PFE extraordinaire, Brian Jackett, has done something over the last handful of years that I both admire and have tried to emulate with limited degrees of success. Brian is an extremely thoughtful guy who regularly tries to lay out his goals and track his progress against those goals in various ways. One of the things he has done in the past is start off a new calendar year with some form of assessment of the previous year’s goals. He then proceeds to lay out what he’s going to be working on in the year ahead and why he’s chosen those goals. Brian has typically done this in blog post format. I haven’t seen one from him yet this year (hope he does – I’m always interested in where he’s focused), but he did write up a post going into the year 2019.
I’ve attempted to follow suit in the past, because it forces me to focus on the year ahead and set some goals.
At Best, Limited Success
It probably comes as no surprise for me to say that like so many others, I’ve set a bunch of goals in the past and then fallen dramatically short of achieving them. I attribute this outcome to many things: shifting priorities, lack of time (or more appropriately, lack of prioritization), and any number of other factors. But if I look back at previous years and try to summarize my results/outcome in one statement: In general, I think I’d set the bar too high.
In response to that, you may be thinking …
“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”
Peale was very big on positive thinking in case that previous quote doesn’t make it readily apparent. While I agree with him in an optimistic and energetic way, I’ll be honest: I’m getting to the age and point in life where my energy is starting to flag a bit. I also have many more people, efforts, and things vying for my attention and energy than I did earlier in my life/career.
I try to remain optimistic day-to-day (with varying degrees of success), but to guarantee that I truly remain focused and make progress on goals I set nowadays, I have to be realistic and pragmatic in the specific goals I set for myself. In general, I need to think more in terms of small steps rather than massive undertakings.
(Pragmatic) Goals for 2020
So, with some trepidation, I make my public declaration (here, in this blog) of 2020 goals. These are things I truly believe I can achieve, I can objectively and tangibly measure progress towards, which I can stick to, and on which I can stay motivated (very important!) These aren’t the only things I expect I’ll do, but they deserve to be called out as particular areas of focus.
In order of importance:
Do at least one thing to delight my wife. Surprised to see a non-SharePoint goal listed first (or even listed)? I feel that I am a caring individual who thinks regularly of others, but a romantic I am not. Nor am I particularly good at surprising people (particularly those I’m close to) with something wonderful and delightful “out of the blue” – particularly something that comes from the heart. To be more cognizant of this deficiency (or “opportunity for growth,” if you prefer) is the most important thing for me to focus on this year. The measure of achievement will be (at least) one thing, one situation, one undertaking, one whatever – where I surprise my wife and she feels special, loved, and truly touched. That probably is an easy undertaking for many of you, but believe me when I say it’s something that will take a lot of thinking and planning on my end.
Grow and strengthen my relationship with my children. My son and daughter, Brendan and Sabrina, turn 13 in March … meaning we’ll officially have teenagers in the house. Many times, it feels like they have been teens for a while now (especially Sabrina), but that’s not the reality. As a parent, I’ve been encountering a growing number of challenges (in general) with my kids. I’m less certain how to respond and react to them in many ways. I try to be a loving and engaged father, but that’s harder for me at times and in certain situations. My parents divorced when I was in third grade, and my middle school years (which is where my kids are in age now) were something of a mess with parents, step-parents, and other authority figures in my life. I didn’t have a lot of consistency or reliability in terms of role models and relationships. So, I’ve found myself looking to my wife more and more for guidance in situations that have been popping-up with the kids … and I’d like to be a better and confident father while relying a little less for outside help. I’m not saying that I want to totally go it alone, but I would say that I do want to develop a better compass and sense of “internal guidance.” Of all of the goals I’ve selected for myself this year, this is probably the toughest one to measure objectively … so my plan is to share it with my kids and then check in with them at various points over the year to see what they think and where they feel I am.
Complete a redesign and relaunch www.bitstreamfoundry.com. This is something that’s been needed for quite some time – longer than I’d care to admit, actually. All that’s out there right now is a contact form with a mention of a new site “coming soon.” Well, that new site will arrive in 2020 – with a little luck and prioritization, sooner rather than later. I’ve picked-up some tools to make WordPress (which this blog and my Bitstream Foundry sites use as a web platform) editing truly WYSIWYG in approach, and I’ve got some ideas on how to put things together. The biggest challenge is (as I tell people), “I’m a plumber, not a painter” – meaning I do web development, but I focus on putting the underlying sites together, not on how they look.
Sure, I have some ability to style sites … but I’m not particularly creative in that regard and certainly no ace with CSS. My daughter Sabrina is extremely creative and talented; maybe I can enlist her help in beautifying the redesign … In any regard a re-launched Bitstream Foundry site will be the measure of success for this goal.
Before the end of 2020, contribute one project to the public domain. There was a time (years ago, at this point) when I wrote software and tools for fun and shared those with the world at large – see my Tools section in the right-hand column. I still write tools, scripts, and develop other (I think) useful “things” … but I’ve not done a great job about sharing them broadly. This year, I want to return to my roots (a little) and get at least one project into the public domain. The measure of success for this one is pretty objective: did I release a tool or project … or not?
Post regularly on this blog. And we come down to the final “Jeez, I’ve said that before.” For purposes of measurement, I’m going to shoot for once per month on this … but I’ll allow myself to “slide” to twice every three months if I get slammed. Much like projects and other development, I regularly come up with (and across) things I think would help others. Many of these would make at least decent blog posts, but they don’t always make it here. Wish me luck (and give me a swift kick in the butt) if you see me falling behind.
I could easily go on and on, but I want to stop at no more than a half-dozen goals. Remember: these are goals that I think are attainable, that I can stay focused on, and on which I can measure progress. They’re also important to me for the various reasons cited. They aren’t the only things I’ll be doing, but they will be points of focus.
Recent Developments and Plans
There are a few things I wanted to share so far for this year … and no, I don’t consider these as counting towards my stated goals in any way. These are just more-or-less informational items in case you or someone you know is interested.
Free report – Your Office 365 Journey: Securing Every Stage
A short time ago, I was among a handful of industry folks and other Microsoft MVPs (like Ragnar Heil) who were approached to participate in an effort to share guidance and strategies regarding Office 365 migration, experiences I’ve had with it, lessons I’ve learned along the way, etc. The results of that effort have been compiled into a report that is free to download from the folks at Censornet, so check it out!
Upcoming Digital Workplace webinar with Akumina
On Tuesday, February 12th, I’ll be teaming up with Akumina‘s president David Maffei to deliver a webinar titled “Modern SharePoint + Akumina’s EXP = A True Digital Workplace Experience.” Over the last several years, I’ve done a lot of work building and implementing digital workplaces using the Akumina platform both on-premises and in SharePoint Online. I’ve also done a lot work with SharePoint Online and on-premises without an accelerator or platform like Akumina in the mix. The purpose of this webinar is to explain what SharePoint, in its modern form, is capable of … and what a platform like Akumina can do to enhance “vanilla” SharePoint and enable a true digital workplace experience. It’s a free webinar, so sign up if it sounds interesting!
Chicago Suburbs M365 2020
Are you familiar with SharePoint Saturday events? They’ve been around for quite a few years now. They are gatherings of people who work with Microsoft SharePoint, regularly speak/educate on it, sell products and services oriented around it … and other folks who are simply SharePoint enthusiasts in some way. The events, which are normally held on Saturdays, are a source of education and information for the SharePoint platform, and they’re (almost) always free. Speakers and other presenters donate their time to deliver sessions, and food and prizes are obtained with the help of sponsor dollars.
In recent years, SharePoint Saturday events have been diversifying and becoming more inclusive than just SharePoint, and this change has been driven by SharePoint Online and the larger Office 365 / Microsoft 365 cloud suite and associated offerings. SharePoint is integrated into so many of the O365 workloads that the lines are really blurry around where SharePoint “stops” and another workload “begins.” As a result, many SharePoint Saturdays have adapted and become “Cloud Saturdays,” “Office 365 Saturdays,” etc., to reflect their broader nature and inclusion on non-SharePoint-specific topics.
I like to volunteer and donate my time and energy at as many of these events as I can get to (and that will accept me), and the next one on my list – my first for 2020 – is the next Chicago Suburbs M365 event on February 29th. If you are in or around the ‘burbs of Chicago, consider coming to the event, meeting others in our space, and learning something along the way. I’ll be presenting a session titled “Getting the Best Performance Out of Your SharePoint Online Site,” and I hope to see some of you there!
On April 1st, Microsoft presented me with an MVP (most valuable professional) award in the Office Development and the Office Server and Services categories. This post is a thank you to all of you who helped make the last seven years of community engagement such a fantastic and rewarding experience for me.
Historically speaking, April 1st has always been “April Fools Day” in my house. My children, Brendan and Sabrina, are nine years’ old right now (yes, they’re twins). To a couple of nine year olds, April 1st is the perfect opportunity to play jokes on someone. That “someone,” in the overwhelming majority of cases, is me. This year, I was hit a total of six times before I ever left the house to head into the office. Six. That’s a new record … and unfortunately for me, I doubt it’ll be limited to just six next year …
So, my day started with a wary mindset – fearful of what may lay around the next corner. When this arrived in my inbox, that all changed.
I’d been nominated for the Microsoft MVP (most valuable professional) award a handful of times over the years, and I had been nominated again as recently as a couple of months back … but the earlier nominations hadn’t actually turned into an award.
I had to actually read the first paragraph of the email I’d received a few times before it truly registered that yes, I was being presented with an MVP award.
As a rule of thumb, I’m not an overly emotional guy. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say that over the course of the day, I went through a wide range of emotions. Disbelief. Joy. Numbness (okay, that’s not an emotion – but it was a mental state for me). Tremendous gratitude. Humility. I got “teary” at least a few times. Even today, it still doesn’t feel “real” – even though I know it is.
Receiving an MVP award from Microsoft for Office Development and Office Servers and Services (two different categories – I’m kind of a switch-hitter) sent me thinking back to the beginning.
My “community journey” started seven years ago in 2009 with a presentation at Mark Rackley’s first SharePoint Saturday Ozarks in Harrison, Arkansas. John Ferringer (my good friend and disaster recovery partner-in-crime) and I presented “Saving SharePoint” to a small room full of people. It was a presentation based on elements from our SharePoint 2007 Disaster Recovery Guide book, and I was scared to death. I had no experience with public speaking, but John and I had worked out a system to ensure that we’d present effectively together. And it all worked out okay. And best of all, it was fun. I felt like I was onto something, and I wanted to continue running with it.
I met some of the SharePoint “legends” at that SPS event (hey, they were – and still are – legends to me): Eric Shupps, Mike Watson, Laura Rogers, Lori Gowin, Corey Roth, Cathy Dew, and plenty of others. Some of them had already established a place for themselves in the community; others were like me and just beginning their journey. The whole SharePoint Saturday thing was still ramping-up, and we were all excited to be a part of it.
If you look at the Presentations and Materials section of my blog, you can see most of the stops I made between Harrison, Arkansas (in 2009) and today. There are quite a few. And I have a ton of fantastic memories from the various events and get-togethers that have taken place over the last seven years.
The reality, for me, is that the extended SharePoint Community (each of you reading this) is my “social network.” I consider many of you to be my good friends, and many more of you are familiar faces at events, conferences, and get-togethers. I love to spend time with you, hang out, and talk shop wherever I may go and wherever we may all meet up. My SharePoint community “work” has definitely been a labor of love, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.
So, from the bottom of my heart: thank you for all the great memories, engagement, and interactions over the years. I wouldn’t have this MVP award were it not for you folks. And, of course, my thanks to Microsoft and the numerous people who helped turn this into a reality for me. It feels great, and I look forward to many more years of great community fun and engagement!
In my last post, I promised those who attended my Content Search Web Part session (at SPTechCon Austin 2016) that I’d deliver videos of the demos I normally perform during that session. This post contains links to those demo videos as well as some additional commentary.
As I discussed in my last post titled “SPTechCon Austin 2016 And Death By Demo,” the demonstrations I intended to deliver at SPTechCon in Austin a week and a half ago didn’t go very well. In fact, they didn’t really go at all due to some extremely odd technical circumstances. To make up for the lack of demo content, I promised attendees that I would put together video walk-throughs for each of the demos I had intended to deliver at SPTechCon.
It took a little longer than initially anticipated, but the half-dozen links below represent the demo material I would normally walk through during a delivery of my “SharePoint’s New Swiss Army Knife: The Content Search Web Part” session. If there’s a silver lining to the fact that I’m doing the demos after the actual presentation, it’s that I was able to take more time than I normally have (within the context of a 75 minute session) to show some extra content and go off the beaten path a bit more.
So, for those of you who have been waiting … here are the goods!
These videos were recorded with Camtasia and rendered directly out to YouTube. I made every attempt to keep the quality high, but if something gets “lost in translation” or you have other issues, please let me know.
I enjoyed putting these videos together, and in the past I’ve tossed around the idea of doing more videos like this. If these CSWP videos were helpful to you and/or you’d like to see more, please let me know. If enough of you find value in these, I’d be willing to put together additional videos for some of the other presentations and workshops I deliver.
Enjoy, and as with everything else, I welcome your feedback!
I just got back from SPTechCon Austin 2016, and I had some “trouble” (putting it mildly) with demos I gave during one of my sessions. This post is a note – and a promise – to those who attended my Content Search Web Part (CSWP) session during the conference.
I used to write posts to sum-up the various conferences at which I’ve spoken. That was feasible when I was only speaking at a conference or event here or there, but writing about every event is somewhat time-consuming nowadays. And besides, most of the posts would look about the same: “great event,” “lots of fun,” “awesome attendees,” etc.
Well, I got back from SPTechCon Austin 2016 yesterday … and I felt compelled to write something today. Yes, it was a great conference, lots of fun, and filled with awesome attendees. But there was something more to this conference that motivated me – no, compelled me – to write this post.
Compelled By What?
That “thing” that compelled me was this: death by demo.
I delivered two sessions during the event: a new one on performance troubleshooting with SharePoint Online, and one of my “standards” that is an introduction to the Content Search Web Part (CSWP). I delivered the troubleshooting session on Tuesday, and although it went long (I still need to tune it up), it went pretty well – no real issues. I can’t claim the same about the CSWP session yesterday (Wednesday) morning.
Simply put, the demos for my CSWP session were a disaster. I’d gotten everything ready to go on the Tuesday night before the session; despite that, things went off-the-rails almost immediately. I was RDP’ing back to my home desktop system where I had VMware Workstation running, and all of that (i.e., the RDP and VWware Workstation parts) seemed fine. The fashion in which things blew up was not something I’d ever seen before.
What went wrong? Well, it’s hard to describe. The best way to describe it is that left-clicking didn’t work properly in the development VM I was using. Sometimes my clicks would visibly register (e.g., on a window close button) – but nothing would happen. Other times, my left-clicks seemed to register somewhere else on the screen (other than where the mouse pointer was located). And at other times still, a left-click would highlight some weird section in the web browser window.
Because of this aberrant mouse behavior, I couldn’t show the demo material. I certainly tried enough times, and I even hobbled through one demo with the audience members helping me by shouting out keyboard shortcuts when I asked … but it was a total wreck.
If you were in attendance for this session (and there were quite a few folks, as shown in the picture on the right – taken a handful of minutes before I started), I truly apologize. An apology alone, though, isn’t enough (in my opinion).
My Attempt to Make Up
As the demos were slamming into walls and catching on fire, I commented a couple of times that I’d find some way to share the demo materials with the audience at a later time. I was initially thinking I’d try to do a webcast – kind of a do-over – but I thought about it some more on the plane ride home last night and decided on something else.
Here’s what I’m going to do: rather than do the whole session over again, I’m going to work through each of the demos I intended to show and record those as a Camtasia/video that can be viewed whenever someone has the time to do so. Doing this sort of video cuts straight to the chase and is ultimately more flexible than trying to round everyone up for a webcast. It can also be re-watched as desired.
“When is this video going to be ready,” you might ask? I need to do some catching-up after having been out of town for a while, but I’m hoping to find the time this coming weekend to put it together. If I can do that, then the video will be available sometime early next week.
How Will We Know?
Once everything is ready to go, I’ll put together another blog post to announce the availability and provide a link. I’ve also been in contact with David Rubinstein at BZ Media about this, and he said that he’d blast the information out to attendees and newsletter subscribers, as well.
So, once again: my sincere apologies to those who attended my CSWP session at SPTechCon. It’ll be a few days after the actual session, but hopefully the video will make up for the demos that went nowhere during the session.
My time with Idera has come to an end, so I wanted to aggregate some of the resources I assembled with them. I also wanted to share some information about my new company, Bitstream Foundry LLC.
Sometimes it’s hard to believe just how quickly time flies by. At the tail end of last December, I announced that some big changes were coming for me – namely that I would be transitioning into something new from an employment perspective. Today is the last day of normal business in March 2013, and that means my time with Idera is at an end.
My last three years with Idera have been quite a whirlwind of activity. I feel very fortunate and am extremely thankful to Idera for the opportunities they’ve afforded me – especially over the last year in my role as their Chief SharePoint Evangelist. In that role, I was given the latitude to spend a significant chunk of my time focusing on an area that is very important to me personally: the SharePoint Community.
In thinking about my role and some of what I’ve done over the last three years, it occurred to me that it might be nice to summarize and link to some of the materials I assembled while at Idera. I’ve occasionally referenced these items in the past, but I don’t think I’ve ever tried to aggregate them into one post or in one place.
In the last half a year or so, my regular content generation efforts were being funneled to Idera’s SharePoint “Geek Stuff” blog. Here’s a table (with associated links) to the posts I’ve written:
There was a point in the past when Idera was publishing a sort of newsletter called “SharePoint Smarts,” and I wrote a couple of articles for the newsletter before it eventually rode off into the sunset:
And although it isn’t available just yet, sometime soon Idera will be releasing another whitepaper I wrote that had the working title of “SharePoint Caching Implementation Guide.” If that sounds at all interesting, keep an eye on the Whitepapers section of Idera’s Resources page.
Although I’m going to miss my friends at Idera and wish them the best of luck going forward, I’m very excited about some things I’ve got cooking – particularly with my new company!
A couple of months back, I launched Bitstream Foundry, LLC, with the intention of getting back into more hands-on SharePoint work. My intention is to focus initially on a combination of custom SharePoint development work and SharePoint App Store product development. In the past, I’ve been a “switch hitter” when it comes to SharePoint, and I’ve gone back and forth between development and administration roles fairly regularly. Although I’m not abandoning my admin “comrades in arms,” I have to admit that I tend to get the greatest enjoyment out of development work. Between custom solutions and App Model development, I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to keep myself busy.
Things are falling into place with the new company, as well. I applied for membership in Microsoft’s BizSpark program yesterday, and within hours I was accepted – much to my surprise. Why was I surprised? Well, my company website is (at the moment) being redirected to a “coming soon” page I put together on the new Microsoft Azure Web Sites offering. I’ve been waiting for an Office 365 tenant upgrade so that I can build out a proper site on SharePoint 2013, but the upgrade seems to be taking much longer than originally expected …
I also learned today that my application to get Bitstream Foundry listed in the SharePoint App Store was approved, so the way is paved for me to roll out Apps. Now I just need to write them!
One Thing That Won’t Change
Despite all of the recent changes, one aspect of my professional life that won’t be changing is my commitment to sharing with (and giving back to) the SharePoint community. My confidence in my current situation would probably be substantially lower if it weren’t for all of you – my (SharePoint) friends. Over the last several months, my belief in “professional karma” has been strongly reinforced. I’ve always tried to help those who’ve asked for my time and assistance, and I’ve seen that goodwill return to me as I’ve sought input and worked to figure out “what’s next.” To those of you who have offered advice, provided feedback, written endorsements/recommendations, and more, you have my most heartfelt thanks.
I love interacting with all of you, and I still get tremendous enjoyment out of blogging, speaking, teaching, and sharing with everyone in the SharePoint space. My “official” days as a full-time evangelist may be behind me, but that won’t really change anything for me going forward as far as community involvement goes. I’ll continue to answer emails, blog when I have information worth sharing, assemble tools/widgets, help organize events, and generally do what I can to help all of you as you’ve helped me. I’m also honored to be a part of several upcoming events, and I hope to see some of you when I’m “on tour.” If we haven’t met, please say hi and introduce yourself. Making new friends and connections is one of the most rewarding aspects of being out-and-about :-)
My SharePoint community activities are off to a roaring start in 2012. In this post, I’ll be recapping a couple of events from the end of 2011, as well as covering new activities taking place during the first couple of months of 2012.
I don’t know how 2011 ended for most of you, but the year closed without much of a bang for me. I’m not complaining about that; the general slow-down gave me an opportunity to get caught up on a few things, and it was nice to spend some quality time with my friends and family.
While 2011 went out relatively quietly, 2012 seems to have arrived with a vengeance. In fact, I was doing some joking on Twitter with Brian Jackett and Rob Collie shortly after the start of the year about #NYN, or “New Year’s Nitrous.” It’s been nothing but pedal-to-the-metal and then some since the start of the year, and there’s absolutely no sign of it letting up anytime soon. I like staying busy, but in some ways I’m wondering whether or not there will be enough time to fit everything in. One day at a time …
Here’s a recap of some stuff from the tail end of 2011, as well as what I’ve got going on for the first couple of months in 2012. After February, things actually get even crazier … but I’ll save events beyond February for a later post.
During the latter part of 2011, I had a conversation with Michael Hiles and Jon Breyfogle of DSC Consulting, a technical consulting and media services company based here in Cincinnati, Ohio. Michael and Jon had an idea: they wanted to develop a high-quality, high-production-value television program that centered on SharePoint and the larger SharePoint ecosystem/community. The initial idea was that the show would feature an interview segment, coverage of community events, SharePoint news, and some other stuff thrown in.
It was all very preliminary stuff when they initially shared the idea with me, but I told them that I thought they might be on to something. The idea of a professional show that centered on SharePoint wasn’t something that was being done, and I was really curious to see how they would do it if they elected to move forward.
Just before Christmas, Jon contacted me to let me know that they were indeed moving forward with the idea … and he asked if I’d be the show’s first SharePoint guest. I told him I’d love to help out, and so the bulk of the pilot episode was shot at the Village Tavern in Montgomery one afternoon with host Mark Tiderman and co-host Craig Pereira. Mark and I shot some pool, discussed disaster recovery, and just talked SharePoint for a fair bit. It was really a lot of fun.
The pilot isn’t yet available (publicly), but a teaser for the show is available on the SPTV web site. All in all, I think the DSC folks have done a tremendous job creating a quality, professional program. Check out the SPTV site for a taste of what’s to come!
SharePoint Saturday Columbus Kick-Off
Around the time of the SPTV shooting, the planning committee for SharePoint Saturday Columbus (Brian Jackett, Jennifer Mason, Nicola Young, and I) had a checkpoint conversation to figure out what, if anything, we were going to do about SharePoint Saturday Columbus in 2012. Were we going to try to do it again? If so, were we going to change anything? What was our plan?
Everything with SPSColumbus in 2012 is still very preliminary, of course, but I can tell you that we are looking forward to having the event once again! We expect that we’ll attempt to hold the event during roughly the same part of the year as we’ve had it in the past (i.e., late summer). As we start to nail things down and come up with concrete plans, I’ll share those. Until then, keep your eyes on the SharePoint Saturday site and the SPSColumbus account on Twitter!
Those of us who reside in and around Cincinnati, Ohio, are very fortunate when it comes to SharePoint events and opportunities. In the past we’ve had SharePoint Saturday Indianapolis just to the west of us, SharePoint Saturday Columbus to the northeast, and last year we had our first ever SharePoint Saturday Cincinnati (which was a huge success!) On top of that, last year was the first ever SharePointCincy event.
SharePointCincy was similar in some ways to a SharePoint Saturday, but it was different in others. It was a day full of SharePoint sessions, but we also had Fred Studer (the General Manager for the Information Worker product group at Microsoft) come out an speak. Kroger, a local company whose SharePoint implementation I’m very familiar with, also shared their experience with SharePoint. Rather than go into too much detail, though, I encourage you to check out the SharePointCincy site yourself to see what it was all about.
Of course, the whole reason I’m mentioning SharePointCincy is that it’s coming again in March of this year! Last year’s success (the event was attended by hundreds) pretty much guaranteed that the event would happen again.
I’m part of a planning team that includes Geoff Smith, Steve Caravajal of Microsoft, Mike Smith from MAX Technical Training, and the infamous Shane Young of SharePoint911 (which, in case you didn’t know it, is based here in Cincinnati). Four of the five of us met last Friday for a kick-off meeting and to discuss how the event might go this year. It was a good breakfast and a productive meeting. I don’t have much more to share at this point (other than the fact that, “yes, it’s happening”), but I will share information as it becomes available. Stay tuned!
“Are my nightly SQL Server backups good enough?” “Do I need an off-site disaster recovery facility?” “How do I even start the process of disaster recovery planning?” These are just a few of the more common questions that arise when the topic of SharePoint disaster recovery comes up. As with most things SharePoint, the real answer to each question is oftentimes “it depends…”
In this business and process-centric session, we will be taking a look at the topic of SharePoint disaster recovery from multiple perspectives: business continuity planner, technical architect, platform owner, and others. Critical concepts and terms will be explained and defined, and an effective process for analyzing and formulating a disaster recovery plan will be discussed. We’ll also highlight some common mistakes that take place when working to build a disaster recovery strategy and how you can avoid them. By the end of this session, you will be armed with the knowledge needed to plan or review a disaster recovery strategy for your SharePoint environment.
For those of you who have heard me speak and/or attended my webcasts in the past, you’ll probably find this session to be a bit different than ones you’ve seen or heard. The main reason I say that is because the content is primarily business-centric rather than nuts-and-bolts admin content.
That doesn’t mean that SharePoint administrators shouldn’t attend, though; on the contrary, the webcast includes a number of very important messages for admins (e.g., why DR must be driven from the business angle rather than the technical/admin angle) that could really help them in their jobs. The session expands the scope of the DR discussion, though, to include the business aspects that are so tremendously important during the DR planning process.
If what I’ve shared sounds interesting, please sign-up! The webcast is free, and I’ll be doing Q&A after the session.
The guys are giving me the opportunity to present “The Essentials of SharePoint Disaster Recovery” session, and I’m looking forward to it. I’m also looking forward to catching up with many of my friends … and some of my Idera co-workers (who will be coming in from Houston, Texas).
If you’re in the Austin area and looking for something to do this upcoming Saturday, come to the event. It’s free, and it’s a great chance to take in some phenomenal sessions, win some prizes, and be a part of the larger SharePoint community!
SharePoint ships with a number of tools and capabilities that are geared toward protecting content and configuration. These tools provide basic coverage for your SharePoint environment and the content it contains, but they can quickly become cumbersome in real world scenarios. In this session, we will look at SharePoint’s backup and restore capabilities, discuss how they work, and identify where they fall short in common usage scenarios. We will also highlight how Idera’s SharePoint backup solution picks up where the SharePoint platform tools leave off in order to provide complete protection that is cost-effective and easy to use.
The “demo booth” concept is something new for me; it’s part “platform education” (which is where I normally spend the majority of my time and energy) and part “product education” – in this case, education about Idera’s SharePoint backup product. Being both the product manager for Idera SharePoint backup and a co-author for the SharePoint 2010 Disaster Recovery Guide leaves me in something of a unique position to talk about SharePoint’s built-in backup/restore capabilities, where gaps exist, and how Idera SharePoint backup can pick up where the SharePoint platform tools leave off.
If you’re interested in learning more about Idera’s SharePoint backup product and/or how far you can reasonably push SharePoint’s built-in capabilities, check out the demo booth.
SPTechCon 2012 San Francisco
February comes to close with a big bang when SPTechCon rolls into San Francisco for the first of two stops in 2012. For those of you who check my blog now and again, you may have noticed the SPTechCon “I’ll be speaking at” badge and link on the right-hand side of the page. Yes, that means I’ll be delivering a session at the event! The BZ Media folks always put on a great show, and I’m certainly proud to be a part of SPTechCon and presenting again this time around.
At this point, I know that I’ll be presenting “The Essentials of SharePoint Disaster Recovery.” I think I’m also going to be doing another lightning talk; I need to check up on that, though, to confirm it.
I also found out that John Ferringer (my co-author and partner-in-crime) and I are also going to have the opportunity to do an SPTechCon-sponsored book signing (for our SharePoint 2010 Disaster Recovery Guide) on the morning of Wednesday the 29th.
If you’re at SPTechCon, please swing by to say hello – either at my session, at the Idera booth, the book signing, or wherever you see me!
After some time away, I’m getting back to blogging with a recap of the last several months’ worth of events. I cover a couple of SharePoint Saturdays, a webcast, my new whitepaper, and a new CodePlex project for SharePoint administrators.
Over the last several months, I haven’t been blogging as much as I’d hoped to; in reality, I haven’t blogged at all. There are a couple of reasons for that: one of them was our recent house move (and the aftermath), and the other was a little more personal. Without going into too much detail: we were contending with a very serious health issue in our family, and that took top priority.
The good news is that the clouds are finally parting, and I’m heading into the close of 2011 on a much better note (and with more time) than I’ve spent the last several months. To get back into some blogging, I figured I’d wrap-up the last several months’ worth of activities that took place since SharePoint Saturday Columbus.
Secrets of SharePoint (SoS) Webcast
A lot of things started coming together towards the end of October, and the first of those was another webcast that I did for Idera titled “’Caching-In’ for SharePoint Performance.” The webcast covered each of SharePoint’s built-in caching mechanisms (object caching, BLOB caching, and page output caching) as well as the Office Web Applications’ cache. I provided a rundown on each mechanism, how it worked, how it could be leveraged, and some watch-outs that came with its use.
The webcast was basically a lightweight version (40 minutes or so) of the longer (75 minute) presentation I like to present at SharePoint Saturday events. It was something of a challenge to squeeze all of the regular session’s content into 40 minutes, and I had to cut some of the material I would have liked to have kept in … but the final result turned-out pretty well.
On Saturday October 29th, Cincinnati had its first-ever SharePoint Saturday Cincinnati event. The event took place at the Kingsgate Marriott on Goodman Drive (near University Hospital), and it was very well attended – so much so that Stacy Deere and the other folks who organized the event are planning to do so again next year!
Okay, there’s actually no romance in it whatsoever (thank heavens for prospective readers – no one needs us doing that to them), but there is a solid chunk of coverage on SharePoint 2010’s new platform capabilities pertaining to disaster recovery. We also review some disaster recovery basics in the whitepaper, cover things that have changed since SharePoint 2007, and identify some new watch-out areas in SharePoint 2010 that could have an impact on your disaster recovery planning.
The whitepaper is pretty substantial at 13 pages, but it’s a good read if you want to understand your platform-level disaster recovery options in SharePoint 2010. It’s a free download, so please grab a copy if it sounds interesting. John and I would certainly love to hear your feedback, as well.
Many of my friends in the SharePoint community have heard me talk about some of the projects I’ve wanted to undertake to extend the SharePoint platform. I’m particularly sensitive to the plight of the administrator who is constrained (typically due to lack of resources) to use only the out-of-the-box (OOTB) tools that are available for data protection. While I think the OOTB tools do a solid job in most small and mid-size farms scenarios, there are some clear gaps that need to be addressed.
Since I’d been big on promises and short on delivery in helping these administrators, I finally started on a project to address some of the backup and restore gaps I see in the SharePoint platform. The evolving and still-under-development result is my SharePoint Backup Augmentation Cmdlets (SharePointBAC) project that is available on CodePlex.
With the PowerShell cmdlets that I’m developing for SharePoint 2010, I’m trying to introduce some new capabilities that SharePoint administrators need in order to make backup scripting with the OOTB tools a simpler and more straightforward experience. For example, one big gap that exists with the OOTB tools is that there is no way to groom a backup set. Each backup you create using Backup-SPFarm, for instance, adds to the backups that existed before it. There’s no way to groom (or remove) older backups you no longer want to keep, so disk consumption grows unless manual steps are taken to do something about it. That’s where my cmdlets come in. With Remove-SPBackupCatalog, for example, you could trim backups to retain only a certain number of them; you could also trim backups to ensure that they consume no more disk space (e.g., 100GB) than you’d like.
The CodePlex project is in alpha form right now (it’s brand spankin’ new), and it’s far from complete. I’ve already gotten some great suggestions for what I could do to continue development, though. When I combine those ideas with the ones I already had, I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to shape the project into something truly useful for SharePoint administrators.
If you or someone you know is a SharePoint administrator using the OOTB tools for backup scripting, please check out the project. I’d really love to hear from you!
SharePoint Saturday Denver
As I type this, I’m in Colorado at the close of the third (annual) SharePoint Saturday Denver event. This year’s event was phenomenal – a full two days of SharePoint goodness! Held on Friday November 11th and Saturday November 12th at the Colorado Convention Center, this year’s event was capped at 350 participants for Saturday. A full 350 people signed-up, and the event even had a wait list.
“Are my nightly SQL Server backups good enough?” “Do I need an off-site disaster recovery facility?” “How do I even start the process of disaster recovery planning?” These are just a few of the more common questions that arise when the topic of SharePoint disaster recovery comes up. As with most things SharePoint, the real answer to each question is oftentimes “it depends.” In this business and process-centric session, we will be taking a look at the topic of SharePoint disaster recovery from multiple perspectives: business continuity planner, technical architect, platform owner, and others. Critical concepts and terms will be explained and defined, and an effective process for analyzing and formulating a disaster recovery plan will be discussed. We’ll also highlight some common mistakes that take place when working to build a disaster recovery strategy and how you can avoid them. By the end of this session, you will be armed with the knowledge needed to plan or review a disaster recovery strategy for your SharePoint environment.
The reason I amended the abstract is because the previous abstract for the session didn’t do enough to call out the fact that the presentation is primarily business-centric rather than technically focused. Many of the folks who initially came to the session were SharePoint IT pros and administrators looking for information on backup/restore, mirroring, configuration, etc. Although I cover those items at a high level in this new talk, they’re only a small part of what I discuss during the session.
On Saturday, I delivered my “’Caching-In’ for SharePoint Performance” talk during the first slot of the day. I really enjoy delivering the session; it’s probably my favorite one. I had a solid turn-out, and I had some good discussions with folks both during and after the presentation.
As I mentioned, this year’s event was a two day event. That’s a little unusual, but multi-day SharePoint Saturday events appear to be getting some traction in the community – starting with SharePoint Saturday The Conference a few months back. Some folks in the community don’t care much for this style of event, probably because there’s some nominal cost that participants typically bear for the extra day of sessions. I expect that we’ll probably continue to see more hybrid events, though, because I think they meet an unaddressed need that falls somewhere between “give up my Saturday for free training” and “pay a lot of money for a multi-day weekday conference.” Only time will tell, though.
On the Horizon
Event though 2011 isn’t over yet, I’m slowing down on some of my activities save for SharePointBAC (my new extracurricular pastime). 2012 is already looking like it’s going to be a big year for SharePoint community activities. In January I’ll be heading down to Texas for SharePoint Saturday Austin, and in February I’ll be heading to San Francisco for SPTechCon. I’ll certainly cover those activities (and others) as we approach 2012.
This post covers my summer SharePoint activities, including a number of appearances at SharePoint Saturday events and SPUGs. I also talk about a few other tidbits, including an appearance on Microsoft’s Talk TechNet broadcast.
My family recently relocated from the west side of Cincinnati to the east side, and it’s been a major undertaking – as anyone who’s familiar with Jim Borgman’s comic series on the east and west sides of Cincinnati can appreciate. Between the move and some other issues, I had planned on taking it easy with SharePoint activities for a while.
Despite that goal, it seems I still have a handful of SharePoint-related things planned this summer. Here’s what’s going on.
Office Web Apps’ Cache Article
As a product manager for Idera, I occasionally author articles for the company’s SharePoint Smarts e-newsletter. A couple of weeks back, I wrote an article titled Quick Tips for Managing the SharePoint 2010 Office Web Apps’ Cache. The article basically provides an overview of the Office Web Apps’ cache and how it can be maintained for optimal performance.
The main reason I’m calling the article out here (in my blog) is because I put together a couple of PowerShell scripts that I included in the article. The first script relocates the Office Web Apps’ cache site collection to a different content database for any given Web application. The second script displays current values for some common cache settings and gives you the opportunity to change them directly.
The scripts (and article contents) are helpful for anyone trying to manage the Office Web Apps in SharePoint 2010. Check them out!
Talk TechNet Appearance
On Wednesday, July 6th (tomorrow!), I’ll be on Talk TechNet with Keith Combs and Matt Hester. I’m going to be talking with Keith and Matt about SharePoint, disaster recovery, and anything else that they want to shoot the breeze about. 60 minutes seems like a long time, but I know how quickly it can pass once my mouth starts going …
Here’s the fun part (for you): the episode is presented live, and anyone who registers for the event can “call in” with questions, comments, etc. Feel free to call in and throw me a softball question … or heckle me, if that’s your style! Although I don’t know Keith personally (yet), I do know Matt – and knowing Matt, things will be lighthearted and lively.
On Thursday the 7th (yeah, this is a busy week), I’ll be heading down to Evansville, Indiana, to speak at the Evansville user group. This is something that Rob Wilson and I have been discussing for quite some time, and I’m glad that it’s finally coming to fruition!
I’ll be presenting my SharePoint 2010 and Your DR Plan: New Capabilities, New Possibilities! session. The abstract reads as follows:
Disaster recovery planning for a SharePoint 2010 environment is something that must be performed to insure your data and the continuity of business operations. Microsoft made significant enhancements to the disaster recovery landscape with SharePoint 2010, and we’ll be taking a good look at how the platform has evolved in this session. We’ll dive inside the improvements to the native backup and restore capabilities that are present in the SharePoint 2007 platform to see what has been changed and enhanced. We’ll also look at the array of exciting new capabilities that have been integrated into the SharePoint 2010 platform, such as unattended content database recovery, SQL Server snapshot integration, and configuration-only backup and restore. By the time we’re done, you will possess a solid understanding of how the disaster recovery landscape has changed with SharePoint 2010.
It’ll be a bit of a drive from here to Evansville and back, but I’m really looking forward to talking shop with Rob and his crew on Thursday!
SharePoint Saturday New York City (SPSNYC)
I’ll be heading up to New York City at the end of the month to present at SharePoint Saturday New York City on July 30th. I’ll be presenting SharePoint 2010 and Your DR Plan: New Capabilities, New Possibilities! session, and it should be a lot of fun.
Amazingly enough, the primary registration (400 seats) for the event “sold out” in a little over three days. Holy smokes – that’s fast! The event is now wait listed, so if you haven’t yet signed up … you probably won’t get a spot :-(
On August 4th, I’ll be heading back up to Mason, Ohio, to present for my friends at the Cincinnati SharePoint User Group. My presentation topic this time around will be “Caching-In” for SharePoint Performance. Here’s the abstract:
Caching is a critical variable in the SharePoint scalability and performance equation, but it’s one that’s oftentimes misunderstood or dismissed as being needed only in Internet-facing scenarios. In this session, we’ll build an understanding of the caching options that exist within the SharePoint platform and how they can be leveraged to inject some pep into most SharePoint sites. We’ll also cover some sample scenarios, caching pitfalls, and watch-outs that every administrator should know.
Like most of my presentations, this one started as a PowerPoint. I converted it over to Prezi format some time ago, and I’ve been having a lot of fun with it since. I hope the CincySPUG folks enjoy it, as well!
SharePoint Saturday The Conference (SPSTC)
If you haven’t heard of SharePoint Saturday The Conference yet, then the easiest way for me to describe is this way: it’s a SharePoint Saturday event on steroids. Instead of being just one Saturday, the event is three days long. Expected attendance is 2500 to 3000 people. It’s going to be huge.
I submitted a handful of abstracts for consideration, and I know that I’ll be speaking at the event. I just don’t know what I’ll be talking about at this point. If you’re going to be in the Washington, DC area on August 11th through 13th, though, consider signing up for the conference!
SharePoint Saturday Columbus (SPSColumbus)
The 2nd SharePoint Saturday Columbus event will be held on August 20th, 2011, at the OCLC Conference Center in Columbus, Ohio. Registration is now open, and session submissions are being accepted through the end of the day tomorrow (7/6).
Along with Brian Jackett, Jennifer Mason, and Nicola Young, I’m helping to plan and execute the event on the 20th. I’m handling speaker coordination again this year – a role that I do enjoy! We’ve had a number of great submissions thus far; in the next week or so, we (the organizing committee) will be putting our heads together to make selections for the event. Once those selections have been made, I’ll be communicating with everyone who submitted a session.
If you live in Ohio and don’t find Columbus to be an exceptionally long drive, I encourage you to head out to the SharePoint Saturday site and sign up for the event. It’s free, and the training you’ll get will be well-worth the Saturday you spend!
This post covers my SharePoint community activities for the Spring of 2011. There’s quite a bit going on, including back-to-back-to-back SharePoint Saturday events!
It’s turning out to be a very busy Spring – more so than I would have originally guessed (or planned). That’s okay, though: there’s very little else I’d rather be doing than getting out and spending time with the SharePoint community at-large! Spending time with the community also means I’m getting out of my basement, and that’s really good for my Vitamin D levels …
Here’s what I have coming up (or just passed) this Spring:
The SQL Server Worldwide User Group (SSWUG) recently put on their entirely virtual DBTechCon event. One of the original speakers for the event ended up having to cancel just before the event was due to take place, so the SSWUG folks had a gap and asked if I could fill it. It took some scrambling, but I was able to pull together three sessions for them on a combination of SharePoint disaster recovery (DR) and performance topics.
Although the event has passed, it’s still possible to access the sessions on-demand.
SharePoint Saturday Saint Louis
I’ll actually be heading over to Saint Louis today (Friday, April 29th) for tomorrow’s SharePoint Saturday Saint Louis. My co-author and good buddy John Ferringer and I will be getting the band back together to do our “Saving SharePoint” session on SharePoint disaster recovery.
Like all other SharePoint Saturday events, the event is free to the public. Come on out if you’re in the Saint Louis area for a free day of training, socializing, and giveaways!
SharePoint Saturday Houston
Houston, Texas, will be hosting its SharePoint Saturday Houston event next Saturday on May 7th. I’ll be traveling down to Houston on Thursday for some business-related items, but I’ll be speaking at the event on Saturday. I’ll be giving my “’Caching-In’ for SharePoint Performance” talk – now in Prezi form.
Houston’s SharePoint Saturday event is one of the bigger ones that takes place, and the line-up of speakers is phenomenal. I hope to see you there!
Dayton SharePoint User Group
On the evening of Tuesday, May 10th, I’ll be heading up to Dayton to spend some time with the Dayton SharePoint User Group. I met Tony Maddin (who heads up the group) after a Cincinnati SPUG meeting, and Tony asked if I would come up and speak to the recently formed Dayton SPUG. I jump at just about any opportunity to speak, so on Tuesday the 10th I’ll be delivering a SharePoint DR session to the group.
SharePoint Saturday Michigan
To wrap up the SharePoint Saturday hat trick, I’ll be heading up to Troy, Michigan, for SharePoint Saturday Michigan on May 14th. Peter Serzo and crew are sure to put on another stellar event this year, and I’ll be presenting a session on SharePoint disaster recovery – specifics still unknown. Stay tuned, and be sure to head over to the event on 5/14 if you’re in the area.
I feel very fortunate to have a spot at the mid-year 2011 SPTechCon event in Boston from June 1st through June 3rd. My session (Session 702) will be on June 3rd from 11:30am until 12:45pm, and I’ll be delivering “SharePoint 2010 Disaster Recovery: New Capabilities, New Possibilities” I’m really looking forward to it, and I hope that I’ll see some of you there!