Food for thought: my favourite #ISCLondon quotes

I have spent the last 3 days at the  in London, organised by Combined Knowledge.

The event was well attended and by all accounts was a big success. Interestingly the organiser (a friendly chap named Steve Smith) made a decision to structure the event in such a way that each session was a continuation of the previous one, allowing an overall story to evolve over the course of the event. Personally I think the format worked and from what I have heard the speakers enjoyed collaborating to achieve this (I wonder if they used a SharePoint site?). It certainly allowed a more in-depth look at topics that might have otherwise been skimmed over (this was particularly the case for the PowerShell sessions that kicked off the IT PRO track).

Although I did take a bunch of notes, I thought that a concise, albeit slightly terse way of documenting the highlights would be a list of my favourite quotes from each of the sessions that I attended. This is really for my own future reference but hopefully it’s useful for those that weren’t able to attend too. You will notice that the sessions aren’t purely technical – I dipped into a few “fluffy” (read: business) sessions to see what all the fuss is about.

The number of bullet points is not representative of the quality of the sessions – it really depends on the speaker style, whether the sessions were demo heavy and whether or not a point could be generalised to avoid misinterpretation.

Let me know if you spot any mistakes or have any queries.

PowerShell (IT101-IT102)

Gary Lapointe, Spencer Harbar, Chandima Kulathilake

  • Utilising a combination of PowerShell with a separate XML input file allows for “static scripts and dynamic parameters“, avoiding the need to re-test for each environment.
  • Using SQL aliases is a no brainer“. – you can’t point to a specific SQL instance using DNS

SQL (IT103-IT104)

Wayne Ewington, Ben Curry, Neil Hodgkinson

  • When troubleshooting disk performance issues, always ask “what else is on the SAN?”
  • Different LUNs does not mean different spindles” – when troubleshooting disk throughput issues
  • “A large number of smaller disks will perform better than a small number of large disks”
  • “Disk performance is about throughput, not capacity
  • “Say NO to virtual disks for SQL server” – mount LUNs directly
  • Ask yourself “What specific problem are you trying to solve?” – when considering RBS
  • “The closer your RPO/RTO numbers are to 0, the more expensive your solution will be
  • “Consider multiple farms” when naming databases – e.g. SP_Farm1_Content_Intranet
  • “It depends on the provider” – the answer to most RBS questions
  • SQL indexes are based on GUIDs” – which contributes to fragmentation in SharePoint

User Profile Service (IT105)

Spence Harbar, Kimmo Forss

  • User profiles can be augmented using BCS” – e.g. to add data from a HR databases
  • Identity management is primarily a political discussion, not technical”
  • AD assessments should be performed up front, prior to a SharePoint project starting”
  • “You cannot do identity management without a metadirectory” – FIM being an example of a metadirectory solution
  • Logging on as the farm account is one of the top 5 worst practices in SharePoint administration”

Delivering Business Applications (CS706)

Ian Woodgate

  • SharePoint is typically a higher up front cost but lower long term cost, meaning it’s a strategicinvestment” – compared to traditional custom built apps.
  • “Sometimes scoping the problem is more work than solving it”

Building a new Intranet (IW507-IW508)

Mark Orange

  • Your Intranet should be a “many sites experience” – as opposed to one monolithic portal
  • “Analogous to a shopping mall” – i.e. food labels (metadata), “get in, get out” ideal
  • “Focus on definitions, not labels” – e.g. not “How we work”, focus on “The place to find out what I need to perform my role”
  • SharePoint is not a solution – it’s a dirty word that should be removed from our vocabulary”
  • Enable people for solutions, not SharePoint”
  • “Consider content publishers, not just consumers” – how will the content be edited?
  • “Bend > buy > build” – start with bend, only build if absolutely necessary.
  • Prove before you move” – through prototyping, to justify moving from “bend” towards “buy” and “build”
  • Train the trainer allows for scalable education”
  • Searching everything doesn’t work” – use scopes.

Search (IT109-IT110)

Neil Hodgkinson

  • “The default search config is not recommended – split it” – 1 schedule and 1 content source is inflexible.
  • Instant indexing is not possible” – it takes 1 minute to spin up
  • Crawler impact rules are an easy way to DOS a farm”
  • Search results removal is instant” – URL is dropped from the index
  • Configuring search with PowerShell can be invasive” – e.g. due to DB moves

Capacity planning and performance testing (IT112-IT113)

Steve Smith and Ben Curry

  • “Try to break your farm to establish a baseline and thresholds” – obviously not in production hours J
  • Visual Studio 2010 is a great tool for load testing and is not just for developers”
  • “An old client may not be able to tax a new server” – ensure your test rig(s) have enough hardware
  • Build in think times” to ensure more accurate testing.
  • Test search queries when load testing” as more developers start to utilise search in custom code
  • Additional hardware can have an order of magnitude improvement” – in the demo we added an additional CPU core to each WFE, which drastically improved our RPS figures
  • Test third party products too”

Exploring SharePoint Enterprise features (BUS314)

Andrew Woodward

  • “It’s difficult to partition Enterprise and Standard functionality” – e.g. site templates that include Ent features
  • Best bets are analogous to search engine ads”
  • Put effort into reviewing search queries, especially failed ones”
  • “Don’t buy Enterprise just for chart part Web parts”
  • “SPD is a great BA prototyping tool” – e.g. for workflows
  • InfoPath is great for validating user input”
  • The Microsoft BI stack delivers functionalzero vanity output – PerformancePoint adds shine” – for flashy exec dashboards J
  • SharePoint should not be considered mature yet” – compared to some other products/vendors

What’s next? (BUS315)

Bill English

  • Business requirements should always be technology agnostic
  • SharePoint will surface business dysfunction” – probably my favourite quote.
  • Politics can screw up a great technical design

Office 365 (IT116)

Spence Harbar, Kimmo Forss

  • “The Office 365 Dedicated team are doing what every IT PRO team should be doing” – when it comes to validating custom solutions being deployed to the environment.