SUGUK East Anglia, Cambridge 2nd Nov

I went to my second East Anglian chapter event of the SUGUK this evening over in Cambridge. As usual, very capably organised by Peter and Randy with some great food and drink sponsored by Peter’s company ISC Software Solutions. Microsoft User Group Services sponsored the cost of the room, and Wrox publishing provided two SharePoint 2010 books, one of which I happily won!

John Timney, our very own SUGUK North East Organiser kicked off the evening with a cracking session on Virtualizing SharePoint, including debunking some of the myths around virtualizing SQL. One of the great recommendations he showed in this was having a SQL cluster made up of a Physical Active server and a virtualised passive server. I like that idea in providing HA with lower server costs.

John also pointed out that if you’re looking at virtualizing through hyper-V, there are some great cost savings to be had if you purchase Data Center edition Windows Server 2008 for your virtual hosts as these include unlimited Server licenses for guests.

One of the other important aspects John raised was around the idea of the NUMA (None Uniform Memory Access) threshold and the need to understand how this affects your virtual infrastructure. I didn’t fully grasp it during his session and it’s something I’m going to have to have a quick read up on, however as I understood it, if you have and 8 Core server with 64Gb of memory, then the NUMA threshold is 64/8 giving 8Gb. This is the maximum memory that you could give to a virtual instance server on that host.

As I said, something to be aware of and certainly to review further to help understand.

Following a short break for Pizza and chat, Benjamin Athawes (@benjaminathawes) proceeded to give us his views on 10 ways to avoid common mistakes in SharePoint Administration. This was brought about he said by seeing the same questions being raised time and again on the SharePoint forums around the community.

Overall, Ben gave us some great common sense viewpoints and some good quotes from well known community contributors, my favourite being Andrew Woodward’s “If you don’t have a test farm, you don’t have a production farm.”

I did like all the points that Ben raised, but also had a couple of comments.

  • Use the SharePoint Solutions Deployment Framework

I absolutely agree with Ben on this one, in fact in his slide I don’t think he went far enough as he focussed on things like deploying code directly to the GAC manually, but didn’t touch on the performance improvements brought about by deploying artefacts through the solution framework. Ben and I had a quick chat about this after his session and I pointed out the performance increases and benefits from caching that can be had by deploying things such as CSS, XSLT directly to the filesystem through solutions, rather than placing them into the Content Database through SharePoint designer.

  • PowerShell isn’t just for Developers.

Ok, the developer in me has some qualms about this one, Yes I agree that on the face of it, the PowerShell functionality is great for IT pros to use, however I don’t believe that IT Pros should be using the Object Model. The actions an IT Pro takes should be restricted to running cmdlets and scripting those cmdlets.

If you as a PowerShell user need to instantiate an SPWeb object, then I think that there is a good cause for a SharePoint developer to be writing a managed code cmdlet for you to use. (yes this is fairly simple to do and there is documentation on MSDN to do it..).

Unless you understand object disposal, you shouldn’t be allowed near SPWeb or SPSite, or perhaps a multitude of objects within SharePoint. A case in point is a client I worked with who couldn’t understand why their server kept crashing during backups. When I investigated the script, I found a whole cacophony of nested loops that instantiated SPWebs from the AllWebs collection, then opened the next SPWeb and instantiated them ALL again, slowly sucking up memory resources until the server couldn’t function and fell over.

All in all a great session and some good discussion points, I enjoyed myself and found both presentations very interesting and appealing.

Ben is running this same session and SharePoint Saturday in a couple of weeks time, so I would recommend you take a look.


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