How to manage Windows SharePoint Services 2003 (WSS)

The number one question I get from IT departments is, how do I manage all the WSS sites popping up in my organization?

There seems to be a lot of frustration because many customers have not been in able to get a ahead of the WSS team site sprawl and manage the solution correctly.  At best most IT shops throw some SAN storage and backup solutions behind it so the business does not hammer them for not being able to manage the size, and capacity or so they do not lose business critical documents.  You and I both know this only a reaction to the problem and not a long standing solution.

The answer to the question, how do I manage this is really three fold:

  1. Install SharePoint Portal server - No, this does not mean replace your current intranet or portal unless you want to do so.  I can't express this point enough (keep reading for thoughts on the "portal" part of SharePoint in your organization).
  2. Implement a management pack for monitoring like MOM's management pack (yes, I understand everyone is not running MOM, and customers may be running other vendor solutions for monitoring the enterprise; however in this scenario we are not talking about monitoring the enterprise, we are talking about about monitoring your WSS/SharePoint environment).  Unless you have the knowledge to create a management pack in your vendors solution to properly monitor an enterprise deployment of WSS, then I would make the argument the cost of your time creating a custom solution is not worth the cost of just using the MOM management pack.  This however is completely up to you.
  3. Implement a process to integrate teaming sites in your organization (notice I did not say WSS sites, but teaming sites), by forming a group in your organization designed to address the subject of collaboration (not portals, instant messaging and document management, these are different topics by themselves).  Collaboration crosses the boundaries of enterprise search, sharing information (such as documents), and connecting people with other people and resources in the organization.  It is important to keep in mind this is about connecting people with the right resources, not just a variety of tools to manage documents or portals to display company annoucements and find phone numbers out of the directory).

The challenge with installing SharePoint for most companies is that the Microsoft team generally tries to sell it as "the corporate portal" and some customers are pushing back allowing WSS but not SharePoint because most of you already have an intranet or corporate portal that lacks the ability to create effective teaming sites (key words "effective teaming sites", I understand other tools have the ability to create team sites and they have had them for years).  SharePoint does not have to be your company portal but it is a vital component in managing the ability to find information and for managing the WSS taxonomy.

Keep in a mind a teaming site needs to be as easy to create and manage as creating a spreadsheet or else your customers will not accept it (even if you train them).  This is one of the things that makes WSS so popular among your users.  I tell my customers all the time, don't fight against WSS because there is a demand but work with your customers to manage it before it gets out of control.

Comments are welcome.


Good luck,

Ed Ferron, ATS