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Presentation 3: How SharePoint Plays an Important Role in Secure Collaboration...

Presentation 3: How SharePoint Plays an Important Role in Secure Collaboration

Presenters:
Kamran Ziai - Project Coordinator, The University of Texas at Austin
Linda Buckley - Business Analyst, The University of Texas at Austin
Shaun Evans - Senior Systems Administrator, The University of Texas at Austin

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  • Hello, my name is kamran ziai and I would like to introduce my colleagues Linda Buckley and Shaun Evans. Shaun is our technical lead on SharePoint and Linda has been instrumental in brining the knowledge and excitement of SharePoint to some of our business users. I have worked on SharePoint training, governance, SLA and business model. We all work at Information technology services (ITS) which is the central IT organization at the University of Texas at austin.
  • We would like to cover the following areas today: - A quick overview of our architecture for those of you interested in the infrastructure Also, SharePoint is being used around our campus in many areas. We chose examples from academic, administrative and project management sites. These examples will show the different approaches that have proven successful for the users. As part of preparation for this presentation and also to help us improve our own SharePoint environment we also conducted interviews with SharePoint architects and users from academic and state agencies. We will review some of the interesting facts we gathered from those interviews. Finally, we will talk about some advantages and discuss some cautionary notes from our own experiences.
  • In our environment we use the following major components: 4 Front-end servers (2 virtual, 2 physical) Virtual servers are on VMWare ESX An MSSQL 2005 cluster is the backend We use Netscaler load balancers. These are used extensively for many of our services.
  • We wanted to make sure we can host category I data which includes sensitive, confidential information. Also our SharePoint sites needed to be accessible to our users from home and elsewhere. So we had to provide encryption for data in transit. We use SSL certificates to encrypt web traffic for all the servers involved in this architecture. Our main site has 7 certificates. Also, where we host branded sites for certain departments you’ll see seven certificates as well. I will elaborate on the concept of branded site later in this presentation. Now, lets look at a diagram of our environment:
  • On the left you see the end users who could be connecting to SharePoint from campus or elsewhere. In the middle you see our load balancers and then the server farm which has a mix of virtual and physical servers. There servers perform identical functions except that one of the physical servers is also the indexer. In the future we might migrate to all virtual servers when we move to the 64bit architecture including our SQL cluster. For authentication we use our central Active Directory which has identities for all of our users.
  • There are a few options available for departments who want to use SharePoint. Some of the departments have their own SharePoint servers. However, most of the rest of campus uses the ITS’ central SharePoint service. Some of our departments have a strong affinity to their own departmental identity such as law.utexas.edu. In order to satisfy such requirements we can host such “branded” sites. These departments are charged for extra certificates, content database etc. With the increasing popularity of SharePoint we chose to move the initial step of requesting sits to an online tool we have created for ITS. For those customers who are not sure about SharePoint’s suitability for their environment we can give them a trial site for up to 30 days. We highly recommend that our site administrators spend the time to familiarize themselves with SharePoint and plan the details of their sites.
  • Shaun
  • We started with SharePoint server 2.0 a few years ago, we then upgraded to SharePoint server 3.0 which you can downloaded for free since it is included in the Windows Server 2003 and 2008 licenses. Last year we upgraded to MOSS 2007 standard edition. This version provides additional features that turned this service to more of a portal application. Users get links to all their sites and we can provide “my sites” which is a personal area for each user of SharePoint. At the time we were planning the upgrade to MOSS 2007 we did not have a campus license for Microsoft’s enterprise CAL. That CAL is needed to take advantage of MOSS 2007 Enterprise features. Since then our new Microsoft campus agreement has been finalized and now we have the enterprise CAL. So we are planning to upgrade to MOSS 2007 Enterprise which give us better work flow capabilities. We have ongoing efforts to address training, governance and communication needs of this service.
  • When you research SharePoint you see frequent references to SharePoint governance. To us governance means that we make sure to run the service with input from users, make sure there is enough training available for end users, site administrators and developers. We also have to ensure that we have a logical business model so the service cost recovery and future growth is addressed. The governing body will also address provisioning process, what does the user get in addition to just a blank site? How do we go about making changes to the system? This could be as simple as changing a template to upgrades and more. We currently have an SLA in place for this service and the governing body will be in charge of making sure the SLA is kept up to date and its requirements are met. Right now is an active area at UT-Austin.
  • As we mentioned before we have been engaging in conversations with others academic institutions and State agencies. We have found such interactions very useful to make sure what we are doing with SharePoint is in line with best practices and avoid reinventing the wheel whenever possible. We might have talked to some of you in the audience and if so we thank you for sharing your knowledge with us! We hope that such interactions can happen in all areas of IT to help us improve our services. Here are three examples from our interviews
  • MD Anderson is a medical component within UT-Systems. The are using MOSS 2007 Enterprise, have about 8000 unique users and host about 200 departmental site collections. SharePoint is used for Intranet and Extranet but no internet purposes.
  • It is important to emphasize that the medical environment has strict regulations for privacy and security of data. The major set of rules come from HIPPA (Health Information Portability and Accountability Act) . At MD Anderson each site administrator is required to categorize the data on their site. This is then shown to every visitor of that site with an icon so there will be no confusion. It is expected that the users of each site have enough understanding of HIPPA and other regulations so that they will treat the information appropriately. In order to be able to monitor the use of documents within all sites the administrators do rigorous logging of SharePoint activities.
  • The key point I want you to take away from this slide is that patching can be a nightmare. The problem with SharePoint is that the System Administrator can only test certain parts of the environment and cannot always count on every site administrator to test their site and their tools during testing period. So, it is always possible that a patch can break a customized site and we only know about it after installing the patch in production. Somehow we have to find a way to test all sites automatically but we are not aware of anyway of doing it at this time. A good communication channel between the system administrator and site administrators is essential for addressing problems. Also, backing up the system before patching can help reduce the risk and provide a way to get back to previous state. MD Anderson is creating custom toolsets which reflect their business processes. They think they will be able to replace some third party software with SharePoint sites. They point out an interesting dilemma for patching of sharepoint servers. Normally we all try to run a parallel testing environment where we can test Microsoft’s monthly patches before we install them in our production environment.
  • Texas Christian University uses MOSS 2007 with external connector. This connector is useful if you want your users to access your site from outside your environment and there is a potential for your sites to become publicly available. In TCU’s case they create accounts for external users such as research collaborators or candidates. This shows the potential of SharePoint in providing a safe environment for research.
  • TCU also uses SharePoint for project management and they mentioned the use of this tool in conference planning by the Nursing school. They provide guidance and templates to make sure the sites have a consistent look and feel. They also emphasized that only backing up the database is not enough for a speedy restore. So backing up both object and point-in-time backups are essential.
  • Texas Legislative Council is a State agency that uses MOS 2007 enterprise. They have about 150 users mostly from the IT staff and they have one site collection with multiple sub sites. SharePoint has allowed them to have one central hub for information and communication including oncall list, change management etc. An important lesson from TLC’s experience is that you should not base your SharePoint sites on your organizational chart. Their previous SharePoint environment was based on their Org chart but when hey moved to MOSS 2007 last year they redesigned it to be much more flat and easy to navigate. They find this much better suited for them and we have found this in many other places as well.
  • So, let’s take a look at samples of SharePoint use around our campus. We reflect the approach that each of these sites chose for their site. Our Law School is actively using SharePoint for their faculty, staff and students. The Business Scholl who runs their own SharePoint servers has been using SharePoint successfully for both students and administrators. We will address one use of SharePoint by the dean’s office.
  • Law school has various categories of users and sites…
  • 1. Student Law Journals: Each has a SharePoint site that they use to collaborate on their publications. Several of them have a structure with multiple levels of authorizations and workflows such as contributor, to editor, to publisher. Their complete publishing process and communication takes place on their site. 2. Student Organizations: Each receives a site when they are registered. Slowly being adopted as a centralized site for their information in regards to documents and calendar items. 3. Faculty: There are internal and external collaborative efforts. Sites are set up on an as needed basis. We have several faculty who serve on committees or foundations that have sites set up as a centralized repository. We also have faculty who collaborate with faculty at other schools that have specific sites set up. 4. Law Centers and Law clinics have sites where both students and faculty share information. 5. The Law School HR Department keeps all documentation relating to management issues and resources available on their site. 7. Foundation - Campaign collaboration with law school administrators and alumni who function as recruiters and committee members. 8. LTS - Policy and Help documentation Wiki.
  • Let us show you the actual site from our Business school. This particular SharePoint site is used extensively as an intranet for that department.
  • Yes, this looks like a lot of information! This is actually a default view of SharePoint without much customization. The Dean’s office uses this site as an intranet. So faculty and staff can find departmental news, administrative forms and even procedures by going to this site. Wherever appropriate there is a link to other sites around campus so the staff at the Business school do not have to be the keeper of the information that is being offered by other entities on campus. This is a great starting point for faculty and staff.
  • Look at all the forms that are gathered in one place. Lets look at the upper right hand side. The “view” option is a very powerful tool. We use this in many sites that have large lists. You can choose to just look at the area you might be interested in instead of having to parse through large number of entries.
  • Business school has put information about all their resources such as rooms on SharePoint. You can see all the pertinent information about the room before you request it to be reserved for your event.
  • Our Project Office has been in the working of improving our business process for choosing projects across all departments within ITS. They are using SharePoint as an important tool for this process. Let’s take a look at the process we go through for project selection and I will point out where SharePoint is used in this process:
  • Basically everyone at ITS can come up with project ideas. Within each department the director chooses a way to vet these projects and will make sure the appropriate projects are entered into the SharePoint site for projects. Each director and staff will categorize their projects in three areas of “strategic”, “Maintenance” and “Improvement”. The director will then assign a priority to his/her department’s projects and “submits” the projects. Project office will then reviews all submitted projects to make sure there is consistency in details and categorization across all of ITS. The senior staff at ITS will then review these projects and based on available funds and importance of the project create a prioritized list of projects. Notice that in every step we are using SharePoint as a repository of information and have built an implied work flow for the process.
  • Here is another look at the same process from a work flow perspective. The top part shows the estimated time periods where we engage in each part of this process. These projects are for the next fiscal year which start Sept. 1 st of each year.
  • So, why do organizations use SharePoint? For one thing we can send a link to a document to everyone instead of sending the whole document. If we have several people who need to make modificaitons on the same document SharePoint can allow checkouts and checkins and provide versions so one person is not stuck with incorporating several changes into the document. This can save a lot of time when you want others to review and edit documents. One way to think about SharePoint is that it is a smart file server. Just the fact that you can keep track of changes makes it much better as a collaborative environment than a regular file share. Each Site administrator can control the contents of the site. Normally, these site administrators are a lot closer to the business units than your typical IT staff. So, the sites are much better suited to use by business staff than if it was all controlled by IT staff. You can also work on the same document whether you are at home or the office. Access to this web based technology is much easier and universal than access to the typical file servers or ftp sites. Again, by giving more control to the end users this tool is very effective in making things work for the business. So, giving control to the user can be a great advantage in making this more useful.
  • However, giving more control to the user can also bring its own problems! You can have inconsistent behavior and processes unless you bring appropriate training and guidelines to your users first. There are more ways than one to do most things on SharePoint. This can also make it non-intuitive. For example the way you change permissions is not exactly the way you handle permissions on a file server. I find the fact that I cannot nest groups a handicap so I try to use Active Directory groups instead of creating groups within SharePoint. When we moved from SharePoint Services 3.0 to MOSS 2007 and started looking at Mysites which is available with MOSS, we realized that even the best sites had some permission “leakage”. Suddenly you could see all the groups you belong to and all the sites you could access. So, if I worked in another area before and the site admin did not clean things up I still had access to the site. So, keeping track of group memberships and permissions are very important and a bit cumbersome. It is good to have a discussion about this in your environment and make sure you have a consistent methodology in your environment. For example, do we use SharePoint groups or Active Directory groups? Who creates the groups? Who can modify their membership? Is there a change management process in place so things do not fall through the cracks and permissions are consistently updated? One of the pillars of a solid SharePoint environment is training. Site administrators, owners and even users should have some training to make sure the use of the sites are consistent with your standards.
  • We put together some do’s and don’ts for your review. Don’t laugh but these things have happened to us, we are not naming names though! . 255+ character limit will resolve search indexer issues. Office 2003 or earlier may not open the document. Short and descriptive naming convention of documents, lists, sites and so on
  • Don’t setup your sharepoint sitemap as a mirror of your org chart. In most cases this will result in a convoluted organziation of documents, forms and processes. Some design and planning can save you a lot of aggravation and redesign effort later. Is everyone here familiar with tinyurl.com? If you are not you probably should take a look. This site allows you to convert a long URL to a much shorter one. So, when you refer to documents on a SharePoint site you can provide a short URL. Just go to tinyurl.com and put in a long URL and they give you a short one. You can even customize the domain to a certain extent. By default checkout is not turned on so we normally make it mandatory to avoid potential overwrites. Here we can explain that under some versions of Windows the checkout is temporary if it is not done with SharePoint. The document is checked back in if we don’t use it for a while and we could write over each other’s changes. Also, pay attention to versioning. You don’t want to save 40 version of documents! Set a reasonable number for versions to save.
  • In conclusion we have to say that SharePoint can add much value to your business but planning, design and training are very important. Make sure that you have someone at high places become the champion of SharePoint. Of course this is true for everything but in the case of SharePoint you can add much more value if everyone uses it and uses it in a consistent manner.

K Ziai Share Point At Ut K Ziai Share Point At Ut Presentation Transcript

  • How SharePoint Plays an Important Role in Secure Collaboration
  • Introduction
    • Kamran Ziai
    • Linda Buckley
    • Shaun Evans
    • Information Technology Services (ITS)
    • The University of Texas at Austin
  • Outline
    • Architectural Overview
    • What is available at UT-Austin, ITS?
    • Examples from around the State
    • Examples from around campus
    • Advantages, recommendations, cautions
    • Conclusion
  • Architectural Overview
    • 4 Front-end servers (2 virtual, 2 physical)
    • Virtual servers are on VMWare ESX
    • An MSSQL 2005 cluster is the backend
    • We use Netscaler load balancers
    • Active Directory
  • Security
    • SharePoint sites can be accessed from the Internet. The administrative web sites are on a non-standard port.
    • Encryption is Secure Socket Layer (SSL).
    • Each branded site up to 7 certificates.
  •  
  • ITS SharePoint Options
    • “ Branded” vs. “Unbranded”
    • Departmental users can provision sites by use of an online tool called TRAC
    • Strongly suggest detailed planning ahead of request
    • We grant 30 day trials on request
  • Statistics as of March 2009
    • Active Users: 9000~
    • Total Database Size: 103 GB
    • Type of Users: staff, students, faculty and
      • affiliates of the University
    • Site collections: 85
    • Branded Sites: 10
  • Enterprise vs. Standard
    • Currently running MOSS 2007 Standard edition
    • Planning to upgrade to MOSS 2007 Enterprise June 2009 based on need
    • Training, governance and communication are key
  • Governance
    • Input from user community
    • Training users, developers, site admins
    • Business model
    • Provisioning process
    • Change management, roadmap
    • Service Level Agreement …..
  • Examples from around the State
    • MD Anderson
    • TCU
    • Texas Legislative Council
  • MD Anderson
    • MOSS 2007 Enterprise
    • 8000 unique users
    • 200 departmental site collections
    • Intranet and Extranet but no internet
  • MD Anderson
    • Medical Environment (HIPPA)
    • Rigorous Logging
    • Site Administrators/Site Owners are Responsible for Categorizing the Site Data Type
  • MD Anderson
    • Custom Toolsets for Business Processes
    • Replacing Third Party Software
    • Created Customizations
    • Patch Testing is a Nightmare
    • Microsoft’s Patches can Adversely Affect Customizations
  • TCU
    • MOSS 2007 with External Connector
    • Used for Collaboration amongst Internal and External Users
    • Created Accounts for External Users
    • 60% of External User are Research Collaborators
  • TCU
    • Used for Project Management
    • Used for Conference Planning by Nursing School
    • Create Consistency in the Look and Feel
    • Object and Point-in-Time Backups are Critical
  • Texas Legislative Council
    • MOSS 2007 Enterprise
    • 150 users, 1 site collection
    • IT staff mostly
    • Oncall list, central and consolidated communication hub , change management
    • Not based on organizational chart
  • Examples from UT campus
    • UT-Austin School of Law
    • UT-Austin McCombs school of Business
    • UT-Austin ITS Projects office
  • UT-Austin School of Law
    • Categories of SharePoint Use
  • UT-Austin School of Law
      • Student Law Journals
      • Student Organizations
      • Faculty: collaboration, journals, committees, foundations
      • Law centers, Law clinics
      • Policies and Help Wiki
  • McCombs School of Business
    • Actual SharePoint Sites
    • McCombs Admin Portal (MAP)
    • Forms Repository
    • Room Reservation Portal
  •  
  •  
  •  
  • ITS Project Office
    • SharePoint Workflow Approach
    • Multi-Departmental Collaboration
    • Project Status Updates
    • Campus Communications on Projects
    • Agreed Strategic Projects
    • Approved Maintenance & Improvement Candidates
    ITS Roadmap
  •  
  • Advantages
    • Reduced email attachments
    • Version control
    • Smart file server
    • Site Administrators
    • Collaboration is not location dependent
    • Control is given to user
  • Caution
    • Control is given to user!
    • SharePoint is NOT intuitive.
    • Browser support issues.
    • Permissions issues.
    • Training for Site Owners & Administrators.
  • Do’s and Don’ts
    • Don’t accidentally delete your site!
    • Don’t add 45 web parts to a single page!
    • Don’t let web addresses for documents become longer than 255 characters.
    • Don’t delete user groups unless you really want to!
  • Do’s and Don’ts
    • Don’t set up your SharePoint sitemap as a mirror of your org chart.
    • Do consider using <Tiny URL>.
    • Do enable check out and versioning for document libraries.
    • Do limit the number of versions you keep.
  • Conclusions
    • SharePoint can add value to your business processes.
    • SharePoint allows you to have a central repository for important data which is much easier to secure and monitor.
    • Obtain executive sponsorship.
    • Plan, Plan, Plan…Train, Train, Train!
    • Questions?
  • Microsoft Core CAL Suite
    • Windows Server CAL, Exchange Server 2007 Standard CAL, Office SharePoint Server 2007 Standard CAL, System Center Configuration Manager Configuration Management License (CML).
  • Microsoft Enterprise CAL suite
    • CAL Suite plus Exchange Server 2007 Enterprise CAL, Office SharePoint Server 2007 Enterprise CAL, Office Comm Server 2007 Standard and Enterprise CAL, Windows Rights Management Services, System Center Operations Manager Client Operations Management License (OML), and Forefront Security Suite.
  • MOSS 2007 Std. vs. Ent.
    • SharePoint Enterprise provides 3 main features over SharePoint Standard. 
    • 1) Web Forms and Workflows ( SharePoint Enterprise includes InfoPath Form Services.)
    • 2) Business Intelligence and Reports (Excel Services )
  • MOSS 2007 Std. vs. Ent.
    • 3) Enterprise Search and Integration (Business Data Catalogue)
      • Integrating SharePoint with CRM system.
      • Integrate SharePoint with Asset Mgmt system.
      • … ..
  •