WHITEPAPER NEW FEATURES IN SHAREPOINT 2010: A DISASTER RECOVERY LOVE STORY BY SEAN MCDONOUGH AND JOHN FERRINGER
In April 2010, Microsoft released a major update to SharePoint, one of its most popular server platforms ever. Since its release, there’s been a great deal made of all the new functionality, features, and experiences thatPAGE 1 SharePoint 2010 delivers to its users and their organizations. With the launch of SharePoint 2010, Microsoft implemented sweeping changes ABOUT THE AUTHORS to almost every facet of the platform, impacting users, developers, and Sean McDonough administrators alike. Organizations had to reconcile and comprehend Sean McDonough is a Product Manager for SharePoint how to best put the new iteration of the SharePoint platform to work for Products at Idera, a Microsoft gold certified partner and their organization. creator of tools for SharePoint, SQL Server, and PowerShell. As a consultant, Sean has worked with a number of Fortune 500 At its core, SharePoint 2010 is still a multi-tier, .NET-based application companies to architect, implement, troubleshoot, tune, and customize their SharePoint environments. Sean is an MCPD, platform hosted on Windows Server and Microsoft’s Internet Information an MCTS, and the co-author of the “SharePoint 2007 Disaster Services (IIS) web server. The overwhelming majority of SharePoint Recovery Guide” and the “SharePoint 2010 Disaster Recovery 2010’s content and configuration is still stored in SQL Server databases. Guide”. The SharePoint 2010 software platform is still highly complex and often He can be reached through: difficult to implement correctly and maintain over the long haul, which Blog: http://SharePointInterface.com Twitter: @spmcdonough presents IT departments with a wide range of performance, stability, and maintenance challenges throughout its lifetime. At the same time, John Ferringer SharePoint 2010 continues to provide compelling functionality to its John is a Senior Manager with Sogeti, LLC, with over users and is often adopted virally and expanded far beyond the initial seven years of experience administering and supporting expectations of those implementing it. SharePoint technologies and over thirteen years working in the information technology consulting industry. He is the co-author of the “SharePoint 2010 Disaster Recovery Guide” One drawback organizations encounter with SharePoint is that both the and the “SharePoint 2007 Disaster Recovery Guide”. He is adoption and the expansion it encourages can often have unintended a MCTS and a MCITP for several Microsoft server products or unexpected consequences, especially in the realms of performance, and platforms, including SharePoint 2007 and 2010, System stability, and maintenance. The adoption and use of SharePoint 2010 Center Operations Manager 2007, and Hyper-V Server, as well also forces organizations to place a great deal additional importance on as a Delta Force Ranger for Office 365. He can be found online at http://www.MyCentralAdmin.com the availability and protection of the valuable content they place in their and at Twitter as @ferringer. SharePoint environments—an undertaking not to be taken lightly. The good news is that throughout its numerous releases, SharePoint has provided many tools and features to aid organizations’ disaster recovery
(DR) efforts of that valuable content. With the 2010 release, DR for minutes, but intervals can be substantially longer or shorter depending SharePoint stands poised to become even easier thanks to several new on the function of the particlular SharePoint farm or specific aspect of the capabilities and enhancements. SharePoint farm.PAGE 2 This whitepaper covers these new capabilities and enhancements and RTO is used to describe the maximum amount of time that recovery discusses how they fit into the overall SharePoint DR picture. We’ll also personnel have to return a SharePoint environment, or an explicit piece investigate when these additions may or may not make sense for your of an environment, to a pre-determined state of operational readiness organization to implement in the service of protecting your indispensable following a disaster. . RTO targets, much like RPO targets, are typically content. measured in hours or minutes. As with RPOs, RTO intervals can vary significantly. . REVISITING KEY DR CONCEPTS Before you get too far into looking at what’s new in SharePoint 2010’s The High Cost of High Performance DR capability set, spend some time revisiting important DR terms and Most administrators would love to have a SharePoint DR solution that concepts that should be kept in mind when considering DR planning and guarantees both zero data loss and zero downtime in the event that an preparation with SharePoint 2010. These fundamental considerations, outage should occur. However, these kinds of RPO/RTO targets come and the way your organization defines them, have as much impact on with a very high price tag. The important thing to remember is that how you go about protecting your SharePoint 2010 investment as the establishing accurate RPO and RTO targets is very much like preparing a platform’s new enhancements and additions do. You need to make sure financial budget: You have to balance your needs and wants against the you understand these concepts and can use them properly to plan your constraints of your resources. There is a very real chance you’re not going own SharePoint 2010 DR solutions. (For more detailed information to get all (or perhaps even any) of your wants because you have to focus on this subject, see our previous Idera whitepaper on SharePoint on your needs. Effective SharePoint DR planning is about identifying DR, “Protecting Your SharePoint Content,” and our latest book, the your critical SharePoint components, determining how to protect those SharePoint 2010 Disaster Recovery Guide.) components, understanding the constraints of your solution, and then setting reasonable expectations for your organization. RPO/RTO Two terms you are (hopefully) hearing a lot as you start your SharePoint NEW DR FEATURES DR planning are Recovery Point Objective (or RPO) and Recovery Time Before introducing the new DR features to consider in SharePoint 2010, Objective (or RTO). RPO and RTO are fundamental DR concepts used you should be cognizant of the impact the aforementioned fundamental to help organizations define key boundaries and requirements for their concepts may have on your ability to take advantage of these new customized DR solution. features. Take a look at how each new feature works, and consider whether or not the feature is going to offer you broad enough coverage RPO defines the maximum amount of data loss that is deemed acceptable and deliver the responsiveness you need. At the same time, think about in the event of a disaster. . An RPO is commonly measured in hours or what it takes to implement the feature and the costs that may come with
that implementation. Don’t allow yourself to get distracted by all the common administrative tasks against SharePoint. With SharePoint DR bells and whistles in SharePoint 2010; protecting your farm from a 2010, STSADM.exe is still around, but largely redundant, since all of disaster is serious business, and you need to focus on finding the right fit its backup and restore operations have been duplicated as PowerShell for your environment, rather than getting overly ambitious about the new cmdlets. Although there are still some administrative tasks that are easierPAGE 3 ways to use enhancements like SQL Server snapshot integration. to execute via STSADM.exe in SharePoint 2010 (none of them happen to be related to DR), the main reason STSADM.exe is still shipped with PowerShell SharePoint 2010 is to provide backward compatibility with existing Hopefully by now you’ve heard of PowerShell, the command line shell and SharePoint 2007 scripts. Microsoft has been pretty clear in stating that scripting language that Microsoft introduced in Windows Server 2008 PowerShell cmdlets are replacing STSADM.exe operations for SharePoint and Windows Vista. If you haven’t, it’s time to get up to speed. PowerShell administration going forward. is designed to accelerate and automate common administrative tasks on Windows computers, and Microsoft is positioning PowerShell as Thankfully, Microsoft designed the DR-related PowerShell cmdlets the primary command line administration tool for most of its server for SharePoint 2010 similarly to STSADM.exe’s operations, providing platforms, SharePoint 2010 included. SharePoint 2010 ships with literally a comfortable mapping of existing functions to the new cmdlets. The hundreds of pre-packaged administrative tasks (called “cmdlet” in following table illustrates STSADM.exe’s operations and their new PowerShell) for a SharePoint farm, so there is a great deal of PowerShell SharePoint 2010 cmdlet equivalents, along with some new cmdlets functionality exposed directly by the SharePoint 2010 platform. unique to SharePoint 2010: What it is PowerShell is a scripting language and command line shell intended for STSADM.exe operation (SharePoint 2007) cmdlet name (SharePoint 2010) STSADM.exe –o backup –directory … (catastrophic backup Backup-SPFarm both interactive administration and the automated execution of scripts. operation) PowerShell is especially relevant to SharePoint DR, as you can use STSADM.exe –o backup –url … (site collection backup Backup-SPSite SharePoint 2010’s built-in backup cmdlets to script-out and automate operation) backups for your farm. SharePoint 2010’s PowerShell cmdlets also *** No equivalent in SharePoint 2007 *** Backup-SPConfigurationDatabase offer several advantages over STSADM.exe, like full object-orientation for deeper scripting options, better performance, and enhanced STSADM.exe –o restore –directory … (catastrophic restore Restore-SPFarm operation) functionality. STSADM.exe –o restore –url … (site collection restore Restore-SPSite If you are already familiar with PowerShell and have used it with operation) SharePoint 2007, the idea that using PowerShell and SharePoint STSADM.exe –o backuphistory … (backup history display Get-SPBackupHistory 2010 together as a “new” system may be a little confusing. The thing operation) to remember is that with SharePoint 2007, you could use PowerShell STSADM.exe –o export … (content export operation) Export-SPWeb as a more efficient replacement for other scripting languages such as STSADM.exe –o import … (content import operation) Import-SPWeb VBScript, but you still had to call STSADM.exe when you wanted to run
What you can do with it valuable configuration data and recover it, if necessary. Using SharePoint First and foremost, PowerShell and SharePoint 2010’s new DR cmdlets 2010, you can elect to manually initiate a configuration-only backup make it much easier to create your own automated SharePoint backup of your farm through the Central Administration site. If you prefer the solutions; it’s a much more compelling upgrade over VBScript and command line or want to automate a configuration-only backup withPAGE 4 STSADM.exe, or even PowerShell and STSADM.exe. You now have full a PowerShell script, you can use the Backup-SPFarm cmdlet (using the object-orientation to do things like easily iterating through a list of –ConfigurationOnly switch) or the Backup-SPConfigurationDatabase site collections to individually back them up, integrating with the .NET cmdlet. Framework and WMI objects for a much broader range of functions and tools to build into your scripts, and much more. SharePoint 2010 uses What it is PowerShell version 2.0, so you can also leverage PowerShell’s built-in SharePoint 2010’s configuration-only backups are a significant remoting capabilities to easily manage multiple remote SharePoint improvement over a frustrating limitation of SharePoint 2007: the environments from a central management location. This reduces the time inability to capture the configuration state of the farm in a portable you spend managing your DR solution and ensures that you’re taking a manner. Configuration-only backups allow you to record important consistent approach throughout your environments. information about your SharePoint farm in a consistent and repeatable fashion, making it much easier to create a baseline image of your farm’s There’s also another interesting PowerShell cmdlet you should get to state. These backups are not, however, all encompassing. Configuration- know: Export-Clixml. Export-Clixml serializes objects (such as PowerShell only backups don’t make an exact copy of a farm’s settings; they capture objects) into XML and stores that XML data in a file. The ability of the just a portion of its settings and configuration. Configuration-only Export-Clixml cmdlet to transform objects into XML documents allows backups capture a limited, portable subset of configuration data from you to take the output of any SharePoint 2010 cmdlet and convert it into your farm, such as antivirus settings, information rights management a static text document that lists the current state and configuration of (IRM) settings, outbound email settings, installed customizations and the many important facets of your SharePoint 2010 farm. Before you solution packages, and diagnostic logging settings. What they don’t get too excited, keep in mind that the output is just documentation; you cover is actually a pretty big list, including web application configuration can’t actually use it directly as a restore source should disaster strike. settings and service application configuration settings, both of which are Export-Clixml does, however, provide a great way for you to document key pretty significant. information about your environment and generate useful point-in-time references when needed. What you can do with it Configuration-only backups are an extension of SharePoint 2010’s Protecting Your Configuration existing catastrophic backup capabilities that can help reduce your With SharePoint 2007, Microsoft did not support the practice of restoring RTO targets to a certain degree. However, they won’t eradicate all the a stand-alone backup of a farm’s configuration database into a new headaches associated with duplicating configuration settings to a farm. That restriction hasn’t changed in SharePoint 2010, but there are recovery farm. Configuration-only backups do not give you the means now new options available to organizations who want to preserve their to create an exact clone of your existing farm down to the most minute
detail. Rather, they help you capture more information about the setup What you can do with it and configuration of your farm and get a head start on a rebuilding effort Unlike previous versions of the platform, SharePoint 2010 includes native should it be necessary. The fact that configuration-only backups cover support for SQL Server database snapshots. You can create, delete, your farm’s customizations and solution packages is a big advantage over and manage snapshots explicitly through PowerShell and/or customPAGE 5 the challenges that SharePoint 2007 presented for change management code which is written against the SharePoint object model using the around those very same items. SPDatabase class. In addition, a number of platform functions include support for leveraging database snapshots in their operations. SQL Server Database Snapshots Another important facet of SharePoint’s infrastructure is its databases. For example, the Backup-SPSite PowerShell cmdlet includes a – SQL Server is a vital and necessary component of every SharePoint UseSqlSnapshot switch that allows you to perform a site collection farm, and the SharePoint databases hosted in it are often a key point of backup against a snapshot of a content database, as opposed to the emphasis for successful SharePoint DR planning. SQL Server backups actual database. Using a snapshot for this operation removes the need have long been a viable means of backing up SharePoint content, but to lock the site collection to prevent update and write operations to with SharePoint 2010, you now have the ability to take advantage of the database when the backup is being performed. When the backup a feature that Microsoft first included in SQL Server 2005: database operation is complete, the cmdlet then takes care of cleaning up the snapshots. particular database snapshot. The net effect is that users can continue to operate as they normally would without interference from the backup What it is operation. Export-SPWeb also provides a similar level of functionality for Database snapshots are fixed, read-only views of existing databases integrating with SQL Server snapshots. running within a live SQL Server database instance. When a snapshot is created, SQL Server creates a sparse file in its file system. As changes are The ability to avoid locking a site collection during a backup by using made to the database after the snapshot is taken, SQL Server updates the database snapshots can prove very useful, especially for environments sparse file with the content of the database prior to when the change was with large amounts of content in their site collections. Since SharePoint made. Combining the contents of the live database with the contents of 2010 locks a site collection by default when it is backed up via Backup- the sparse file yields the snapshot, and this allows the snapshot to remain SPSite, using snapshots permits sites to remain available for writing, consistent to a point in time even as normal read and write activities deleting, and updating while a backup is still underway. continue to change the live database. There are a few points to take into account when using snapshots. Database snapshots were first introduced with SQL Server 2005 Primarily, using snapshots places an increased performance burden on Enterprise and Developer Editions. They are also available in the your SQL Server instance due to the overhead of writing changes to the Enterprise and Developer editions of SQL Server 2008 and the database file, while simultaneously adding the original state to the sparse Datacenter, Enterprise, and Developer editions of SQL Server 2008 R2. file. You should also note that while snapshots do a pretty effective job
of minimizing storage use, heavy reliance on snapshots may require you restores in SharePoint 2007 were often time-consuming given the time to adjust your capacity planning targets for SQL Server performance and it took to transfer backups to a recovery farm, restore the backups in storage. the recovery farm, extract content out in a manageable format, transfer that content to the production farm, and then finally restore the contentPAGE 6 Unattached Content Database Recovery correctly. That doesn’t include the time it may have taken to properly Item-level recovery from database backups in SharePoint 2007 is update the recovery farm to the correct patch level or install required both arduous and time-consuming. It’s impossible to connect restored customizations. With unattached content database recovery, RTO targets databases directly to your production farm because the SharePoint can be reduced because item-level restores can be completed much more farm already has a copy of the database attached to it. Since the goal is quickly and directly in your production farm. to recover a single item, you also need to avoid overwriting the existing database because it contains numerous other files and objects that have SQL Server Database Mirroring changed since you took the backup. Ideally, you would access items in a While most of the other new SharePoint 2010 capabilities covered so restored content database and extract them directly into your production far focus primarily on backup and restore, database mirroring support farm. The good news is that SharePoint 2010 brings you closer to this is a high availability (HA) mechanism designed to provide redundancy ideal with unattached content database recovery. and failover protection for SQL Server databases. Microsoft introduced database mirroring with SQL Server 2005, and has continued to deliver it What it is in the subsequent releases of SQL Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 R2. In practical terms, SharePoint 2010’s ability to use unattached content databases for recovery purposes removes the need for you to maintain a What it is recovery farm purely for item-level restores. As an alternative, you now With database mirroring, you set up a “principal” server to send some or have the ability to make items within a content database available for all of the databases hosted in it to a second “mirror” server. Then, SQL export without actually formally joining or attaching the content database Server automatically copies the principal’s transaction logs to the mirror to the farm. This means that while the site collections in the unattached to keep the databases in the mirror up to date with the databases in the content database are not available for your end users to access through principal. Database mirroring is one of three commonly used HA solutions a web browser, the objects in those site collections can be retrieved by for SQL Server (the other options being log shipping and database a farm administrator via SharePoint’s content export functionality. The clustering). Mirroring offers a significant advantage over transaction log contents of an unattached content database can be accessed through the shipping, because you can add a third server to the mix as a “witness,” Central Administration site’s export functionality, using the Export-SPWeb which automatically fails over client database connections from the PowerShell cmdlet, or programmatically via the SharePoint object model. principal to the mirror when the principal become unavailable. What you can do with it Database mirroring is usually more cost-effective than database The key benefit to emerge from the unattached content database clustering, which also provides redundancy and automatic failover, recovery in SharePoint 2010 is that it no longer requires a recovery farm but has a much steeper price tag to implement due to hardware for item-level restores. But there are other benefits as well. Item-level requirements. It should be noted that in order for database mirroring
to be a full HA solution, a witness server (described below) is required. Mirroring is only available in SQL Server’s Enterprise, Datacenter (SQL This requirement incurs additional hardware and software costs, as does Server 2008 R2 only), Standard, and Developer editions. Licensing for the use of synchronous database mirroring, which can have a negative these products can also be quite costly, and the hardware expenditures performance impact. for the servers must also be taken into consideration. In addition toPAGE 7 the hardware costs, Microsoft has some very specific guidelines for Although mirroring existed when SharePoint 2007 was released, the mirroring: consistent SQL Server editions/versions, gigabit bandwidth problem was that SharePoint 2007 itself was not database mirroring- between instances, a reliable network connection between instances, aware. If you configured database mirroring with a principal, a mirror, sub-millisecond latency between instances, and full recovery models for and a witness server, SharePoint 2007 wouldn’t automatically fail over mirrored databases. These guidelines add both cost and complexity to from the principal to the mirror. This meant that manual intervention the overall DR solution. or some combination of extra scripting and configuration adjustments were required to restore service should the principal go down; you had to IMPROVEMENTS TO EXISTING FEATURES tell SharePoint to consider the mirror its database host rather than the Microsoft spent a significant amount of time working to ensure that the principal. There were some scripts and articles available that showed you SharePoint 2010 platform was shipped with an array of new features to how to automate that cutover process, but they were problematic and simplify and enhance DR planning and implementation, but they didn’t had a tendency to build a tenuous and unpredictable foundation. stop there. Microsoft examined the DR features that were present in What you can do with it the SharePoint 2007 platform and found ways to improve a number of Unlike SharePoint 2007, SharePoint 2010 is database mirroring aware. If those for SharePoint 2010, something that paid off quite well in a few key you configure database mirroring with automatic failover for your farm’s areas. database hosts properly, SharePoint 2010 fails over from the principal Search Improvements database host to the mirror as necessary. This means that DR plans First of all, consider some changes to a key feature of Microsoft’s Server involving SQL Server can accommodate much more aggressive RPO and version (i.e., the “non-free” version) of the SharePoint platform: Search. RTO targets. From an operational standpoint, RPO and RTO windows are drastically reduced (effectively to zero) versus what they would be if you Most of Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007’s components had to rebuild the principal database instance from backups. and functions can be made redundant or highly available with a combination of platform features found in SharePoint, SQL Server, Discussion thus far has been about database mirroring as an HA solution, and Windows itself. SQL Server clustering and Windows Network Load not explicitly as a DR solution. In the event of a full-fledged disaster, Balancing (NLB), for example, protect against the loss of a single SQL backups are still needed; after all, database mirroring can’t help you if Server or SharePoint WFE, respectively. both sides of the mirroring configuration go down. Additionally, the cost to implement database mirroring is substantial. However, one notable exception exists in nearly every MOSS 2007 farm: The server assigned to the Office SharePoint Server Search Index
role, or simply the “indexer.” Every MOSS 2007 farm requires that at query latency. As with crawl components, query components scale both least one SSP be defined to handle tasks associated with search, My up and out to satisfy any combination of performance and redundancy Sites, audiences, and other shared service responsibilities. Each SSP requirements. relies on a single indexer to crawl farm content to build an index for thePAGE 8 purpose of answering search queries. The indexer is identified during Read-Only Databases SSP provisioning, with only one server operating in that specific role for Under normal operating conditions, SQL Server databases that are the SSP. The fact that only one server can operate as an indexer for an associated with a SharePoint environment see a steady stream of traffic. SSP serves as a natural barrier to achieving failover and redundancy for And since database traffic involves a mix of read and write requests, search indexing operations. SharePoint databases must naturally be set to operate in read-write mode. SharePoint Server 2010 breaks through the single indexer limitation of MOSS 2007 using a redesigned search crawling architecture. The role In some cases, you may want to operate a SharePoint farm with its that a search indexer plays in a MOSS 2007 farm is now filled by one databases set to read-only mode. For example, you might locate a farm or more servers hosting a SharePoint Server 2010 crawl component. in an off-site DR data center as a log-shipping destination for your Although similar in purpose to an indexer, a crawl component is stateless production farm. In this scenario, data would flow from your production in its operation and can be hosted on more than one server in a farm. environment to your DR farm, but the read-only DR environment Since more than one server can host a crawl component, content shouldn’t accept content changes that originate any place other than the crawling (indexing) can be made redundant and is no longer a single production farm and no local content changes should occur. point of failure in SharePoint Server 2010. At the same time, the indexing load in a farm can actually be split between multiple crawl components SharePoint 2007 permits the use of read-only databases, but the for increased performance. This ability to scale-up and scale-out index- experience and results leave something to be desired. In addition to a building operations is a significant improvement in search operation over variety of user experience issues, there are limitations on a number of MOSS 2007. farm-level operations and services. One limitation with SharePoint 2007 is that only content databases can be set to read-only mode. None of the The improvements don’t end with crawl components. Although the query other SharePoint databases can be placed in read-only mode, and many service in MOSS 2007 can be hosted by multiple servers to keep it from services are not even capable of working with content databases that are becoming a single point of failure, all servers answering search queries themselves running in read-only mode. in MOSS 2007 require a full copy of the search index generated by the indexer. The newer query components in SharePoint Server 2010 can One SharePoint 2007 service that is incapable of operating against read- still be hosted on multiple servers for failover and redundancy, but now, only databases is Search. Consider the implications of this limitation as query components can be configured to serve only a subset of the index it pertains to a read-only DR farm. Without the ability to crawl content partitions for a farm, a convenience that boosts throughput and reduces databases in the read-only farm, search indexing within the farm can only
occur once the databases have been toggled from read-only to read-write. operations. For both native catastrophic backup and restore operations, This change in the state of the database would normally only take place the default value is three threads but is adjustable from one to ten. These in the event of an actual failover associated with a disaster. On the other values provide you with a certain degree of control over backup and hand, if search indexing can’t be started until the point of a DR-related restore operations and how system resources are utilized during thosePAGE 9 failover, then Search is likely unavailable or of minimal value in the newly operations. Increasing the allocated thread count leads to increased promoted farm, that is, until the indexer has processed the contents of concurrency in backup and restore operations, which can result in greater the farm—a process that could take hours, days, or even longer. performance. Keep in mind that you should exercise care when modifying the values, since significantly elevated concurrency levels in backup and SharePoint 2010 removes read-only limitations by permitting read- restore operations may actually degrade performance, as bottlenecks only operation for both content databases and service applications. shift from server-related operations to the file operations tied to the The result is a better read-only database experience for both users and specified backup location. services alike. In the case of the Search service application, for example, a crawl component is now capable of working against read-only content Another significant change in SharePoint 2010’s native backup and databases to index their contents. In the previously described read- restore functionality concerns the way that Search is backed up. Under only log-shipped DR farm, this subtle but important change means that SharePoint 2007, initiating a Search backup suspended the indexer’s Search can be working to crawl the farm’s read-only content and build crawling for the duration of the Search backup. This meant that in large the index partitions needed to serve Search queries prior to a disaster. In farms with a significant corpus, the indexer was forced to play catch-up the event of a DR-related failover, Search is up-to-date and ready to go as it attempted to index content following a backup. without the need to start a full crawl from scratch. With SharePoint 2010, Search backup is now a two-step process. In the Native Backup and Restore first step, a backup of Search is run while crawling continues to take Many small to mid-size companies depend on the native backup and place; the only thing that is suspended is the merging of new crawl data restore functionality present in SharePoint to protect against catastrophic with the existing Search crawl data. Once the first-phase of the Search loss. Although native backup and restore looks, feels, and performs backup completes, a merge of the newly generated crawl data and the largely as it did under SharePoint 2007, some internal changes have existing crawl data is conducted; a differential backup of Search then been made to add new weaponry to SharePoint 2010’s arsenal. Some takes place following the merge. This improved two-step approach to of these new advantages, like the ability to back up and restore service Search backup in SharePoint 2010 means that such backups can be up to applications, require little explanation. However, a couple of other 90% more efficient than those conducted under SharePoint 2007. changes deserve some additional detail. Site Recycle Bin A review of SharePoint 2010’s Central Administration Default Backup The introduction of recycle bins with the SharePoint 2007 platform was and Restore Settings page reveals that you can now specify the number seen as a significant enhancement to end-user self-service recovery. of threads that SharePoint uses for both backup operations and restore Just like the recycle bin that Windows users are familiar with seeing
on their desktop, SharePoint’s recycle bins provide both end-users and Service applications afford a level of granularity, control, and scalability administrators with a mechanism for the recovery of deleted content that to services that MOSS 2007 left to be desired. doesn’t require IT intervention or going to an off-system backup set. The downside to this unprecedented level of flexibility is a new levelPAGE 10 With Service Pack 1 (SP1), SharePoint 2010 extends the capabilities of architectural complexity and an increase in supporting middle-tier of the recycle bins even further. . Prior to SP1, recycle bins could be infrastructure. Although they are built on top of a common Service used to restore deleted lists, libraries, list items, and documents. SP1 Application Framework, each service application is unique in its design for SharePoint 2010 enhances the safety net to include sites and entire and in the implementation of the Service Application Framework. Some site collections. This important change should mean that IT resources service applications are backed by a single SQL Server database, while receive fewer restore requests from end-users in the future and is one of some utilize multiple databases, and yet others have no backing database the many compelling reasons why you should consider upgrading your at all. Most service applications use Windows Communication Foundation SharePoint 2010 environment to SP1 if you haven’t done so already. (WCF) endpoints that are exposed through IIS, but WCF endpoints are not a firm requirement. Most service applications are also backed WHERE CAUTION IS WARRANTED by Windows services and host configuration data in the SharePoint SharePoint 2010 features a dizzying array of new capabilities and farm configuration database. Service applications also have proxies, architectural features which can sometimes blur the line between which serve as connection points for consumers, while some service SharePoint and other systems that either interface with SharePoint or are applications can even be consumed across farm boundaries. consumed by it. In the business of DR, this kind of overlap is generally viewed in a negative light, because it’s difficult to clearly define system As you can see, service applications have their components, boundaries and DR planning responsibilities. configuration, and operational data scattered throughout a SharePoint farm – and in some cases, across SharePoint farms. Backing up and Before you begin the process of disaster recovery planning for your restoring all of the data associated with a service application is no simple SharePoint 2010 environment, there are a couple of new technology and feat. In most cases, the simple act of incorporating service applications feature areas that you should take some time to learn and understand. into a DR strategy increases the complexity of the strategy significantly. If any of these are relevant to your environment, be sure to account for When planning your strategy, be sure to give service applications the them properly in any DR planning and implementation you undertake. attention they deserveand exercise test plans involving them rigorously. Service Applications Remote BLOB Storage (RBS) Gone are the “all or nothing” days of SSPs and their fixed set of service SharePoint stores nearly all user-originated content in content databases. offerings. Service applications in SharePoint 2010 have replaced the This includes file uploads, metadata pertaining to those files, and other SSPs of MOSS 2007, and in the process they have given administrators content that is entered most commonly through SharePoint’s web- the flexibility to provision and use only the services (such as Search and based user interface. Although storing everything in content databases Managed Metadata) applicable to their specific SharePoint environments. works well in many SharePoint environments, it isn’t the best fit for
all organizations. For example, some companies might prefer to store Business Connectivity Services (BCS) uploaded files on a medium that is less expensive than database storage, The Enterprise Edition of MOSS 2007 introduced SharePoint users to such as a networked file share or even cloud-based storage. Other the Business Data Catalog (BDC), and in doing so, greatly increased the organizations might desire a way to leverage features like tiered-storage value of SharePoint as an information aggregation point and data hubPAGE 11 and de-duplication of their uploaded SharePoint file content. from disparate systems. The BDC also simplified the process of “wiring- up” SharePoint to other line-of-business (LOB) systems for purposes of For companies and organizations seeking to alter the SharePoint storage consuming their data. equation, Microsoft has built support into SharePoint 2010 for SQL Server 2008 RBS. With RBS, you can split data that would normally BCS in SharePoint 2010 builds upon the foundation laid by MOSS 2007’s go into a SharePoint content database into two streams: 1.) Non-file BDC, and addresses a number of its constraints—most notably the read- information, such as metadata and loose authored content, which still only limitation of BDC connections to LOB systems. BCS is fully capable goes into a content database, and 2.) Uploaded files, which are passed of reading from and writing to LOB systems and other data sources. In to an RBS provider for storage in an external system rather than stored addition, establishing connections to external systems with BCS is greatly as a binary large object (BLOB) in the appropriate content database. simplified over the same BDC-related process, and support for building Depending on the capabilities of the RBS provider, the uploaded file BCS connections is available within SharePoint Designer 2010. With contents (BLOBs) can be stored on a less-expensive storage medium, de- SharePoint Designer 2010, end-users can define external content types duplicated, and more. (ECTs) easily and build external lists that make the data from external LOB systems appear as though it actually lives within SharePoint itself. The storage of BLOBs in some form that is external to a content database may provide a combination of cost and operational advantages, but it can The fact that BCS-exposed LOB data appears to reside within SharePoint also complicate your DR protection strategy. Without RBS, backing up a warrants special attention when undertaking DR planning for SharePoint. content database is enough to ensure that the total content it represents, When BCS is used within your SharePoint environment, your DR plan file and otherwise, is protected. When RBS is in use, a content database must account for the fact that users perceive external LOB system data only contains part of the data you must protect. The uploaded file BLOBs to be “part of SharePoint.” If a disaster occurs and SharePoint is returned reside in some other location and you must make certain to account for to an operational state without the LOB systems it exposes through this as you plan your protection strategy. BCS, then it resembles a deficiency in DR planning for SharePoint itself. Exposed LOB systems should be treated as dependencies during SharePoint DR planning, and an effort to communicate and raise user awareness regarding where SharePoint ends (and LOB systems begin) can help to set user expectations accordingly in the event of a disaster.
CONCLUSIONCONCLUSION Proper business continuity planning for your SharePoint environment is a challenge, and Microsoft has enhanced the SharePoint 2010 platform significantly with new tools and capabilities to improve your user experience. Features such as PowerShell integration, configuration-only backup, SQL Server snapshot integration, unattached database recovery, and SQL Server database mirroring all address limitations and overcome barriers that presented DR-specific challenges in older SharePoint 2007 environments. At the same time, improvements to SharePoint 2010’s handling of read-only databases, Search, native backup/restore, and recycle bins make it easier than ever for you to leverage these components and capabilities as part of a comprehensive DR strategy. Along with its new and improved capabilities, SharePoint 2010 introduces some novel challenges and caution areas that must be accounted for when putting together a DR plan. Your DR plans should address any gaps or gray areas that may be introduced by the use of service applications, RBS, and BCS in your environment. Idera is headquartered in Houston, TX with offices in London ABOUT IDERA and Melbourne. Idera provides tools for Microsoft SQL Server, SharePoint, and PowerShell US +1 713 523 4433 management and administration. Our products provide solutions for 877 GO IDERA (464 3372) performance monitoring, backup and recovery, security and auditing, and EMEA +44 (0) 1753 218410 PowerShell scripting. APAC +61 1300 307 211 MEXICO +52 (55) 8421 6770 Headquartered in Houston, Texas, Idera is a Microsoft Gold Partner and BRAZIL +55 (11) 3230 7938 has over 5,000 customers worldwide. WEB www.idera.com TWITTER www.twitter.com/Idera_Software FACEBOOK www.facebook.com/IderaSoftware For more information or to download a 14-day trial of any Idera product, LINKEDIN www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=2662613 please visit www.idera.com.