Introducing Sahil Malik, Waldek Mastykarz and Paul Culmsee

Knowledge helps. Knowing how to "google" something helps too (sorry for the bias, I just never seem to find what I am looking for on search.live.com).
 
As the SharePoint 2007 documentation is still short on a lot of things, I still seem to end up relying a lot on blogs, when in need of looking something up I don't deal with on a daily basis.
 
Instead of simply pasting my by now ultra-long Favorites list of SharePoint-related blogs here, let me introduce them over the coming weeks with short posts that also tell what I like about these guys and gals.
 
Sahil Malik's Blog covers a broad spectrum of SharePoint topics, mostly on the development side. In some of his recent posts he's covered the integration of WCF and SharePoint, which sounds really promising to me. He also writes good articles that he references from his site. The last one is on the WCF & SharePoint topic.
 
Next up is Waldek Mastykarz: he also provides lots of development-related SharePoint information. WCM is a major topic on his blog. One of my favorites amongst his posts is his endeavour to extend the valuable Content Query Web Part.
 
Last but not least is Paul Culmsee. His blog posts provide in-depth information and are just fun to read. As an example: his series on SharePoint Branding covers the complexity of branding options in SharePoint very well.

Published: Nov-29-08 | 2 Comments | Link to this post

Our Original SharePoint Articles

As we just relaunched our website I thought I should check whether it would be worth the effort to port the old article pages I had written back at the beginning of 2007, when we did our analysis of the new SharePoint 2007 release.
 
To my pleasant surprise I found that the pages rank quite well in Google, and there's also a good number of links pointing to them. The article on SharePoint Security is frequently being accessed. Looks like the world still needs more SharePoint security experts like Adam Buenz and his team.
 
Our new website didn't have a good place to put these article pages. That's why I decided to make them available here on my blog instead. There are six articles in total:
 
 
There are also German language versions of these pages available ...thanks to my colleague Sharron Sawyer! :-)

Published: Nov-28-08 | 0 Comments | Link to this post

A Cloud for Everyone

Hype ...it seems inevitable for business. Microsoft just joined the bandwagon and announced Azure. Meanwhile, Richard Stallman clarifies that this most likely will lead to the same kind of lock-in with one vendor as we've seen it many times before. But this time it's worse, it bears incredible privacy issues.
 
Well, while we wait to see what great offers will come via cloud computing, let's just remember what the promise is all about. The first thing that comes to mind is highly-available solutions, paired with little need for knowledge to set up these rather complex multi-server solutions. Then there is the promise of lower cost (but then we know that the cost will be just as before once they have the majority of us consumers on the hook, right? ;-) However, even a single server that's well-connected to the internet in many countries still costs you an arm and a leg (try Dubai!). And even in "first world" countries like Germany it is quite typical to pay as much 2000 Euros per month just for a dedicated 100MBit line, which is less than an arm but still more than most small businesses would like to invest into what is only a small part of the overall investment into their portal solution.
 
Enter Strato: they're one of two major mass market hosting companies in Germany and offer servers starting at slightly above 200 Euros a month (includes the rent for server and the shared 100MBit internet connection) that are spec'ed well enough to run a small server farm on them. The offer is well hidden on their site, so here's a direct link to the XLW-5 and XPro-5 servers.
 
There's a couple of caveats though:
- they come with a Web Server Edition of Windows Server 2008, which is pretty useless. They also only sport 1 Network card, whereas for Hyper-V you really need 2. However, you can get their KVM (Keyboard, Video, Mouse) service hooked up for a little extra money per month to compensate for that.
- Installation of the new OS version is a bit tricky, but nothing a good geek couldn't find a solution for (did I just call myself a geek? ;-) The biggest challenge was that the virtual network adapter of the virtual ISA server had to be set to a MAC address that matches the MAC address of the physical network card of that server, as otherwise traffic will be blocked by the Strato internal routers.
 
Static MAC address
 
The connection to the internet is quite excellent (even though it is not a dedicated line) as most of Strato's customers are consumers that download from the internet, rather than upload to it.
 
The net result with this setup is an enormous yearly saving over a comparable dedicated internet connection. So, while we await the cloud computing to hit us, here's a very real opportunity for small companies to save as much as 20k Euros per year on each physical server.

Published: Nov-09-08 | 0 Comments | Link to this post

Guidelines for Handling Image Metadata

Determining the right taxonomy and picking the right standards to store metadata has long been a challenge for DAM users.
 
But there's hope! The Metadata Working Group - consisting of heavyweights like Adobe, Apple, Microsoft, Canon and Sony - recently wrapped up a first major draft of their Guidelines for Handling Image Metadata.
 
So, if you're still bedazzled about what to do about tagging and categorizing your images, there's a document for you to read!
 
If you're in the L.A. area on November 10-11, you might also want to attend the annual Henry Stewart DAM event. Andrew Salop, a world expert on XMP metadata, will be discussing these guidelines.

Published: Nov-05-08 | 0 Comments | Link to this post

The DAM Vendor List

Not sure what DAM vendors are out there, and what they really offer?
 
Capterra.com offers a comprehensive list of DAM vendors. Many of the entries provide bullet points on what they offer (click on "more").

Published: Nov-05-08 | 0 Comments | Link to this post

The State of Digital Asset Management

Over the last days I've thought about my first post on Digital Asset Management (DAM) - and then along comes Theresa Regli from CMS Watch and states it for me ;-)
 
Let me quote a couple of important points she made:
 
"Lack of real asset workflow solutions. Compared to the other technologies we cover at CMS Watch, DAM systems have comparably weak workflow capabilities. Many DAM processes are complex, and many asset managers have required third-party tools to create truly automated workflows."
 
Well, it's actually quite embarrassing for many DAM vendors, because it's been obvious for a couple of years now that the DAM customers need end-to-end workflows that deliver the end-product, be it a catalog or a video commercial.
 
"Increased need for enterprise system integration, DAM to Web content management systems in particular. Many asset managers wish to distribute products via the Web, and thus have a business need to merge those two technologies, making an easier bridge to cross. Therefore, many asset managers and industry veterans see the concept of the DAM system as the "single source of truth" as a bit antiquated because the repository needs to serve multiple platforms."
 
This too isn't really anything new. About 2 years ago, I wrote an article addressing the need for ECM and Portal integration in order for DAM to sustain its play. Since then, only a few vendors have been able to embrace the opportunity.
 
As an example on the positive side: take a look at the SharePoint integration ADAM recently delivered. They also have a strong BPM solution they've integrated with their product. Absolutely worth checking out!

Picture 

Published: Nov-05-08 | 0 Comments | Link to this post

The Virtual ISA Server

ISA Server and SharePoint get along very well. E.g. the Alternate Access Mappings concept in SharePoint 2007 ties in well with the link mapping capabilities of ISA Server 2006.
 
Then again, Hyper-V is a perfect platform to run a SharePoint server farm. So I was wondering when we first started deploying SharePoint on Hyper-V at the end of 2007, whether we could also virtualize the load-balanced ISA servers with it. That would be so much easier to administrate altogether!
 
I found this article that confirmed my gut-level feeling: Understanding Networking with Hyper-V. This clearly looked like the Host server could be entirely disconnected from the network, and that all traffic would have to go through the virtual ISA servers, making this a pretty secure virtual solution!
 
Well, we weren't quite there yet! After a successful installation of the ISA servers we later experienced quite some problems with the load-balancing and, through trial and error, solved the problem by using Legacy network adapters for the ISA servers.
 
A couple of weeks later Ben Armstrong hinted in the right direction, stating that Offloading was the cause of the problem. Mark Wilson summed it up quite well, again a few weeks later, and in June, Microsoft finally released some definitive information about the issue.
 
Long story short: ISA Server 2006 works great on Hyper-V. We are using it both for load-balancing ISA servers and SharePoint Web Frontends and it hasn't let us down once in all these months.
 
Of course, one can still add more hardware-based firewalls as a first-line defence for additional security. However, I love the additional functionality the ISA Server offers, on top of the security it provides.

Published: Nov-04-08 | 0 Comments | Link to this post

Welcome to my new blog!

I am probably the last person on earth to start blogging ...but today is the day!
 
I've spent too many years focused on Digital Asset Management, but for the last two years have thoroughly enjoyed embracing a much bigger scope, with SharePoint 2007 as the anchor point. There's been so much exciting stuff I've found, along with some practical tips, that I look forward to sharing.
 
A first "Thank You" is due to The Kid, who's been the driving force behind the CKS.EBE solution, which I am using here for my blog. If you haven't already, take the time to check out his posts ...there is a huge amount of valuable information available ...e.g., here's one of my favorite pieces:
 

Published: Nov-04-08 | 0 Comments | Link to this post