Outlook/Sharepoint Problem


I had a funny little issue with my PC at work that took me a fair while to figure out today. I’d set up a new Site Collection in Sharepoint and connected it to Outlook (something that I’d never done before) and it was excellent…I could see all the different documents (Excel sheets, Word docs etc) in Outlook just as I could in the portal…nice :-)

However after a while I noticed that Outlook was taking it’s time to send mails etc and then when I tried to swap to another application-it all went wrong! Apps started “not responding”, hanging, the works…a quick CTRL+SHIFT+ESC and Task Manager showed OUTLOOK.EXE on 99%…WTF!!! I killed the process tree and restarted Outlook but to no avail…I rebooted my  machine too but it was useless; my processor was maxed out.

I started turning off add-ins in the Trust Center and then noticed 3 search/index related processes in Task Manager so I killed those and disabled indexing of the Sharepoint list I’d created. This was bound to work so I closed and re-opened Outlook and it was on 37%…not brilliant but better, then all of a sudden BOOM-99% again…holy maxed out processor Batman!

After having a look online I became pretty sure that it was related to .PST files but I was equally sure that I didn’t have a .PST file so that left me in something of a conundrum! However I went off to have a look anyway in:

C:\Documents and Settings\<Username>\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook\<PST File name>

and what I found was interesting. While there was no Outlook .PST there WAS a Sharepoint List .PST…I deleted that and lo and behold, Outlook started behaving again (I also deleted the list from Outlook).

While I was happy to sort the problem out and be able to use my PC properly again, I am sad that I seemingly can’t have Sharepoint lists in Outlook :-( Perhaps if I’d left it for a while the indexing would have finished and calmed the processor down but I just don’t have time for that…if anyone’s got any ideas please let me know!

Performance Point Server killed off?


Performance Point Server (PPS) has been part of the Microsoft product portfolio for a while now but, as far as I can tell, it hasn’t really made much of an impact. It’s been the top-end, full featured Business Intelligence (BI) product but the uptake hasn’t been amazing and MS announce there won’t be another standalone version of PPS, making Performance Point Server 2007 the last.

A lot of clients I work with who you would expect to jump on PPS have stayed away and they aren’t the only ones. The impression I get is that most people are unsure about Microsoft’s credentials in this part of the BI arena; they’re not sure that PPS will stack up against competitors such as SAP (Business Objects), Oracle (Hyperion) and IBM (Cognos) when it gets to the nitty gritty high end enterprise features. PPS isn’t cheap-coming in at around 17K-and when companies invest at that kind of level, they need to be completely confident they will get the best possible return on their investment.

However, this isn’t the end for Performance Point Server, or at least it’s component parts. As expected the scorecarding, dashboard and analytics features will all be folded into Sharepoint 14 (due this year/early 2010) and the new “Performance Point Services for Sharepoint” will be available via the Enterprise CAL.

I think this is a really good idea and will certainly increase peoples usage of MS BI and thus help increase their market share. The proliferation of MOSS 2007 (Sharepoint) throughout all market sectors means an amazing amount of people will have much easier access to these tools. It will make it yet another compelling reason for people to make the move to Sharepoint and for those that already have (but didn’t take Software Assurance)-a good reason to upgrade. By removing a product from the portfolio it looks like MS will increase the use of that product as well as grow it’s (Sharepoint) revenue at the same time…good skills :-)

From the official statement:

“Additionally, in the summer of 2009, we will release ‘Service Pack 3′ for PerformancePoint Server 2007, which will include updates to the Planning module. From there we will focus our development on the new monitoring and analytic capabilities in ‘PerformancePoint Services for SharePoint’ and will not offer standalone versions of PerformancePoint Server.”

Microsoft Software Plus Services


Microsoft Software Plus Services will be available to UK partners sometime during spring 2009, said the company’s Software plus Services reselling exec Maggie Chan Jones.

This is exciting for me as a UK Microsoft Gold Partner and I hope for you as a potential customer. Over at this year’s Partner Conference (WPC), there was a LOT of talk about Software plus Services, and it was a hot topic again today in London.

Software plus Services (S+S) is Microsoft’s version of SAAS (Software As A Service). The main difference is SAAS indicates that it replaces traditional “on the desktop” software while S+S complements it. The most well known examlpe of SAAS is salesforce.com, a complete CRM (Customer Relations Management) system that sits in the “Cloud”, so is all accessed via a web interface and not installed on the clients internal PC’s and servers.

This goes against Microsoft’s typical business model and so many people have announced the “end of Microsoft”, which seems a bit over the top to me! I’m sure it’s true that Microsoft wouldn’t have come up with SAAS on their own and in fact, in Houston this year, Microsoft called it “a disruption”..but one that they will meet and embrace.

The Software Plus Services line up includes:

Microsoft Exchange Online

Microsoft Exchange Hosted Services

Microsoft Office Sharepoint Online

Microsoft Office Live Meeting

Microsoft Office Communications Online

Most of these are available as Beta versions in the U.S at the moment.

Bechtle UK are a leading Microsoft Gold Partner and our MS business is built upon “on-premise” software that is installed into the customer’s environment; so S+S is very different to what we’re used to. I think it’s safe to say that some people were unsure about S+S/SAAS a while back but now, we’re all excited about the opportunity and ready to go!

S+S will make it easier for customers whose software budgets can’t stretch to the purchase of a company wide setup ofSharepoint or OCS for example. With the advent of S+S, they’ll be able to utilise the software and experience it’s countless benefits to efficiency and productivity at a price that will be more affordable and easier to manage for them.

Microsoft Office Sharepoint 2007 Licensing


As a follow on to my MOSS 2007 post, here’s some information on the various versions and how they are licensed…hope it helps!

The main and most common edition is:

Microsoft Office Sharepoint Server 2007: This is licenced with a single server version and then 2 editions of Client Access Licences (CAL)-Standard and Enterprise. It is the CALs that determine which features are avilable to the users and they are “additive” meaning you must have both the Standard AND Enterprise CALs to receive the Enterprise features, which include:

  • Line of Business Data Search
  • Business process and forms capabilities (such as Web-based Microsoft Office InfoPath forms)
  • Business intelligence capabilities (including report center sites, the ability to build interactive dashboards, and Excel Services)

 Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 for Internet sites: This version is licensed per server only and is used for running extranets and internet sites. This means it cannot be accessed by internal employees “creating, sharing, or collaborating on content which is for internal use only”. As there are no CALs required, this edition includes the functionality of both the Standard AND Enterprise editions.

Microsoft Office Forms Server 2007: This licensed via the Server/CAL model so each client accessing the server needs a CAL.

Microsoft Office Forms Server 2007 for Internet sites: As with MOSS 2007, this is per server licensing only, cannot be used for internal only projects and includes full Enterprise functionality.

Microsoft Office Sharepoint Server 2007


Microsoft Office Sharepoint Server (MOSS) 2007 is one of the most exciting, and the fastest selling, Microsoft products of ALL time. Sharepoint can be used for so many things in so many ways by so many people-it’s highly functional, easy to use and extremely versatile.

My aim with this post is to show you what Sharepoint is, how it works and most importantly, how it can benefit your business.

Microsoft Office Sharepoint Server 2007 gives companies a single, integrated location where employees can collaborate with team members across the globe, locate internal resources, manage content/workflow and analyse Business Intelligence data and much more.

Collaboration: Allow teams to work together effectively, collaborate on and publish documents, maintain task lists, implement workflows, and share information through the use of wikis and blogs.
 
Portals: Create a personal MySite portal to share information with others and personalize the user experience and content of an enterprise Web site based on the user’s profile.
 
Enterprise Search: Quickly and easily find people, expertise, and content in business applications.
 
Enterprise Content Management: Create and manage documents, records, and Web content.
 
Business Process and Forms Create workflows and electronic forms to automate and streamline your business processes.
 
Business Intelligence Allow information workers to easily access critical business information, analyze and view data, and publish reports to make more informed decisions.
 

One of MOSS 2007’s big advantages is it’s tight integration with the Office 2007 family. There are countless ways that the two can work together, but here are a few examples to give you an idea.

Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007:  Create a library of PowerPoint slides that can be shared with other users on an Office SharePoint Server 2007 site.
Microsoft Office Access 2007:  Take a SharePoint list offline and use the reporting features in Office Access 2007 to view the data and create reports while travelling. Forms and reports that use the SharePoint list are fully interactive — and Office Access 2007 can later synchronize the local list with the online list when you bring your laptop back online.
Microsoft Office Outlook 2007:  Take document libraries offline. SharePoint folders are displayed just as other Outlook folders are.
Microsoft Office InfoPath 2007:  Design browser-compatible form templates, publish them to an Office SharePoint Server 2007 site, and enable them for use in a Web browser.
Microsoft Office Excel 2007:  Save worksheets on a SharePoint site so that users can access them by using a browser. You can use these worksheets to maintain and efficiently share one central, up-to-date version, while helping to protect any proprietary information, such as financial models, that is embedded in the worksheet.
Microsoft Office SharePoint Designer 2007:  Create and customize Office SharePoint Server 2007 sites and workflows. Create your own master pages and content pages, so that your site has a consistent look and feel, or customize sites by using the latest ASP.NET technology, established Web standards such as Extensible Hypertext Markup Language (XHTML) code, and cascading style sheets.

A good introduction to MOSS 2007 and some of the things you can do can be found at:

http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepointserver/HA101732171033.aspx

 There can be confusion around the differences between Windows Sharepoint Services (WSS) and Microsoft Office Sharepoint Server (MOSS) 2007, hopefully I’ll be able to clear that up here.

WSS is included free of charge with Windows Server 2003/2008 and provides low level collaboration functionality to keep workforces together and to help them work efficiently. It is on this base that MOSS 2007 is built.

For a complete breakdown of the differences between the two products, please visit:

http://download.microsoft.com/download/1/d/c/1dc632e8-71e1-466f-8a2f-c940f1438e0a/SharePointProductsComparison.xls

and download the Product Comparison Chart. A quick overview of the differences can be seen below:

A brief overview of the differences between WSS & MOSS 2007

 Microsoft SharePoint Products and Technologies Document: Transform Your Business With SharePoint Products and Technologies: Download whitepaper here.  

 You can download a trial version here or use the VHD files from my other post here.

Once you’ve tested Sharepoint and decided it’s just the ticket to help your organisation move forward, you’ll need to decide which version you need..so here’s my

Guide to MOSS 2007 Licensing:

Microsoft Server Software VHD’s


Microsoft have released a slew of Virtual Hard Disks (VHD’s) making it quick and easy to evaluate Microsoft software for free, in your environment.

Their “Run IT on a Virtual Hard Disk” initiative can be found here:

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-gb/bb738372.aspx

and includes product such as:

  • Exchange 2007
  • Sharepoint 2007
  • Windows Vista
  • System Center
  • and many more

By installing these on a virtual machine, you can have the application up and running very quickly, reducing the amount of time that Test & Dev takes..which can only be a good thing right? :-)