Microsoft has had some interesting new adoptions of SharePoint over recent months, including some very high profile and active Web deployments and continuing adoption by enterprises of all sizes. For larger enterprises, scalability and performance, and how to design a SharePoint implementation to optimize performance, is a critical issue. To provide guidance, Microsoft released the SharePoint Server 2007 Scalability and Performance whitepaper, which tested out an implementation of 50 million content items. Paul Learning, a senior consultant with Microsoft Consulting Services, blogged about the setup of the testing on his blog. The whitepaper is more than 90 pages and will certainly be required reading for enterprises.
However, like some other product implementation guidance produced by the product's own vendor, you must read carefully and take a grain of salt (or perhaps an entire margarita) to interpret it. Luckily, MVP Eli Robillard read through the tome with a fine-toothed comb and cuts to the chase with his Review of the SharePoint Scalability White Paper. Definitely read his "nutshell" for some perspective before sitting down with that margarita (or a tall cup of coffee) and the white paper.
In April, I met SharePoint MVP Gary Lapointe, who has created one of the more useful tools around for SharePoint admins. His free STSADM extensions are incredible additions to the administrative toolset! More than once, a client has asked me "How can I...?" and the answer has been, "Gary's STSADM extensions." He has had a MOSS version out for some time and recently released a WSS-specific version of STSADM Extensions. He's very good about keeping the code updated and relevant. If you haven't checked out his tools, do it now!
Telligent Community Server Integration
If you've read this newsletter over the last year, you know I'm a fan of Community Server by Telligent, which provides really rich forum and blog capabilities. The tool now integrates well with SharePoint, allowing us to replace the somewhat lacking feature set of WSS/MOSS blogs and forums. Learn more about how to integrate Community Server with SharePoint.
Podcasting Kit for SharePoint
I also have a sweet spot for the use of new media and (I hate the term) "Web 2.0" in the enterprise. Any human resources manager knows that new hires and existing employees are increasingly armed with skills and expectations regarding new media in the workplace, so why not make the most of them? Podcasts are, in the grand scheme of today's fast moving technology, not really even "new" any more, but they have a lot of untapped potential. Now you can implement podcasting from SharePoint with the new Podcasting Kit for SharePoint, available on Codeplex as a community project. Unlike some Codeplex projects, this one has a lot of heavy hitters behind it, so I expect it will continue to grow and evolve. Exciting stuff! Check it out! Also check out the release announcement.
FAST ESP Search Web Parts
Also available on Codeplex for free download are the new FAST Search Web parts and a site template. These are the result of the first, baby steps toward integrating FAST Search and Transfer with SharePoint since Microsoft completed the acquisition of FAST a few weeks ago. The Web parts and Site Templates are designed to provide drag-and-drop simplicity, and both compiled code and source code are available, allowing you to extend and customize the functionality.
And Speaking of Codeplex
Watch out, folks! The release of the FAST ESP Search Web Parts and Site Templates reflects a trend we'll start seeing a lot more of, I expect and hope. Microsoft's and FAST's own developers worked with external developers to provide this solution, and it's a good one. Microsoft is releasing this functionality "out of band" instead of waiting for the next release of SharePoint. By releasing it through Codeplex, Microsoft can insulate itself, to some extent, from its own increasingly rigorous internal requirements surrounding commercial release of a product or functionality and still be responsive to customer demand. In other words, just because it's on Codeplex or is considered a "community contribution" doesn't mean it should be discounted.
I've heard a few discussions recently that "if it's community, it must be bad." While I certainly understand (and support) the reasoning behind the sentiment, you must be very careful not to throw out the baby with the bathwater. There are certainly projects on Codeplex (and other community sites) that are stagnant or even should be avoided. But you might just find that you can get what you need, now, from the Community and that it is the same code you'll be paying for in a year or two. Please don't discount code on Codeplex or MSDN or other such resources just because they're free or labeled as community or open source projects. You'll miss out on a lot of great stuff between commercially released versions of Microsoft's own products. Just do your research, your testing, and your due diligence.