SharePoint Products: New and Enhanced, Spring 2010

SharePoint product news for developers and IT pros

SharePoint Recovery With a Click

AppAssure Software’s DocRetriever for SharePoint offers multiple item, site, sub site, and folder restores. The key is, you don’t have to use a SharePoint recovery farm or rebuild a production database. It connects to native SQL Server backup files and lets admins restore SharePoint objects directly from native SQL Server backup files to production SharePoint servers, alternate SharePoint servers, or to a file system, while preserving all permissions and meta-data. Logging of all restore operations enables auditing of all objects added or changed.

Like many SharePoint vendors, AppAssure Software’s customer base pulled it into the SharePoint realm. Well grounded in the “Backup 2.0” arena of application backup and recovery software, AppAssure makes products designed not only to protect data but the entire application infrastructure. “We were heavily into Exchange,” adds Todd Frederick of AppAssure, but “We’re seeing a lot of people throwing more data into SharePoint.”

Says AppAssure’s Joe Hand, “SharePoint has never done a good job of providing a set of APIs other than SQL dumps. Not one of the most well-written from a backup and recovery standpoint. From our perspective, it’s a no-brainer—we’ve got the experience, we know how to access databases and work with apps. We take SharePoint and go the extra mile.”

DocRetriever for SharePoint installs on Windows Server 2008 R2, Server 2008, Windows Server 2003, Windows 7, Vista, XP and requires the .NET Framework 3.5 and access to a local instance of SQL Server or SQL Server Express. For more information on DocRetriever for SharePoint visit www.AppAssure.com.


Speeding SharePoint Load Time

Getting content-rich websites to load faster has become very important. The Aptimize Website Accelerator increases a website’s speed to load. Aptimize Website Accelerator changes the web pages so the browser can load them faster. Ed Robinson, the founder and CEO of Aptimize, claims that “we’ll double your website speed with no code changes and no extra hardware.”

By speeding up the load times, Robinson argues, visitors will linger longer and businesses can make more sales. “When businesses use Aptimize and get about a 50 percent reduction in page load time, it will immediately give them10 to 15 percent more page views per customer. This means you’ll have more sales.”

Robinson explains that Google and Yahoo came out with a set of best practices for speeding up web pages “at the same time as we invented our product. Our product automates that entire list of manual techniques. This list of techniques is very popular with developers who are spinning up their websites, so they know exactly what our product does. These manual techniques take between four weeks and three months of work to tune the website for performance.”

According to Robinson, Steve Souders, the Google’s chief performance officer, says that a lot of people throw capability at the backend, but in fact they should be looking at the front-end load times driven by the client loading app. Robinson says Souders describes the Aptimize product as “Steve Souders in a box.”

Aptimize installs on a web server on SharePoint, ASP.NET, or Linux. However, 95 percent of the market is Microsoft-based. Robinson notes that half the Aptimize market is SharePoint because SharePoint is a very rich environment. “People put our product on and report that it reduces the load time by about 50 percent.” He says that Microsoft uses Aptimize on its sharepoint.microsoft.com site, and that installation took about an hour.

Robinson stepped me through the installation process. In a Windows environment, you download the software, install it on a web server, configure it, and it starts spinning up the website automatically. If you make any changes to the website, the Aptimize product picks up those changes and speeds them up as well.

Check out a free website called Webpagetest.org. Type in a website name, and you can see all the elements needed to load the web page and the time it takes each to load. A waterfall diagram shows you all the HTTP requests it takes to load a page and how long each takes to load.

Robinson emphasizes that the Aptimize product reduces the waterfall diagram by about half by cutting out about half the number of requests. Aptimize dynamically merges JavaScript, CSS, and images into fewer files. Then it compresses the merged files and sends those optimized reels to the browser. It uses a technique called “file future expires” to cache them.

With file future expires, you download files once, cache them on the browser and never check them again. It caches the files on the client until they change. According to Robinson, this typically reduces the repeat view load time by about 90 percent.

Pricing is $3000 per web server. For enterprises there’s an $18,000 licensing fee per application, with 20 percent for support. For more information go to www.aptimize.com.


Managing SharePoint’s Privileged Accounts

SharePoint frequently uses privileged accounts for running its processes. To manage these privileged accounts, many companies use scripts. But for larger companies, or those looking for a more comprehensive solution, Lieberman Software announces the integration of its flagship privileged identity management solution, Enterprise Random Password Manager (ERPM), with Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007 to automate the discovery and securing of all privileged identities on SharePoint sites.

“Each SharePoint Server site could have its own set of privileged accounts, and finding and managing these accounts can be difficult,” said Chris Stoneff, product manager at Lieberman Software. “Consequently, most organizations' privileged account passwords for enterprise applications and services, such as SharePoint Server, are rarely changed. This can result in failed security audits and potentially costly data breaches. Fortunately, Enterprise Random Password Manager now provides complete management for all SharePoint Server privileged accounts.”

Integration between Lieberman Software ERPM and Microsoft SharePoint Server includes automatic discovery of all privileged accounts on SharePoint sites; the ability for administrators to regularly change these account passwords locally in Active Directory and propagate the new password to all SharePoint components with a single mouse click; and the ability to control access to privileged accounts by providing restricted, time-limited access for authorized staff.

Enterprise Random Password Manager integrates with all current and recent versions of SharePoint Server, including MOSS 2007 and SharePoint Portal Server 2003. Visit www.liebsoft.com for more information.


SharePoint, Records Management, and Compliance

Dynamic RM is a new SharePoint-based records management solution. Recently released by 5280 Solutions, it lets organizations manage electronic and physical records and comply with records requirements “by applying classic recordkeeping principles within a robust SharePoint framework,” the company announced.

Dynamic RM features include a centralized file plan, automated records declaration and preservation, collaborative records management, transaction e-discovery and hold management, and formal disposition management. To learn more, see www.5280solutions.com/technology/sharepointrm.aspx.


Printing to SharePoint

A publishing utility that lets users print from any application directly to SharePoint, PortalHelper Software’s solution is aptly called Print2SharePoint. Users can print to one or multiple sites across any internal network or across the Internet. Compatible with Microsoft Online Services, it also lets users print to hosted BPOS SharePoint sites. It can automate workflow tasks with seamless integration to document libraries, folders, lists, and more. Print2SharePoint is easy to install and requires no server configuration. Visit www.PortalHelper.com for more information.


Idea Harvesting with SharePoint

Spigit for SharePoint is a web part that lets companies create a single location where employees can find and create ideas accessible to everyone in the organization. Through a workflow system that moves through idea stages, to an analytics engine that searches ideas, to a real-time dashboard that offers updates on activity, the solution is designed to leverage SharePoint to encourage innovation. Billed as an idea management system, it can also track user participation. It offers authentication through Active Directory and single sign-on. To learn more, see www.spigit.com.


Information on Demand Through SharePoint

To do their jobs, your users might need access to many different pieces of information. Singularity Process Platform 4.3 now offers two-way integration with SharePoint to ensure employees have the data, documents, and other flotsam and jetsam of everyday business transactions readily available. The Singularity Process Platform, a business process management (BPM) solution suite, offers a “zero-code” environment where non–IT people can manage data, designing and executing processes themselves.

Its new data entity management features mean that the Singularity Process Platform manages data in addition to business processes and related documents, so users can store detailed data entity definitions as well as instances of those data entities. It also works with SharePoint Online, allowing management of case documents in the cloud.

“Now more than ever customers need support for dynamic business processes, where agility in processing must be combined with easy access to data, documents, emails, contacts,” said Singularity’s Olivia Bushe. Additional innovation includes enhanced report-building capabilities, improving security, control, and flexibility, as well as adding full report versioning. Visit Singularity’s website for more information at www.singularity.co.uk/bpm-for-sharepoint.asp.

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