SharePoint Conference Season

September 12, 2011

Hi all,

While May, June and August are the era for the big platform events such as EMC World, TechED, and VMWorld…
October is the season for my two major application events.

I am happy to announce that EMC are proud Gold Sponsors at:-

  • SharePoint Conference USA                    Anaheim, California – Oct 3-6
  • SQL PASS Summit                                    Seattle, WA – Oct 11-14

EMC @ the SharePoint Conference

  • Large booth where key experts from the EMC Business Units will be able to describe to you how to make your life easier with SharePoint
  • Demonstrations, mini-lectures, and Q&As
  • Free give-aways.  Yes, again, like TechEd, we will have free t-shirts and on the final day many, many cash spot-prizes for wearing your EMC T-shirt

      Two Sessions

Speaker(s):  James Baldwin, Eyal Sharon  (James & Eyal show)
Level: 200
Understand technical best practices to design and deploy a virtualized SharePoint that leverages FAST Search. Understand how design a flexible and robust architecture that supports your advanced collaboration requirements. Understand how to architect a solution that addresses IT challenges for data growth, application availability and simplified management that also enables your users to find and leverage the right business information to make better decisions.

Speakers:-  Matt Roberts, Nate Treloar
Level 300
Demonstrate how to integrate external video metadata generation services with native SharePoint Search capabilities

Dont forget Europe!

The European SharePoint Conference is taking place in Berlin, Germany   – October 17-20.

I will be there presenting the following session:-

Optimize, Store and Protect SharePoint 2010 Server…Best Practices     Wednesday 15:00 – Session W21

Learn about the critical best practices and considerations for optimizing and growing SharePoint farms, storing user data efficiently and securely, while backing up TB’s a data in minutes. RBS (Remote Blob Store) and Virtualization, are just two of the many techniques discussed in this session. Realize the considerations for providing fast, automated disaster recovery for the entire SharePoint environment through SAN-based technology.


We will have something kinda special at the SQL PASS Summit.  Can’t say more.

But what I can say…

  • Large booth area in the Pavillion, with SQL Experts from EMC including two heros from our team, Tony Wu and Bruce Ye, travelling all the way from Shanghai.
  • Demos, booths, best practices and most importantly application-led conversations around;
  • SQL Server scalability – Infrastructure
  • Optimized Data Protection
  • High availability to where? Same SAN? Same site? next door? next state? next country?  – All of the above <—
  • Something Flashy
  • Proven Solutions around high-speed SQL deployments, one of which is in build right now with Michael and David in our Cork labs.

Hope to see you there.


Content Database Storage Provisioning for SharePoint – where’s my SQL DBA?!?!

May 4, 2011

So, you are a SharePoint Admin….

You want to create a new content Database …
It will be very large….you want it on seperate storage…

What do you need to do to achieve this?
Well, from Central Admin/Stsadm/PowerShell….

…you cannot specify which storage SQL will create the content database on (it will use the SQL instance defauts for Data and Log files)….
…you cannot specify the inital size of the content database…
…you need to find your SQL DBA….
…and your storage admin….who needs to arrange a time to create and unmask the storage….

…ever try building a house and installing a kitchen?  You need the kitchen guy, the plumber and electrician….

Well, not any more.    Our microsoft platform-focused development teams in EMC have listened and are working diligently on creating integrated, lightweight tools to help…

Announcing….. the EMC Storage Integrator Tool ….as part of a bigger Microsoft management release from EMC – life just got easier for us…

EMC Enhances Management of Virtualized Microsoft Applications

I cant say much more at this point, but I will have answers, details and demos hopefully next week….

Free webcast – SharePoint 2007 & 2010 Storage & Virtualization Best Practices

July 8, 2010

Hi all,

Eyal and I recently delivered a webcast in association with, sponsored by EMC.

We talk about Microsoft SharePoint 2007 & 2010 storage and virtualization best practices.

SharePoint is tricky, with so many moving parts, volumes, and storage requirements.  We try to dispel the confusion and set out best practices based on testing in our Proven Solutions Labs in EMC.

This has been converted and is available on-demand and is available at:

Feel free to take a look, hope it helps.


P.S. If you are ever looking for some REALLY good deep-dive SQL Training…

Check out Paul Randal and Kimberely Tripp @ – they’re brilliant. They are in Dublin this week in conjunction with Prodata

We’ll be at Microsoft Tech-Ed 2010

June 4, 2010

Hello all,

Just incase you find yourself at Microsoft Tech-Ed 2010 New Orleans next week….we’ll be there.

Eyal Sharon, Brian Henderson, and myself will be there amoungst other crack Microsoft folks, showcasing how EMC technology definately enhances the experience of a Microsoft solution.

* Hyper-V, small, medium, and seriously enterprise will be shown
* Automated Disaster recovery
* EMC integration and management
* Move your SQL database off 60 FC 15k Drives to just 5 EFD Flash drives and get better performance!….

…just tiny bits of whats on offer, so…

If yer at it…please call by the EMC booth. 

Thanks – James.

EMC World 2010 – Boston

May 10, 2010

Hi all,

If you find yourself at EMC World, why not drop into the Solutions Pavillon where we are showcases SharePoint and SQL solutions.

I’m also presenting the following sessions

Tuesday 08:00         SharePoint Storage Best Practices

Wednesday 08:00   Birds of a Feather – Expert Panel – SharePoint, SQL, Oracle and SAP

Thursday 13:00   SharePoint Storage Best Practices (repeat)

I’ll drop the slide here into here once we are done.



It’s nearly here… SharePoint 2010

April 9, 2010

In May this year,

just after the SQL Server 2008 R2 release (which will be made at the SQL Pass Europe conference on April 21st)

Comes the big guns, SharePoint 2010 and Office 14, I mean the Office 2010 system.

Right, smack in the middle of EMC World 2010 in Boston, Mass.

We will be there with architectural guidance, performance and scalability and how the new built-in Search capability weights up against the old built-in search capability in SharePoint 2007.   Come see us in the EMC Proven Solutions Pavillon.

Our next steps after that? Scale up and bring FAST search server for the Enterprise into play.

One of the bigger challenges for us in the lab is to devel into testing more functions and features available in the new SA model versus the old SSP, but we’ll get them.  More to come on that as we progress.

 The Technet documentation build-up is going fast and furously right now, a recent update was the SharePoint 2010 hardware and software requirements.

We’ll keep in touch with our progress.


Poll: What SQL recovery model do YOU use for your SharePoint databases?

November 16, 2009

I’d be very interested to know what kind of SQL recovery model do YOU use with your SharePoint databases.

The poll is anonymous, so feel free to be honest!

If you use multiple recovery models, specific to the SharePoint database type, click both options.



SharePoint and SQL Databases

November 15, 2009

Hey folks,

This week I am at presenting SharePoint and Hyper-V information to both EMC and Microsoft personnel @ the Microsoft campus, Building 33 in Redmond, WA.  Strangely, its not raining! 
I will be covering topics, such as best practices, Hyper-V virtualization, backup and recovery and DR.  I hope to share these presentations with you once the conference is over, so stay tuned.

On to the real topic…SharePoint & the proliferation of SQL databases.

SharePoint’s main stay of information is in the form of SQL databases. 

In a typical SharePoint SQL Server I would categorize these databases in the following four layers;

===SQL System Databases   (created when SQL is installed)
           -Master, Model, MSDB, TempDB

===SharePoint configuration Databases   (created when SharePoint is installed)
           -SP_Config, etc

===SharePoint content databases   (created at the end of SP install, portal & content creation)
           -WSS_Content_* (Portal), 
            SharePoint_AdminContent_* (Central Admin)
           User-defined content databases (eg ContentDB01, 02, 03)

===SharePoint Shared Services Provider databases   (created with SSP & application configuration)
           -SharedServices_DB  (SSP Configuration database)
           Shared Services applications 
                 -SharedServices_Search_DB   (actual Office Search “Osearch” database)
                 -WSS_Search_{hostname}       (WSS SPsearch DB – per host)

You need to follow standard SQL best practices, including storage BPs to ensure good SharePoint performance, granular backup and recovery and efficient disaster recovery.  Agreed.
(I will go into more best practices for SharePoint SQL storage in a seperate post, let’s stay with this for now)


SharePoint does not allow the user to specify where the SQL database data and logs files should reside, and so the default database locations will be used.  The default databases data and log files locations are a part of the SQL instance configuration.

These are recorded in the registry, specific to the SQL instant, e.g.
             \DefaultData               (Default database data file location)
             \DefaultLog                (Default database log file location)

Easier is to use SQL Management Studio
   –  Right click the SQL instance, Properties, Database Settings -> Database default Locations.

Today, we have two choices in ensuring that SharePoint SQL databases are in the right locations…

1) Change the default SQL data file location prior to the SharePoint configuration task (e.g. create a SSP)
2) After the SharePoint configuration task, bring down SharePoint hosts, detach, relocate and re-attach the SQL databases.

I perfer #1 myself 🙂

So, here are the recommended sequence of steps to take

Recommended sequence

1) Install SQL with advanced options
  -ensure that master, model, msdb locations are correctly set.  
  -ensure that tempdb is on different LUNs, ideally filegroup the datafiles

2) Change the default database file locations to your SP Configurations volume
          -then install SharePoint.

3) Change the default database file locations to your “basic content” (or SP Configurations) volume
         -then create your SharePoint portal(s).

4) Change the default database file locations to your SSP & Search Configurations volume
         -then create your SharePoint SSP and add SPsearch roles to hosts

5) Change the default database file locations to your SSP Search Database volumes
         -then create your SharePoint SSP Search application and associate a content source


Now, user-level content databases is trickier…
You dont want to have to follow this procedure every time as many content databases will be created in time. 

My recommendation would be;

1) logged in as the SharePoint system account in SQL, manually create content databases in the right storage locations
2) then use either Central Admin or STSADM to attach an existing SQL Content Database

  a) Central Admin way 
    – Central Administration > Application Management > Content Databases
       – specify the name of the existing SQL content database


     b) Stsadm way – stsadm -o addcontentdb -url (URL) -databasename (ContentDB name) -databaseserver (SQL name)

  stsadm -o addcontentdb -url -databasename ContentDB01 -databaseserver SQL1

You should not need to specify the username/password as you will use a trusted connection within your domain.

I am putting in an enhancement request to Microsoft to allow SharePoint admins to specific the directory locations from Central Admin/STSADM/Powershell in future.

Every so often, especially with dispersed power users (capable of creating content databases), full audits of SharePoint database files should be carried out.  It is vital to ensure that all databases are protected.

Hope this helps people

Fancy having fully-automated site Disaster Recovery?

November 4, 2009

A critical application…
…nearly as much $$$ spent on your DR site as your Production site…
…hours of time spent on defining & refining your disaster recovery procedure…
…never mind the training & updates from testing…
…varying bandwidth between sites, sometimes not enough…
…want to be able to recovery your SQL server back to 10:22:16…
…and that was 2 days ago…
…need that data back within minutes…

Well you can…

EMC RecoverPoint, EMC’s CDP (Continous Data Protection) product provides near instantanous roll-back capability.

 The majority of Operating Systems and applications are supported.  Data reduction* and WAN bandwidth compression – native.  Non EMC storage arrays – supported.  Long distances – how about 2000km? – supported.

Combine RecoverPoint and EMC Cluster Enabler together (called RP/CE for short) and the solution gives you just this.

RP/CE is what is called a geographically dispersed clustering solution, but alot more…
…RP/CE allows one or many clustered applications or Hyper-V VMs to be failed over in a minimal amount of time to a disaster recovery cluster node(s)   – in my Proven Solution – try 3 production / 3 DR nodes. 

I could even run some VMs on the DR cluster nodes (if your network supports this of course) and some on Production.  RecoverPoint/CE doesn’t mind, it supports bi-directional replication. 
EMC understands nowadays DR sites are too costly to just leave idle. 
RecoverPoint natively supports bi-directional replication in the same RecoverPoint installation.

The slick part of RecoverPoint/CE is that once operational, all the user needs to know is how to use normal Microsoft clustering and cluster administrator console.  RP/CE adheres to all Microsoft failover clustering requirements.  It is installed as a clustered resource and is added to each cluster group which needs RP/CE’s protection.

Say, you have a 2-node (1 active / 1 passive) Hyper-V server running your virtualized SharePoint farm.  Down goes your production site.  Within a few minutes, all your SharePoint virtual machines are up and running on the DR side again, with the latest image of your data.  It’s that simple.

I was at the EMC booth as SharePoint Conference 2009 ( SPC09 ) in Las Vegas in October showcasing this and I must say…visitors were very impressed…most especially the folk who have been through the pain of recent DR planning..

* as a classic example, in something like an OLTP environment, if an 8k SQL data page is changed by say 200 bytes, the entire 64k block is written back down to filesystem.  Without RecoverPoint’s data reduction, all 64k of data is shipped across the wire to the DR site.  With data reduction, only the 200 bytes plus some checksum data is sent across the wire – AND compressed! clever.

For a recorded demonstration of the Proven Solution I am working on please see below;

In this demo, I would like to show you the power of EMC RecoverPoint and Cluster Enabler (RP/CE) in providing fully automated Disaster Recovery in your environment. In this use case, a busy enterprise SharePoint farm hosting 240,000+ busy users will expect a full site disaster and RP/CE automates disaster recovery of the farm in minutes.

The environment consists of a 6-node Hyper-V cluster, (3 Active/3 Passive) using iSCSI connectivity to an EMC CLARiiON CX4-240 storage array

I will share more information on this solution as it evolves.

Some more doc resources 

EMC RecoverPoint/Cluster Enabler – a detailed review
Disaster Recovery for Windows using EMC RecoverPoint/CE
EMC RecoverPoint/SE for CLARiiON Cx4
DR in a geographically dispersed cross-site virtual environment

I would love to get some feedback on what people think of something like this, not necessarily this EMC solution, but geo-clustering in general…
If anyone would like some serious detail into how RecoverPoint/CE works, I can gladly provide same as a blog post.

Thanks, James.

So, eh, what did you say you do again?

October 5, 2009

To follow on from where I left off….let’s face it, it was getting soppy!

What exactly do I ? 
  I design and build solutions around SharePoint (and SQL).  I illustrate how a customer’s life can become easier through technology, but hold on, through a well tought-out and well tested solution, not just a badly packed kebab of products and hardware…

The primary output of my work is documentation and consulting to EMC personnel (field, engineering, support, etc)
A picture is worth a thousand words…

A quick overview of what I have been involved in…

May 2008
-Enterprise SharePoint in a VMWare 3.5 environment on our mid-range storage platform the EMC CLARiiON CX3 (nowadays is CX4).
  Take a wee peek at the Reference Architecture  (short overview document of the solution).
  If you would like the hefty Integration Guide, let me know, people call it the SharePoint infrastructure bible.

We tried to make the solution suffer.  Honestly.  We went full misfit.
We pulled power from 1 of the 3 ESX servers in the HA cluster, we pulled CX3- storage processors, we pulled disks from R5 raid groups, we profiled the effects of VMotion on a Web Front End, we profiled when DRS is configured too aggressively, we failed over the physical SQL cluster backend during full-flight load…we make pretty graphs and tell the true stories.  This is what we do.

After that I decided to make best use of a another case, exactly identical to my virtualized solution but a physical environment and compare and contrast savings that virtualization can make to customers in real terms.  The magic number 74%!  Savings.  Chad Sakac, EMC’s VMWare technology alliance guru, used it, it got take up, and was presented at VMWorld – point here – not me – the tests – these tests are invaluable in getting the “real” data out there.  EMC invests ALOT of money to allow us to do this in the labs, trust me.

Being the majority shareholders of VMWare, we in solutions decided not fall to that.  As soon as Hyper-V was in a steady state near beta end, we decided to drop VMWare as our hypervisor in my workstream for virtualized SharePoint on CLARiiON and test out what Hyper-V meant to us and customers.

March 2009
We completed our testing on that solution.  Reference Architecture
Interesting, in this use case we decided to try to lower the cost of the entire solution by using iSCSI where we could (why not, the array supported both FC and iSCSI).
We tried out SCVMM (System Center Operations Manager), in conjunction with SCOM (Systems Center Operations Manager) in order to see how PRO (Performance Resource Optimization) worked.  PRO is the equilivent to VMWare DRS.  We did some really interesting tests with some really interesting results.  I’ll share the Integration Guide with you for a story 🙂

May and June 2009
EMC’s flagship storage array, the Symmetrix took a fair leap into the next decade of technology with the VMAX offering.
We took a look at the array, and said to ourselves, “what would a customer do”.  Buy it JUST for one application, no, buy it for maybe the top three mainstream applications, well yes.

So, we set off from the Shire, three application experts in SQL, SharePoint and Exchange, a storage nut and a VMWare nerd and decided on what we would do.  Virtualization – eh, yes…..maximum efficiency for storage – yes (Virtual Provisioning)……storage tiering for performance – yes (Virtual LUN).
Protect the entire environment online with no production impact, well, let’s see….

The Reference Architecture, the White Paper

July 2009
I started to get excited. 
I know what difficulties SharePoint admins have in their daily lives for enterprise-level SharePoint backup and recovery, not to mention the ability to recovery subsets (like single documents) from these backups.  Recovery farm requirements, etc, its just messy.

I knew what EMC had planned in September….. wait for my next post, where I will reveal…this is for you SharePoint admin!