SharePoint Saturday St. Louis 2012

SharePoint Saturday St. Louis logo

Yesterday I attended SharePoint Saturday St. Louis 2012 on the Washington University campus (where I work). This was my second SPS; my first was in December in Kansas City.  If you’ve never been to SharePoint Saturday and aren’t sure what it is, here’s how they describe it on their website:

Join SharePoint architects, developers, and other professionals that work with SharePoint Server 2010 for this ‘SharePoint Saturday’ event. SharePoint Saturday is an educational, informative & lively day filled with sessions from respected SharePoint professionals & MVPs, covering a wide variety of SharePoint-orientated topics. SharePoint Saturday is FREE, open to the public and is your local chance to immerse yourself in SharePoint!

Sounds like fun, right? I admit, I was skeptical the first time I decided to go, especially since SharePoint isn’t my favorite product to work with. Don’t get me wrong, I think SharePoint is a great product, very powerful, and people do amazing things with it. But if you’re an IT Pro like me, getting SharePoint up and running and keeping it happy while people try to crash the system (they’re called developers) isn’t always much fun.  SharePoint has so many moving parts, accounts, services, and dependencies that sometimes you just want to run back to friendlier software, like Exchange Server.

Since I’m stuck with it, as the reluctant SharePoint admin, the SPS events are a great way for me to learn a few things, meet other people in the same situation, and chat with vendors. I spent the day in the IT Pro sessions, and actually had to pick and choose because there were time slots with multiple IT Pro sessions.  That was a pleasant surprise.  Here’s a list of the sessions I attended and some brief comments:

Understand the Metadata, Be the Metadata
Jason McKinney @jsnmckinney (McGladrey & Pullen, LLP)

Jason talked about the value of assigning metadata to documents stored in SharePoint and covered a number of examples of what you can do with the data once it is there. We’re only using SharePoint for public web sites for now, so this will be more valuable once we move into using it for collaboration.

Identity and Authentication for SharePoint Online and Office 365
Neil Sly @nrs (Covenant Technology Partners)

This was Neil’s first SPS session, and I’m sure it won’t be his last.  He covered the different identity management options in Office 365 – MS Online IDs, MS Online IDs + DirSync, and Federated IDs + DirSync).He included a number of examples that walked through configuration and managing each one. IT Pros like to know how something works, but what we really want to know is how to do it. Give us commands and script and more PowerShell please!  Neil didn’t disappoint.

SQL Server Health in a SharePoint Environment
Enrique Lima @enriquelima (Pinnacle of Indiana)

I hit the jackpot with Enrique’s session. He pointed out that everyone always focuses on the SharePoint side of the equation and ignores the SQL infrastructure underpinning it.  Any admin can install SQL on a server, but making sure that SQL is happy (ensuring that SharePoint and your users are happy too!), is something else entirely.  Enrique covered a lot of info in this session that help the SQL admin in this area.  For example, it turns out that a number of the defaults in SQL aren’t ideal for SharePoint. Who knew? I do now, and you can too.  You can find Enrique’s presentation on his website.  Microsoft also has a white paper “Database Maintenance for Microsoft SharePoint 2010” that covers much of this information.

Determine Your SharePoint Best Practices: A Choose Your Own Adventure Session
Chris Schwab @ChrisRSchwab and Andy Milsark @amilsark (

This session was mostly Q&A. Chris and Andy covered a few intro topics and highlighted how Best Practices are a starting point, and a best practice for your environment may be different from one for someone else.  It was an interesting session with a number of good questions and comments from the audience.An effective way, however, to determine where your organization is in its use of SharePoint. The model doesn’t appear to have a level low enough for us however.  We should probably be looking at the SharePoint Immaturity Model. I kid. (Not really.)

Leveraging the SharePoint Maturity Model to Create Better Roadmaps
Glenn Goldberg @ggunk (Oakwood Systems Group)

Glenn discussed the SharePoint Maturity Model (for more info check out the SMM website) and how it can be used to develop better, more accurate roadmaps for your SharePoint projects. This was a good session, but for me personally not all the applicable since I’m not involved with SharePoint at this level. It is a good way to determine where you are in your organization’s use of SharePoint and map that against where you want to be. Unfortunately it does not seem to go low enough to describe how we use SharePoint at work. We might need to look for a SharePoint Immaturity Model. I kid. (Not really.)

As you can see, there was a lot of great content during the day, and you’ll find the same at SPS events near you. So definitely consider attending if you work with SharePoint in any capacity. Now when are we going to have an Exchange Server equivalent?