Recap of EMC Event: Getting More out of Your SharePoint Investment

I was in Long Beach last week at an EMC luncheon where I presented on how organizations can get more out of SharePoint. A good percentage of the people who attended stated that they are using SharePoint today in some way, which should not come as a surprise.

Consider these interesting data points:

  • 71%  of organizations are committed or will consider SharePoint for their business (source: IDC 2009)
  • 67% of those responding to an AIIM survey stated they needed to either customize or buy third-party products to allow SharePoint to meet their needs (source: AIIM Market Intelligence Report on SharePoint 2010)

The SharePoint customer journey can be looked at in three phases – initial deployment, broad adoption, and business solutions.   While standing up a SharePoint site (or a collection of sites) and allowing people to add content and collaborate sounds like a good plan, you need to have a well-defined plan that covers the users, processes, and the technologies needed to ensure success.

At the EMC luncheon I talked about four key ways you can get more from your SharePoint investment while setting yourself up for success. I’ve summarized those four key topics below.

Managing paper documents

Got paper you want to get into SharePoint? If you do, then you will need an intelligent capture solution to get the information into SharePoint. Microsoft is not going to provide you with this capability. Are considering using a basic scanning application? Think twice. There are document capture solutions today that are far more advanced than basic document scanning solutions. Depending on your requirements – scanning volume, centralized vs. distributed, data capture, workflow automation, and other requirements –  a strong case can be built for why your need an intelligent capture solution.

Enterprise scalability and records

In general, SharePoint Server 2010 was designed to take advantage of SQL Server scale out — that is, SharePoint Server 2010 may perform better with a large number of medium-size servers that are running SQL Server than with only a few large servers. This creates a sprawl of databases across an IT infrastructure.

To help ensure system performance, Microsoft recommends that you limit the size of content databases to 200 GB, except when specific usage scenarios and conditions support larger sizes. Microsoft also generally recommends that a site collection should not exceed 100 GB unless it is the only site collection in the database so that

You may think you can manage the proliferation of SharePoint from within your data center and therefore it is not a problem. Think twice and consider these questions in your planning:

How will I scale SharePoint to meet business demands due to limitations of the SQL backend?

Has this internal growth of SharePoint put IT into a reactionary mode and caused SQL sprawl?

Are backups going to be difficult with these SharePoint environments?

In the case of a failure can I restore SharePoint?

What will my cost of primary storage for SQL be?

Can I trust running SharePoint for our most mission critical applications?

You should ask yourself these questions and consider alternative approaches like externalizing content outside of SharePoint so that you are not storing large files in SQL. EMC Documentum can also be used to manage all content in one repository rather than across many different SharePoint repositories.  The user experience can still remain within SharePoint, but the “official document record” is maintained in Documentum.

Automating business processes

Ad hoc collaboration is great especially in small team environments. However, if you want to automate very specific line of business processes and activities consider this:

  • Many customers mistake SharePoint’s workflow for enterprise BPM support
  • Microsoft itself recommends against use of SharePoint for enterprise BPM
  • Enterprise BPM in SharePoint requires custom coding
  • Enterprise requirements go well beyond SharePoint’s simplistic workflow support
  • Governance is critical for cross-functional processes… unchecked site proliferation throughout the enterprise creates real headaches

With Documentum xCP, you get the best of both worlds – a SharePoint user experience + a complete set of capabilities that willgive you far more functionality when it comes to using SharePoint for mission critical applications. That includes rapidly building processes, modeling, integrating with business systems, and deploying. Rather than being completely unmanaged, information is directed to queues and task are assigned to users.  And this can be done all in the context of a SharePoint interface.

Pervasive information governance

The last topic I covered was how to manage all the content that people are dumping into SharePoint.

The challenges we see is SharePoint can turn into a repository with a bunch of really good information, but it can become difficult to find and manage some of the older content, when we get to certain volume levels. This can hamper performance and make it extremely difficult governing all of this content.

Here are a few questions to consider when putting together your SharePoint plan:

What are your most immediate needs? Is it managing active or inactive content in SharePoint? Do you have compliance or litigation requirements?

How much content are you planning to hold in SharePoint? What information is being stored in these sites and are they being managed long-term?

What are your compliance requirements?

Do you have other content outside of SharePoint that needs to be managed?

These are all good questions to start with that will help you understand what you will need for complimentary solutions that will help manage the content in SharePoint. With EMC information governance solutions we can help you with:

  • Retention and control of archived business-relevant SharePoint content
  • Help manage the growing number of outdated/orphaned SharePoint sites and content
  • Shorten backup windows and maintain performance
  • Enable centralized management & access for content from SharePoint

So there you have it, a recap of what I presented at our EMC event in Long Beach last week.There is a lot to consider here, but the time you spend planning and reviewing what SharePoint can provide and what it can’t, will help set you up for success in the future.

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