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First formal SharePoint end user training today...

Category SharePoint
So today I had my first exposure to SharePoint end user training.  This was a day-long class to familiarize end users with basic "out of the box" functionality that's provided with SharePoint.  As I travel down the SharePoint/.Net path, I plan on sharing observations and commentary based on what I know from the Notes world.  I'll try (time will tell how successfully) to provide an honest perspective of what works well and what doesn't for those in the Notes community that may be facing this same scenario.  I'm not "the expert", but just someone who may have traveled the path before you did, and can point out the muddy parts of the trail before you slip and fall...

In terms of a consistent user interface on a single platform, SharePoint is nice.  In that sense, it's more accurate to compare SharePoint to WebSphere Portal.  The ability to provide a common look and feel for portlets ("web parts" in SharePoint terminology), as well as giving the user a fair level of control over their environment, definitely beats having to recreate something like that on the Notes platform.  In fact, in terms of "pure" Notes/Domino (if that's the apples to oranges comparison you're making), SharePoint is more user-friendly in my opinion.  The more accurate comparison on that criteria would be with Quickr or Portal.

Where I'm having more of a concern is with the technical capabilities behind the interface.  I'm still reading and studying, so it's too early to make any definitive statements comparing SharePoint with Notes/Domino (or Quickr or Portal).  And let's be honest...  Quickr has had its share of "new version breaks old version" or "new version of Quickr not supported on newest version of Domino" issues.  But when I see tweets and blogs with statements like "folders are evil" and "lists are limited to 2000 documents", I get a little edgy.  I don't have the technical context to know if that means what I think it does, but I see potential limitations.  

I also now understand that white paper written about a month or so ago that stated that a significant number of companies have security issues with SharePoint.  At first I thought this was due to buggy software, but their point is that sensitive information is not properly restricted to the targeted audience.  The same issue exists for uncontrolled Notes environments, too.  Seeing how people can create a MySite page and add a document web part so easily is impressive.  Knowing that most won't understand the security ramifications is scary.  Think of it...  spreadsheet with payroll information put to a team site without tight security.  The search indexer grabs it.  Everyone can find it.  

Repeat after me...  GOVERNANCE IS CRITICAL!

Again, as a Notes person, I can't get cocky here.  You can create the same issues in Notes just as easily.  Someone creates a teamroom, sets default access to reader, and proceeds to post sensitive information without understanding the security model.  When you look at creating a whole new SharePoint environment from scratch, you realize that you can quickly reach the same level of information mismanagement that it took you 10+ years of Notes experience to create in your current environment...  :)

As I get more into the technical end, I expect to find cool features and nasty limitations.  For instance, I'm reading a book called Essential SharePoint 2007 right now.  Great book to give you the 50000 to 5000 foot view of the product.  I finished a chapter where they talk about server configuration, and how you can do anything from a single server running everything (STRONGLY discouraged for anything but basic development or very small workgroups) to multiple servers in a farm handling different aspects.  When the author says "there is no migration path from a single server to multi-server configuration, so choose carefully", I start to appreciate even more how much Domino does for you in a single package.  I suspect that the "number of moving parts" observations will be the most enlightening as I move forward.

I promise that future posts will be more concise and less rambling.  But I woke up at 1 am this morning, and I'm really brain-fried right now.  :)


Gravatar Image1 - Tom,

I really appreciate you posting these blog entries. Honest and to the point. Keep up the great work.

Gravatar Image2 - Really appreciate your balanaced views.

Gravatar Image3 - I had three major thoughts when I went to a SharePoint presentation when 2007 was released. One, "we've been doing this in Domino for 10 years". Second, it seemed to me that even if you were an experienced admin, you'd be tested to the brink if you tried to do the upgrade to 2007 by yourself.
Third, man there's a lot of moving parts. Enjoy your adventure.

Gravatar Image4 - Tom,

Looking forward to your future posts on this topic. I've been a Notes developer for 13 years and I'll be attending my first SharePoint developer course in two weeks. I'll be working with both platforms going forward and your blog is giving me some idea of what to expect.

Gravatar Image5 - It will be interesting to read your observations as you dive into SharePoint. Our organization has been a Lotus Notes/Domino user since 1999. We have been slowly moving to Microsoft SharePoint and Exchange over the past 18 months so it will be nice to hear from someone local about their experiences.

Here is another blog I ran across where the author is sharing their thoughts as they migrate from Notes to SharePoint.

{ Link }

Gravatar Image6 - It seems there's a subtle nuance missing with the statement "there is no migration path from a single server to multi-server configuration, so choose carefully".

I think the author is referring to the "standalone" configuration (which lays down a SQL Server Express instance in the process). I believe you could install an instance of SQL Server Standard Edition, then do a "complete" install of SharePoint on the same box and keep the flexibility to change to a multi-server configuration later on.

I guess that speaks to the "moving parts" thing you referenced Emoticon

I've been where you are now. I'm a CLP (or I guess it's IBM Certified Application Developer, why did they ever change the name on the cert?!) and now I'm an MCTS in SharePoint. We were a Notes shop and went to SharePoint about 18 months ago. By "went to", I mean implemented, we'll still have Notes applications for the foreseeable future but we aren't doing any new development in it now. SharePoint is a great tool and very interesting and fun (most days) to work with (especially if you have the Enterprise CAL).

If you have any questions about things as you study up, feel free to drop me a line. As I think back on the journey, I'm sure it would have been immensely helpful to have someone who knew both Notes and SharePoint to bounce ideas off of.

Gravatar Image7 - Hi, Mike... I appreciate the offer of help. One of the things that makes me effective in the Notes arena is a network of colleagues who know far more than I do. One of my goals is to build up and be part of that same type of network on the SharePoint side.

You've been added to the list. May God have mercy on your soul. :)

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Thomas "Duffbert" Duff

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