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Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Heart of a Teacher

Dear Friend,

October 5th is World Teachers' Day. Don't forget to thank the teachers in your life for all of their hard work and dedication!

Part of my intention in publishing our gift book for educators,

Heart of a Teacher, was to honor the teachers who had made a difference in my life.
Ms. Bridges, who taught me in 4th grade, was amazing! She made learning so much fun and made all of us feel as though we could do anything we wanted to do. Years later, I still remember the impact she made on me as a young child.

Whether you have children in school now or you're a "grown-up" who wants to send a thank-you gift to an influential teacher from your past,

Heart of a Teacher makes a wonderful, unique gift for educators.

Take a look at this excerpt from

Heart of a Teacher, and I think you'll see what I mean!

Regards Mac Anderson,
Founder of Simple Truths
---
An Excerpt from
Heart of a Teacher:

"A Parent's Note to a Teacher"
by Anonymous

I'm the voice of a grateful parent
whose child was in your class...
the one who needed help to find his way

You've been a special blessing
as you helped my child succeed
and I'm thankful for the part you had to play

You gave him so much more
than just the lessons in the books
you gave him wings...so he could learn to fly

You ignited a flame within his soul
a passion to learn and grow...
to never give up and always be willing to try

Your encouragement inspired him
and your kindness was so real
but the thing that thrills my heart the most is this...

By building his self-confidence
you changed his life this year
he believes in himself...and a brighter future is his!
---
"It's Up to Me" by Haim Ginott

I've come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It's my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child's life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanized or dehumanized.
Sent by Maxis from my BlackBerry® smartphone

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Mobile Apps the Future of Convenience

Mobile Apps the Future of Convenience

With smartphone sales and mobile apps on the rise, progressive c-store retailers understand that in order to sustain success, they must capitalize on this growing market trend and be able to say: "We have an app for that." 

According to a study by market research firm ComScore, smartphones are the fastest growing segment of the mobile phone market with more than 45.5 million Americans owning a device in 2010. This statistic is expected to skyrocket in coming years, as will the number of new apps. 
 
"We were one of the first c-stores to have a Web site, so we understand how technology evolves. We've been studying the social media scene for quite a few years," said Scott Hartman, president of Rutter's Farm Stores, operating 54 locations in Pennsylvania. "Mobile application has been a fascinating learning curve, but compared to other new technologies it has been a smooth transition."
 
While Hartman said he first investigated apps in 2006, last year Rutter's turned to GasBuddy to develop its first free iPhone app. Six months later the app was allowing users to get directions to the nearest Rutter's location and to check gas prices. In the months that followed, the app was made available for BlackBerry devices and included an upgraded coupon rewards program. 
 
Rutter's customers using that app can redeem coupons under "deal alerts." By clicking "use it now," a coupon appears for a short amount of time during which time it can be scanned off the phone at the register. 
 
"We're trying to make the apps simple to use while offering a value equation for the consumer," said Hartman. "I'm a tech nerd and like this stuff. I've always been a fan of iPhone applications because I think they are easier then many other applications on other phones. Gasbuddy tried to copy the iPhone model for BlackBerry."
 
Pilot Flying J, the result of the recent merger between Pilot Travel Centers LLC and Flying J Inc., has also been active in the app market, explained Lynsay Caylor, social media marketing manager. 
 
"Our customers are constantly on the road with a mobile phone in tow. Creating an application is the easiest way for our customers to gain location information on the go," said Caylor. "We also want to enhance connectivity with our customers and provide a quick and easy way to check loyalty card balances."
 
Pilot Flying J, which operates 550 travel centers in the U.S. and Canada, turned to Wandering WiFi, which provides Wi-Fi service at its travel centers to develop its free app. Launched April 1, 2010, the app is compatible with iPhone, iTouch and iPad. While weekly activity fluctuates, approximately 13,000 downloads were realized in the first three months after launch.
 
The design process was streamlined, noted Caylor, who added once the app was completed it was submitted to Apple for review and approval which took approximately six weeks. "Design includes a splash screen for when you launch the app, headers and graphics for any other pages you have on the application," she said. 
 
With new apps hitting the market every day, there's an immediacy to not only enhance existing apps, but make them available for more smartphones. "At first our app was only offered for the iPhone. Now it is available for BlackBerry, and soon it will be available for the Droid," said Hartman. "We're pushing it out to more types of devices."
 
Understanding customer mindset through apps is informing how c-stores market and communicate product offerings. "One of the great things about technology is we know all the numbers and statistics," said Hartman, who declined to divulge specific numbers due to competition. He continued: "We use coupon redemption to ascertain information on consumer spending habits. This is a long term investment. It's always best to be further ahead of your competition, which is why I'm coy about sharing numbers."  
 
Caylor said future enhancements and upgrades are already in the works and include adding more store amenities, trip planning features, coupons and the ability to shop from the Pilot Flying J e-store. 
 
"We have received very positive customer feedback. We have a 3.5 star rating with 183 reviews on iTunes," said Caylor. "We will definitely incorporate customer feedback into upgrades and are always encouraging feedback." 
 
Both Caylor and Hartman said they use the application often to determine ease of use. In both cases, they made recommendations that were reflected in upgrades. 
 
"Customers send us e-mails just to tell us how cool the app is and how much they love using it," said Hartman. "We are always looking to improve the experience but regarding future apps, we hold those cards close to our chest."

Disaster Recovery and Continuity Planning for the Database Administrator

By Kevin Medlin
August 13, 2008


Introduction

The most important information in most businesses can be found in the database. A lot of time and attention goes into planning for any new database application. Storage, servers, high availability, capacity, and clustering are just some of the considerations.


The same planning process must take place for disaster recovery and business continuity planning of databases. All actions taken to make business critical applications available must be methodical and deliberate. Disruptions are serious events and should not be taken lightly. "It's not about seeing the [recovered] data on your screen, but conducting business." (Day, Jo, Day, Kevin, 2006) Databases that are at the heart of the business today fall squarely on the critical path of the disaster recovery actions taken when a disruption strikes.


Partial or complete disruptions of a business can be devastating. Business continuity planning can ensure that capacity is available for critical business operations in the time of need. Practiced professionals in the area of business continuity understand that life and opportunities can continue after a disaster. Understanding the steps involved with keeping a business viable is where some planning is needed.


Destruction of assets can be devastating. Insurance may cover the expense to replace those assets but it will not put a business back in place overnight. This takes a huge mental and physical toll on workers. These conditions create burdens and stress on employees and their customers. Without a disaster recovery plan in place, there is little hope of ever getting a business back on its feet.

Requirements

One of the first things needed are the requirements for each database supported. Recovery times are probably the most important of these requirements. The difference between a few seconds of downtime and a few minutes of downtime can be quite substantial. Some business units may have a tolerance for a few hours. This must be known for each database for your plan to be effective. "...you have to prioritize what you need in order to function... you have to figure out what is actually mission-critical." (O'Hanlon, 2007)

Another important answer needed is in reference to data loss. If little to no data loss is acceptable, then a disaster recovery solution can become a budgetary concern. If the backup from last night will suffice, then this can lead to major cost savings.

Capacity can be a concern at the disaster recovery site. Customers should be asked about performance degradation and what is acceptable. This can be a tricky question to answer, and customers will usually need assistance to figure it out. If left to themselves, they will almost always answer that no degradation is acceptable.


Another question that should accompany performance degradation is finding out about the number of users that will be accessing the system during the disruption. These two answers will help to identify a more accurate capacity. What should be explained is that during the disruption, the entire corporate population may not need access to the enterprise application. Possibly only power users may need the system to run business critical functions for the enterprise.


One example is Human Resources applications. An HR application may be available to the corporate population during normal operations for viewing pay stubs, updating W-2s, etc. During a disruptive event, these rights could be suspended but power users could continue to run payrolls, enter benefits, hire and fire employees, etc. It is possible far less capacity is needed than originally thought necessary, which can mean more databases on the same servers, as long as the databases will not interfere with one another's processing. Virtual servers can be used as well, "... you would re-instantiate the virtual machines at a higher ratio (density) of virtual-to-physical. Consequently, organizations that can tolerate a slight drop in performance can build a much cheaper secondary data center to handle temporary disruptions." (Antonopoulos, 2006)


Accessing the databases and applications is another important matter. If the primary place of employment is no longer habitable, employees will need a place to go for office space and workstations. Workstations will need to be equipped with necessary software for database connections. This important point must not be overlooked.


Testing is very important. Determine the frequency in which you will need to test your disaster recovery plans. Only through testing of the plan can issues and problems be discovered and corrected. Testing can also bring opportunities to make improvements to the disaster recovery plan. "Disaster recovery (DR) testing isn't about pass and fail. It's about exercising and rehearsing the DR plan to reveal shortcomings and weaknesses." (Gsoedl, 2006)

Since nothing stays the same in business very long, you will find the same quality in disaster recovery plans. To keep them relevant and up-to-date, testing must become a regular occurrence. Testing may occur yearly, twice per year, or quarterly. The more practical experience individuals can get with the disaster recovery plan and the disaster recovery site, the better off everyone will be during a crisis situation. Familiarity will build confidence in individuals and the equipment and systems they are working on.

Usually, disaster recovery setup is not an emergency. The emergency only comes during execution of the plan. Still, a timeline should be put in place when planning disaster recovery for databases. It is unfortunate that many times, other projects push disaster recovery to the back burner. Make disaster recovery part of all projects so that it can be completed in a timely manner.


Moving back to the primary site will be a joyful time. It can also be quite hectic. "... you should plan to get back into your own premises as fast as possible" (Dawson, 2007). No one wants to stay at the disaster recovery site any longer that they have to. Plan the return much as would be done with the go-live of a new application. Plan the downtime, migrations, testing, go/no-go decision and fallback procedures. Everything should be scheduled and users made fully aware of the outages and change over schedules.


There is someone, or some people, in the organization that will make the decision that a disaster has struck and failover should now take place. Determine who that person is and how the information will be communicated. Ideally, the information will be distributed in multiple forms. Rarely in a disaster will all the normal lines of communication be available to the organization.


Key Roles

Obviously, database administrators are critical to the success of any disaster recovery scenario. There are many key roles that are critical to the success of the database administrator. A server administrator will have to install and set up the server. A system administrator will be needed to install and set up the operating system. A storage administrator will be necessary to duplicate the disks accordingly. Application developers will need to assist with troubleshooting errors detected by the user community. These are some of the people that a database administrator will rely on.


Many, if not all, of these steps can be accomplished prior to any disaster and tested. There can also be problems at the time of failover where some of these areas may need to be revisited. The database administrator may know who to call and work with during normal times, but what happens when a disaster strikes and some primary support personnel are not available? They could be taking care of injured family members or injured themselves. What if your database administrator is not available? Contingencies for these scenarios should be put in place.

It is imperative for employees to know who to call when they have an issue.


One of the best ways to avoid a situation with availability is cross-training employees. An employee that knows more than one job function can become essential and can play a key role during a disruption by knowing more than one area or job function.


Some people may not be able to make it to the recovery site, leaving some areas not covered (Maiwald & Sieglein, 2002, p. 193).The cross-training should not be a complete shift from their normal profession, unless requested by the employee. What is usually better is to have an employee learn a skill that is new, but in the same profession they are currently engaged.


For instance, Oracle database administrators can cross-train as SQL Server database administrators. They are already familiar with the concepts, SQL, structures, etc. of database administration. It should mostly be a matter of learning the different toolsets for the new database software. This can be a win-win for the employee and the organization.


The employee learns a valuable new skill that can enhance their career. The organization gains an employee that has multiple skill sets that can be called upon in times of normalcy and times of crisis.

Backups

Requirements for a database will drive the type of backups you make for it. If a database can have several hours of downtime and the last night backup will work sufficiently, then a full backup will be fine. If little to no downtime and/or little to no data loss is acceptable, then full backups will not do the job.


Technologies such as remote mirroring will have to be investigated. In remote mirroring, all changes made to the production system are copied to the disaster recovery site. This is normally considered in an asynchronous context, since most disaster recovery sites are at some distance away from the primary site. "Asynchronous remote mirroring is most often utilized when the remote site is a long distance from the local site." (Staimer, 2005) When a fail over is called for, databases can be recovered with the mirrored data for business continuance.


Data replication is another technology that can keep disaster recovery databases updated. The native settings of the software replicate changes as they occur from production databases to databases at the disaster recovery site. This can be altered so that changes are applied on a schedule, i.e. every four hours. This would be for a data recovery scenario in case a user made an error. The database administrator could use the data from the disaster recovery database to correct the error in production because the changes had been delayed.

Installations

Installation of database software should be a fairly routine task for a database administrator. It should also be the same across servers with the same database versions. Installation and setup should be well documented. There is always the possibility that a database administrator will not be available when a fail over is called for. Clear and concise, step by step directions will allow technical professionals from another area the ability to stand in for a missing database administrator and set up the database software.


This being said, each production server is different. Certain things may need to be done to prepare the database. Special scripts will sometimes need to run, or jobs to load or unload data. These steps for individual databases and the order in which they should execute also need to be well documented.

Good Use

The best way to set up disaster recovery is by having a dedicated site with servers available and application software running so that an immediate fail over can be done when called for. This approach is also very expensive and not always popular. There are ways to implement disaster recovery sites, save money and be practical, all at the same time.


An excellent approach for the dual use of just such a facility is testing of upgrades. All operating systems, applications, and databases require regular maintenance patches, fixes, and upgrades. With environments available as exact duplicates of production systems, these are prime locations to test the maintenance releases.


Patches and fixes can be applied to a disaster recovery system on a regular schedule. An approved test plan can be administered against the environment to check for issues with the maintenance release. If no issues are found, the patches can be left in place and migrated to the test environment on a regular schedule as well. If no problems are found, the patches can then be migrated into production on a regular schedule.

If any issues are found at the disaster recovery site or in the test system, then the patch can be rolled back or tickets can be opened with the vendors if problems are minor. This eliminates the need for a separate laboratory environment, which can also be very costly. No additional hardware, software, licenses, maintenance, administration, or space would be needed for a lab to test maintenance releases.


If you do not currently have a lab for testing patches and fixes for software, then this can be of a substantial benefit in three areas. The money has already been spent on the disaster recovery site, which was a necessity in itself. Secondly, a duplicate environment of your production systems now exists to test software patching, negating the need for a laboratory. Thirdly, less administrative maintenance is spent on systems once they are patched. Keeping software patched and fixed to current levels reduces downtime and the amount of time administrators spend on system repairs.


This approach can be especially helpful for database administrators. Many times a server may be available for database installations, patching and upgrades, but rarely are there complete environments for these tasks. The need for application developers and users is to test the application against the database after the patches have been installed. The database administrator can perform some limited testing, but the true tests come when users put the system through the motions.


Stocking the disaster recovery site with test servers is another great way to get the disaster recovery site up and running quickly and maximize the value of those servers. In most, if not every case, these servers are purchased for every new project that will be migrated into production. Test servers should be purchased with the same specifications, or better, than production. Most test servers will need higher capacity because more databases, application servers, web servers, etc. will be running on them than the production hardware. With test servers in the disaster recovery facility, much of the work of software installation is already done. Disaster recovery instances can be created on test servers and left idle. Application servers, web servers, and databases just wait for the day that a fail over will be alerted.


Using virtualized servers can assist in lower costs for a disaster recovery site. Server virtualization has become less expensive and at the same time, less complex, "... the cost of these technologies continues to fall, allowing small firms to implement solutions once reserved for large companies." (McCarthy, 2007).


It is now much easier to implement virtual servers than it has been in the past. Today, many applications, operating systems, and databases support server virtualization software. This has changed since many of the virtualization vendors have tried to work closely and cooperate fully with the other software vendors.


Pressures from customers have also driven software companies to work with virtualization companies to certify and support their products. Through virtualization, a physical server can be imaged and reproduced in a virtual environment. A production system consisting of a web server, application server, and a database server can all be imaged and virtualized on a single physical server. This effectively consolidates three physical servers down to one without losing any functionality. Capacity may not be equal, but it may suffice perfectly in a disaster recovery scenario. This does not mean that all applications will work together on virtual servers. "For example, one would not configure a SQL Server, an Oracle server, and a Lotus server to fail over to a common target. As a basic rule of thumb, if the applications would not peacefully coexist on a production server, then they will not peacefully coexist on the target." (Buffington, 2005)

Mentoring

A step beyond cross training is mentoring. A mentoring program allows subject matter experts to work directly with management-identified employees who are interested in becoming experts in a different field than the one they are currently in. This can become a large financial gain for employers while increasing employee morale as well.

"On average, companies with mentoring programs have a 19 percent lower turnover rate than those without such a program. That retention boost can translate into a substantial cost benefit. A mentoring program could save a 1,000-person company nearly $9.5 million a year, based on a $50,000 average turnover cost, according to Interim's 1999 Emerging Workforce Study." (Southgate, 2002) Mentoring can also work well for employees who wish to cross train to qualify for positions on other technology teams that have unfilled vacancies.


By identifying and opening career opportunities across teams, individuals feel a sense of empowerment and are not stuck in their current roles. For instance, a database administrator position may be difficult to fill externally. A current developer with talent, ability, and desire to become a database administrator could miss an opportunity to make a lateral move due to lack of experience. Through mentoring, the developer could continue in her current role while cross training in a potentially new career path. In this way, mentoring programs can help manage expected retirements and workflow fluctuations while providing alternative career paths for qualified candidates.


When an employee and mentor begin the process, they should meet with a manager. During this initial interview, they will identify the goals and objectives of the process and develop work plans. The primary focus of the mentor and employee should be to capture institutional knowledge. The employee should document the mentor's position and job in the form of process diagrams and standardized procedures.


As part of the mentoring process, learning employees will identify, learn, and record undocumented processes and procedures. This assists in preventing the loss of institutional knowledge that occurs when a subject matter expert leaves a position that has not been well documented. It also insures that the employee understands the mentor's job functions.


A review of the documentation by the mentor will give an excellent indication of the understanding and progress of the employee. This provides opportunities for standardization and improvements through process engineering. The employee and mentor should also look for training opportunities to supplement the learning process. Future mentoring times, communication, and work product delivery can be managed by the employee and mentor in alignment with approved work plans. The work plans can become subject to review in the annual review of the participants.


By establishing a mentoring program, senior technical staff is recognized for their accomplishments and junior staff is given the opportunity to learn from them and develop into the next generation of subject matter experts. Senior technical staff is the primary source of institutional knowledge. By spreading this knowledge within and across teams, the ability to provide support when subject matter experts are inaccessible or incapacitated is greatly improved.


This is a critical consideration with respect to disaster recovery. By documenting processes and procedures through a mentoring program, the ability to respond quickly to outages or disasters is dramatically enhanced.

About the Author

Kevin Medlin has been administering, supporting, and developing in a variety of industries including energy, retail, insurance and government since 1997. He is currently a DBA supporting Oracle and SQL Server, and is Oracle certified in versions 8 through 10g. He received his graduate certificate in Storage Area Networks from Regis University and he will be completing his MS in Technology Systems from East Carolina University in 2008. When he's not trying to make the world a better place through IT, he enjoys spending time with his family, traveling, hanging out by the pool, riding horses, hiking, and camping.


How to Set Up the Perfect Physical Disaster Recovery Center

By: Pam Baker (7/26/2010)

For most companies, the best disaster recovery (DR) strategy is a blend of physical and virtual. The trick, of course, is in figuring out what goes where. To that end, it's a good idea to determine the where and the what before the how.

"The first step for any organization in creating a disaster recovery center is to determine the level of criticality of systems and applications that will be supported," advises Dr. Mickey Zandi, managing principal, consulting services at
SunGard Availability Services. This evaluation, he says, helps determine what needs to be recovered and their recovery time and objectives.

But once the IT staff has created an evaluation and priority plan, the CIO has to budget for – and implement – a DR center that can meet the objectives. What would a perfect physical DR site look like?

Of course, the definition of "perfect" differs slightly from one company to the next, and from one industry to another, but all good disaster recovery sites have some common elements.

Location, Location, Location

First on the list of considerations is the location. How far is far enough?

There are no hard and fast guidelines in how far to locate a recovery center from your own onsite datacenter. Venyu, a data and datacenter protection company believes 200 miles is sufficient. "Consider your access to such everyday resources as power, water, and other utilities in meeting your recovery objectives," advises Venyu CEO Scott Thompson.

"If your recovery center, for example, is smack in the middle of a core metropolitan power grid that might be compromised in the event of a natural disaster, it's wise for you to consider an alternate location which, although off the beaten path, will likely preserve your uptime with uninterrupted utilities," he adds.

Once you have an idea of where to place your DR site, the remaining question is whether to buy or rent.

"We don't believe that the ownership of the data center makes a difference as long as the company can easily and assuredly retrieve their data," says Thompson.

Even so, deciding on whether to buy the site can affect your company budget – and the ability to change your mind about DR deployment. "If a company builds its own disaster recovery site, it not only incurs the capital expenditures but it is pretty much stuck with the location," says Zandi. "Utilizing a service provider enables a company to relocate its disaster recovery center to other locations in a provider's network should the business needs arise."

Companies should carefully weigh total costs involved both in setup and maintenance before deciding to buy or rent.

Staffing the DR Site

Companies need to consider how many employees, and which employees, need to use the DR site. Make sure you have sufficient space for this core group to work in. Don't forget to plan on support personnel too.

"The staff that supports the perfect physical DR center should be experts in a wide variety of protocols and technologies (e.g. security, virtualization, Active Directory, Exchange) who are available 24/7 to answer any question, optimize services, or assist with a recovery," advises Thompson.

"At least a portion of the onsite technical team [need to] have experience in working through catastrophic emergencies – including both local as well as regional disasters, e.g. hurricanes, tornados, flooding, and so on," he says. "Such experience is worth its weight in gold in helping to keep a level-headed approach in the face of your staff's first-time large scale disaster."

You also need to establish how the staff can get to work during a crisis, especially if public transportation is disrupted and roadways are blocked. Do you need to purchase vans or buses? Rent them?

Additionally, you need a backup plan for your backup plan if employees cannot reach the site. Can your staff
remotely access the site if travel is difficult or impossible? Can your support team support geographically diverse staff members remotely?

"Cloud computing will facilitate disaster recovery, helping companies move away from physical disaster recovery to virtual disaster recovery environments," says SunGard's Zandi. "By operating within a virtual mode in the cloud, organizations can potentially recover from any location within the cloud provider's environment."

Data Recovery

While a core team of staff is essential to resuming operations, data retrieval is a top priority. Stay mindful of how the data can be accessed – and from where – to prevent accidental lock out.

"We have typically found that multiple sites with a tested DR plan are far superior to a single, monolithic site and system," says Bill Mazzetti, vice president, engineering at
Rosendin Electric, a west coast electrical contractor that designs and installs data centers for clients including Intel and Symantec.

Ideally, a physical DR center should have superior
phone support and connectivity. (How else can your customers reach you, or you them?) Therefore it should be equipped with redundant power and telecommunication capacity, climate controls, and fire suppression systems. "Moreover, there should be adherence to stringent security, access, process, and redundancy safeguards backed by SAS 70 (Type II) certification," advises Thompson.

"Factors such as priority of data, how often data is backed up and enforcement of service level agreements (SLAs), where they apply, all come into play," he adds.

Keep in mind that your physical data center has to be operated and maintained with a skeleton crew. Generally speaking, a virtualized environment is easier to run with fewer people, however, such has its limitations too.

"One of the more common ways large hosting environments provide virtualized DR solutions is to use para-virtualization in order for the physical machines to support multiple virtual machines," explains C. Scyphers, chief architect at Daemon Consulting. The firm's typical consulting projects involve high availability architectures, high throughput processing, and data mining efforts. "However," Scyphers adds, if the hosting physical machine is insufficiently sized, a DR situation may cause the VMs – which are now acting as primary servers – to overload the resources of the underlying physical server."


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Inside Job and I Want Your Money Trailers 2010 HD



I Want Your Money trailer...Set against the backdrop of today's headline - 67% of Americans don't approve of Obama's economic policies, the film takes a provocative look at our deeply depressed economy using the words and actions of Presidents Reagan and Obama and shows the marked contrast between Reaganomics and Obamanomics. The film contrasts two views of the role that the federal government should play in our daily lives using the words and actions of Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. Two versions of the American dream now stand in sharp contrast. One views the money you earned as yours and best allocated by you; the other believes that the elite in Washington know how to best allocate your wealth. One champions the traditional American dream, which has played out millions of times through generations of Americans, of improving one's lot in life and even daring to dream and build big. The other holds that there is no end to the "good" the government can do by taking and spending other peoples' money in an ever-burgeoning list of programs. The documentary film I Want Your Money exposes the high cost in lost freedom and in lost opportunity to support a Leviathan-like bureaucratic state.


*If you received this via email, click on the link at "Posted by ECGMA to ECBeez Blog" to view the blogpost"*

Friday, September 17, 2010

New Phone Security

From: Adriano P <>
Sent: Thu, September 16, 2010 12:10:59 PM
Subject: New Phone Security
 
Hey Everyone!
 
Figured i'd let you all know of this new security app from this Australian company called REAPP! Turns out they've been developing a sort of security software for new Nokia phones so that it they get stolen or lost you can delete all the private stuff off the phone and lock it AND even track it down using an inbuilt GPS type system. Cool aye! The company is about to go international and pretty soon they're gonna release an app for the iphone.
 
I don't have a Nokia but my mate from uni does and he showed me it working.....it's awesome!!! (Kinda hoping they make one for Sonys now......)
 
Anyways take a look at it on the website:
 
http://www.handango.com/catalog/ProductDetails.jsp?storeId=2218&deviceId=2436&platformId=20&productId=274578
 
 
If you wanna check the REAPP company out they got a pretty flash website: http://www.reapptech.com/
 
Cheers,
 
Adri

Thursday, September 16, 2010

"Wait To Worry"

"Wait to Worry"An Excerpt from
Attitude is Everything
by Vicki Hitzges

I used to worry. A lot. The more I fretted, the more proficient I became at it. Anxiety begets anxiety. I even worried that I worried too much! Ulcers might develop. My health could fail. My finances could deplete to pay the hospital bills.

A comedian once said, "I tried to drown my worries with gin, but my worries are equipped with flotation devices." While not a drinker, I certainly could identify! My worries could swim, jump and pole vault!

To get some perspective, I visited a well known, Dallas businessman, Fred Smith. Fred mentored such luminaries as motivational whiz Zig Ziglar, business guru Ken Blanchard and leadership expert John Maxwell. Fred listened as I poured out my concerns and then said,

"Vicki, you need to learn to wait to worry."As the words sank in, I asked Fred if he ever spent time fretting. (I was quite certain he wouldn't admit it if he did. He was pretty full of testosterone-even at age 90.) To my surprise, he confessed that in years gone by he had been a top-notch worrier!

"I decided that I would wait to worry!" he explained. "

I decided that I'd wait until I actually had a reason to worry-something that was happening, not just something that might happen-before I worried.""When I'm tempted to get alarmed," he confided, "I tell myself, 'Fred, you've got to wait to worry! Until you know differently, don't worry.' And I don't. Waiting to worry helps me develop the habit of not worrying and that helps me not be tempted to worry."

Fred possessed a quick mind and a gift for gab. As such, he became a captivating public speaker. "I frequently ask audiences what they were worried about this time last year. I get a lot of laughs," he said, "because most people can't remember. Then I ask if they have a current worry - you see nods from everybody. Then I remind them that the average worrier is 92% inefficient - only 8% of what we worry about ever comes true."

Charles Spurgeon said it best. "Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, but only empties today of its strength."

Most of us want to be positive. It's advantageous to possess a sunny outlook. Doors open to optimists. They make friends, earn respect, close sales, produce loyal clients, and others enjoy and want to be like them. The question is how can we do that consistently?
Sent by Maxis from my BlackBerry® smartphone

Sunday, September 12, 2010

SharePoint 2010: Three Ways Sony Is Using It

By Shane O'neill, CIO
May 28, 2010 02:12 PM ET

Sony Electronics, the division of Sony Corporation that designs and develops the company's cameras, computers, TVs and other devices, is making a broad move to SharePoint 2010 to improve search, social networking and document sharing.

Over the past few years, there's been a big push in the Sony Electronics IT group to migrate more content into SharePoint, first from the 2003 version to the 2007, and now from 2007 to SharePoint 2010.


"Between late 2007 to mid-2009, we grew from five SharePoint site collections to over 400," says Jim Whitmoyer, business applications manager at Sony Electronics.

With 180,000 employees spread around the world, Sony Electronics looked to the new version of SharePoint to improve on the social networking and document sharing features in the 2007 version.


Sony was an early adopter of SharePoint 2010 and has been poring over the product's enhanced social features for a year now. "Wikis are a big interest to us," says Whitmoyer. "Employees were saying that the wiki feature in SharePoint 2007 was not easy to work with. Microsoft has addressed those issues. The wikis in SharePoint 2010 are better."


[ For complete coverage on Microsoft's SharePoint collaboration software -- including enterprise and cloud adoption trends and previews of SharePoint 2010 -- see CIO.com's SharePoint Bible. ]

Sony looked at some pure-play social networking companies that integrate with SharePoint, such as NewsGator and SocialText, but decided that SharePoint 2010 "offered broad enough social tools that we didn't see value in bringing in other technologies," says Whitmoyer.

Here are three key ways, including social networking, that Sony is using SharePoint 2010.


FASTer Search

Microsoft has integrated the technology from its 2008 acquisition of enterprise search company FAST into SharePoint 2010 to provide more refined search.

Whitmoyer frequently got complaints from Sony employees that search queries within SharePoint 2007 would return thousands of documents that were difficult to wade through.

"The inclusion of FAST search has been a big deal. We've received lots of positive feedback from employees," says Whitmoyer.

The FAST search filters results by documents type, by author, or within a certain site collection or time period, narrowing thousands of documents down to a dozen. It also features people results for search terms, so if someone in a company is an expert on a subject, their profile will show up in the results.


Social Networking With MySites

Though Sony was using SharePoint 2007 for document management, it was hardly using My Sites -- personal websites for users that provide a set of social networking features.

With the recent popularity of social media sites and with hiring more younger workers, Sony wanted to use My Sites to bring the company into a more progressive workstyle.

"All our worldwide users are dealing with the conflict of distance," says Whitmoyer. "But SharePoint 2010 provides better social connections and richer profiles through My Sites. So if someone is searching for a subject they can get help from colleagues quickly."


SharePoint 2010 represents an opportunity to remake the Sony landscape, says Whitmoyer, where employees will chat and post on discussion boards instead of e-mailing, and use wikis instead of tracking revisions made to various Microsoft Word docs sent as e-mail attachments.

"In my group we are all posting reports to our wiki instead e-mailing Word docs around," he says. "I have alerts when people who work for me add new pages to the wiki and my boss has alerts when I add new pages."

The merging of SharePoint with OCS (Office Communications Server) has also been a boon for Sony as a way to communicate easier and curb the reliance on e-mail.

"If I see someone in SharePoint, with OCS and Presence, I can just do a quick IM chat instead of sending three or four e-mails back and forth," says Whitmoyer.


To appease Sony's legal department, employees have to sign a user agreement before creating a My Site page that basically states they agree to act professionally and not post inappropriate content.


Document Sharing Inside and Outside Firewall

Sony is also using SharePoint 2010's document management features to resolve the dreaded circle of confusion that comes with e-mailing documents.


"We've been preaching about sending links to each other instead of documents," says Whitmoyer.

One issue Sony is still has not worked out is how to accommodate mobile users who can't access SharePoint because it is only on Sony's intranet.


But this is not a problem on employees' personal computers because of SharePoint Workspace, a feature that gives users offline access to SharePoint sites. Any changes made locally on a computer not connected to the corporate network will sync up with the SharePoint server, done either automatically or manually.


Sony is also considering Microsoft's BPOS (business productivity online services) suite, which includes online versions of Exchange and

SharePoint, so that mobile users and even customers can share documents online.

"We'll leave sensitive company data on the client version of SharePoint, and use SharePoint Online for better collaboration with customers and partners," says Whitmoyer.


Shane O'Neill is a senior writer at CIO.com.

8 Things SharePoint 2010 Needs to Be a True ECM System

8 Things SharePoint 2010 Needs to Be a True ECM System (Enterprise Content Management)

Greg Clark Profile Photo Our guest "8 things" columnist today is Greg Clark from C3 Associates, located in Calgary, Alberta.  C3 exists to solve a problem faced by most organizations; how to take advantage of the vast amounts of content (documents, email, engineering drawings, web pages, presentations, photos, rich media files, etc.) generated every day in your organization. 

Now before I'm attacked from all sides on this guest posting -- the usual comments are either "What is AIIM doing pimping for SharePoint?" or "What is AIIM doing attacking SharePoint?" -- often about the same article! -- let me point out that these are Greg's perspectives.  And the whole idea of sharing the pulpit with my "8 things" guest bloggers is to share opinions.  So if you have an opinion about either this posting -- or want to suggest an "8 things" on an entirely different topic -- then submit a comment or ping me for a suggested new 8 things.

8 Things SharePoint 2010 Needs to Be a True ECM System

The hype cycle has started for the upcoming release of SharePoint 2010 and I'm certainly not the only one to get caught up in it.

I'm excited about anything that can help my clients better manage their information and I've always seen SharePoint as a potentially transformative platform bridging structured content, unstructured content and social computing in one flexible package. The current release of SharePoint does a decent job of this but in my opinion and the opinions of others (here and here) it has some shortcomings when it comes to its capabilities as a true Enterprise Content Management platform.

While this post is all about SharePoint as a technology, I want to be clear that technology is about the very last thing that should be considered when implementing ECM. It should start with a good business case, appropriate sponsorship, choosing the right areas of focus then building capacity within the organization to truly succeed with ECM. Technology is only the last piece of this puzzle. All of that said, there has been an incredible amount of interest in SharePoint and many of my clients have questions about where (or whether) this tool should fit into their ECM strategy.

For SharePoint 2010 to become the ECM category killer and truly threaten the market share of Open TextEMC DocumentumIBM FileNet and others, the new version should have the following eight things:

1. Persistent links.

I've told anyone who would listen over the past two years (and many people who wouldn't…hi mom!) that the single biggest shortcoming of SharePoint 2007 is the inability to link directly to a unique object ID. One of the greatest benefits of ECM systems is the ability to send content via a link rather than relying on email attachments. In traditional ECM applications this isn't a problem; each content object has its own unique ID that doesn't change regardless of where it lives in the repository. In SharePoint links will break if you rename or move a file. The other benefit of persistent linking is that it enables the management of compound documents (a container that stores multiple documents like the chapters of a book) and the ability to link directly to an older version of a document. Rumor has it that SharePoint 2010 will include persistent linking and if it does the tool will have taken a big step forward.

2. Store once, use many.

SharePoint has a nasty habit of copying content throughout the system rather than using pointers to a single source of the truth (because content links might break as noted above). Yes, yes, I know that you can "Send to…Other Location" and link that new doc back to the original but this linkage is easy to break and experience tells me that the content falls out of synch very quickly. Perhaps the best example of the misguided use of "copy" capabilities in SharePoint is the "Send to…Records Center" feature where a copy of a document is sent to the Records Center while leaving the original in place rather than either moving the document and leaving a pointer or changing the state of the document to indicate its changed status (see the next point for more on the RM capabilities of SharePoint). The propagation of copies of documents throughout a repository is very bad mojo from an ECM and records management perspective and it is something that Microsoft must fix if SharePoint is going to replace traditional ECM applications.

3. Honest-to-goodness Records Management.

I recognize that that SharePoint 2007 is DoD 5015.2 certified but the statement from the product development team that the DoD 5015.2 components are "not intended for customers…who would like to enhance the records management functionality of MOSS 2007 with particular 5015.2 oriented features but are not required to run their system in a certified configuration" doesn't exactly inspire confidence. Add to this the fact that SharePoint doesn't allow users to manage physical objects out of the box and it is clear that Microsoft needs to decide if they are really serious about the records management space or if they will leave it to partners.

4. Better metadata management.

Metadata in SharePoint 2007 took a quantum leap forward with the introduction of Content Types. However, managing metadata in SharePoint 2007 can be difficult especially when dealing with multiple site collections. An ECM system should be able to easily manage relationships between data in the form of cascading attributes and parent-child relationships throughout the entire repository and should also support inheritance of metadata from the container level (eg. folder) to the content within that container. I'm hopeful that we'll see improvements to the SharePoint Business Data Catalogue (BDC) that make this possible. The other option appears to be Microsoft's Master Data Management tool (codenamed "Bulldog") which is rumoured to be included in SharePoint 2010.

5. Reusable search templates and stored search results.

There is no question that search is a focus for Microsoft based on their acquisition of FAST and their push into public internet search with the recent launch of Bing. Search in SharePoint 2007 is reasonably good but the tool does not have the ability to either store a "snapshot" of search results for future reference nor does SharePoint 2007 allow users to create reusable search templates. This feature would save users time by allowing them to create a search query then either re-execute that query in the future or add new criteria without having to rebuild the entire search.

6. More granular security.

This is one area where SharePoint was already reasonably strong but truly deep ECM systems include advanced security features like the ability to deny permission to certain objects on an as-needed basis. The current process for managing security is a bit cumbersome but I expect this is something Microsoft is working on. It will be interesting to see if what changes, if any, make it into the final release of the product.

7. Surface the audit trail.

One of the things I like the best about established ECM applications is the ability to see who has opened my documents. I find this particularly handy on status report day when I inevitably discover that I've made a mistake in the document I've just sent out (as an unbreakable persistent link of course). I can check the audit trail to see if anyone has opened the document and if not, make my changes without anyone knowing I'd messed up in the first place. While SharePoint tracks most major audit events, the list of events is not as extensive as in a traditional ECM application nor is this information surfaced through the function menu of the content object.

8. More and more mature line-of-business integrations.

This should be a strength of SharePoint given the sizeable .NET developer community as well as the extensive Microsoft partner ecosystem, but SharePoint still has a lot of catching up to do in this area. Organizations deploying SharePoint won't be able to hold a single vendor to account for a series of modules (or Content Enabled Vertical Applications, as Gartner likes to call them). This may or may not be a bad thing depending on your perspective but established ECM vendors have offerings that satisfy a variety of industry verticals and business functions. To achieve the same thing with SharePoint customers will need to research, purchase and deploy modules from a variety of Microsoft partnersCMS Watch offers a good summary of the issues associated with third party add-ons for SharePoint.

It will be interesting to see whether SharePoint 2010 includes some or all of these features. Microsoft has done a good job of capturing a new market without significantly eroding the market share of traditional ECM vendors; as SharePoint adoption has increased the overall market has grown and, as they say on Wall Street, "a rising tide floats all boats." Whether Microsoft's ship will sail away from the rest remains to be seen (as does my ability to stretch a bad metaphor) but they were clearly not able to do so with SharePoint 2007.


How Document Management Has Evolved in SharePoint 2010



It's always useful to get some kind of insight into the thinking behind the development of features in new software, particularly when it comes to SharePoint 2010 (news, site).


In a recent entry on the Microsoft Enterprise Content Management Team Blog, Adam Harmetz, Lead Program Manager for SharePoint Document and Records Management, explains how new features in SharePoint 2010 build on SharePoint 2007 and what we might expect in the future.


The first thing he says is that many of the key document management infrastructures were introduced in SharePoint 2007, which was the first time that SharePoint enabled users apply structure and management to their document libraries as opposed to using it principally as a collaborative tool.


Those features and their integration with Microsoft Office client applications enabled users to create high-value knowledge repositories that were easy to interact with and were generally positively received by users.


SharePoint 2010 document management is built off the success of that and around a number of principal ideas including:

  • Managing unstructured silos
  • Use of metadata
  • Browser as document management application

Managing unstructured silos

Looking at the way users were using document management features in 2007, Harmetz says they noticed that SharePoint was being used to pull unstructured silos into realm of enterprise content management.

Users were using traditional document management features on collaborative sites and using them to apply policy and structure as well as gathering insights from unmanaged places.


This lead to the development of many new SharePoint 2010 document management features. In this respect Harmetz cites the idea of a document set, which allows users to group related documents, share metadata, workflows, homepage and archiving processes.


The feature was designed with dual purposes:

  • To manage very rigid processes (regulatory submissions, for example)
  • Informal process management where teams need to combine a number of file types in same process.

Extending the document set feature to enable its use informally extends the SharePoint ECM value for users, Harmetz says.

Use of metadata

In establishing how metadata would be used across SharePoint 2010, they combined the use of both structured taxonomies and keywords, and applied both to SharePoint 2010 repositories.

SharePoint 2010_document management_navigation.jpg
Instead of navigating by traditional folders, a user filtered the library to the virtual folder that contains just sales materials about Contoso's tent products.
 

With SharePoint 2010, users get consistent metadata management with the result that any SharePoint site can hook into that metadata with virtually no effort.

There are two key principals in the use of metadata:

  • Use and application of tags: It's easy for a site to use enterprise wide tags and taxonomies, and easy for users to apply them.
  • How SharePoint 2010 uses tags: The document library can be configured to use metadata as a primary navigation pivot.

Combined, it means that easy metadata entry enables users to tag items which in turn drives navigation. And because users need the metadata to navigate the repository, this encourages them to tag the items.

Browser as a document management application

SharePoint 2010 pulls together two features that SharePoint is best known for:

  • Website and page creation
  • Collaboration on, and management of documents

In the interests of efficient knowledge management, SharePoint 2010 applies the principal that the browser is the key to best managing documents — not just for document downloads but also for interaction with the document.

In this respect, users will now be able to interact with the document as well as having access to document context including metadata, wikis pages related to the document and related documents.

SharePoint 2010 enables this in a number of ways including:

  • Office Web Apps: The default click for the document library can be set for automatic document upload into the browser.
  • Content Query web part: Used to roll up all the documents related to a particular topic.

The result is a combination of wiki and traditional enterprise document management repositories.


There are a lot more document management features to SharePoint 2010, but Harmetz gives some context to it and suggests that future developments will be based along the same lines (you can read the full post here). He will be addressing other features and other document management issues over the coming months.


However, if there are particular issues in relation to SharePoint 2010 and document management that you would like him to discuss, leave a message on the blog, especially if you're one of those that have downloaded the Beta version and are having problems on the test drive.


What Is Document Management and What's Its Value? - Video Clips

Interview with technology expert David Spark, founder of a new media consulting company.

Document Management: Controlling the Lifecycle of a File

Document Management: Manage Your Workflow

Document Management: Scanning Paper Files

Document Management: Purchasing a Scanner

SharePoint 2010 and Document Management

This video provides an overview of how to manage your documents in SharePoint.


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Join Award Winning SharePoint Specialist Gig Werks and Microsoft to learn about Document Management & Records Retention in SharePoint 2010. See all the new features and capabilities when it comes to these areas of the product.








SharePoint in Plain English - Video Clip

A short, fun, animated approach, showing you what SharePoint is all about.


Consolidate business collaboration solutions and become more effective with SharePoint 2010.


Steve Ballmer Answers What is SharePoint 2010

SharePoint Online Features & Benefits

June 29, 2010

SharePoint Online

Now more than ever companies are using their employees in a variety of ways, realizing that its people who make their business work, not just technology.  Bringing both of these important factors together and understanding the need for a communication and collaboration solution will effectively allow their company to work better together and more efficiently.  The problem arises when looking for that solution.  In the fast moving tech market changes come at a rapid pace.  Security needs are constantly increasing, and IT departments are shrinking in manpower and resources. 

There is a solution to the problem, Microsoft SharePoint® Online.  SharePoint Online provides companies with the tools they need to allow their employees to work efficiently and in a collaborative effort by giving them a single location to find organizational resources, search for information, manage content and workflow, and will provide businesses with the knowledge they need to make key decisions.  Based Office SharePoint Server 2007, this Microsoft-hosted solution allows employees to create and control custom team and project-focused sites for collaboration, and has security-enhanced document sharing features. Users get the flexibility and customization they need to work resourcefully across the entire organization. Microsoft handles the setup, provisioning, and most importantly, all of the ongoing maintenance and upgrades of your Office SharePoint Server infrastructure. Enabling your IT department to get back to what is most significant to your business, driving your company further toward its goals. 


How It Works:

SharePoint Online utilizes unnecessary and geographically dispersed data centers. Each data center houses a reliable infrastructure needed to support the service. SharePoint Online helps simplify IT management by removing a company's need to deploy, configure, monitor and update/upgrade a collaboration solution on premises. From the Microsoft Online Administration Center, service administrators can create new site collections and sites, and enable access to specific users. With SharePoint Online, your enterprise can be up and running quickly with the tools your users need to communicate and collaborate effectively.


Migration:

Many customers have existing collaborative platforms or older versions of SharePoint Server. Working with our partners, Microsoft can help you develop a strategy for migration to SharePoint Online.


Key Features:

  • Shared document and meeting workspaces
  • Content management features for documents and Web content
  • Document libraries with version control
  • Seamless integration with Microsoft Office 2007 and Office SharePoint Designer
  • Standard templates including wikis, blogs, and surveys
  • E-mail alerts when documents or other items have been changed or added to a site
  • RSS feeds for SharePoint libraries and lists
  • Low-cost user licenses for "deskless workers" who use a PC on a limited basis
  • Language support for English, French, German, Spanish, and Japanese
  • Use of HTTPS to help keep Internet access secure
  • Antivirus scanning with Microsoft Forefront™ Security for SharePoint
  • Sign In application that provides single sign-on capability
  • 99.9% scheduled uptime with financially backed Service Level Agreements
  • Web form and 24/7 phone-based Tier 2 support for IT administrators

Active Directory, Forefront, Internet Explorer, Microsoft and SharePoint are all trademarks of the Microsoft Corporation.



The Benefits of Good SharePoint Design

Mike Vinson

With the recent release of SharePoint 2010 and all its new functional goodness, the temptation to upgrade or install a new instance has become even more tempting. More and more companies are coming around to understanding the benefits that SharePoint can bring to their business and now that many have taken the plunge to roll out Office 2007 (or even 2010!) this is no longer a barrier to integration.


With the evolution of geographically-diverse offices and workers, thanks to the increased availability of broadband and mobile phone access, the case for SharePoint has never been stronger. According to a survey by  CitrixOnline - "70% of employees see access to mobility devices and applications as key to productivity". As connectivity options become more available, this can only increase further. Having access to corporate information whilst working from anywhere with an Internet connection is a very attractive proposition to employees and employers alike. Flexible working is something that is becoming more and more important in this modern world and offering such facilities can be a big advantage when attracting new recruits into the business.


Establishing a corporate intranet using SharePoint can help your business to achieve this objective. However, SharePoint's biggest strength is also one of its biggest weaknesses. Time and time again, I come across companies that have happily installed SharePoint within the business and have sat back and expected users to magically produce a fully functioning corporate intranet just through general use. SharePoint is extremely intuitive to most users and anyone with an understanding of how a web page works can come to grips with it. Here-in lies the problem - it becomes a sprawling mess very quickly. Sure, this can be managed via permissions but once 'Owner' permissions have been granted to a user at Team Site level, who knows how far down the rabbit hole goes in terms of sub sites, lists and libraries. Trying to find something specific? Good luck. Even assuming that search has been configured correctly, no doubt there will be three or four different versions of the same document in different libraries dotted around the place.


Designing a corporate intranet is not easy but it is something that is vital for a successful implementation. In order for the design to be correct, all the different parts of the business must be consulted and requirements gathered. These requirements should capture how users intend to use SharePoint functionality, how sites should be structured, what lists and libraries they will need and so on. These requirements not only help to establish a great foundation from which to build your SharePoint intranet but can also help to streamline your business and identify less than optimal processes. Holding user workshops will also raise awareness (and hopefully interest!) of the project and inevitably good ideas will come out of them which can be incorporated into the design. It is only once the requirements have been gathered that the SharePoint implementation can be designed in such a way that the structure of the intranet makes sense to those that are expected to use it.


A fully-fledged SharePoint implementation is designed to form the information backbone of your corporation. As such, it will touch upon and affect every area of your business. It should be viewed as a great opportunity to 'get your house in order'. For example, file shares should be analysed to establish who exactly 'owns' files contained within them. One advantage of doing this is that duplicate files and overlaps in information ownership can be identified and dealt with. The owner of individual files will determine under which area of the intranet they will live. Old files should be archived off and the remaining ones uploaded to the appropriate team site and library. If your Active Directory could do with some organisation, this is a great opportunity to get this ball rolling. Organisation Units and Groups can be created to mirror that of the SharePoint structure. This will also make user permissions easier to maintain in the long term.


The 'look and feel' of the SharePoint implementation is also very important. Sure, the vanilla theme is OK but it is important that the style of the site is fitting with your corporate branding and colour scheme. It needs to be an extension of your business rather than a separate entity. By approaching your site design in this way, you will get greater buy-in from your users and combined with promoting the site internally, you should start to see its use increase. Ideally, the goal should be to have SharePoint the first point of call when looking for information within the organisation.


Business Intelligence and the exposure of performance management information should also be incorporated into your intranet design.

Typically, the implementation of a BI solution built on top of SharePoint is managed via a separate project but, nonetheless, it should be kept in mind when designing your SharePoint implementation. SharePoint 2010 has seen much tighter integration with other Microsoft enterprise products such as Office 2010, Visio 2010, Project Server 2010, PerformancePoint analytics and the SQL Server Business Intelligence stack. Management and operation performance information that was once contained within spreadsheets or PowerPoint presentations can be made available via the intranet by publishing them to SharePoint. These documents can be viewed in the browser rather than downloaded to a client machine making access to information much easier and quicker for those working remotely with less than ideal Internet connections. PerformancePoint dashboards with analytical and interactive reports can be built to expose performance management information contained within databases or other data stores within your organisation.


Once you have consolidated all your corporate information into a nice, clean SharePoint intranet, the work does not end here. Good governance is critical going forward to ensure that all your hard work does not go to waste. Periodic reviews of the structure and content of sites should be conducted to ensure that information is not being duplicated across the site or, even worse, being saved to shared drives! Once the intranet is live, there is a compelling argument for removing access to shared drives for this very reason. Improving the site iteratively based on user feedback will go a long way in ensuring that users continue to use the intranet and increased productivity is maintained.


So what are the benefits of all of this hard work? This is a good question to which the answer depends on the extent of the effort that you went to. However, ultimately the benefits should be (at a minimum):

  1. Greater accessibility to information for those that have the right to it combined with increased security of information for those that don't.
  2. Elimination of duplicated documents and files.
  3. Greater content 'ownership' with information stored in intuitive locations.
  4. Removal of old, out of date information with a promotion of new and relevant information across the business.
  5. Increased productivity of workers by spending less time looking for certain information.

There are many other benefits that SharePoint can bring to your business when designed and implemented correctly. However, a SharePoint project should be taken seriously and investment in requirements gathering and design is critical in its successful implementation.


Published Jun 25 2010, 03:50 PM by MikeVinson Filed under: