Kirk Evans Blog

.NET From a Markup Perspective

CriticalPath SharePoint Administrators Survival Camp Training – Day 1

I am fortunate to be attending the SharePoint Administrators Survival Camp training class by CriticalPath Training this week, presented by Shane Young of SharePoint911.  The class is being taught at the Microsoft Las Colinas MTC.  Although I have a cube at the Las Colinas office, this is the second time I’ve ever been in the Las Colinas MTC and first time I found there are training rooms in the MTC section of LC1.  I got there a bit early this morning, so it’s also the first time I played with the toys in the MTC: I was able to play with a Surface table, an XBox 260 with Guitar Hero 3 World Tour (which I now want to buy), and a giant touch screen monitor where I was able to play with Virtual Earth. 

The class started at 9:00 am, and Shane dispensed with the necessary logistics and agenda stuff quickly and moved to the goods.  He moved to farm topologies, and for the first time I understand (and can even create) a medium farm.  I’ve been focusing on SharePoint for almost a year now, but focusing on the developer side of things.  If I needed a particular configuration, I’d just download a VPC image that was already configured like I needed.  Most of the time, I would just install SharePoint using a basic install.  Now I understand why the basic installation is a good thing to forget and why you should use the Advanced option in SharePoint’s setup program, choosing a Complete install.

I’ve had the fortune of attending several training classes by CriticalPath Training (previously Ted Pattison Group), including The Great SharePoint Adventure class (really a deep dive for developers) taught by Ted Pattison and AC’s WCM 401 class (which I still hold as one of the best training classes I have ever attended).  So far, Shane’s teaching style is consistent with the high quality bar that Ted and AC set, injecting humor and personal anecdotes to liven up the content and maintain the audience’s attention.

The first day was mostly lecture, concentrating on the physical architecture of a SharePoint medium farm.  Shane introduced many concepts, including why you want to separate your database and WFE from the start (because it’s much harder to separate them later), and how you can structure 2 WFE’s with query and Excel services, a separate WFE and index server, all separated from the SQL Server cluster.  More importantly, he focused on why you want to do this.  We also talked about information architecture, where the site collection is both a security and storage boundary.  He showed why a SAN could be a very poor choice for storage (favoring DAS and noting a Microsoft site that realized 4x performance gains moving from SAN to DAS), and discussed why you should not put all assemblies in the GAC (I see his point on this, but still think the GAC is a more practical place for in-house developed customizations while private bin deployments with CAS policy should be the norm for 3rd party customizations). 

At the end of the 1st day, we worked through a lab where we had to slipstream SP1 into the MOSS installation (never had to do this, I always downloaded VPCs where someone else did this for me), worked through a Complete installation (again, never did this, just downloaded multiple VPCs to mimic a farm), and configured the environment for Kerberos (I’ll admit I’ve done this one a few times on my own, but never for a production environment, and never with a least privileged install like I worked through today).  This was a real eye-opener, to work with a “real” installation scenario where I wasn’t using a local administrator account for everything.

So far, the course is highly recommended.  I am looking forward to the rest of the week as the material continues to get more challenging.