Author: Shannon Bray, Miguel Wood and Patrick Curran
Publisher: Microsoft Press, 2013
Aimed at: IT professionals working with SharePoint
Reviewed by: Kay Ewbank
Designing a good SharePoint system isn't easy, and a major part of the difficulty lies in knowing how the platform works and how to put the different components together.
This isn’t a book aimed particularly at developers; instead, the audience is the IT professional who knows SharePoint, but needs to get to grips with SharePoint 2013 and how to make it all work. It also has useful material if you know SharePoint 2010, and need to move to SharePoint 2013. Much of the book is written on the assumption you’re putting together a SharePoint ‘farm’ with multiple SharePoint and/or SQL servers working together to provide a set of SharePoint services for a specific site, and this type of design is complicated enough for there to be a real difference in performance and reliability between a good design and a poor one.
The first part of the book looks at planning for SharePoint 2013, with chapters on the SharePoint 2013 architecture, PowerShell and SharePoint cmdlets, and how to gather the requirements for your system. The chapter on the architecture clarifies areas such as the different SharePoint databases and is useful. I thought the chapter on PowerShell was a bit skimpy considering the fact that from SharePoint 2013, administrators have no choice but to use PowerShell, and you’d need a lot more than a twenty page chapter to give you the necessary knowledge. However, you are told how to set up SharePoint with the correct permissions to enable you to use PowerShell, and there’s a useful discussion of online sources of PowerShell scripts for use with SharePoint.
Part II of the book covers design considerations for SharePoint 2013. The first chapter in this section looks at the service application model, including the way Office Web Applications interact with SharePoint farms. There’s also some useful info on cross-farm services for larger installations. Next, the authors look at how to design your system’s storage. The authors point out that at its core, SharePoint 2013 is a set of database-driven web applications and services, so the database layer is arguably the most important layer of the SharePoint 2013 architecture. Get this bit wrong and your system won’t work very well at all. The chapter looks at optimizing SQL Server for SharePoint, how to use the new Shredded Storage feature for the management of Binary Large Objects, and how to set up and use the BI capabilities of SharePoint.
There are decent chapters on platform security, authentication and authorization, with good descriptions of forms-based, claims-based, and SAML (Security Assertion Markup Language) token-based authentication options. I don’t think you’d be an expert at the end of these chapters, but you would know how to avoid the more common weaknesses.
This part of the book finishes with an excellent chapter on upgrading your SharePoint 2010 environment, with suggestions on how to work out the current structure and how to clean up and document the various elements before testing, implementing and validating the upgrade.
Part III of the book looks at concepts for infrastructure reliability. There’s an informative chapter on maintaining and monitoring SharePoint, another on planning your business continuity strategy in case it all goes wrong, and a final chapter on validating your architecture.
This is a useful book. It’s true that you can find a lot of the material spread across the Microsoft Knowledge Base and MSDN, but the authors pull everything together in a readable and straightforward way. If you need to put a SharePoint 2013 farm into production, it would be a good book to have by your side.