Remember the Enterprise

clip_image002What are the chances that anyone is going to read this blog post? As I upload this entry, over 7,000 people are returning from the SharePoint Conference in Anaheim, CA. Add to that the fact that there’s a new iPhone, and sadly, Steve Jobs died. I’m guessing that half of my potential audience is writing a blog and the other half has already read as many as they possibly can, especially those in New England where the weather is amazing. As for me, I was in New York, attending InterOp while all of that headline generating stuff was happening.

I was surprised to see that AIIM had a booth at InterOp. While visiting the booth, I ran into Atle Skjekkeland, and he asked “…as a SharePoint guy, why aren’t you in Anaheim?” My answer was simple: “there’s more to life than SharePoint!” I spared him the details, but as much as I normally write about SharePoint the platform on which all things are built, SharePoint is built upon a lot of other stuff. For every question you can ask about SharePoint, “is it secure?” “does it scale?” “is it reliable?” “is it mobile?” there are infrastructure questions that also have to be asked. Many of you probably spend your days griping about the recalcitrant IT Guy; well in real life, I am the IT Guy, and I have to worry about all those other things. If we continue adding content to SharePoint at our present rate, will I need more storage, will I need more bandwidth, I may need faster switches, and more reliable access points. Actually, the more reliable access points were ordered before InterOp.

I snapped today’s picture during one of the keynote addresses at InterOp, and the message accompanying that slide resonated deeply with me. I do remember when Enterprise IT was exciting; in fact, it still is exciting. For the benefit of those of you who don’t know me, most people wouldn’t consider our small environment an enterprise. My boss, on the other hand, expects enterprise quality results, so I do. As we come to the end of our fiscal year, we have successfully built out a SharePoint and SQL Server environment that supports what might be considered the minimal failover options recommended by Microsoft. It took us three fiscal years to assemble the requisite hardware and software to do that. Next year, we hope to extend this trend to provide an ability to bring SharePoint (along with the rest of our enterprise) quickly back to life at an off-site location, in the event of a disaster. We have always had backup, now we want recovery.

What are you going to do if SharePoint growth exceeds your expectations? What are you going to do if the next version of SharePoint requires a version of SQL Server you’re not ready to install? What are you going to do if the server running SharePoint fails? What about the server running SQL Server? I could go on, but the point is clear, you can’t ignore the no-longer-sexy enterprise issues if you hope to guarantee SharePoint reliability. If you’re thinking “I can stick SharePoint in the cloud”, well, technically, you’re making my point – that’s an enterprise issue too.

I didn’t skip the SharePoint conference because I wanted to attend InterOp. I skipped it because I had just returned from nine days on the road the previous Wednesday. That may sound wimpish by SharePoint community travel standards, but I returned to a huge pile of stuff, including my 2012 budget preparation worksheet. Preparing that budget requires thinking about the foundation on which SharePoint is built.