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SharePoint at CERN. IT GLM 17-May-2010 Alexandre Lossent – IT/OIS. Outline. SharePoint overview History of SharePoint at CERN Some facts and figures SharePoint custom applications Web Content Management What’s next: SharePoint 2010 + demo. SharePoint overview.

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Sharepoint at cern

SharePoint at CERN

IT GLM 17-May-2010

Alexandre Lossent – IT/OIS


  • SharePoint overview

  • History of SharePoint at CERN

  • Some facts and figures

  • SharePoint custom applications

  • Web Content Management

  • What’s next: SharePoint 2010 + demo

Sharepoint overview
SharePoint overview

  • Microsoft’s platform for collaborative applications

    • Selling point: help people connect and collaborate

  • In practice: a “Swiss knife” used to host a large number of products/services

    • Initially the server component of Office, allowing people to share and work together on documents

    • Progressively used as a consolidated platform for many products and services. Some examples:

      • Content Management (WCM + ECM), Enterprise Search (FAST), Web Portal, Identity Management (FIM), Project Management (Project Server), Social Computing (blogs, personal pages)...

Sharepoint at cern history
SharePoint at CERN: history

  • Initially: deployed as a platform for IT/OIS services

    • 2006: Exchange Public Folders deprecated; IT/IS looking for a new platform to store messages

      • Discussion forums/NNTP (

      • Mailing list archive (e-groups project to replace Simba)

    • Several platforms evaluated, SharePoint selected

      • June 2007: NNTP newsgroups moved to SharePoint

      • November 2008: Simba archives (4M messages)

      • January 2009: migration of Hypernews (except CMS)

    • Minimum customization of SharePoint

Sharepoint at cern history 2
SharePoint at CERN: history (2)

  • “Collaboration Workspace” service (2007)

    • Presented at “After-C5”: 11 May 2007

    • Publishing of web sites much easier and faster

      • Wiki, web forms, web forums, document sharing...

    • At minimal cost

      • Shared platform with IT/OIS services using SharePoint

      • Integration with central web site management system

      • No customization: SharePoint out-of-the-box features

  • 2009: upgrade to MOSS

    • New features: Web Content Management System, InfoPath forms server, advanced search in e-group archives...

Current situation
Current situation

  • Success as a user site hosting service:

    • 1200+ SharePoint sites in 2010

      • 1/3 of all new centrally hosted web sites since 2007

      • Quickly became a very popular service

    • Main usage: document sharing and web forms

      • Also: web portal, discussion forums, public web site

      • Consistent with expected service scope and usage

  • Success as a platform for IT/OIS services:

    • E-group archives, forums, RSS feeds (CMF alerter), help page hosting

    • Internal service documentation, operations and project management...

Some facts and figures
Some facts and figures

  • Excellent availability and reliability:

    • ~1 hour unavailability in 3 years, all scheduled

    • 2009: redundant infrastructure to further reduce maintenance time and help business continuity

      • Moving database replica to Safehost is in the plans

    • Security: 1 security patch in 3 years

  • Scalability and performance:

    • 400+ GB (250GB IT/OIS services; 150GB user sites)

    • 5.5M documents (5M archived e-mails), indexed

    • 700K requests/day (5% for E-group archives)

  • Flexibility as a platform for IT/OIS

    • E-group archive project on schedule

    • New e-group archive features for Experiments: portal, advanced search features, web posting...

Support and training
Support and training

  • User support is provided by IT/helpdesk

    • Typically does not generate more requests than other central web hosting technologies

      • Typical requests: quota, authentication, external accounts

    • Operation and maintenance effort is small

      • No customization to maintain

  • Technical training available

    • Basic (sessions each month)

    • Advanced (new in 2010)

    • Individual coaching (new)

  • A tool that is more and more known and widely used at CERN


  • Manpower for SharePoint was taken from Mail & Web services

    • In particular, resources for Simba moved to SharePoint’s e-group archives

  • Current manpower (IT/OIS services + user sites)

    • Full-time: 1 fellow (Bruno Silva de Sousa)

    • Shared fellow with Server Infrastructure (Elisabeth Johnsen)

      • Contributes to migration phases

    • Fraction of staff from Mail Services (Alexandre Lossent)

  • No long-term manpower (fellows in 2nd year)

Beyond collaboration workspace custom applications
Beyond “collaboration workspace”: custom applications

  • Recently, projects of custom applications using the SharePoint platform

    • E.g. IT-Faqs, XWHO replacement, Service Catalogue, Ask-an-Expert, Web Content Management...

  • Desire to do more than what the out-of-the-box functionality provided in collaboration workspace service

    • Precise custom behaviours

    • Look and feel personalization (“branding”)

Custom applications lessons learned
Custom applications: lessons learned

  • SharePoint custom applications have a cost

    • Knowledge of the platform from a developer's perspective

      • very different from end-user’s point of view

    • The more custom behaviour = the more effort

    • Additional cost in administration/operation:

      • Deploy and maintain customizations (code, custom web parts, branding...)

      • Long-term maintenance: new SharePoint versions

      • New “sandbox” mode may help (moderately)

      • Not compatible with current manpower

  • ... As with any development platform!

Custom applications lessons learned 2
Custom applications: lessons learned (2)

  • Example of e-group archives

    • Went as far as possible with out-of-the-box features (95%)

    • Then minimum customization here and there

  • Benefits of using SharePoint:

    • Extensive range of services provided by the platform (e.g. data storage, search, web forms...)

    • Proven reliability, scalability and security

    • Sharing the platform with other services

  • Customization effort needs to be allocated the appropriate resources

Web content management
Web Content Management

  • SharePoint offers Web Content Management (WCM) features

    • E.g.,,

  • At CERN: two WCM levels in discussion

    • Out-of-the-box functionality and default CERN branding

      • E.g. HR admin e-guide

      • Available now in collaboration workspaces

    • Custom application: CERN “web communication plan” (large public web site)

  • Specific training to be organized for WCM site designers

What s next sharepoint 2010
What’s next: SharePoint 2010

  • Released end April 2010

  • Builds on the same concepts

  • Key new features:

    • Site editing from web browser considerably improved

    • Relational data (relations between lists)

    • Web standards:

      • full support for Firefox/Safari

      • WCAG 2.0 compliance (accessibility guidelines)

      • REST (data access)

    • Web 2.0 / “Social computing”

      • Facebook/ features...

    • Office Web Applications: edit Office documents from the browser (including concurrent Excel worksheet edition)

    • Integration of FAST search

    • Sandbox mode to isolate custom code

    • New UI: Office 2007/2010 “ribbon”

Sharepoint 2010
SharePoint 2010

  • Demo: some of the new features in SharePoint 2010

Sharepoint 2010 status
SharePoint 2010 status

  • Dedicated hosting available

    • Service Catalogue (custom application)

    • Web Content Management evaluation

  • Migration of existing SharePoint sites

    • IT/OIS applications + collaboration workspaces

    • Not scheduled yet – little resources available

  • Training

    • Adapt training for new users

    • “Refresh course” for SharePoint 2007 users

      • Changes in User Interface


  • A powerful and reliable platform

  • Running important CERN services

    • E.g. E-group archives, collaboration workspaces

  • SharePoint 2010 offers new opportunities

    • Cross-platform support, improved UI

  • Deployment of custom applications is a significant new step and requires appropriate resources