You've got your SharePoint environment up and running. But how mature is your organization when it comes to SharePoint deployment? Our friends at Collaboris designed a five-stage continuum that we thought was pretty "spot on". So where do you fall on this pathway?
- Level 1 Ad hoc (Chaos): Companies in level one normally do all development directly in the production system using SharePoint Designer. There is no development or system test environment because no one knows how to move the site to a different server. These companies are normally just starting using MOSS and they do not have experienced MOSS resources.
- Level 2 Repeatable (Backup/Restore): Level 2 companies have found that SharePoint content and configuration can be moved across environments using backup and restore. As such they have a repeatable deployment process. Unfortunately these companies soon realise that using backup and restore will cause a series of problems that are not immediately noticeable like:
- Publishing pages still pointing to page layouts on the previous environment – It seems that SharePoint stores a full URL to the page layout and this URL does not get updated when content pages are moved with backup and restore.
- Exceptions raised when trying to edit publishing page settings – this can happen when the source domain (the domain where the backup is taken from) is different from the destination domain ( where the backup is restored to). This happens because the “author” and “last changed by” properties are holding references to a user account in the old domain.
- Level 3 Defined: Companies normally get to level 3 after learning with their mistakes and spending a lot of time and effort going through levels 1 and 2. In level 3 companies have learned that there is a better way to deploy their applications by using CAML in Features, Solution Packages and Site Definitions. Unfortunately there are quite a few configuration artifacts (like security, search, etc) that cannot be deployed via CAML. To overcome this problem companies develop a mixed automated\manual deployment process where some artifacts are deployed via CAML scripts and others by following a long list of manual steps.
- Level 4 Automated: At this level companies have managed to fully automate their deployment process by using a mixture of CAML and .Net code using the Feature and solution Framework. This normally comes at great cost because not only developers will need to learn CAML but they will also need to learn the SharePoint API so that they can automate the deployment of configuration artifacts not covered by CAML.
- Level 5 Optimized: This is the SharePoint deployment Nirvana. At this level companies not only have their deployment process fully optimized and automated but they have also started to manage those processes as shared Intellectual Property (IP) across projects. At the end of every project there is an IP harvesting process that brings any new deployment code into a central location so that it can be reused and shared by future projects. The time required by these companies to setup a new SharePoint project is minimal and quality of their deployment scripts is high because it’s based on tested code used several times before.
Are you struggling with end-user adoption on your quest to become "mature"? See how performance support can make a difference.