Not Supported Error While Doing A Clean Install of SharePoint 2010 RTM

I ran into an odd error today while installing the RTM of SharePoint 2010 on a clean server farm. I had built everything up from scratch on current versions, including SQL Server. I had applied SP1 and run all Windows updates. When I got to the point of actually running the Products and Technologies Configuration Wizard, I received an error stating that my SQL Server was running an unsupported version of SQL, version 2007.100.2531.0. Yes, it was 64 bit, as was everything else. I thought that was rather odd, and thought I’d try to find something newer.

Cumulative Update 6 for SQL Server 2008 is available so I thought I’d try applying that. Lo and behold it worked, and I continue to install away.

I just hope that it’ll be just as happy with SQL Server 2008 R2….

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Observations from AIIM SharePoint Summit

I just returned from the recent AIIM Expo show in Philadelphia. I haven’t been to AIIM since 2002 when we were building out our imaging product. I had a couple of reasons to go this time. I’ll keep the first one to myself for now, but the other was because Microsoft was making a big splash with the SharePoint Summit. I was very interested in what there messaging would be like to the “hard core” ECM market. All of the sessions that I attended were in the SharePoint Summit track.

The keynote was delivered by Eric Swift, the new GM of the division, and by Ryan Duguid, the “ECM guy” at Microsoft. Eric gave a very good talk, and I was extremely impressed by Ryan, who spoke at several sessions throughout the show.

Usability

A couple of great quotes from Ryan – ”ECM works when its invisible to the end user”. I couldn’t agree more. People will use a system when they can see a value for themselves, and when it won’t cause them much disruption. Far too often systems are “imposed” upon end users, and one thing that’s certainly true about information workers is that if they can find away around a difficult system, they’ll take it.

Ryan also said “If you can’t show users their personal payback, they’ll never adopt your system” which is likely why, according to Doculabs,50% of all ECM projects fail. According to Doculabs,this is due to the exclusive focus on one specific area of functionality required by one specific area of the business without taking into account the needs of the wider user community. All of which is saying the same thing.

The final keynote session was presented by Ryan and Bert Sandie from Electronic Arts. Their talk was on how to provide an excellent user experience, partly by using gaming principles. On the surface, that sounds odd, but it makes a ton of sense. If you makes tasks more interesting, people will be more likely to perform them.

As an example, Ryan demonstrated Ribbon Hero, which is an add-in to the Office suite. It installs a button in the ribbon, and presents you with a set of challenges. These challenges are application related tasks and it helps you to varying degrees as you perform them, and you gain skill points by doing so. It allows you to compete with others, increasing your motivation. If you really want to drive use, hand out weekly rewards for “top scores”. A perfect example of applying the gaming concept.

Another concept that came out of this session that I’ve been preaching for years is that you should always include and understand the end users in any application design.Look at what people do, don’t tell them that it’s wrong – adapt it into your solution, and ideally improve it. If you don’t provide users a means of doing what they need to do inside the organization, users will find a way to do it outside.

Bert presented an interesting case study in usability. If you are familiar with the default search page in SharePoint, you’ll know that it is even simpler than Google’s. It’s essentially a white page with a search box and a go button. EA took that page and decorated it to look almost exactly like Google’s. Of course it said Electronic Arts instead of Google, but the letters were even alternately coloured. What was interesting is that by doing that one little thing, usage of the search engine increased 30%.

Bert also demonstrated that he could show that the creation of a single document paid for their entire system, and made a final point that the right user experience combines functionality, usability and aesthetics.

I really liked this focus on usability and community, which seemed to be a theme throughout the SharePoint summit, and was really refreshing to see at an AIIM show. I think that it’s safe to say that the large ECM players have not historically been particularly interested in usability.

Records Management

Microsoft waded into the records management area with the Records Center in 2007. It didn’t exactly meet with glowing reviews, but they’re really hit it out of the park in 2010. Through the new records center it supports all of the traditional records management requirements with file plans etc, but at the same time, it brings RM to the end user through in place records management. Users no longer need to go through many steps and secret rituals to get documents under management, a document (and any other piece of content!) can be declared a record through a simple click of a button. Document routing makes sure that if necessary the content moves to the record center while leaving behind a stub.

Ryan Duguid showed a slide which indicated that if left unchecked, an organization that currently manages 2 TB of data will be managing 45 TB of data in 5 years time. However, if disposition policies were put in place that disposed of 10, 20 and 30% of content annually, that future growth number would shrink to 25, 10 and 4 TB respectively. The RM features in SharePoint 2010 can help bring this reality about

Interestingly, the next day Cyrus Mistry gave a talk on the way that Google manages their content. In essence, they don’t. The mantra is to keep absolutely everything forever, open it up to everyone and rely on search to find it. I actually agree with the opening up concept, but I think it’s impractical, not to mention legally dangerous to leave stuff lying around forever.

Cyrus also pointed out a couple of policies that I might consider implementing. One is that every Google employee writes a small blurb (very short) on their past week’s activities, and what their plans for the next week are. That is visible to everyone. I sort of like it from a few angles. Another is that users can contribute ideas to a central “idea pool”. Ideas are then voted upon, and if an idea gets enough votes, it becomes a project.

CMIS Connector Announced

At the show, it was announced that Microsoft will be shipping a connector for the Content Management Interoperability Services (CMIS) standard. This will allow SharePoint to act as a “front end” for external content management systems, and vice versa. This will allow for easy integration with legacy document management systems, and give the users of these systems a better experience without sacrificing capability.

Protected: SharePoint 2010 Install now includes the Reporting Services Add In

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Back to VMWare Workstation

I’m pretty disappointed with Windows Virtual PC (the latest version). It’s April 2010, and it still doesn’t support 64 bit guest operating systems, which I believe is a pretty glaring omission. I’m a big fan of Microsoft’s server virtualization (Hyper-V) but the client side is just so lacking, I’ve been forced to find another solution. For a number of reason (chief among them video performance) I do not want to put Server 2008 on my laptop.

Microsoft actually forced the issue themselves. The latest waves of server releases (SharePoint, SQL Server) are 64 bit only. As a developer/architect I need to run these servers from my laptop, which makes it impossible to use Windows VPC. Originally Windows VPC also required hardware virtualization, which made it unusable on some of our systems, but they have recently removed that restriction. Good.

I was originally  a VMWare user, and I only switched to VPC after I noticed that it performed considerably better on Vista 64 bit systems. VMWare had become a dog. I was also hoping that using Microsoft virtualization would make it easy to move VMs between client systems and Hyper-V. Alas, that was not to be the case.

Given all that, I recently installed VMWare 7, and I’ve been quite impressed with its capabilities and its performance. Don’t get me wrong,it would be much simpler,and cheaper for me as a Microsoft Partner to use MS technology across the board, but until such a time as they support 64 bit guest operating systems (which is something they have been very quiet about), it’s simply not an option for me.