MOSSIG – August 2007

Tonight was the Microsoft Office System Special Interest Group – otherwise known as MOSSIG. Approximately 40 people this month, with some great topics – a lot of people had turned out to see Jonathon Lewis, Microsoft IT Director for A/NZ.

First up was Tim Wragg with a quick overview of MOSSIG itself – with some history & overviews of “who, what, when”. Originated in early-2006, first meeting in June-2006, and merged with SharePoint User Group in April 2007. Approximately 2,000 people on the mailing list (!) with 3/4 of those from the shared VDNUG group. Usually about 30-40 people in attendance.

The sessions @ MOSSIG cover both business and technical topics – a wider audience essentially – not just the traditional techo “show me the code” and “why do you C# guys laugh as us VB.NET coders” kinda sessions.

Is it just me, or does it seem like the only ones who carry on about choice of language are the VB.NET’ers ? The C#’ers just get on with it !

As Tim mentioned, the sessions try to be vendor and partner impartial, without resorting to a sales pitch or hype-the-wares kinda discussions. I’ve been to most meetings, and the other good aspect is the “networking opportunities” to meet & greet other folk in the same field, with similar roles, issues, etc. Always good to chat over a pizza… 🙂

The MOSSIG website is about to undergo some (much needed) work, a move from the BETA version of Sharepoint, and more scope for collaboration and open contribution – such as forums, podcasts, etc. ie. practice what we preach !

The feature presentation was from Microsoft – with the Internal IT Manager for Australia & New Zealand (Jonathon Lewis) to discuss Migrating to MOSS 2007.

Case-in-point – Microsoft !

Jonathon went through numerous slides, with an overview of their approach to the upgrade, what they use SharePoint for, and some of the new features and benefits. As well as some rather impressive stats and numbers of sites, sizes & people.

Microsoft follow the dogfooding principle, by using their own product, from Beta1 to Beta2, Beta2-Tech-Refresh and then RC and RTM versions of SharePoint 2007.

This gave them the “first & best customer” approach to feedback, suffer a lot of pain, and then be able to share these experiences with customers. And fix their own backyard first.

Using beta software as “high availability” in production is fraught with dangers – but rewarding in it’s lessons learnt.

Some stats – these were very cool – and a “wow” factor :

  • Microsoft have 300,000+ pc’s and devices (worldwide)
  • 10,000 servers
  • 92,000 users
  • 89 countries
  • 3 million+ emails per day internally
  • 10 million from external (8 million of them are spam !)

Microsoft run three major data centres for SharePoint :

  • Dublin, Redmond, Singapore
  • 350,000 sites
  • Support for 400 locations
  • 13.2 TB SharePoint content (!)

Was great to hear Jonathon talk through some of the business challenges, as well as the technical implementation they were to undertake. The first functionality deployed was the “search” within their master portal.

This followed with more business-obvious benefits, such as publishing, business data integration (to their Siebel CRM system), business intelligence functions (KPI, dashboards for execs), workflow, document management, recycle bin, offline support – basically ALL of SharePoint 2007 !

Some of the benefits he noted were interesting – such as a reduced downturn in the number of user requests for retrieving files from tape (backup) – thanks mainly to the SharePoint recycle bin.

Hadn’t considered that as a major functional area – but has saved I.T. staff a LOT of (time consuming) help desk calls.

They also merged a lot of sites & services – and had a 30% reduction in hardware (although they moved to ALL new 64-bit servers that would’ve been more beefy to begin with !)

Products deployed – Windows Server 2003, Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 (WSS), SharePoint Portal Server (MOSS), Office 2007 (clients) and SharePoint Designer – no surprises there.

An interesting question (well, the answer anyway) was about Groove – and the whole “offline” files scenario. Andrew Lowson had a good description – I’ve struggled with the “fit” for Groove :

Groove is to SharePoint – as Outlook is to Exchange.

Groove is the rich offline client for SharePoint – currently being developed further for the Office 14 product suite (they skipped Office 13 !)

Jonathon covered a bit about the architecture deployed – esp. with regard to having dedicated Shared Service Providers (SSP).

This was to move the “services” away from the “content” – with obvious benefits such as performance, administrative roles & functions and security.

They were also able to consolidate servers further, with an SSP farm, and then content/function servers for each region.

They went through a gradual upgrade – no big bang here ! In total – there were 333 portals (340GB) moved across to MOSS 2007 – resulting in 262 portals (1.07 TB). Less portals – but bigger size (disk space).

Some lessons learned :

    • Encourage efficient decisions about exceptions & open issues – to keep on schedule (initially weekly, then daily war room)
    • Upgrading – run prescan.exe – identify orphans & cleanup
    • Upgrading customizations & webparts – can be time-consuming
    • Perform dry runs – identity & resolve key issues
    • Backups – perform & validate – disable auto-processes – so they don’t bite while doing upgrades
    • Have pre-defined roles & responsibilities – just good Project Management
    • Ensure you alleviate any issues with mission critical skill sets – any technology always comes back to the “people” (!)
    • increase DB sizes before hand
    • Language packs – pre-installed – save time

And of course, “workflow” – they were able to slash postal & material costs by 75-90%.

And – In total – using MOSS vs. SPS-2003 saves $3m per year for Microsoft. Not sure how they calculate that – so many factors – but it sounds impressive !

Was a great overview of a big, Big, BIG upgrade to SharePoint 2007 – and lots of great thoughts on their internal systems.

Jonathon finished up with a quick show of the Microsoft MSW web site, and HRWeb, but had some 404 technical problems.

He showed some of the regional portal for ANZ, and that was it. No need for demo-ware, it was all “behind the scenes”.

Following Jonathon was Joshua Tan from UniqueWorld to describe & demo Project Server 2007. This is deeply integrated with WSS (no need for SharePoint Portal Server – WSS will suffice).

Lots of tasks, and resources and so on. I must admit – Project Server is a bit beyond my feeble brain – and is more of a “Project Manager’s” tool – wierd, huh ?


From what I’ve seen, and what Joshua showed, the new 2007 product is much improved, with better integration to Outlook and SharePoint – as well as improved SQL interaction and reporting. And, the all important multi-level undo ! How many times have you needed many CTRL-Z’s to revert some changes ?!? (not me – I don’t make mistakes).

Well, Microsoft Project Professional has only had a single level undo – until now !

Was a great session @ MOSSIG – good to chat more about some K2 bits & pieces also with some folk in attendance – and this month – there was only ONE mention of Will’s blog ( And that was by Tim Wragg – describing how many times Will had mentioned his blog since MOSSIG had begun (about 26 times, or there abouts) !

Although – was incorrectly shown as – not – so Will won’t be getting any improved traffic from tonight’s session !

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s