The final session (#SPC353) on the final day of last week’s SharePoint Conference in Anaheim and Austin Winters, Senior Program Manager at Microsoft for Academy, noted that he was “Standing between (us), a late lunch, an early finish and a sunny day.” A tough gig!
Austin outlined his objectives and key takeaways for the session as:
- A portal pattern for social enterprise CMS sites
- Enterprise video architecture decision points
- Social service integration examples
Introductions over, Austin launched into the main body of the presentation by outlining his pattern for using SharePoint 2010 to create a design blueprint for building social knowledge sharing systems. The elements of Austin’s “Portal Pattern” are:
- Publishing site
- Document center
- Media storage
- Shared services
The publishing site, Austin explained, provides the store front, or front end. He pointed out that from this perspective video is no different from any other type of content.
Austin emphasized the use of Document Sets within the document center. He pointed out that there are a number of elements associated with each video, including a thumbnail image, the video itself, and perhaps PowerPoint or other associated files. Document Sets were used to manage all this related content together, with the customized welcome pages of the document sets being used as modal dialogue boxes, which are a key feature of the solution. Very nice technique! Meta data fields on the document set were used to store the location of the media files, which had been backed off onto a content delivery network using SharePoint’s remote blob storage features.
The media storage level is where video has some consideration beyond that of other types of media. For example, the large video files are not well suited to storage in SharePoint, so remote blob storage and third-party products for encoding and streaming may be required. Austin spent a significant amount of time discussing the intricacies of the various architectural decisions relating to the use of managing video content, including different file formats, choice of encoding engines, and considerations relating to caching and smooth streaming.
Finally, the Shared Services are used to tie all the content together, specifically the social data and the content meta data. Austin repeatedly emphasized that the “social fabric” of the content was key. As an example, he demonstrated a SharePoint 2010 Mysite which had a custom video tab. Clicking on the tab showed a list of all the video content created by that user from across the Microsoft SharePoint environment. Further examples of the use of social included use of the standard star ratings and counters to show the number of downloads or views of each video, what’s new, and what are popular suggestions -- all familiar to users of YouTube, but interesting to see them implemented in a SharePoint 2010 environment. In an aside, Austin revealed that everyone at Microsoft is rated, including CEO Steve Ballmer.
This was a mainly technical session which focused on how to build a social video platform rather than why. It presented a useful architectural pattern for content management generally, and video content specifically, and it was an excellent showcase for the value proposition of FAST. A great end to a great conference.
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