Quest Brings SharePoint Administration to a Central Location Near You
Quest Software (news, site) understands the challenges faced when trying to manage your SharePoint environment. To help you do a better job, they have developed a new solution called Quest Server Administrator for SharePoint 1.0.

Manage Your SharePoint Environment

While SharePoint does have some administration functions related to managing your actual SharePoint configuration, you also need to go to a number of different locations (database, server) to get additional information about your environment. So pulling together all the information you need can be a bit of work and a little frustrating.

There are a number of vendors who have come to your rescue with centralized solutions for managing your SharePoint environment and we've talked about a few of these including: Metalogix and AvePoint. We've also written about Quest Software before, and now they have a new tool out in beta that looks pretty interesting.

Quest Server Administrator for SharePoint

The Quest Server Administrator for SharePoint is a standalone application that does two important things: it provides a centralized view of your SharePoint server and farm configurations, and it offers suggestions for improvements based on best practice rules.

According to Doug Davis, director of product management, SharePoint and Notes Transition for Quest Software:

it doesn’t replace any existing functionality but it provides one place to review settings and configurations across the entire environment, rather than having to dig around the environment to try to cobble together a comprehensive view. What is does provide that’s not been available before is the ability to gather this type of information and compare it to best practices to understand where risks and issues are.

So what features does the Quest Server Administrator for SharePoint include?

  • Server Reporter: View all aspects of the SharePoint stack, including number of sites, collections, features and solutions, as well as the underlying platforms it is installed on.
  • Property Comparison: Compare configurations across servers to ensure everything is set up the same.
  • Risk Locator: Identify the configurations and customizations that may be putting your environment at risk. Risk are based on best practices within the tool that you can use out of the box or define on your own.
  • Configuration Advisor: Analyze your current environment and get reports on best practice violations, server health, performance and security issues. These reports are detailed and include recommendations for resolving the problems identified.
  • Upgrade Checker: For those who are upgrading to SharePoint 2010 from SharePoint 2007, the upgrade checker will tell whether everything is ready to go or what isn't, including whether or not it needs to be resolved prior to the upgrade.

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Server Reporter

How Does the Tool Work?

This is a standalone product with no direct ties to the SharePoint environment. Davis told us that information is scanned on demand by the administrator and uses four main techniques: WMI, Remote Registry, Remote Filesystem, and a small custom Web service. The Web Service is installed temporarily on one of the front end web servers in the SharePoint farm to collect information about the SharePoint environment. It makes no changes and is automatically removed once the scan is complete.

All data is collected into the Admin console and processed against the Risk Analysis engine using the built in rules shipped with the product. It's here where users can add their own custom rules via Powershell.

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Risk Summary
 

Currently the product is a read-only tool, but Davis says "We will make vast improvements to the insight and visibility provided by the product as well as add actionable reports in later releases."

So Where to Begin?

Tools like this are great. We need them to help us understand and manage our environment. But where does one begin when they are just starting out. What are the most important configuration aspects to consider first?

Davis recommended running and reviewing the Risk Summary first.

This will allow them to get some quick value and help them affect changes in their infrastructure to overcome these risks. The risk summary rates each risk (critical, high, medium and low) and will draw the Admin into those areas that could cause them the most grief, giving them insight that they’ve never had before.

Our hope is that the product will give administrators the visibility they need to better control their system, and prevent that one simple thing from biting them and bringing their entire system down.

Get Your Beta Copy Now

The Quest Server Administrator for SharePoint is currently in beta, so you can download it and try out before it becomes a licensed product. According to the FAQs, the tool will be licensed on per web server basis, but the price has yet to be worked out.

It works for both SharePoint 2007 and SharePoint 2010 (including WSS3.0), but not SharePoint 2003.

If you are interested in learning more, check it out for yourself, then come back and let us know what you think of it.