2014-06-August-traffic-police.jpgI've been planning on writing a Top 5 article on SharePoint administration and management for the past six months, but now that I'm finally doing it I find I must expand the scope. What's different?

The pace of change has accelerated.

Having worked in the SharePoint space for the past 10 years, it's easy to note the changes, the biggest shift being what is happening with Office 365. With OneDrive for Business, Microsoft has taken aim at the online drive space. And just as the competitors, they are trying to replace your hard drive and file shares with a cloud version, providing 1 terabyte of storage for each user.

OneDrive shares some of the SharePoint plumbing and is managed using the SharePoint Administration Portal, but in many ways it’s a different animal, used for a different purpose and often maintained by different people.

As with other “drive” products it has the allure of being “easy” as compared to SharePoint -- and in many ways it is. Your content is available anywhere with a web connection and with a click of your mouse you can share with internal and external users. However, the other side of the coin is with all that content outside the firewall more vigilance is required and often mandated. From knowing what is shared and with whom, to enforcing company and regulatory policies OneDrive presents both a new set of challenges and many of the old ones.

Before I dive into the list, I want to address several misconceptions that are relevant to this discussion.

  • The first is the idea that if a customer moves their environment (e.g. SharePoint, File Systems, email, etc.) to the cloud, they no longer need to manage or administer it. That is far from the truth. There is unquestionably a reduction or even elimination of cost and resources associated with maintaining the hardware and infrastructure for those systems when they resided in-house, but the need to monitor and manage the resources in the cloud does not diminish at all (and arguably increases).
  • Secondly, there is a lot of literature and a number of polls espousing cloud adoption trends. All of these give the impression that customers are adopting the cloud wholeheartedly and moving into it en masse. Dealing with thousands of customers, I have come to the conclusion that customer’s decisions are as unique as their needs. Some are adamant that all their systems stay in-house; others have quickly moved everything to the cloud, while many are just on the fence. Generally, they have a hybrid environment where some systems like email or SharePoint are totally or partially in the cloud, while others remain in-house.

Regardless of how your environment is architected, here are my top 5 tips for managing and administrating SharePoint and OneDrive for Business:

1. Security

Managing security is a top priority independent of where your systems are located. SharePoint is a poster child for what can go wrong when giving customers what they ask for. In concept, SharePoint objects inherit their security from their parents. This works well until inheritance is broken. I can probably write a separate article on this but for our purposes let’s just say that having a good grasp of your broken permission inheritance is a good place to start.

To follow up on this, administrators often need to understand who has access or rights to what information and locations. This information is relatively easy to get for a specific SharePoint object such as a list or site, but an overview is a challenge and can leave parts of your system exposed.

With OneDrive, customers now have an authorized way for their employees to share content with internal and external partners. This capability is not without security risks (more about this later) so a comprehensive inventory of who is sharing what with whom is a must.

2. Transferring Permission

On the heels of analyzing and understanding existing permissioning, admins have the responsibility to manage them as a daily activity. However, one aspect of that task is often ignored. If you’ve ever administered Exchange, I am sure you have had the responsibility of forwarding a mailbox when an employee leaves a company. With SharePoint and OneDrive, content belonging to this employee is usually left unaltered, resulting in orphaned permissions and objects. As with email boxes, good practice for administrators is to put together a procedure to transfer these to someone else.

3. Monitoring Use

One of the biggest complaints by SharePoint administrators and users alike is how quickly Sites can become overwhelmed with irrelevant content. While the creation of Sites always starts with the best intentions (e.g. collaborate on a project, store documents for corporate department or to share information with a specific audience), there is a tendency to start dumping data until it becomes virtually unusable.