Are you ready for SharePoint 2013? Microsoft recently released the public beta of SharePoint 2013, and with so many changes it can be difficult to keep up. This is the first of a four-part series that provides a 35,000-foot overview of some expected updates and how they will affect various roles within your organization.

The series specifically focuses on major changes and how they will impact administrators, developers, designers and end users.

What’s New for Administrators?

SharePoint 2013 includes many new features, tools and functionality that every administrator will want to know about. Keep reading to learn more.


The software requirements for SharePoint 2013 are what you might expect. SharePoint 2013 requires the use of the latest OS and SQL Server software, which means no support for Windows Server 2003 or SQL Server 2005. You have to install SharePoint 2013 on Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1 (SP1) and must have SQL Server 2008 R2 with Service Pack 1 (SP1) or higher as the minimum version of SQL Server. And yes, SharePoint 2013 does support SQL Server 2012.


SharePoint 2013 has removed the In-Place Upgrades and only supports the Database Attach Upgrade process. Now, all Web Apps and even select Service Apps Databases can be upgraded using Database Attach Upgrades.

The Service Application databases that can be updated include the Business Data Catalog (BDC), Managed Metadata Service (MMS), User Profile Service (UPS), Search and Secure Store Service. This avoids the need for administrators to recreate and reconfigure these service applications when upgrading to SharePoint 2013.

Another new upgrade feature is the Site Collection Upgrade. Although the databases are upgraded during the database attach process, the site collections contained can remain in SharePoint 2010.

Previously, sites could be displayed in the SharePoint 2007 interface until the site owner or administrator upgraded the site to the new SharePoint 2010 user interface. Now, with Site Collection Upgrades, administrators and users can test the functionality of sites in a SharePoint 2013 site collection evaluation environment before completing an official upgrade of their production site collection.

Service Applications

There are a couple of SharePoint 2010 Service Apps that are not included in SharePoint 2013. For instance, there is no longer a Web Analytics Service Application; however, that doesn’t mean that the functionality of this app has been taken away. Instead, the functionality has been integrated into the Search Service App. Also, the Office Web Apps service application has been deprecated in SharePoint 2013, as it is now a separate product and no longer part of SharePoint 2013.

There are three new Service Applications expected in SharePoint 2013:

  • App Management Service The App Management Service application allows administrators to manage SharePoint Apps. SharePoint Apps are mini apps that can be purchased if external to the organization, or downloaded if internal to the organization by end users. Each time a SharePoint App is accessed, the App Management Service verifies that permissions and licensing information is up-to-date before allowing users to access the app.
  • Work Management Service The Work Management Service Application is another new service application that allows users to aggregate and synchronize tasks between multiple environments, such as Project Server, Exchange and SharePoint.
  • Translation Service The Translation Service Application performs automated machine language translation. This makes it possible to create content in one language and automatically convert it to a different language. This service application works well with new cross-site publishing functionality when you need to propagate the translated content to a different site collection.

SQL Server 2012

SQL Server 2012 contains a new feature called AlwaysOn Availability, which is a high-availability, disaster recovery solution that can be used when using SharePoint 2013 with SQL Server 2012. In addition to the AlwaysOn Availability, SQL Server 2012 also has reduced input/output (I/O) when browsing libraries, which will improve performance in SharePoint 2013.


Seven SharePoint 2010 databases have been deprecated in SharePoint 2013, but there are five new databases added to SharePoint 2013. The databases that have been removed include four project related databases: Project Publish, Project Archive, Project Draft, and Project Reporting. These databases will be replaced by a single database called Project Service.

The Search Property Database has also been removed, but in its place you will find a Links Store Database associated with the Search Service Application. The Search Service Application Analytics Reporting Store Database stores the information that was formerly stored in the Web Analytics Report and Web Analytics Staging databases, meaning the functionality of the Web Analytics Service Application has been integrated into SharePoint Search.

The five new databases are:

  1. Project Service
  2. Search Service Application Links Store Database Library
  3. Search Service Application Analytics Reporting Store Database
  4. App Management Service Database
  5. Translation Service Database

Office Web Apps

Office Web Apps will still exist for SharePoint 2013, but they will likely be sold under a separate SKU, which will require you to purchase them for use with SharePoint 2013. Even though Office Web Apps are now a separate product, Visio will likely be part of the SharePoint 2013 product for support of workflow diagrams.

The Office Web App Farms will be created using PowerShell, but the data is not stored in SQL Server. SharePoint 2013 also uses PowerShell 3.0 in place of PowerShell 2.0. PowerShell 3.0 supports .Net 4.x framework now available in SharePoint 2013.

In SharePoint 2013, PowerShell commands are used to add machine instances into an Office Web App Farm, which hosts your Office Web Apps. This farm provides easier scalability and high availability in Office 2013. It also means an Office Web App Farm can host multiple SharePoint farms, and it provides the opportunity to apply patches to the Office products with little or no downtime.

Web Apps

Claims-based authentication is the default authentication method when creating a Web App from within Central Administration. This is different from having to choose between claims-based and classic authentication as we did in SharePoint 2010. However, you can still use classic authentication when creating a Web App using PowerShell. Claims-based authentication supports Windows, Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML), as well as Forms-Based Authentication (FBA).

Self-Service Site Creation

Self-Service Site Creation is turned on by default in SharePoint 2013. Administrators can use Self-Service Site Creation to create a site template for users to provide them with pre-approved templates when creating sites using self-service creation. This feature will likely be available for both site collections and sub sites.

Cross-Site Collection Publishing

SharePoint 2013 introduces a long-awaited feature called Cross-Site Collection Publishing, which allows users to share content in their site collection and make it available to other site collections.

URL Mapping

SharePoint 2013 introduces site collection URL Mapping, which allows administrators to map a URL to a site collection that has its own host header. Alternate Access Mapping is not going away, but the site collection URL Mapping feature provides a more efficient option for creating a unique URL for each site collection.

Request Management Functionality

Request Management Functionality is a brand new feature in SharePoint 2013. It controls incoming requests and determines how they are processed. It dictates how requests come in, how they are prioritized, and how they are routed to a server that will process the request.

My Sites

Microsoft is putting a heavy emphasis on social features, which is reflected in the social functionality of My Sites in SharePoint 2013. In SharePoint 2010, site collections are not created until a user starts adding content into a library. In SharePoint 2013, site collections are created as soon as a user starts using My Sites. As a farm admin, you need to be prepared for this change by ensuring that you have enough databases to support the My Sites site collections.

FAST Search

FAST Search was a separate SKU in SharePoint 2010, but now the functionality of this feature is built into SharePoint 2013 as the default search functionality.

Continuous Crawl

SharePoint 2013 includes a feature called Continuous Crawl, which eliminates the need to do scheduled crawls of your content sources. Instead of scheduling an incremental crawl, Continuous Crawl constantly scans content for updates. However you can, and should, still have regularly scheduled crawls.

Default OOB Search Health Reports

SharePoint 2013 includes several default Out-of-the-Box (OOB) Search Health Reports, which can be reviewed by your search administrators to ensure search is running as optimally as possible.

Business Connectivity Service

Business Connectivity Service (BCS) has added the following functionality:

  • OData Support
  • BCS Support for SharePoint Apps
  • Enhancements when accessing external lists

Business Intelligence

SharePoint 2013 includes Business Intelligence (BI) enhancements and updates to Excel BI, Excel Services, PerformancePoint and Visio. If you are using the BI functionality available in SharePoint 2010, be sure to review the new features and functionality in the BI components in SharePoint 2013 before deploying them.

User Profile Application

The User Profile Service Application (UPS) has a new option that wasn’t available in SharePoint 2010. In SharePoint 2010, administrators were required to choose the two-way synchronization with Active Directory, (if configured), but in SharePoint 2013, administrator can choose to use the two-way synchronization or simply use an active directory import which is much easier to configure and prevents the need for the pesky User Profile Synchronization Service.

Editor's Note: Interested in reading the entire series? Go here -- 35000 Foot Series