Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Social Media Revolution

Who has once in their life had the inner desire to change the world? You know - , when you were a kid -, that innocent wish for world peace?
Or better yet… who has never hoped to change a thing because it seems too hard or simply impossible to achieve?

Well, I’ve got news for you!
Never before has it been easier to change the world, or at least the little piece of the world that surrounds you.

Ever since Wikileaks began publishing confidential information back in 2007 the world has been in uproar. And the US government has tried to silence the truths about its involvement and handling of international affairs ever since.

Although it is ludicrous to claim Wikileaks as being responsible for the recent revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, it has nevertheless helped raise international awareness of the widespread corruption, thus making it just a little harder for dictatorships to diffuse these situations.
Without Wikileaks the Vice President in Egypt would have been in a much stronger position, but now that the whole world knows that he is buddies with Israel, his presence alone added to the fuel of the burning fires on the streets of Egypt.
And what was the first thing the Egyptian president did when the revolts got out of hand? Shut down access to Twitter and Facebook. When the uprising started in Egypt everyone was fast to blame it on Islamic militants. But the tens of thousands of people gathering on parliament square were a far cry from blood curdling terrorists! They were lawyers, shop keepers and engineers. The average Jo Bloggs who simply had had enough!! They were sick and tired of the violence, oppression and corruption in their country. These people did not attend secret rebel meetings before joining the demonstrations. Nor did they subscribe to the anarchist grapevine. No, they heard about the movement on Facebook, Twitter and the local media and decided it was time to act and stand up for their rights.

The Jasmine revolution in Tunisia started with Mohammed Bouazizi setting himself on fire in an act of desperation after being tyrannised and humiliated in public. It ended in a mass revolt which spread throughout the country, partly organised through Facebook and Twitter. One of the reasons these tools were so effective in spreading the word in Tunisia was due to the high percentage of youths in that country. Over half the population is under 25 years of age.
Tunisia and Egypt; these are two prime examples where social media helped spread the word and generate a critical mass that lead to drastic changes in those countries.

Another group of people using social media as a weapon to gather support for their cause is Greenpeace. Through Facebook and YouTube channels they have forced Burger King and Nestle to look for more sustainable sources of palm kernel. They also put a big dent in Fonterra’s online brand who effectively committed “Facebook Suicide” by totally mismanaging the response to the online pressure.
One of their most effective tools was a YouTube video showing how a jogger is choking on orang-utan hair while drinking a glass of Fronterra milk. That video was so effective, that they were forced to pull it from their YouTube Channel due to legal actions from Fonterra.

YouTube has become not only the most favourite source of daytime entertainment but has proven itself a powerful viral communication tool to spread the word. Wikileaks first published the video of American soldiers massacring Iraqi civilians on YouTube before it was removed due to pressure from the US government. And posting YouTube videos is becoming easier as the day progresses. Google predicts that there will be more smartphones in the world than computers by 2016. Making a video and uploading it to your YouTube channel is just a click away.

I’m not saying that we all need to start toppling governments or chain us to trees. But we all can change the world if we want to. The tools are there for us, we only need to use them. The next time you see a person being beat up on the street, take out your phone and make a video. Upload it to youtube before you turn the corner (and run) . You find out about a teacher abusing children? Tell your friends on Facebook about it! You’d be astonished at how many people will start to listen if you start to talk. Also mention the good things in life! Someone helped you on the street when looking for directions, why not say thank you via Twitter?

The world is listening. All you need to do is start talking and changing the world around you one tweet at a time.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Enabling RBS on additional Databases

You'd think it to be really easy to find good information on enabling RBS for additional content databases out there. But if you landed on this blog post, then you were proven wrong, like so many others.
Actually it is not that hard.
Once you have followed all the instructions to set up RBS for the first time: (SharePoint Foundation 2010) (SharePoint Server 2010)
You then need to follow these steps for each additional ContentDB: (Universal)

The important part in the last link is the different msi script. As you use different ADDLOCAL parameters.
Also keep in mind that if you are relying on the FILESTREAM Provider in SQL 2008 R2 you need not install RBS on the SQL Server itself, as it is supported by default. If you plan on using RBS using a third party Provider, then you will need to run the msi on the SQL Server too: (SharePoint Server 2010 without FILESTREAM)

Happy Remote Blobbing!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Keeping Dead Wood out of SharePoint. Or, how to avoid Zombies.

In his article, What NOT to migrate into SharePoint Joel identifies the usual suspects of types of files which are not suited to be stored in SharePoint or any DMS system for that matter.

While Joel covers the what quite exquisitely, he does not cover the why from an IA point of view. I have seen companies throw hundred thousands of dollars at setting up SharePoint farms to store ALL their documents. Including massive investments in infrastructure and likewise projects required to design a stable and usable system with minimal change impact to the end users. But what they all forget to ask is the big WHY? Why migrate the content? Where is the business value? The standard answers you will get most of the time will go along the lines of “because with SharePoint we can manage the files better” “We then have versioning” “One central platform instead of disparate locations”. And that is when the headache begins. Dead documents are brought to life in SharePoint only for the sake of having one single source of truth. These zombie documents devour resources and money the instant they are resurrected and cause major maintenance headaches for all involved.

When the team of BAs and IAs are classifying all the documents they often skip the most important classification. Is this document still active or is it at the end of its life? Will there be any form of collaboration going on or will it only be used as reference material. If you can make that distinction you will easily be able to identify exactly which files need to move into a managed environment and which can stay in an unmanaged location. Many projects shy away from this question simply because it can be a daunting task. There might be millions of documents that need to be classified into active and non active. Also there is the problem of having separate locations for associated documents. This is where third party providers can come in extremely handy. While some offer Web Parts which will display existing file shares in SharePoint in a more integrated manner, they will lack the full functionality support of a SharePoint document library. So if you do not need versioning or SharePoint driven security, then have a look for Network Share Web Parts on There are some web parts listed there.

If you on the other hand want to have versioning, SharePoint driven security, Check-in and out, then more complex solutions will be needed. Such as the File Share Library by bamboo solutions which synchronises a fileshare with a document library. The only downside is that files will start clogging up the database once they move from stale to active use. This way at least the databases will grow gradually over time as more and more documents are activated. The final solution I want to suggest is using the FileShare connector from AvePoint. They have designed a solution based on their popular EBS driven Storage Extender which keeps the file share separate from the database even once files are actively used and versioned in SharePoint. The magic lies in a hidden folder on the fileshare which is used to maintain the new versions of the files, as they progress through the lifecycle.

But beware! Only because the DBA need not worry about 5TB big content databases no more means nobody should. A well planned major and minor versioning strategy and user education is key in keeping the network storage from blowing out of proportions. So do yourself a favour and have a look at some tools on the market before needlessly resurrecting dead documents into SharePoint.