S.M.A.R.T SharePoint

Purpose

Provide a Graphical User Interface to query into S.M.A.R.T data and varying other pieces of data relating to the hard drive of a SharePoint server in order to heighten disaster recovery and mitigate risks of data loss.

Audience

  • SharePoint Server Administrators
  • Systems Administrators
  • Server Custodians
  • Developers (maintaining test / development / staging environments)
  • Usage Analysts

Available Downloads

 Download S.M.A.R.T SharePoint – Normal Installation

 Download S.M.A.R.T SharePoint – Silent Installation

Application Overview

S.M.A.R.T (Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology) was the result of the collaboration of several hard drive manufactures in order to increase the reliability of hard drives and increase the range of predictability that there would be for hard drive failures. The primary purpose of S.M.A.R.T technology is to allow advanced diagnostics into hard drives at such a level that data loss and other information disasters can be prevented.

Most modern hard drives are equipped with S..M.A.R.T technology which allows to query the status of a hard drives at a very granular level. Using these methods, an organization can avoid hard drive loss for up to 70% (according to current S.M.A.R.T) statistics.

S.M.A.R.T SharePoint is a program to provide insight to SharePoint servers hard drive status. S.M.A.R.T SharePoint leverages available S.M.A.R.T methods so that you can monitor your SharePoint hard drives so that data disasters can be prevented, mitigating risk for your SharePoint environment. Before any of your critical SharePoint data gets lost, S.M.A.R.T SharePoint will alert you to any problems.
The primary interface of S.M.A.R.T SharePoint will bring you to a general management and information scene. The first group will display the

  • ID
  • Model
  • Temperature
  • Status

The secondary tabulated form will show a variety of information about the current state of the SharePoint server disk hard drives. The first tab is SharePoint Server Disk Info which will show all of the relevant information regarding the architecture of the queried hard drives.

On the second screen, you will drill into the actual queried S.M.A.R.T information from your SharePoint server harddrives. The information you can get it here is

  • Raw Read Error Rate
  • Throughput Performance
  • Spin Up Time
  • Start / Stop Count
  • Reallocated Sector
  • Seek Error Rate
  • Seek Time Performace
  • Power On Hours
  • Spin Retry Count
  • Power Cycle Count
  • Power-Off Retract Cycle
  • Load/Unload Cycle Count
  • Temperature
  • ECC
  • Reallocated Events Count
  • Current Pending Sector Count
  • Offline Stats
  • UDMA
  • Write Error Count

The last screen will allow you to set a few preferences for the application to ease its use. The first option will allow you to boot the application when the machine starts, as opposed to manually starting it. The second option will allow you to enable hibernation if your hard drive trips a threshold that might indicate future data failure. You can set the temperature warning level on the third option, and the pop up notifications are related to this as well as other hard rives events.

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Protecting Your SharePoint Environment with Microsoft Data Protection Manager

* This article was written in the context of System Center Data Protection Manager 2006 (SCDPM), a technology now considered deprecated with the introduction of System Center Data Protection Manager 2007. Variations may exist. *

Protecting Your SharePoint Network with Microsoft Data Protection Manager

After you conclude your initial configuration of Microsoft Data Protection Manager, protecting your SharePoint servers should be the next task to complete so that you can ensure that your critical business data is protected in accordance with a properly structured SharePoint disaster recovery policy.

The initial deployment of DPM necessitates several actions, however most importantly deploying DPM agents to your SharePoint content database repositories so that critical SQL data can be protected in the event of a disaster. This disaster can be anything, from an intruder engaging in corporate espionage to weather damaging a data center. Setting up protection of this business critical data should be a large priority within your organization.

Setting Up Data Protection Manager Protection Groups 

 

The first step in protecting your SharePoint environment is to setting up protection groups that all hold common characteristics. A protection group is just your SharePoint servers that you want to protect, grouped into a logical collection, each of which have a DPM agent deployed onto it, under a common protection umbrella, or protection goal. For each volume that should be protected within the SharePoint environment, a protection group should be designed and implemented, applying to all units under this protection group with the same protection policy.

Within a SharePoint environment, the protection policy can be tailored very differently depending on your organization. It is important to set thresholds for each protection group on data that if lost will not impact business processes, and data that if lost will severely influence how your organization runs its business.

Three Main Assets of SharePoint Typically Protected 

 

There are three main assets relating to SharePoint that are advantageous to protect leveraging DPM, depending on your environment: 
  • SharePoint File System – If you have custom development implementations, such as SharePoint WebParts, custom applications, or tailored third party products that were development heavy to customize to your environment, these files should be protected. Typically, protecting the default file stores of SharePoint is good practice since it streamlines restoration after a disaster. If you have custom features or solutions in MOSS, these should be protected.
  • SQL Database files The most important portion of the SharePoint environment is the backend SQL data that builds an arbitrary amount of content repositories. These database files should be firstly exported which can then be protected by Microsoft Data Protection Manager.
  • Server System State For a full fidelity backup, it is often advantageous to implement a scheduled backup using the inherit System Backups (the Windows backup utility) to make a copy of the system state, after which that file can be protected by Microsoft Data Protection Manager.

If you have custom development implementations, such as SharePoint WebParts, custom applications, or tailored third party products that were development heavy to customize to your environment, these files should be protected. Typically, protecting the default file stores of SharePoint is good practice since it streamlines restoration after a disaster. If you have custom features or solutions in MOSS, these should be protected.

User Tolerance for Loss
For some, and for the sake of providing a detailed example, protecting the SharePoint file stores is a portion which may not require much protection, since these can be restored from SharePoint media (Assuming there aren’t heavy modifications. If you have custom site definitions, or features and solutions in MOSS, these should clearly be protected). Therefore, it has a high tolerance for user loss. The SQL data however which builds the structure of the SharePoint site and is responsible for the housing of business data has a low tolerance for user loss, and should therefore be given a high priority with Microsoft Data Protection Manager.

There are more factors to consider with your SharePoint protection groups. Within protection groups, there are parallel scheduling mechanisms (consistency check schedules and common protection schedules).

Building on the example above, and assuming we don’t have enhancements such as custom site definitions (SPS 2003) or features and solutions (MOSS 2007). Again, this is meant as an example to show DPM architecture of protection groups and isn’t a best practice since it would vary heavily from company to company.

High Protection 

SharePoint Data and Server Protection GroupThis protection groups related to your protecting your SQL data after being exported and your System backup in case of a major server disaster.

 

Low Protection 

SharePoint File Protection GroupTypically the SharePoint file stores are protected.

 

Creating SharePoint Protection Groups With Data Protection Manager 

 

There are 6 major steps that have to be performed when creating our SharePoint protection groups:
  1. Naming Your Protection Group
  2. Selecting Group Members
  3. Reviewing Disk Allocations
  4. Choosing Replica Creation Method
  5. Selecting a Protection Schedule
  6. Initializing the Protection Group
To create your SharePoint Protection groups, open up the DPM console dialog and open the Protection tab. Following, a DPM wizard dialog will invoke, where you will be required to enter the name of your protection group, typically you can use the above groups. Firstly, enter the SharePoint Data and Server Protection Group since it has a low tolerance for data loss. If you have other protection groups currently leveraging DPM ensure that there are no naming convention collisions and that you can easily remember that naming convention.

On the next Create New Protection Group dialog you will select the group members that are going to be accommodated by your protection group. These can either be shares or volumes and folders. You must select one or the other, you can not combine the two, you must choose one or the other. You can create a new protection group if you need to do both, however you will throw exceptions if you attempt to do both within the same group.

The next dialog that you will invoke is the Review Disk Allocations screen which will show you the implications of the selections you previously chose to protect. DPM will automatically make selections as to how to allocate your disk size, based on several backend calculations. The application is flexible enough that if you desire to change these settings, you can do so, however the DPM calculations are typically the most optimal.

Once you have either decided to use the default selections as calculated by DPM or made your own decisions for disk space allocation, the next step is to set the replication settings for your SharePoint protection groups. Replication cycles and options are fairly flexible and can be tailored to your enterprise needs, allowing you to set scheduled times and protected data transport mechanisms, typically these are structured schedules and it is most times advantageous to rely on the automated moving of protected files. It is possible to move the files manually; however, this is typically not beneficial since one of the benefits of using DPM is the automated processes it provides.

Last Decisions for Your SharePoint Protection Groups
The last configuration step for SharePoint protection groups is to create the protection schedule. This will require you to make two decisions:
  1. What synchronization schedule do I want?
  2. What shadow copy schedule do I want?
There are two different options to configure because the synchronization schedule is an adaptive process that does comparisons of the data to find what has changed within your SharePoint environment and what hasn’t. If only small portions of your SharePoint environment has changed, DPM will only move the portions of data that have changed will allowing the legacy data to remain the same, conserving precious system resources while still allowing you a full fidelity backup procedure.
Consistency Checks 

 

Similar to check sums, there will also be a check as to whether the data is still dependable, by using consisting checks. This is done by comparing blocks of data between the protected files and those that have been recently backed up so that you can ensure that your data is consistent between your protected resources and the backups that you might have to potentially use at a later date when a disaster occurs that impacts your SharePoint environment.
 
This consistency check is usually non-deterministic if it is not blatantly scheduled within the advanced options while creating your protection groups.
Shadow Copies 

 

Not similar to your synchronization scheduling are shadow copies. Shadow copies are similar to the versioning mechanisms that exist within in SharePoint, whenever there are changed to a file a version of that file is saved so it can be reverted to if need be. For each schedule shadow copy, there will be a sister file saved that is similar.
 
One the last screen you will get a summary of your protection group, once you instantiate it, it will take effect with all implications including scheduling, backups, and all other assets as you have configured it throughout the protection groups wizard steps.

 

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Overview and Features: ISA Server and SharePoint

* This article was written in the context of Internet Security and Acceleration (ISA) 2006, a technology now considered deprecated with the introduction of Forefront Threat Management Gateway (TMG). Variations may exist. *

Overview

Microsoft Internet Security and Acceleration (ISA) server can compliment your collaborations and communications environment by providing a SharePoint aware firewall, analyze of possible threats in your SharePoint traffic, and secure VPN architecture, allowing your organization to remain secure while providing robust channels for serving SharePoint. By leveraging ISA server, you can securely provide an extranet implementation, as well as securing possible internal threats. Serving SharePoint externally is a beneficial method of establishing collaboration and communication between business partners, customers, and even for remote divisions. By planning, designing, and implementing a secure environment using ISA server, you can ensure that your SharePoint data is only available to the right people.

The security of your SharePoint environment is only as good as the tools that you give your SharePoint and systems administrators. Through an intuitive user interface, you will be giving the people responsible for the health of your portal security configuration wizards, advanced monitoring tools, and a central location to manage SharePoint network access management.

Protecting your SharePoint environment involves many processes, however using ISA server can help simplify your goals. Serving your SharePoint environment entails controlling the flow of your SharePoint business data and it is moving back and forth between your company and an external partner. ISA server provides faculties where your SharePoint packets can pass to a secured network circuit and application-layer proxy services.

It is important that while you are using SharePoint that it isn’t serving when it doesn’t need to be, that connections are dropped immediately after an employee or customer is done. Using ISA server allows the ports that SharePoint uses to dynamically open and close using the technology described above, ensuring your portal security.

It is increasingly common to use SharePoint to store various file formats and integrate it with several varying technologies, all of which carry their own security implications. Using the advanced circuit filtering provided by ISA server, it is possible to integrate and distribute these varying application files while ensuring that your portal integrity is maintained. While the applications themselves may vary, so will the protocol often times that are associated with the application (such as integrating a pop3 email account access into your SharePoint portal), ISA server provides the method that make it possible to manipulate all types of traffic, giving an ease of availability to ensure only the appropriate systems services are serving the right data.

SharePoint can also prove to be rather slow loading over an external connection, which is for a variety of reasons. However, using the advanced accelerating web cache features in ISA server, it is possible to accelerate the time it takes your SharePoint portal to load and be ready for employee use, increasing overall efficiency.

Features

  • A new, simplified user interface
  • Support for multiple networks
  • Improved VPN support
  • VPN quarantine capabilities
  • Ability to create custom firewall user groups
  • More extensive protocol support
  • Customized protocol definitions
  • OWA Publishing Wizard
  • Improved support for FTP upload/download policy
  • Improved Web publishing
  • Port redirection for server publishing rules
  • Improved cache rules for centralized object storage
  • Path mapping for Web publishing rules
  • RADIUS support for Web proxy client authentication
  • Delegation of basic authentication
  • SecureID authentication
  • Firewall-generated forms (forms-based authentication)
  • Improved SMTP Message Screener
  • Improved HTTP filtering
  • Link translation
  • Improved monitoring and reporting
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