Planning A Proper Virtual SharePoint 2013 Environment

Regardless of the reasons for virtualizing SharePoint 2013 or the stage of embracing virtualization, the design of a virtual SharePoint 2013 architecture has to support your long term and instant business and IT goals and accommodate future modifications. Architects who plan a virtual environment often apply the requirements for a SharePoint option that was deployed in a physical environment to the virtual environment. This includes aspects such as farm capability, performance and topology requirements, and company continuity. You can utilize the lot of database servers, front end web servers, and application servers to identify the variety of virtual devices and virtualization host server computers that a virtualized farm needs. A virtual environment needs added virtual servers to attain the exact same total efficiency as physical servers that serve the same parts. This is a truth of virtualization. Virtual equipment that is set up the same as a physical computer system can not match the efficiency of a physical computer due to hypervisor overhead.

Prior to creating a virtual architecture and the supporting infrastructure, you have to recognize system requirements. In numerous circumstances, you can use an existing or prepared SharePoint environment option, and the physical infrastructure that supports the solution. Whether SharePoint Server or SharePoint Foundation is already deployed can influence the procedure of determining requirements and making design choices. The current state of virtualization innovation in an organization is another factor. If you have an existing SharePoint farm, you can utilize historical benchmark data and use profiles as a starting indicate identify virtual device setups for the different server jobs in the farm. For instance, simultaneous connections, sorts of requests, and peaks in demand serve kinds of information. After you have the virtual equipment requirements, you then figure out the number and capacity of the host servers that you need to support the virtual farm servers.

If you are upgrading an existing farm, keep in mind that you have to have new data standard  to verify your presumptions. This is a requirement since clients normally tidy up and architect their SharePoint solutions once again as part of the upgrade. Another reason to collect new information is that you might include functionality to the farm. SharePoint 2013 also provides new functions and redesigned features, such as Search. Then you have the experience and resources to develop relatively accurate picture of the physical infrastructure requirements for the farm, if virtualization is a fully grown innovation in your company. This includes host sizing, virtual machine distribution throughout the hosts to satisfy anticipated performance demands, and high availability. If your organization is simply beginning to adopt virtualization for applications such as SharePoint 2013, then you probably have a scarcity of resources and expertise to carry out a virtual farm. You would need to prepare and finish a number of pre-production phases to collect benchmark information and configurations until they are ready for a pilot project. It is very important to keep in mind that at this point your requirements and proposed design are preliminary. You will have to adjust the design as you develop a comprehensive design to deploy a farm in a proof-of-concept, pre-production, and production environment.

Identifying the server roles that you want to virtualize is connected to the more comprehensive virtualization objectives and goals of your company. Clearly, if the goal is execute an architecture where all the SharePoint farm servers are virtual, then the pros and cons of server option is not a problem. In a homogeneous environment, the standards for the design of the architecture are based on functional requirements such as efficiency and capacity and the host infrastructure that is should support the farm. Although server virtualization is totally supported for all the server parts of SharePoint 2013, the server job alone is not the identifying consider deciding whether to virtualize some farm servers or all the farm servers. Numerous factors will affect your virtualization technique and architecture: IT restrictions, host server capacity, and operations.

Numerous organizations do not support or permit IT departments to virtualize database servers. This policy is typical in companies that have committed database groups that firmly manage and preserve SQL Server. In these regulated deployments, the data source group has to create all databases. Virtualizing SQL Server is not an option. The accessibility of host hardware than can adequately support the requirements of all the duties is something else to consider. The issue of host hardware abilities happens when you re-purposing existing hardware as part of a virtualization strategy. Managing and maintaining a virtual farm environment is intricate and requires certain abilities and tools. You have to handle the farm on the physical host and the virtual level level. You have to deal with the virtual equipments and their hosts if you deploy SharePoint 2013 in a partly virtualized environment. Furthermore you have to keep the physical computers that are utilized for specific roles. The outcome is that you must have 3 sets of treatments, skills, and tools to support the farm. Full virtualization reduces the support requirements and simplifies support for the operations group.

The front end web server and application server parts are normally the first choices for virtualization. Since the work need on these servers is normally much lower than on various other servers in a farm, the internet server part is usually the first option for virtualization. As a result you can configure the virtual equipment for this duty to use fewer processors, less memory and fewer hard disks. The smaller sized resource footprint suggests that you can deploy more front end internet servers on a single host than an extremely specialized and resource-intensive system such as a database server, and sometimes, an application server. For organizations that are simply beginning to relocate to virtualization, virtual equipments for the Web server part are simpler to think than the other jobs, have the lowest virtualization host requirements, and are perceived as having the most affordable threat in a production environment Application servers are also good initial prospects for virtualization. Relying on the degree of field of expertise, which is mirrored by services they provide, they do not always have low resource requirements. IT professionals vigorously discuss whether to virtualize SQL Server. Up until recently the conventional wisdom was to stay clear of virtualizing the database server. As holds true for various other farm servers, hypervisor imposes an efficiency cost. You need to specify your efficiency objectives and gather benchmark information before you choose whether to virtualize SQL Server. Even with SQL Server optimizations for virtualization and efficiency enhancements in the Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V role, a virtual database server will not surpass a physical server that uses the exact same configuration. Nevertheless, if you scale up the virtual database server configuration, you can attain the same overall throughput at a somewhat increased CPU use cost. We recommend that your data source virtualization decision also accounts for virtual processor requirements in relation to the lot of host server cores, high accessibility, and options for enhancing storage. In the last analysis, the benefits of deploying SQL Server on a virtual device can commonly exceed the performance cost.

After you’ve collected info and developed a draft design, you still may have issues about performance if certain SharePoint 2013 server parts are virtualized. If performance is still a significant consideration to finishing your architecture, then consider testing particular functions that are prospects for virtualization. You can use the examination lead to choose the number of virtual servers to deploy for a specific function, or even whether to deploy a certain part in the virtual environment. One way to conduct your examinations is to deploy a specific role on a virtual equipment and on a physical computer system. The tests that you make use of are very important since they have to appropriately measure the function. After you complete your tests compare the benchmark data for the efficiency counters that are meaningful as a performance measure. These counters are typically several of the following: memory consumption, CPU utilization and Input/Output Operations Per Second. For some circumstances network throughput is likewise an important performance indication.

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50 SharePoint 2010 Interview Questions With Answers – IT Pro / Architect

In the tradition of providing relevant interview questions for SharePoint, and you can find my interview questions for SharePoint 2007 development here and the related answers here, I have put together interview questions for both a SharePoint 2010 IT Pro / Architect track after having to prepare to interview some folks for a local organization. As stated in the previous interview question postings, these questions will be targeted to a particular platform and thus for 2007 concepts while maybe sharing some broad concepts, you should visit the aforementioned pages in order to get this information. I am going to order these by major technology components so you can sorta pick and choose the questions that you think would be relevant for the particular SharePoint position that you seek to staff. Developer track questions will be coming along shortly, they just take a while to aggregate.

SharePoint 2010 Interview Questions – IT Pro / Architect

Basic Intro SharePoint Architecture Questions

1) What are Web Applications in SharePoint?

An IIS Web site created and used by SharePoint 2010. Saying an IIS virtual server is also an acceptable answer.

2) What is an application pool?

A group of one or more URLs that are served by a particular worker process or set of worker processes.

3) Why are application pools important?

They provide a way for multiple sites to run on the same server but still have their own worker processes and identity.

4) What are zones?

Different logical paths (URLs meaning) of gaining access to the same SharePoint Web application.

5) What are Web Application Policies?

Enables security policy for users at the Web application level, rather than at the site collection or site level. Importantly, they override all other security settings.

6) What is a site collection?

 A site collection contains a top-level website and can contain one or more sub-sites web sites that have the same owner and share administration settings.

7) What are content databases?

A content database can hold all the content for one or more site collections.

8) What is a site?

 A site in SharePoint contains Web pages and related assets such as lists, all hosted within a site collection.

9) What are My Sites?

Specialized SharePoint sites personalized and targeted for each user.

10) What is the difference between Classic mode authentication and Claims-based authentication?

As the name implies, classic authentication supports NT authentication types like Kerberos, NTLM, Basic, Digest, and anonymous. Claims based authentication uses claims identities against a against a trusted identity provider.

11) When would you use claims, and when would you use classic?

Classic is more commonly seen in upgraded 2007 environments whereas claims are the recommended path for new deployments.

12) Describe the potential components for both a single server, and multiple servers, potentially several tiered farms:

A single-server SharePoint Server 2010 environment leverages a built-in SQL Server 2008 Express database. The problems with this environment is scalability, not being able to install the with built-in database on a domain controller, the database cannot be larger than 4 GB, and you cannot use User Profile Synchronization in a single server with built-in database installation.

An example of a multiple tier farm would be a three-tier topology, considered one of the more efficient physical and logical layouts to supports scaling out or scaling up and provides better distribution of services across the member servers of the farm. This is considered a good architecture since one can add Web servers to the Web tier, add app servers to the application tier, and add database servers to the database tier.

SharePoint Backup and Restore Questions

13) What are some of the tools that can be used when backing up a SharePoint 2010 environment?

  • SharePoint farm backup and recovery
  • SQL Server
  • System Center Data Protection Manager

14) What Microsoft tool can be used for incremental backups?

System Center Data Protection Manager

Managed Metadata Questions

15) What is Managed Metadata?

Managed metadata is a hierarchical collection of centrally managed terms that you can define, and then use as attributes for items.

16) What are Terms and Term Sets?

A term is a word or a phrase that can be associated with an item.  A term set is a collection of related terms.

17) How do Terms And Term Sets relate to Managed Metadata?

Managed metadata is a way of referring to the fact that terms and term sets can be created and managed independently from the columns themselves.

18) Are there different types of Term Sets?

There are Local Term Sets and Global Term Sets, one created within the context of a site collection and the other created outside the context of a site collection, respectively.

19) How are terms created and used?

There are several ways; however the most common is to use the Term Store Management Tool.

20) How is Managed Metadata, and the related Term technology used?

Through the UI, the most common use is through the managed metadata list column which allows you to specify the term set to use. It also related to searching and enhancing the user search experience.

Sandbox Solutions Questions

21) What is a sandboxed solution?

Components that are deployed to run within the sandboxed process rather than running in the production Internet Information Services (IIS) worker process.

22) What are some examples of things that might run within the SharePoint sandbox?

Any of the following are acceptable answers:

 Web Parts
Event receivers
Feature receivers
Custom Microsoft SharePoint Designer workflow activities
Microsoft InfoPath business logic

others….

23) Why are sandboxed solutions used?

Primarily because they promote high layers of isolation. By default they run within a rights-restricted, isolated process based around Code Access Security (CAS). Isolation is possible to increase with activities like running the sandboxing service on only specific SharePoint 2010 servers.

SharePoint Search Questions

24) What is a content source in relation to SharePoint search? What’s the minimum amount of content sources?

A content source is a set of options that you can use to specify what type of content is crawled, what URLs to crawl, and how deep and when to crawl. You must create at least one content source before a crawl can occur.

25) What is a search scope?

A search scope defines a subset of information in the search index. Users can select a search scope when performing a search.

26) What is a federated location with SharePoint search?

Federated locations provide information that exists outside of your internal network to your end-users.

27) How does managed metadata affect search?

Enhances the end-user search experience by mapping crawled properties to managed properties. Managed properties show up in search results and help users perform more successful queries.

28)  What is query logging in SharePoint 2010?

Collects information about user search queries and search results that users select on their computers to improve the relevancy of search results and to improve query suggestions.

29) What authentication type does the SharePoint crawler use?

The crawl component requires access to content using NTLM authentication.

Services Architecture Questions

30) Please describe what a Service Application is in SharePoint 2010.

Service applications in SharePoint 2010 are a set of services that can possibly be shared across Web applications. Some of these services may or may not be shared across the SharePoint 2010 farm. The reason these applications are shared is the overall reduction of resources required to supply the functionality these services cultivate.

31) Please provide an example of one of these service applications.

Any of the below are acceptable answers:

Access Services
Business Data Connectivity service
Excel Services Application
Managed Metadata service
PerformancePoint Service Application
Search service
Secure Store Service
State service
Usage and Health Data Collection service
User Profile service
Visio Graphics Service
Web Analytics service
Word Automation Services
Microsoft SharePoint Foundation Subscription Settings Service

32) What are Service Application Groups used for?

Just provides a logical grouping of services that are scoped to a particular Web Application.

33) How are Service Applications deployed in terms of IIS (Internet Information Services)?

They are provisioned as a single Internet Information Services (IIS) Web site.

34) Explain how connections are managed with Service Applications.

A virtual entity is used that is referred to as a proxy, due to label in PowerShell.

35) What are some common examples of SharePoint 2010 services architectures, and what are the advantages of each design?

The three most popular designs are single farms with either a single service application group or multiple service application groups, or Enterprise services farms.

Single farms with a single service application group are generally the most common, and have the advantages of easy deployment, simple service application allocation, effective resource utilization and cohesive management.

Single farms with multiple service application groups is less common, and have the advantage of potential individual management of service applications as well as allowing data isolation, and while being more complex to deploy and maintain allows targeting of sites to particular service applications.

Enterprise Service Farms is pretty uncommon as it is a complete farm dedicated to Service Applications but promotes autonomous management and high levels of data isolation.

36) Are there any other type of relevant service architectures?

Depending on the environment requirements, a specialized farm can also be used in order to deploy specific services tailored to the organizational requirements which can aid in scaling out and conservation of resources.

37) What is the User Profile service?

Allows configuring and managing User profile properties, Audiences, Profile synchronization settings, organization browsing and management settings, and My Site settings.

38) What are User Profiles?

Aggregates properties from diverse identity content sources together to create unified and consistent profiles across an organization, used throughout the SharePoint environment.

39) What is Excel Services?

Allows sharing, securing, managing, and using Excel 2010 workbooks in a SharePoint Server Web site or document library. Excel Services consists of the Excel Calculation Services (ECS), Microsoft Excel Web Access (EWA), and Excel Web Services (EWS) components.

40) What is PerformancePoint Services?

Allows users to monitor and analyze a business by building dashboards, scorecards, and key performance indicators (KPIs).

41) What is Visio Services?

Allows users to share and view Microsoft Visio Web drawings. The service also enables data-connected Microsoft Visio 2010 Web drawings to be refreshed and updated from various data sources.

42) What is Access Services?

Allows users to edit, update, and create linked Microsoft Access 2010 databases that can be viewed and manipulated by using an internet browser, the Access client, or a linked HTML page.

43) What is the Secure Store Service (SSS)?

A secure database for storing credentials that are associated with application IDs

44) What is Content Deployment?

Content deployment enables you to copy content from a source site collection to a destination site collection.

Backup / DR Questions

45) Describe how redundancy can be built into a SharePoint environment. Please be specific in regards to any auxiliary components.

Multiple front-end web servers (WFE’s) can be deployed and correlated through Windows NLB or anything approach. Application servers can be deployed into the farm for a variety of purposes, depending on organizational requirements. Databases can be clustered or mirrored, again depending on requirements and environment.

46) From a basic standpoint, what is the difference between SQL clustering and mirroring?

Clustering provides a failover scenario whereby one or more nodes can be swapped as active depending on whether a node goes down. In mirroring, transactions are sent directly from a principal database and server to a mirror database to establish essentially a replica of the database.

Governance Questions

47) What Is Governance in terms of SharePoint 2010?

Governance is the set of policies, roles, responsibilities, and processes that guide, direct, and control how an organization’s business divisions and IT teams cooperate to achieve business goals.

48) What are some useful, OOB features of SharePoint that aid with governance of an environment?

Any of the below are acceptable answers. There are some others but these are the major ones that I generally look for from a candidate:

Site templates – consistent branding, site structure, and layout can be enforce a set of customizations that are applied to a site definition.

Quotas – limits to the amount of storage a site collection can use.

Locks – prevent users from either adding content to a site collection or using the site collection.

Web application permissions and policies – comprehensive security settings that apply to all users and groups for all site collections within a Web application.

Self-service site creation – enables users to create their own site collections, thus must be incorporated into a governance scheme.

Monitoring Questions

49) Describe the monitoring features that are baked into SharePoint 2010.

Diagnostic logging captures data about the state of the system, whereas health and usage data collection uses specific timer jobs to perform monitoring tasks, collecting information about:

  • Performance Counter Fata
  • Event Log Data
  • Timer Service Data
  • Metrics For Site Collections and Sites
  • Search Usage Data

General Workflow Questions

50) What is a declarative workflow? Can non-authenticated users participate in workflows?

Workflows created by using Microsoft SharePoint Designer 2010, the default setting enables deployment of declarative workflows. Yes, however you do not give non-authorized users access to the site. The e-mail message and attachments sent from notifications might contain sensitive information

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SharePoint 2010 Service Application Design Best Practices

Through SharePoint 2010, there is an improvement of the services infrastructure that was previously introduced in an earlier version. This infrastructure also hosts services for the SharePoint Foundation 2010. The configuration of services offered is very flexible. This allows the individual services to be configured independent of each other. It also makes it possible for 3rd party companies to be able to add services to that platform. The configuration of services aren’t exclusive to SharePoint Server. The services aren’t restricted to Shared Services Providers.

When service applications are deployed from a farm there are a couple of different methods that can be used.
They include the use of Windows PowerShell, adding services one at a time through the Manage Service Applications page, and choosing services for running the SharePoint Products Configuration Wizard.

The infrastructure of the services has been updated so that there is more control over the types of services that have been deployed. There is also control over the types of service applications that have been shared. Only the service applications that are necessary for a farm can be deployed. The various web applications can be configured so that they only use certain service applications. This is better than them using all of the various services that have been deployed. Service applications can be shared across various web applications that are within the same farm. All of the service applications that are included in a default group will remain unless you change them. There are settings for service applications that can be created. You can add or remove service applications in that default group any time you want to.

The creation of web applications allow you to select the default group you want or to create one that is customized. If you want to customize your service applications you can do by selecting those that you want to be part of the web application. When custom groups are created in Central Administration, they can’t be used for all of your web applications. When you select custom to create a web application you will limit them to only that specific web application you happen to be using. Each of the service applications has a single Internet Information Services website. This is the default setting and you won’t be able to change it. However, you do have the option of customizing how it is configured for various application groups.

There are several characteristics of a farm that you need to be familiar with. Web applications will connect to the default group or a custom group of service applications. All of the service applications will be found within the same Internet Information Services website. Service applications are in a group as defaults or customized. However, not all of the service applications have to be placed into one of those groups. They can be used by a single web application if you wish.

It is possible for service applications to be deployed to different applications pools. This results in process isolation occurring. If you want to optimize how your farm performs then it is recommended that you deploy service applications to only one application pool. In order for that isolation to occur with a service application, you need to create a new application for the pool service application.

While creating a service application there is a connection for the service application that is being created at the same time. There is a connection that is a virtual entity for connecting to web applications. With Windows PowerShell these connections are known as proxies. A proxy will be at the end of the type description for a connection which is through the Manage Service Application in Central Administration. Some of these connections may include settings that you can modify. This includes the Managed Metadata service application, Term Store Administrators, and Default Language.

When you directly manage service applications in Central Administration you can manage and monitor them from a remote location. They can also be managed and scripted through Windows PowerShell. There are some service applications that are shared among many farms. Others though can only be shared in a singular fashion with a given farm server.

Computing intense service applications that operate within a central farm. This is done to minimize the overhead costs relating to administration. This is also to help keep everything operating efficiently, even as the requirements of the farm grow. If you use service applications to support sharing across farms, they should be controlled by a central farm. Then they can be consumed from that core location. For each of the web applications that will be configured, use service applications from different farms.

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