The One Thing Every SharePoint Administrator Needs

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The One Thing Every SharePoint Administrator Needs

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BinaryWave Eric Shupps SharePoint Cowboy Eric Alan Shupps eshupps spcowboyMaintaining an enterprise SharePoint environment can be a daunting task. Web servers, index servers, SQL databases, Office Web Applications servers, Workflow Manager servers, not to mention all the service applications and third-party components, spread across development, staging and production farms – it can quickly get out of control. Monitoring the physical infrastructure – CPU, memory, disk, bandwidth, and various performance counters – is a good first step in establishing some sort of order but it’s just not enough. You need to know how the application itself is behaving not just the underlying components.

You need more data.

But not just any kind of data. You need the right data, at the right time, to maintain peak performance. Fortunately, SharePoint includes a robust logging architecture that captures detailed information for a wide range of application events. This data can help administrators identify potential problems and trace the source of errors. But there’s a catch – the SharePoint logs contain thousands upon thousands of entries, most of which are low-value system process status messages, spread across multi-megabyte text files on each server in the farm. A tremendous amount of valuable data is buried in those files – if only there were an easy way to get to it and, more importantly, make sense of it all.

There are numerous tools available in the marketplace that expose SharePoint log data in an easy-to-consume format. Microsoft even provides a free utility for tracking, filtering and searching log events. If more data is better, and there are plenty of options for gathering such data, then why is it still so difficult to keep SharePoint running effectively?

Because you actually don’t need more data. You need better intelligence.

While log viewer tools may expose massive streams of application event data, they don’t help you analyze, categorize, or prioritize all that information. To really find out how SharePoint is functioning you need to know the volume of critical events being generated, what types of events occur most often, what your critical event count looks like hour-by-hour and which specific application components are responsible for each critical event. You need dashboards that provide health scoring based on critical event flow, charts and graphs to visualize aggregated data, drill-downs to analyze specific metrics, and a variety of reports to perform root-cause analysis.

In addition, you need access to this kind of intelligence at any given time – often weeks or months after a service interruption has occurred. Many organizations have policies in place that charge individual departments for the amount of disk space being consumed, making it very expensive to keep more than a few days or weeks worth of log files on the SharePoint servers. Even the out-of-the-box health analytics databases automatically purge log data every 30 days. This is an acceptable compromise for real-time troubleshooting but it makes root-cause analysis of critical service interruptions extremely difficult. Even worse, rolling log deletions destroy all historical data so there is no ability to establish a baseline or to determine the scope, frequency and impact of a specific event or set of events.

Offloading critical event data to an external repository doesn’t just save money – it also makes your job a whole lot easier. Data that has been aggregated, filtered, and indexed is much easier to search, analyze and report against. If you’ve ever tried finding a specific correlation ID within individual logs across a multi-server farm with only a vague idea of then it might have happened then you know how difficult and time consuming such a task can be. Having access to all of that data in one place, with a rich set of search and reporting capabilities in a modern, responsive user interface, can save countless hours of frustration and lost productivity.

If you are relying upon traditional log viewer tools to maintain and troubleshoot your SharePoint environment then it’s time to reevaluate your strategy. Operational intelligence tools like SmartTrack put critical information regarding the overall health and operational stability of any SharePoint farm right at your fingertips – at any time and on any device. Don’t waste any more time and money doing things manually or buying tools that give you even more data to sift through. Put a solution in place that makes sense of the data you already have and puts you back in control. 

Operational Analytics for SharePoint