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About Sharepoint

SharePoint is a single integrated platform for you to manage your intranet, extranet and internet applications across the organization. Knowledge–sharing is made easy in an environment with reduced information management risks, increasing decision-making efficiency and effectiveness. SharePoint integrates very closely with Microsoft Office, accelerating convenience and usability.

SharePoint supports task-oriented collaborations within the organization with technologies like customizable sites, issue tracking, alerts and RSS. These features bring internet concepts into the enterprise and integrates with its messaging infrastructure.

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Our Services

AuraTech offers end-to-end SharePoint consulting services. Below are details on our offered services:

Installation

Microsoft Office SharePoint Server comes in different editions and is comprised of numerous components. The deployment can comprise of a single front end server or a farm deployment. AuraTech would analyze the usage needs and your existing infrastructure before recommending an architecture and installing SharePoint.

Deployment Topology

AuraTech would recommend a server topology based on your needs. Factors taken into account include: Usage Volume, Geographic Spread of Users, Internet vs Intranet access and existing infrastructure.

Authentication Mechanism

SharePoint by default authenticates users using Windows Active Directory. However, some users may need sites deployed using forms authentication in order to provide access to external users such as customers. Anonymous user access may also need to be setup for sites/sub-sites that are internet facing.

Service Configuration

SharePoint server is made up of a number of services such as the search and indexing service and excel service. For optimal use, each of these services needs to be setup and configured effectively. For instance, lets consider the Search Server, one of the most powerful features of SharePoint. This server is capable of searching attachments, web content, people, meta data, etc. However to get meaningful search results with a fast response time, the search server needs to be configured appropriately. AuraTech has extensive experience configuring the search server and building add-on search tools on top of it. During requirements analysis, we will determine the type and quantity of data that will be stored in sharepoint. Based on these findings, AuraTech will configure the server for optimal performance. As part of the routine maintenance, AuraTech will periodically assess the performance of the search server and tweak the configuration for optimization as and when needed.

Security

Sharepoint has built in security for access to documents and content. After requirements analysis, AuraTech will determine the different levels of user groups needed and access permissions that are to be granted at each level. Extra care will be take to safeguard sensitive data.

Disk and Processor Quota

AuraTech will work with the IT admin team to setup and enforce disk quotas for document and content for various organizations. AuraTech often deploys SharePoint using virtualization. Such a deployment enables admins to configure the processing power to be granted to SharePoint.

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Implementation Strategy

AuraTech conducts detailed requirement analysis and planning to ensure that your implementation is a success. We understand that each organization has unique needs and cater for them in our implementation plan. As a first step AuraTech SharePoint functional specialists would interview the key stakeholders and users in your organization. At the end of requirements analysis, a Requirements and Fucntional Specification will be prepared to communicate the implementation plan. The implementation plan takes into account the following:

Ease of Use

Setting up the system so that its easy to use will be a top priority for AuraTech. Our past experience has taught us that the most powerful tools if not easy to use, do not enhance user productivity. After carefully analyzing the requirements of each department, AuraTech will setup the system to provide easy access to required features. Sharepoint is a very powerful Enterprise Content Management System and includes a large number of features so that needs of all types of organizations can be answered. However not all the features are relevant in every deployment. AuraTech will configure the system so that features that are most frequently used will be made available most easily via an easy to follow navigation structure. The portals will also exhibit consistency. Features that are not needed, are irrelevant and cause unnecessary clutter will be hidden from the common user. The client however will be made aware of all available features.

Sharepoint is part of the Microsoft Office family of products and integrates very closely with Microsoft Word, Excel and Outlook. Users can subscribe to forums via outlook and edit SharePoint content directly in Word. SharePoint folders can be mapped to user drives, which makes adding content to SharePoint as easy as saving content on your own hard drive. AuraTech will configure SharePoint and integrate it with the users work environment so as to minimize changes to their daily routine. This will reduce the learning curve to using SharePoint and increases its adoption.

Transition

Often data will need to be ported from your legacy systems to SharePoint. AuraTech can assist with the migration efforts.

Content Management Strategy

After Requirements Analysis, AuraTech will help formulate a strategy for content management within the organization. Having a consistent strategy will make it easier for users to add, manage and find content on the enterprise portal. The strategy will be formulated at the enterprise, department and individual levels. The enterprise strategy and practices will provide general guidelines for the entire intranet portal. Each department is expected to have their own subsite. The department level strategy will provide guidelines for each department subsite. Users within a department will have different permission levels. Certain users are expected to be content creators, while others will have only read access. The individual group policy will help govern the rights and access of individuals. SharePoint makes it very easy to manage content using blogs, wiki and content editors. Below diagram shows the image of the content editor in SharePoint.

Sharepoint supports a multi-level site structure. Each level can have its own unique permission levels and structure. AuraTech will help setup the enterprise portal with the corporate site and the top level and department sites at the sub-levels. The navigation interface will be setup for ease of use.

Sharepoint can enhance collaboration and dissemination of information using Wiki pages, blogs, document and project workspaces. The workspaces can be setup on the fly when multiple individuals need to work on a project or document. AuraTech will train users and teams to utilize these tools.

SharePoint supports most common workflows. Users can setup workflows to create content or notify them when content changes. Approval workflows for managing content also exist. AuraTech will setup these workflows after analyzing the your requirements.

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Training

SharePoint is a powerful and feature rich product. It has much potential to enhance user productivity. However, the gains cannot be realized if users are not equipped with the knowledge to fully utilize the system. AuraTech provides training for both IT and non-IT savvy individuals for productivity enhancement using SharePoint. We have realized that breaking the training into different sessions as per the following schedule yields the best results. The 2nd and 3rd training sessions allow users to gain a deeper understanding of the system.

  • 1st Training Session: 1 week before system launch
  • 2nd Training Session: 2 weeks after system launch
  • 3rd Training Session: 4 weeks after system launch

Training is customized for each user group/department based on their intended use of the system.

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Development

SharePoint is an ideal platform for hosting all kinds of business applications. Hosting your applications using SharePoint has a number of advantages. These include:

  • Powerful Framework: SharePoint's framework provides the foundation layers such as authentication and data access that most applications depend on. This allows developers to focus right away on the important business processes and goals rather building the application foundation.
  • Security: All data for these applications are secured by the SharePoint security framework.
  • Familiar Interface: Users already familiar with SharePoint will be able to adapt to new applications easily
  • Performance Scalability: Applications built for SharePoint become just as scalable as SharePoint.
  • Easy and Reusable Development: SharePoint applications can easily be developed using Microsoft’s .Net framework.

AuraTech can help analyze your requirements and assist in building custom business applications for SharePoint. Our in-depth knowledge of the SharePoint framework allows us to write code that fully utilizes the built in ability of the framework. Our solutions for SharePoint are packaged as re-distributable features and solutions that are easy to deploy using SharePoint Central Administration. This allows us to deliver efficient solutions at lower costs. Our custom solutions often comprise of the following components:

  • SharePoint Workflows: We can translate your business processes to workflows and implement them using SharePoint Designer or Windows Workflow Foundation.
  • SharePoint Webparts: Webparts to SharePoint are like widgets to many Web 2.0 applications. They are redistributable and easily configurable pieces of User Interface and Business Logic. These are built using the popular .Net Framework.
  • List Programming and Event Receivers: Custom Lists are one of the foundational pieces of SharePoint. Most data is stored in Lists in SharePoint. We have extensive experience building sound applications with logic focused around data using SharePoint List Programming and Event Receivers.
  • Reports for Business Intelligence: SharePoint is a great platform for Data Analysis and Business Intelligence. The SharePoint framework provides hooks to feed into data from a huge variety of sources. This data can then be analyzed and presented as reports and dashboards in SharePoint. The diagram below shows one such dashboard.

Confused if you should use SharePoint for hosting your business application? Ask yourself the following simple question. If the answer is yes then you should use SharePoint for hosting your applications. Does your application need to be accessed by more than 1 individual?

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Maintenance

AuraTech offers maintenance services to ensure that your SharePoint deployment is running optimally and data integrity is not being compromised. We offer monthly as well as quarterly maintenance plans. Our maintenance covers:

  • Performing Diagnostics on Server Configuration
  • Performing Diagnostics on Search Server Parameters
  • Ensuring Integrity and Frequency of Backups
  • Diagnostics on Applications and Reporting performance

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Typical Deployment

In order to achieve flexibility and scalability, AuraTech recommends installing SharePoint in a virtual environment using Hyper-V that comes with Windows Server 2008. The diagram below illustrates a typical deployment.

AuraTech proposes to setup the environment using virtualization technology in the new Windows 2008 server. Hyper V provides a perfect balance of performance and energy efficiency. New servers can be added to manage the load or the entire architecture can be migrated to a more powerful server without any changes or disruption to the existing system. This architecture also allows the easiest path to growth in terms of supporting additional users. New virtual servers hosting new applications could be deployed in a matter of minutes using the existing database server. The proposed architecture is easy to maintain, manage and is scalable for the future.

Components

Following are the major components of the proposed architecture:

  • Windows Server with Hyper – V: A windows server with Hyper-V will be installed on the server.
  • Windows Virtual Server – DB Server: A windows server will be setup to act as the database server
  • Database Server: SQL Server will be installed on Windows Virtual Server 1. This will host the database for sharepoint and all future applications.
  • Windows Virtual Application Server: Sharepoint will be installed on this server. This server will also have IIS installed to provide the web user interfaced for Sharepoint.
  • IIS: This is the web server that comes with the operation system and is used to render web pages.
  • Sharepoint Corporate Portal: This is the sharepoint portal that runs within IIS.
  • Sharepoint Application Server: This is the main sharepoint application server.
  • Forefront Server for Sharepoint: The Microsoft Forefront server for sharepoint will be setup and installed to provide malware and anti-virus protection for sharepoint.

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Sharepoint Literature


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SharePoint Features
Collaboration
  • Documents/tasks/calendars

  • Blogs, wikis, issue tracking, project workspaces

  • E-mail integration, Outlook integration

  • Out of the box, customizable sites

  • Alerts, RSS

  • E-mail enabled lists

  • Rich offline experience

Portal
  • Rich canvas for composite applications

  • .NET 2.0 Support

  • Enterprise Portal template

  • Site Directory, My Sites, social networking

  • Privacy control

Search
  • Business Data Catalog

  • Customizable Search Centre

  • Enterprise scalability

  • Contextual relevance

  • Rich people and business data search

  • Easily connect to backend business systems

  • Search attachments, web content, people, meta data

Content Management
  • Integrated document management

  • Records management with policies and auditing

  • Web content management with policies and workflow

  • Built in security for access to documents and content

  • Compliance and multi-lingual scenarios

  • Rich and seamless Office integration

  • Integrated rights management

  • Integrated Workflow

  • Internet scale WCM

  • Sub-site for each department

  • Different permission levels

Business Processes
  • Rich and Web forms based front-ends, LOB actions, pluggable SSO

  • People centric workflow out-of-the-box

  • Built on a rich platform – Windows Workflow Foundation

  • Integrates with structured business processes

  • InfoPath Forms Services

  • Business Data Catalog

  • XML File Format

  • out-of-the-box connectors: SAP, Siebel, Dynamics

Business Intelligence
  • Server-based Excel spreadsheets and data visualization

  • KPIs

  • Dashboards display reports/charts using data from Sharepoint or other applications

  • BI Web Parts

  • The glue for “BI for the Masses”

  • Solves information underload by connecting clients and servers

  • Delivers in-context BI

  • Excel Services

  • Business Data Catalog

  • ODC Library