Have you ever wanted a fresh SharePoint development environment? Have you ever needed to quickly create a test box, or wanted to prototype something specifically for a customer? In the past, in all of these scenarios, you’d face a very time-consuming process and quite honestly, one that has likely been a deterrent. In this blog post, I’m going to walk you through creating a SharePoint 2013 development environment, on Azure, utilizing the Visual Studio 2013 RC.

Thanks to the good people at Microsoft, there is now a developer image on Azure that comes with SharePoint 2013 and Visual Studio 2013 Ultimate RC, already installed. Before we get too far along, I do have to warn you that you’ll need either an Azure or MSDN subscription. If you don’t have an Azure subscription, you can activate your MSDN Azure benefit and receive up to $150 USD in free, monthly Azure credits. If you are careful to shut down your VM at the end of each work day, then you should be able to use this VM as your day-to-day development machine without eating up all of your credits. Read More…

Amazon Web Services (AWS) CTO Werner Vogels offers this great piece of cloud advice: “Treat everything as a programmable resource, including data centers, networks, compute, storage and load balancers.”

In other words, automate every aspect of your (cloud-based) infrastructure.

Given AIS’ years of experience with SharePoint, we are always looking for ways to make the underlying infrastructure more cost effective, scalable and robust. Fortunately, the benefits of automation apply equally to a SharePoint 2013 farm hosted in the cloud — whether it’s the ability to dynamically provision a SharePoint 2013 farm on the fly, or the ability to scale up and down based on load, or the ability to make the SharePoint 2013 farm more fault-resilient.

We’ve written about two automated deployment approaches to SharePoint 2013; one for Amazon Web Services and one for Azure. In case you missed them…

Our AWS-based SharePoint 2013 script and source code can be found here.

Our Windows Azure-based SharePoint 2013 script and source code can be found here.

It was more than 10 years ago when AIS first began to explore and envision the idea of using SharePoint as an application development platform. Although Office was a great product to author content, it did not provide a means to manage that content. From the moment we heard that Microsoft was going to provide a centralized, managed repository for Office and other forms, documents and records we immediately started to envision solutions for our clients, along with a laundry list of new features.

Automated workflow and integration of development tools were immediate needs. It wasn’t until 2007 that we felt we had enough features to address our client’s needs to automate paper-based workflows. You can view the whitepaper we published on January 30, 2007 (the very day SharePoint 2007 was released) on our YouTube channel. We published an updated version on the day of the 2010 release, which was a major release in terms of features and performance that also marked the expansion of Search features.

READ MORE: SharePoint App Dev Platform: The Journey So Far & the Road Ahead

Over the years we have built countless large-scale, human-to-human (and human-to-system) workflow solutions. Some support tens of thousands of users, hundreds of thousands of workflows, and hundreds of millions of documents and records. We’ve built task, event, investigation, legal matter, and assessment management systems (just to name a few) across DoD and the military, many Intel agencies and some civilian agencies in the public sector. In the commercial sector our clients range from the largest law firms, international NGOs with far-flung offices, health plans, wealth and financial management, among many others.

Today, SharePoint 2013 has fully matured.  It finally contains all the features we need for a fully-featured application development platform.  We now have enumerable building blocks which allow us to write less code and deliver solutions for a fraction of the cost of other solutions. Read More…

Introduction by Vishwas Lele:

Amazon Web Services (AWS) CTO Werner Vogels offers this great piece of cloud advice: “Treat everything as a programmable resource, including data centers, networks, compute, storage and load balancers.” In other words, automate every aspect of your (cloud-based) infrastructure. There are significant benefits in following Werner Vogels’ advice:

  1. You can build systems that are cost aware by only keeping the parts of the system that are needed and turning off everything else .
  2. Capacity planning is hard. It is much better to dynamically build capacity based on the need.
  3. Failures are not an exception but a rule. Rather than building complex logic to handle exceptions, make your systems fault resilient by provisioning failover resources as needed.
  4. Make your systems more agile – systems that can scale in the direction of business vs. a design time scaling criterion.

Given AIS’ years of experience with SharePoint, we are always looking for ways to make the underlying infrastructure more cost effective, scalable and robust. Fortunately, the aforementioned benefits of automation apply equally to a SharePoint 2013 farm hosted in the cloud — whether it is the ability to dynamically provision a SharePoint 2013 farm on the fly, or the ability to scale up and down based on load, or the ability to make the SharePoint 2013 farm more fault resilient.

But it all begins with developing robust automation scripts to provision and manage a SharePoint 2013 farm. This brings us back to the purpose of this blog post by Abhijit Kumar. Abhijit discusses an automated approach for provisioning a SharePoint 2013 farm using Amazon Web Services. It is noteworthy that the automation approach we describe below is based solely on PowerShell. This might come as a surprise given that AWS offers services like CloudFormation, which enables creation of AWS resources, combined with open source tools such as Opcode Chef and AWS Puppet, which enable the installation and configuration of applications. We chose to rely solely on PowerShell for the following reasons:

  1. PowerShell is Microsoft’s canonical task automation framework, consisting of a command-line shell and a scripting language that has full access to COM and WMI, giving Windows administrators control over every aspect of Windows OS-based machines.
  2. PowerShell scripting language is based on the .NET framework. This means a PowerShell script can take advantage of .NET framework enhancements such as Workflow Foundation (WF). We use WF extensively to manage long-running automation scripts.
  3. AWS Cloud Formation is not available on AWS Gov Cloud. AWS Gov Cloud is an isolated AWS region designed to allow U.S. government agencies and customers with sensitive workloads to address their specific regulatory and compliance requirements. Given that AIS services a large number of customers with stringent regulatory and compliance requirements, we needed an automation approach that worked on AWS Gov Cloud.
  4. If you read our earlier blog post about SharePoint 2013 automation on Windows Azure, you will notice that we have been able to achieve a high level of reuse between Windows Azure and AWS scripts for SharePoint 2013 scripts. While the WF-based provisioning logic is largely the same, Azure Service Management SDK calls are replaced with AWS Tools for Windows PowerShell. This reuse allows us the flexibility to offer our customers a choice between the industry leading IaaS platforms – AWS and Windows Azure.

Abhijth’s post below walks you through the script to deploy SharePoint 2013 Farm on AWS in an automated manner. I am confident that you will it useful. Please give the scripts a try and let us know.

The recent announcement about the general availability of Windows Azure IaaS comes with the following key enhancements:

  1. Remote PowerShell is enabled by default when deploying Virtual Machine using PowerShell.
  2. Availability of trial images such as SharePoint in the image gallery.

These enhancements make it easy to deploy a SharePoint Farm in an automated manner using PowerShell scripts.

The goal of this blog post is to walk you through such a script. Read More…

AIS is planning a second presentation of our newest SharePoint 2013 seminar in Reston, VA on May 15th. Last month’s seminar in Chevy Chase was a great, informative morning and we’re pleased to offer it again at a different DC metro area location for a wider audience. (Non-DC readers stay tuned; we plan to take this show on the road to other cities soon!)

After more than two years of early adoption research, analysis and technical readiness, AIS has determined that SharePoint 2013 has game-changing functionality as an application platform. This free half-day session will touch on all the new, compelling features of SharePoint and detail exactly how it can help you do more…with less.

  • Smarter Search
  • Simpler and Mobile-Ready UI
  • SharePoint App Store Model
  • Better Workflow
  • Social SharePoint
  • Easy Migration Tools
  • Lower Costs & more

AIS bloggers and team members Jason Storch and Chris Miller will be presenting and on-hand to answer any questions you have about SharePoint and how it can meet the specialized needs of your company or organization.

For more background, you can read our full SharePoint 2013 blog coverage by clicking here. We also have a short whitepaper available on The Top Reasons Your Business Will Love the New SharePoint. 

Click here to register for this event. We look forward to seeing you there!

Good question. And we’ve got the answer.

Here at AIS, we’ve spent hundreds of thousands of hours envisioning, designing and constructing SharePoint-based solutions for our clients. With each new version of SharePoint, we make additional investments to deeply understand the new release’s capabilities.

We’ve taken a look at all the changes and enhancements in the latest version — and you just have to look at our blog archives to realize that a LOT has changed in 2013 — and put together a short, easy-to-read whitepaper that highlights the top new features that make SharePoint 2013 a must-have for your business, including:

  • Smarter Search
  • Simpler and Mobile-Ready UI
  • The game-changing SharePoint App Store Model
  • Better Workflow
  • Social SharePoint
  • Easy Migration Tools
  • Lower Costs
  • And much more!

Please CLICK HERE to download your free copy.

Not familiar with SharePoint as a business solution? Take a look at our SharePoint solutions on our website and contact us to learn more about how SharePoint can transform your organization.

We’ve reached the end of this series.  In part one, we discussed the basics of PowerShellPart two showed some of the ways to interact with SharePoint via PowerShell.  Today we’ll look at parts of a script I compiled to build out a SharePoint 2013 development virtual machine.

Environment and Build Notes

I want to start off with some notes about the assumptions I took and the configuration I used. First, this VM is running in Hyper-V on Windows 8 and uses Windows Server 2012 which was installed through the GUI. (I’ll try to figure out PowerShell remoting and Hyper-V at a later date, but that wasn’t in the cards for this post.) Second, I’ve configured two virtual networks, one internal with a static IP and one external with a dynamic IP. I configured those through the GUI as well. However, almost everything else has been built using PowerShell. While we’ll only highlight some of the script in this post, you can find the full script at my CodePlex Project: Useful PowerShell Cmdlets.

Read More…

The first post in this series covered the basics of PowerShell including variables, loops, and decisions. It also introduced a few scripts I’ve used over the last several weeks. In this post, we’ll discuss how to use PowerShell in a SharePoint farm, some of the more useful capabilities (especially to developers), and a few more scripts that I’ve written to bring the topics covered together.

Integrating PowerShell With SharePoint

PowerShell has been natively supported in SharePoint since SharePoint Foundation 2010 and SharePoint Server 2010. When SharePoint is installed, in addition to the Product Configuration Wizard and Central Administration shortcuts, a shortcut for the SharePoint Management Shell is available. This application is a PowerShell console with a blue background and the SharePoint Snap-in loaded. The PowerShell Snap-in is a PowerShell version 1 object that, when loaded, makes additional functions (or cmdlets) available to call in the current PowerShell session. To do this, simply execute the following:

Add-PSSnapin "Microsoft.SharePoint.PowerShell"

This will allow you to access the SharePoint cmdlets in any PowerShell session. It’s also important to run the PowerShell or SharePoint Management Shell console as administrator as the logged-in user may only have limited access to the SharePoint farm.

Read More…