Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Upgrade Windows SharePoint Service 2.0 to Windows SharePoint Service 3.0

My initial plan was to describe the process of SharePoint in an easy manner for the newcomers to this technology. But as I was discussing this with one of my friends, he told me to do a post on the upgrade process as many people are into it and doing it. So here is a post about upgrading Windows SharePoint Services 2.0 to Windows SharePoint Services 3.0. I will describe the process in steps. I will occasionally touch some advanced topics in this blog but the ones for newcomers will keep coming. Once I am done with this upgrade process blog post, I will come back right to my initial agenda; the agenda to try to make SharePoint easy for the newcomers.

Different Approaches for Up-Gradation of Windows SharePoint Services
First of all let me tell you about the different ways in which this upgrade can be done. Currently there are three well known ways to do this:

1. In-Place
2. Gradual
3. Database Migration

The first two approaches are carried out on the same machine as the current server. However, for the third approach, database migration, a separate server is required to complete the upgrade process.

Now let us explore all three of these one by one in a bit detail.

The In-Place Approach
Let’s start with the “In-Place” approach. This approach can also be called the ‘overwritten’ method. It is called so as the older version is completely replaced by the newer one. Once this process is complete, the older version cannot be accessed anymore. During this process, the system is said to be ‘offline’.

This upgrade method is suitable for a single server or a small environment. The advantage is that a separate server or a different machine is not required. Also, as soon as the process is completed all the URLs start pointing towards the new upgraded server, Windows SharePoint Services 3.0.

The Gradual Approach
The second in line is the “gradual” upgrade approach. In this method both the Windows SharePoint Services 2.0 and 3.0 run side by side on the same machine. The data is copied from the running SQL Content (original) database to the new SQL Content Database.

While the upgrade process is going on, only those portions would be online that are actually getting backed up at that point in time. The rest will remain available. Like the ‘in-place’ approach, in this approach as well the old URLs will point towards the new server after the upgrade process is complete.

If you choose to follow this approach, you must take care of the storage requirements. Since the whole process is taking place on one machine, disk space is required for the SQL log files.

The good thing about this method is that unlike the “in-process” method, this approach allows you to roll back to the previous state. This approach is best for bigger SharePoint applications. You can keep almost everything online the whole time. Only different portions will become offline as they get up-graded.

The Database Migration Approach
In the third approach, ‘Database Migration’, another machine is required for the upgrade process. All the data does not have to be taken offline at once. Like the ‘Gradual’ approach, only that data will be offline that is being upgrade at that time.

The data needs to be migrated manually; therefore, this is a much more complex approach than the previous two. Like in the ‘Gradual’ approach, the current as well as the new version is maintained side by side. The complexity is introduced only because of the hardware requirements and due to the need to do things manually.

Since we need a different server, we do need to go though the trouble of installing Windows SharePoint Service 3.0 on it. We will copy all database but we do not need to copy the configuration from the 2.0 version. We will configure the new server on the new machine from scratch to version 3.0.

This approach is particularly good for the situation where you are planning to upgrade your hardware as well, along with the Windows Service.

Happy up-grading!
There is no hard and fast rule as to which approach to follow and no verdict that which approach is the best. It all depends on your requirements and you can improvise using the knowledge of all the three approaches that you have.

I personally am in the favor of the ‘Gradual’ approach. This approach requires less hassle than the ‘Database Migration’ approach because we do not need a separate machine. It is slightly complicated than the ‘In-Place’ approach but it provides us with the ability to roll back to the previous state any time we like. And I feel that this provision of roll back is highly beneficial for a novice as well as a seasoned professional.

This was the brief overview of all available approaches to upgrade. In my next posts, I will describe the process in steps.

At the end of this part, I would like to wish all the best to everybody who is about to or is already doing this upgrade process. Happy up-grading!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

How to Setup an environment for MOSS

Whenever somebody needs to get their hands dirty in a new technology, the first thing they need is to create a conducive atmosphere to play in. In technical terms, it is called setting up the ‘environment’. Just like any other technology, it is required to set up the environment for MOSS as well. MOSS 2007 is a powerful toolbox that contains useful tools to conjure up document management and collaboration web sites in less time and less effort.

Is there anybody out there who wants to have a bite of this juicy apple? Anybody who wants to enter and disappear into the enchantment of this marvelous technology. The beginners or newbies to MOSS might first feel a bit intimidated by the apparent complexity and enormity of the application. But be assured that there is no such need to feel afraid. I will guide you from the very basics to the most complex levels. So let’s begin!

MOSS is a server technology, therefore, to run it requires a sever environment. MOSS server runs on Windows Server and the MOSS suite comprises of all the following ingredients.

Take a look at the following list:

a. Microsoft® Windows Server® 2003 R2 Enterprise Edition
b. Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Enterprise Edition
c. Service Pack 1 for Microsoft SQL Server 2005
d. Microsoft Office Professional 2007
e. Microsoft Office SharePoint Designer 2007
f. Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services 3.0
g. Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007
h. Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0
i. Microsoft .NET Framework 3.0

Now wait a minute! Windows Server 2003! But we are usually using the Windows XP platform for doing most of our work. Where to get this Windows 2003 Server? And what about the rest of the long frightening list! Where in the world can these be found!

Seems like a tough job, collecting all of these components, isn’t it? Well no need to fear long lists or big words. All of this is just a piece of cake. Getting the components and using these to set up the environment for MOSS is pretty simple. In later posts you will also see that not only the acquisition of MOSS components and setting up the environment is easy, using these to create useful applications is equally painless. All one needs is to stay focused and committed with the task at hand.

Now to start shooing off your fears let me start with the operating system. Yes, Windows 2003 Server is required to run MOSS, and you might probably be running Windows XP. But not having Windows 2003 Server is not an obstacle. There is a work around. Instead of the actual server operating system, you can use a virtual one.

This can be achieved by downloading and installing the Windows Virtual Server. What you need to do first is click on the following link to download the virtual server:

When the download is complete, run the setup to install this application by following the instructions on the screen. When the installation is completed, a link to a web site will be created in the start menu in Programs. After installation and making the server ready to run SharePoint 2007, you just need to specify paths for MOSS pre-configured Virtual Hard Disk (VHD) and Virtual Hard Disk Configuration (VHC) file.

The question now is that where to get these files from? Again have no fear! Just click on the following 6 links one by one to download the contents.

Make sure all the downloaded files are placed in one folder. The first link will download an exe file and the rest will download rar files. When all the files are downloaded, run the exe file. This will extract the rest of the files. When this is complete you will get a MOSS pre-configured VHD, a VHC, some read me files and some other useful stuff.

Now that all ingredients have been collected, how to combine those to start making things work? Well now just one small step left. You need to go to ADD VIRTUAL MACHINE in your virtual server and specify the path for the newly acquired VHD and VHC files.

Done with that, your virtual server will be "all set" to run Share Point Server 2007. Take a look at he screen shot.

So you have witnessed it yourself that there was nothing to it. You got the components and set up the environment for MOSS all by yourself. Good job!