Deep Dive Into Microsoft Azure

Please click on below URL, where I have written an article about Deep Dive Into Microsoft Azure.

Deep Dive Into Microsoft Azure

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Error while creating web application in SharePoint 2013

Today, while creating a web application from central administration in SharePoint 2013, I came across an interesting issue, as it was not allowing me to create the web application and was giving the below error, although logged-in as System Account.

Error:  “The password supplied with the username <domain> was not correct. Verify that it was entered correctly and try again”.

After this, I contacted the IT Team and came to know that they changed the admin password recently.

Solution : Run the following command in SharePoint 2013 Management Shell (to update the Farm credentials) and it will resolve the issue. Also, make sure that all the services running on the server (services.msc) with the admin account must be updated with the new password.

stsadm –o updatefarmcredentials –userlogin DOMAIN\username –password <password>

Selecting an Enterprise Content Management (CMS) – Part 2

In continuation to my previous article on – “Selecting a Content Management System that supports Your Business”, I thought of writing this article on selecting an Enterprise CMS. Now days, Mobile, Big Data and E-Commerce are causing drastic changes in the business landscape and all those companies who ignored their online presence are at the risk of losing customers and revenue. That is why many companies are looking to invest in Content Management Systems.

In my view, the business objective is to extend the reach and engagement of the customers, and the system must be secure and flexible enough to cater to the changing business needs.

In this article, I have tried to explain the following key considerations while choosing a Content Management System:-

  1. Enterprise hosting
  2. Security
  3. Performance
  4. Scalability

Hosting Environment

When it comes to configuring your hosting environment, there are many options and possibilities depending on number of expected visitors during peak traffic loads, application size in terms of number of pages and content items, business logic computations, security considerations, the business cost of application downtime, etc.

There can be scenarios where a single machine hosts many websites and the same machine runs both the web application and the database. However, this type of configuration is more suitable for development environments and not recommended for production environments.

The more available RAM for the SQL Server, the better your website will perform. That is because you will have more memory available for data caching. It is a good idea to use multiple high-speed hard drives for the database server. Dedicate one drive to store database logs, another for data files, another for temporary storage (e.g. tempdb) and another for the server operating system. One of those hard disks can be used to store regular backups of the database or it can be dedicated to backup storage. Note that those are just performance optimization tips for the SQL Server. You can start with a common hard drive for everything, and then offset the load on different hard drives for better I/O of the server as database size and number of queries grow.

Load-Balanced Environment

If you are having two or more web application servers, it is always recommended to host these servers in a load-balanced environment with one dedicated database server and a second one on standby in a failover configuration. This configuration provides better performance during peak traffic load times and eliminates the single point of failure on your application and database servers.

It is also possible to achieve a highly available and scalable environment by eliminating all single points of failure, including the load balancer. The recommended practices are-

  1. Always store the code base on a distributed file system.
  2. Use load balancers and firewalls configured in High-Availability mode (Active/Passive)
  3. Configure output and client-side caching
  4. Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN) for static content and cache everything on the CDN’s front edge servers.

Security

Security is the major concern that needs to be taken into account as it covers the software, environment, people and processes. The focus must be given on data and application security and no organization can compromise on these concerns. The recommended practices are-

  1. Check for Authentication and Single Sign-0n (SSO) mechanism of the CMS
  2. Check for the compliance of the CMS with the industry standards (For E.g. – Compliance with FIPS – Federal Information Processing Standards)
  3. Check for common threats (For E.g. – OWASP threats) that whether the CMS is capable enough to address these types of security threats.

Performance

Users have ever-increasing expectations about browsing speed. Performance is a critical responsibility shared by the application, the hardware, the developers and the administrators. Hitting load-time goals at the desired millisecond level can only be achieved with alignment between software features, optimization best practices and the right hosting solution.

A content management system is at the centre of this entire process. Your CMS must enable developers to gain full control over how the HTML, CSS and JavaScript are handled, provide configuration options to administrators at the granular level, and facilitate caching at scale and expose APIs and mechanisms that align any custom development with the core framework.

The challenge is to achieve a very dynamic content management in the backend, while appearing static to visitors, regardless of the scale of content, users or hardware.

The CMS that you selected must provide the following:-

  1. Rich configuration options for browser and output caching.
  2. Sophisticated content-aware cache invalidation mechanisms.
  3. Tight integrations with various storage cloud providers.
  4. Scalability to cater hundreds of concurrent users.

Scalability

It is not uncommon for a business to have to scale to thousands of users, and while this is a good problem to have, it usually requires thinking in terms of scaling up with hardware, which should not break your bank if you have the right software optimizations in place.

Having the right load balancing support is crucial to meeting those scalability demands—and load balancing is not only responsible for routing different people to different servers. Its main, yet very subtle, responsibility is to provide the integrity of content and sessions regardless of how the load-balancer distributes the requests.

The selected CMS should take care of output cache synchronization and should support various hardware devices and software frameworks.

An important aspect of large-scale projects is to separate the staging servers from the production servers and enabling content authors to prepare and synchronize content on an as-needed basis, usually in low traffic time-frames.

At last, I want to mention that the CMS, which you have chosen for your organization, must adheres to the above basic considerations.

SharePoint Design Manager – Add an App Page Issue

Recently, I was working on creating a custom master page for Office 365 Application (SharePoint Online). I created Site and System Master Pages using Design Manager and customized as per the business requirements.

Issue – It was very interesting to see that when you create a custom master page using Design Manager, the “Add an App” Page will not show the complete list of apps or will not allow you to add the apps. Sometimes, you will see “Noteworthy” apps only or “Working on it” message.

How to Fix this issue:-

Make sure your master page includes the following placeholders and that each of them is not set to Visible=False. However, if you have implemented custom breadcrumb, you might need to hide any of the particular placeholders. For that, include a HTML element like <div> and apply the “style=display:none”, as shown below:-

  • DeltaPlaceHolderLeftNavBar
  • PlaceHolderLeftNavBar
  • DeltaPlaceHolderPageTitleInTitleArea
  • PlaceHolderPageTitleInTitleArea

Once I added the above highlighted code-snippet in system master page file, the Apps you can add started showing up again. 🙂

Hope this helps SharePoint developers 🙂

Selecting a Content Management System that supports your Business

Recently, one of the customer asked for a Content Management System (CMS), and being a SharePoint developer and consultant, I proposed SharePoint Server as CMS. Afterwards, by analysing different CMS in the market, I thought of writing this article and will focus mainly on a CMS named – “Sitefinity” (http://www.sitefinity.com/).

Why Invest in a CMS?

Before deciding to buy a Content Management System (CMS), you want to get a clear idea of how a new platform will support your business goals. What kind of technology do you need to look for? Moreover, is it possible to predict what will work and what will not in a year?

What to look for

The key parameters that I think should be taken into consideration when choosing a CMS are-

  1. Managing experiences
  2. Extensibility and integration with key business systems
  3. Costs and pricing models
  4. Multi-device strategies
  5. Content creation and multi-channel publishing
  6. Governance and reporting tools

Managing experiences

Questions to consider:-

  1. What does my customer journey look like and where are the digital touchpoints?
  2. How does the CMS support personalization?
  3. How does the CMS support content through multiple channels?
  4. How does the CMS allow me to track and report user behaviour?
  5. How will the CMS become an asset in my overall customer experience management?

Extensibility and integration with key business systems

Questions to consider:-

  1. Is the CMS designed to integrate out of the box?
  2. Is it possible to integrate user data with analytics from other platforms?
  3. How often will I need to update and integrate with new applications?
  4. How often will I need to update functionalities?
  5. Which business systems do I need to integrate with?
  6. How many of my required functionalities are standard in the CMS?
  7. Will I have the support of in-house developers or will I need to buy outside help when integrating or developing? 

Costs and pricing models

Questions to consider:-

  1. What is the total cost of ownership, including licences, support, development, hosting?
  2. Does the license scale with additional servers without adding extra cost?
  3. What is the cost of upgrades and if applicable new modules?
  4. What will it cost you to maintain and support your mobile endeavours.
  5. What kind of licensing model will fit your organization


Multi-device strategies

While deciding for multiple devices, the first and foremost should be always mobile and tablets. Start with implementing the mobile touchpoints where you gain the most. When looking at a new enterprise CMS, look at how it can support customer experience management with respect to mobile. You want to look at whether the backend allows you to track, assess, develop, test and preview on multiple devices.

Content creation and multi-channel publishing

Questions to consider:-

  1. How user-friendly is the dashboard?
  2. How easy is it to create new content?
  3. Can you manage the customer journey?
  4. How easily can the content be reused and published in multiple channels? 

Governance and reporting tools

Questions to consider:-

  1. How user-friendly is the dashboard?
  2. How seamless is the back-end user experience?
  3. Can you set up user administration that fits your organization?
  4. What kind of workflows can you set up?
  5. Is the CMS born with quality management and reporting tools, or does it integrate easily with third party tools?

Summary: I would suggest the following steps, which needs to be followed before buying a CMS:-

  1. Define goals and strategies
  2. Define your business case
  3. Know your data or content
  4. Talk to your users
  5. Organisation and governance
  6. Resources
  7. Requirements

 About Sitefinity

Sitefinity is a Web Content Management System (Licensed, free for a limited time) of the company Telerik. It is much like SharePoint Server and having almost all the features required for a content management system.

Below are some of the important links for Sitefinity:-

  1. Sitefinity Support – http://www.telerik.com/support/sitefinity
  2. Sitefinity System Requirements – http://www.sitefinity.com/resources/system-requirements

If you will download the free trial, you will be given a Project Manager called “Sitefinity CMS Project Manager” in which you can create multiple projects or applications.

 

In addition, for custom development, Sitefinity provides an addin called “Sitefinity Thunder” which will be added in Visual Studio:-