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X1 Search: A Unified Single Pane of Glass

May 26, 2015

I read “X1’s Microsoft Enterprise Search Strategy: Better Than Microsoft’s?

Here’s the passage I noted:

Providing one single pane of glass to a business worker’s most critical information assets is key. Requiring end-users to search Outlook for email in one interface, then log into another to search SharePoint, and then another to search for document and OneDrive is a non-starter. A single interface to search for information, no matter where it lives fits the workflow that business workers require.

The write up points out that X1 starts with an “end user’s email and files.” That’s fine, but there are other data types to which an end user requires access.

My reaction was these questions and the answers thereto:

  • What about video?
  • What about drafts of financial data or patent applications and other content centric documents in perpetual draft form?
  • What about images?
  • What about third party content downloaded by a user to a local or shared drive?
  • What about Excel files used as text documents and Excel documents with data and generic column names?
  • What about versions?
  • What about time and data flags versus the time and date information within a content object?
  • What about SMS messages?
  • What information is related to other information; for example, an offer of employment to a former employee?
  • What about employee health, salary, and performance information?
  • What about intercepted data from watched insiders using NGIA tools?
  • What about geo-plotted results based on inputs from the organization’s tracking devices on delivery vans and similar geo systems?

My point is that SharePoint represents a huge market to search and content processing vendors. The generalizations about what a third party system can do boggle my mind. Vendors as a rule do not focus on the content issues my questions probe. There are good reasons for the emphasis on email and experiences. Tackling substantive findability issues within an organization is just not what most SharePoint search alternatives do.

Not surprisingly, for certain types of use cases, SharePoint search remains a bit of a challenge regardless what system is deployed into a somewhat chaotic sea of code, functions, and components.

A unified single pane of glass is redundant. Solutions to the challenges of SharePoint may deserve this type of remediation because vendors have been tilting at the SharePoint windmill in a highly repetitive way for more than a decade. And to what end? For many, SharePoint information access remains opaque, cloudy, and dark.

Stephen E Arnold, May 26, 2015

SharePoint Server 2016 Brings Along Deprecated Software

May 26, 2015

As SharePoint Server 2016 gets closer to a release date, experts turn their attention to its various components. Along with those that are getting an update to accompany the new release, there are several pieces of deprecated software that will come along for the ride. Read the details in the Redmond Magazine article, “SharePoint Server 2016 To Rely on Some ‘Deprecated’ Software.”

The article begins:

“SharePoint Server 2016 will arrive with a deprecated InfoPath 2013 forms creation technology. In addition SharePoint Server 2016 will require Windows Server AppFabric 1.1, which also is being deprecated. Per Microsoft’s definition, ‘deprecated’ software can continue to work. It doesn’t exactly mean that the software is dead product. It just means that Microsoft won’t perform any further development work on it.”

Keep an eye on these and other components that may cause a hiccup at the time of upgrade, or further down the road. Also, stay tuned to ArnoldIT.com for workarounds, tips, and tricks to help ease the transition to Server 2016. Stephen E. Arnold is a longtime leader in search and an interested party in SharePoint. His SharePoint feed is a concise and professional rundown of need-to-know information.

Emily Rae Aldridge, May 26, 2015

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

 

Long-term Plans for SharePoint

May 21, 2015

Through all the iterations of SharePoint, it seems that Microsoft has wised up and is finally giving customers more of what they want. The release of SharePoint Server 2016 shows a shift back toward on-premises installations, and yet there will still be functions supported through the cloud. This new hybrid emphasis provides a third pathway through which users are experiencing SharePoint. The CMS Wire article, “3 SharePoint Paths for the Next 10 Years,” covers all the details.

The article begins:

“Microsoft Office 365 has proven to be a major disruption of how companies use SharePoint to meet business requirements. Rumors, fear, uncertainty and doubt proliferate around Microsoft’s plans for SharePoint’s future releases, as well as the support of critical features and functionality companies rely on . . . So, taking into account Office 365, the question is: How will companies be using SharePoint over the next 10 years?”

Stephen E. Arnold of ArnoldIT.com is a leader in SharePoint, with a lifelong career in search. His SharePoint feed is a great resource for users and managers alike, or anyone who needs to keep on top of the latest developments. It may be that the hybrid solution is a way to keep on-premises users happy while they still benefit from the latest cloud functions like Delve and OneDrive.

Emily Rae Aldridge, May 21, 2015

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Hybrid Is Essential to SharePoint 2016

May 19, 2015

It looks like SharePoint is planning to bring the cloud to its SharePoint Server 2016 users at critical points, rather than forcing them to go “all cloud.” This technique allows Microsoft to continue with the cloud-based services that they have invested in, while improving the on-premises experience that users are demanding. ZDNet covers the whole story in their article, “Microsoft’s SharePoint 2016: What’s Hybrid Got to do With It?

The article sums up the much talked about hybrid approach:

“Though it will run on top of Windows Server 2016 R2 and/or Windows Server 2016, SharePoint 2016 will include support for what Microsoft calls ‘cloud-accelerated experiences,’ meaning new hybrid scenarios . . . Instead of trying to push all SharePoint users and all SharePoint workloads to the cloud, Microsoft is acknowledging there are some reasons (compliance among them) that not all data can or should be in SharePoint Online. That said, Microsoft wants to enable its SharePoint users to get at their data wherever it’s stored.”

Stephen E. Arnold is a lifelong leader in search and a long-time expert in SharePoint. He keeps managers and users updated on the latest SharePoint news through his Web service ArnoldIT.com. All eyes should stay peeled for continuing developments, as users get closer to seeing a public release of SharePoint Server 2016.

Emily Rae Aldridge, May 19, 2015

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

The Latest SharePoint News from Ignite

May 14, 2015

The Ignite conference in Chicago has answered many of the questions that SharePoint users have been curious about for months now. Among them was the question of release timing and features for the latest iteration of SharePoint. CMS Wire gives a rundown in their article, “What’s Up With SharePoint? #MSIgnite.”

The article sums up the biggest news:

“Microsoft will continue to enhance the core offerings in the on-premises edition. It will also continue to develop SharePoint Online and update it as quickly as the updates are available. A preview version of SharePoint 2016 will be made available later this summer, with a beta version expected by the end of the year . . . In an afternoon session entitled Evolution of SharePoint Overview and Roadmap, the duo gave a rough outline of Microsoft’s plans, albeit without precise delivery dates.”

Having had to push back delivery dates once already, Microsoft is likely hesitant to announce anything solid until development is final. As far as qualities for the new version, Microsoft is focusing on: user experience, extensibility, and SharePoint management. The inclusion of user experience should be a welcome change for many. To stay in touch with developments as they become available, keep an eye on ArnoldIT.com, and particularly his feed devoted to SharePoint. Stephen E. Arnold has made a lifelong career out of all things search, and he has a knack for distilling down the “need to know” facts to keep an organization on track.

Emily Rae Aldridge, May 14, 2015

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

SharePoint Server 2016 Details Released

May 12, 2015

Some details about the rollout of SharePoint Server 2016 were revealed at the much-anticipated Ignite event in Chicago last week. Microsoft now commits to being on track with the project, making a public beta available in fourth quarter of this year, and “release candidate” and “general availability” versions to follow. Read more in the Redmond Magazine article, “SharePoint Server 2016 Roadmap Highlighted at Ignite Event.”

The article addresses the tension between cloud and on-premises versions:

“While Microsoft has been developing the product based on its cloud learnings, namely SharePoint Online as part of its Office 365 services, those cloud-inspired features eventually will make their way back into the server product. The capabilities that don’t make it into the server will be offered as Office 365 services that can be leveraged by premises-based systems.”

It appears that the delayed timeline may be a “worst case scenario” measure, and that the release could happen earlier. After all, it is better for customers to be prepared for the worst and be pleasantly surprised. To stay in touch with the latest news regarding features and timeline, keep an eye on ArnoldIT.com, specifically the SharePoint feed. Stephen E. Arnold is a longtime leader in search and serves as a great resource for individuals who need access to the latest SharePoint news at a glance.

Emily Rae Aldridge, May 12, 2015

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

The Dichotomy of SharePoint Migration

May 7, 2015

SharePoint Online gets good reviews, but only from critics and those who are utilizing SharePoint for the first time. Those who are sitting on huge on-premises installations are dreading the move and biding their time. It is definitely an issue stemming from trying to be all things to all people. Search Content Management covers the issue in their article, “Migrating to SharePoint Online is a Tale of Two Realities.”

The article begins:

“Microsoft is paving the way for a future that is all about cloud computing and mobility, but it may have to drag some SharePoint users there kicking and screaming. SharePoint enables document sharing, editing, version control and other collaboration features by creating a central location in which to share and save files. But SharePoint users aren’t ready — or enthused about — migrating to . . . SharePoint Online. According to a Radicati Group survey, only 23% of respondents have deployed SharePoint Online, compared with 77% that have on-premises SharePoint 2013.”

If you need to keep up with how SharePoint Online may affect your organization’s installation, or the best ways to adapt, keep an eye on ArnoldIT.com. Stephen E. Arnold is a longtime leader in search and distills the latest tips, tricks, and news on his dedicated SharePoint feed. SharePoint Online is definitely the future of SharePoint, but it cannot afford to get there at the cost of its past users.

Emily Rae Aldridge, May 7, 2015

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

 

Survival of SharePoint and the Big Bang Theory

May 5, 2015

The ebb and flow of SharePoint expansion and contraction can be described as a “big bang theory” of sorts. This cyclical pattern can be seen in many businesses, but Redmond Magazine helps readers see the cycle in SharePoint. Read more in their article, “The SharePoint Big Bang Theory.”

The article sums up the illustration:

“As Microsoft added capabilities to SharePoint over the years, and provided the flexibility to configure or customize its features to meet just about any business requirement, the success of the platform exploded . . . End users and administrators alike started thinking about their information architecture and information governance policies. Companies . . . began consolidating their efforts, and started to move their businesses toward a more structured content management strategy . . . [then] the rise of the enterprise social networks (ESNs) and cloud-based file sharing solutions have had (are having) a contracting effect on those intranet and structured collaboration plans. Suddenly end users seem to be totally in charge.”

There’s no doubt that SharePoint has learned to weather the turbulent changes of the last twenty years. In some ways, their adaptability is to be applauded. And yet, most users know the platform is not perfect. To stay attuned to what the next twenty years will bring, keep an eye on ArnoldIT.com. Stephen E. Arnold has made a career of out reporting on all things search, and his dedicated SharePoint feed distills the information down into an easily digestible platform.

Emily Rae Aldridge, May 5, 2015

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Hoping to End Enterprise Search Inaccuracies

May 1, 2015

Enterprise search is limited to how well users tag their content and the preloaded taxonomies.  According Tech Target’s Search Content Management blog, text analytics might be the key to turning around poor enterprise search performance: “How Analytics Engines Could Finally-Relieve Enterprise Pain.”  Text analytics turns out to only be part of the solution.  Someone had the brilliant idea to use text analytics to classification issues in enterprise search, making search reactive to user input to proactive to search queries.

In general, analytics search engines work like this:

“The first is that analytics engines don’t create two buckets of content, where the goal is to identify documents that are deemed responsive. Instead, analytics engines identify documents that fall into each category and apply the respective metadata tags to the documents.  Second, people don’t use these engines to search for content. The engines apply metadata to documents to allow search engines to find the correct information when people search for it. Text analytics provides the correct metadata to finally make search work within the enterprise.”

Supposedly, they are fixing the tagging issue by removing the biggest cause for error: humans. Microsoft caught onto how much this could generate profit, so they purchased Equivio in 2014 and integrated the FAST Search platform into SharePoint.  Since Microsoft is doing it, every other tech company will copy and paste their actions in time.  Enterprise search is gull of faults, but it has improved greatly.  Big data trends have improved search quality, but tagging continues to be an issue.  Text analytics search engines will probably be the newest big data field for development. Hint for developers: work on an analytics search product, launch it, and then it might be bought out.

Whitney Grace, May 1 2015
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

BA Insight: More Auto Classification for SharePoint

April 30, 2015

I thought automatic indexing and classifying of content was a slam dunk. One could download Elastic and Carrot2 or just use Microsoft’s tools to whip up a way to put accounting tags on accounting documents, and planning on strategic management documents.

There are a number of SharePoint centric “automated solutions” available, and now there is one more.

I noticed on the BA Insight Web site this page:

image

There was some rah rah in US and Australian publications. But the big point is that either SharePoint administrators have a problem that existing solutions cannot solve or the competitors’ solutions don’t work particularly well.

My hunch is that automatic indexing and classifying in a wonky SharePoint set up is a challenge. The indexing can be done by humans and be terrible. Alternatively, the tagging can be done by an automated system and be terrible.

The issues range from entity resolution (remember the different spellings of Al Qaeda) to “drift.” In my lingo, “drift” means that the starting point for automated indexing just wanders as more content flows through the system and the administrator does not provide the time consuming and often expensive tweaking to get the indexing back on track.

There are smarter systems than some of those marketed to the struggling SharePoint licensees. I profile a number of NGIA systems in my new monograph CyberOSINT: Next Generation Information Access.

The SharePoint folks are not featured in my study because the demands of real time, multi lingual, real time content processing do not work with solutions from more traditional vendors.

On any given day, I am asked to sit through Webinars about concepts, semantics, and classification. If these solutions worked, the market for SharePoint add in would begin to coalesce.

So far, dealing with the exciting world of SharePoint content processing remains a work very much in progress.

Stephen E Arnold, April 30, 2015

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