Article written by Tamer Maher El-Sharkawy, a Premier Field engineer based in the US.


Microsoft SharePoint Products and Technologies are increasingly used to store business-critical data, and are also used as a development platform for business-critical applications. A poorly functioning SharePoint environment increases the burden on your administrators and lowers the productivity of your users, thus causing significant impact to your business.

If you are in the business of making the most return on investment in every technology you manage, you probably have some of all of the following questions on your mind:

  • What are some or all of the top Microsoft recommended best practices that will keep my environment healthy?
  • I do not want to endure break/fixes, reduced uptimes and post mortems, how do I take a preventive approach to operating my SharePoint Environment?
  • Wondering how do others do it and what type of issues are they running into?
  • How do others get their issues resolved?
  • Ever found yourself jumping server to server to look at the event logs?
  • Or trying to figure out a performance problem and wanting to initiate performance monitor log which takes a lot of time?

If all these questions are on your mind; there is a way to answer all these questions and more; better yet how do you like to be able to have a tool proactively examine your environment for you or have a Microsoft Premier Field Engineer proactively examine your SharePoint Farm, Provide you with mitigation options and help you do the same. Basically the SPRAP is an exclusive Microsoft Premier Customers service and a toolset that you end up owning for the subsequent 18 month from the date when a Premier Field Engineer works with you on proactively investigating your SharePoint farm and crafts a remediation plan to keep you server farm healthy and performing.

With the SPRAP toolset you can pull the aggregate events and performance data from all servers into a unified view in a matter of seconds instead of jumping server to server trying to figure out a possible root cause of a performance problem. This is exactly the empowerment the SPRAP gives you combined with the cross reference analysis and remediation planning by a trained and Accredited Microsoft Engineer.

You are probably wondering! So what does this SPARP look for? And how is it going to help me? It is actually brilliant where the toolset allows you to initiate test cases covering your SharePoint Environment from SQL Configuration and recommended best practices to SharePoint topology, health, performance data and even best practices when it comes to managing custom solutions.

As an Accredited Microsoft Premier Field Engineer who delivers SPRAPs also handles some of the most complex customer reactive; I can tell you this is what my customers Rave about the most for the simple fact that the SPRAP proactive automated testing of a given SharePoint environment most customers are able to mitigate issues before they become problems and break/fix support cases.

Here Some examples of what you can discover and get help mitigated by the SPRAP service, toolset and the accredited Premier Field Engineer:

SharePoint Products and Technologies Customizations

Operations

Disaster Recovery

  • Custom and third-party web parts
  • Site definitions
  • Best practices for customizing/coding against SharePoint Products and Technologies
  • Server Health and Risks
  • Monitoring
  • Change control
  • Patching procedures
  • SharePoint Products and Technologies Configuration
  • Adherence to capacity planning guidelines
  • Search configuration
  • Configuration of webs and web applications
  • Service packs and cumulative updates
  • Related SQL Server/ Internet Information Services (IIS) configuration
  • Backup/restore best practices
  • Recovery procedures, from farm level to item level
  • Security
  • Security hotfixes
  • Antivirus
  • Service accounts
  • Performance
  • Web interfaces
  • Application servers
  • Database servers

Wondering what the top worldwide issues we find are?

Technical Findings:

  • Windows Critical security updates are missing
  • Event ID 3355: Cannot connect to SQL Server
  • Event ID 5214: Insufficient SQL Server database permissions
  • Event ID 2158: An Error event occurred a number of times and was suppressed in the event log
  • Event ID 3351: SQL Server database login failed
  • Event ID 1021: The identity of the application pool is invalid
  • Event ID 5021: The identity of an application pool is invalid
  • Event ID 10040: The last query machine has been taken out of rotation
  • Event ID 5002: The application pool has been automatically disabled because of a series of failures in the processes serving that application pool
  • Event ID 4127: Office SharePoint Server Search (OSearch) service could not load the index
  • Event ID 1002: The application pool has been automatically disabled because of a series of failures in the processes serving that application pool
  • Event ID 4972: A SharePoint database is set to the wrong SQL Server collation
  • Event ID 1036: Lack of Registry permissions caused a failure while initializing the configuration manager for the World Wide Web Publishing Service
  • Disk Read/Write Latencies in excess of 25 MS.
  • Memory Leaks Detected
  • Orphan Objects Detected in Databases

Best Practices and Operational Findings:

The organization does not have service continuity plans in place that can be performed by any member of the IT staff

  • The organization does not have defined Operating Level Agreements (OLAs) between dependent IT units
  • The organization does not have documented Service Level Agreements (SLAs) for the service
  • The organization has not implemented management packs or guides to monitor the service environment
  • The organization does not have a formal release management process
  • The organization does not report on operating activities
  • No antivirus plug-in exists on an intranet/extranet-facing farm
  • The organization does not have a change management process
  • The organization does not have a formal backup and restore process
  • The organization does not have a formal Incident Management Process
  • A recent crawl ran for longer than 4 weeks
  • No antivirus plug-in exists on an extranet-facing farm
  • Office SharePoint Server Service Pack 2 is not installed
  • Windows SharePoint Services Service Pack 2 is not installed
  • Windows Server 2003 Guests on R2 with Synthetic Network Adapters
  • Unsupported geographically dispersed environment
  • The 'allow users to download infected documents' antivirus setting is enabled
  • Office SharePoint Server Service Pack 1 is not installed
  • The SQL Server Configuration setting, xp_cmdshell, is enabled and not restricted to sysadmin group members
  • Windows SharePoint Services Service Pack 1 is not installed

For more information on the SPRAP service and toolset, contact your Technical Account Manager:

Stay SharePoint Awesome!