IT in the Cloud
I'm writing in response to Jeff James’s IT Pro Perspective column, “Cloud Computing” (January 2009, InstantDoc ID 100943). As a self-employed IT consultant, I’ve discovered that cloud computing can be both a benefit and a hindrance. On the benefit side, I get a lot of use from my Google Docs account while I’m offsite. I have several documents that I need constant access to, and Google Docs has made that possible for me. On the hindrance side, I’m wary of websites that offer offsite backup services simply because if these websites were ever to experience downtime, I would face the inability to retrieve my data. I’m still a fan of offsite storage. However, I perform my offsite storage by making a second copy of my backup to storage media and storing that media at another location.
—Matthew B. Howell
AD Audit Tool or Change Tracker
I just finished reading Jim Turner's "Track Active Directory Changes" (February 2009, InstantDoc ID 100428). The solution is excellent at producing point-in-time snapshots of an environment, but I wouldn't want to rely on it as an audit tool.
In the case of the high-level security-related groups such as Domain Admins and Enterprise Admins, the implementation wouldn't capture a change if a user was added to one of those groups, that new authority was used to perform some action, and then the user was removed from the group. A group-membership "auditing" tool such as this would fail to notice such a change if all the changes occurred in-between executions of the script. You could run the script more often than once a day, but that approach only shortens the window in which a change could be missed.
I find that a more secure method to audit high-level groups such as these involves the auditing ability built in to the Windows OS itself. You can then use a process such as System Center Operations Manager's Audit Collection to consolidate the audit logs to a single location for review.
The intent of my utility is to assist in auditing; it doesn't replace the functionality of a real-time auditing app. My app uses existing tools and doesn't require additional software. It's free and works well for showing changes that occur on a daily basis, as long as you take daily snapshots. If you want real-time auditing, you'll have to pay for that.
SharePoint FAQs Clarified
Michael Otey presents a reasonable set of points in his Top 10 column, “SharePoint FAQs” (March 2009, InstantDoc ID 101148). But I'd like to correct a few inaccuracies.
4. Do I need Microsoft SQL Server to use Sharepoint—Michael writes, “ … SharePoint installs what it calls Windows Internal Database—actually SQL Server 2005 Express—which is free." Michael uses the term "SharePoint" without distinguishing between Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) 3.0 and Microsoft Office Sharepoint Server (MOSS) 2007. Here are the facts: The Windows Internal Database is what you get when you install WSS 3.0 using the Basic Installation (or Advanced Installation plus Single-Server option). It's a version of SQL Server 2005 Express that has no 4GB limit in the size of the databases possible. The equivalent installation of MOSS 2007 doesn't install Windows Internal Database; it installs the standard SQL Server 2005 Express with the 4GB limit.
5. What types of documents does SharePoint allow collaboration on? —Michael's answer suggests that you can store only Office documents in SharePoint, but it is correct in that full functionality is possible only with Office document types (with Office 2007 offering more in connection with SharePoint 3.0 than Office 2003 and so on).
6. Why should I use SharePoint instead of a file share?—The flipside would be, "Why shouldn't I use SharePoint instead of a file share?" The space that a single document takes up when stored in SharePoint as a blob, compared with its size in a file system, is only one of the reasons against this idea(backup times being another). Basically, no one should just dump their entire file system into a SharePoint system.
7. Do I have to program in .NET to develop SharePoint sites? —Michael's point here is valid, but the final sentence is too restrictive. Yes, you can enhance SharePoint's functionality by writing code, but this code doesn't necessarily have to be in the form of Web Parts.
10. What's a good resource for learning more about SharePoint?—Beyond Windows IT Pro's Office & SharePoint Pro website (www.officesharepointpro.com), you'll find many terrific books about SharePoint 3.0. Similarly, Microsoft has a massive amount of mostly well written information on the subject.
Where's the 8th Tip?
The cover of your April 2009 issue blares, “8 Time-Saving IT Tips!” I demand a recount! Is this a hanging-chad thing?
Ummmmm…April Fools? Seriously, we regret our counting error.
—The Editorial Team