Azure SharePoint farm a great option for Developer

Now, for the first time ever from Microsoft, a new SharePoint farmstead on the framework from scratch is simply a few clicks away. This is symbolic in two ways, one, Microsoft is showing renewed commitment to an on-premise flavor of the platform. Two, for those who ever wanted their own SharePoint 2013 farm in the cloud in an easy and affordable manner, this is a great new option which was not available in the past.

There are two main options with Azure:

1. SP Farm (non-HA), with one DC or Domain Controller, single SQL server and a single SP server.

2. SharePoint farm (HA),with two DCs, a SQL AlwaysOn setup of a couple of SQL servers plus one File Share witness, and four SP servers.

In the simple farmstead set up, Azure will ask questions around what one wants to set up. It enables one to pick a domain name, serve account setting, size of servers and more. Upon clicking on the ‘create’ button, it would kick off the process to build a farm. This could take about two hours to complete. In the cloud platform wizard, it would ask for two accounts to set up, the farm account and setup account.

Azure SharePoint

The wizard is nice enough to provision a second disk on the SP server. However, it does not actually put any files there. It requires manually moving the ULS log files and anything else one desires to the disk. When walking through the wizard, there is no option to move the Central Admin to a set port. Rather, the Central Admin gets provisioned on a random port, which is also the platform default, even though most people put it on a set port. Moreover, the Central Admin will get assigned to a public EndPoint in Azure so it is externally published without HTTPS. It is highly recommended to delete the EndPoint as soon as the farmstead is provisioned in order to make a more secure environment.

When building Virtual Machines, one is no able to choose Any Options from the agent. Microsoft turns on the BG information and Custom Script Extensions by default. However, if one wants to add any further extensions, it has to be manually done after provisioning the VMs. By default, WinRM is enabled for all virtual machines and assigned a public EndPoint. This is the default selection when creating a VM in Azure. However, it is a fairly common best practice to deselect it in order to close off the security hole. As there is no option to deselect this before the VMs are provisioned, it should be turned off manually after creating the virtual machines.

When checking out how the platform references the SQL Server, it is not using a Structured Query Language Server Alias or DNS Alias. One could have difficulty scaling the host out without this, thus, one should be cautious of the setup if scaling out is required in the future. The SQL data files and log files are on separate disks. This appears great, from the performance perspective, but not from the support viewpoint. Having the log files and data for any given database on separate disks is not supported and may lead to corruption of the data in case there is an issue with the Azure Storage Geo-Replication.

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SharePoint development has so many components that should be learned and understood

It is important for a developer to set up a SharePoint environment when attempting to do SharePoint development. Being a massive software with many elements, SharePoint is not easy to manage, thus SharePoint developers need all the best practices to succeed. Developing SharePoint solutions could involve a large number of related aspects.

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With SharePoint development, a design pattern approach is important. The design pattern is not only for implementation of code but also solves real life problems. The most common design patterns for the platform include the Repository, Model-View-Presenter, The Trusted Façade Pattern and Service Locator. SharePoint makes it easy to synchronize, store and share important content. A lot of SharePoint developers walk through the SharePoint environment unaware of the unfamiliar and interesting journey of discovery that awaits them. Often, it is hard to determine where to start.

Many developers not known about strange and interesting journey of discovery they’re about to begin. The following are some of the vital factors of the SharePoint platform that developers should learn.

1. It is vital to get to know one’s editions for when looking for solutions because there are times when a developer could come across those that are edition specific.

2. Looking at the database is discouraged because of two good reasons. First, Microsoft is very touch with regards to database and would not support any installation with software that modifies the SharePoint database. Second, the structured could give a lot of headaches.

3. It is important to have a good understanding of the front-end. It would give a good feel for a website design and thus what kind of layout users would want to see. Most of the actions done in a code would correlate to actions in the front-end and the structure as well.

4. Some SharePoint objects would not dispose automatically by themselves when no longer used. Disposing objects is the solution for this. However, it is not always advisable to dispose these objects all the time.

5. With the huge amount of SharePoint-specific terminology, which some could be misleading and inconsistent, learning the language is of vital importance.

6. A good book or reference is definitely more useful compared to a huge glossary when it comes to getting to know the SharePoint components. It is of utmost importance then to get an overview of all the components to avoid reinventing the wheel inadvertently.

7. A developer should find a suitable SharePoint Community to help expand SharePoint knowledge in general.

8. Learning to live with CAML or Collaborative Application Markup Language is another important factor. It affirms that flexibility is priority over usability.

9. It is important for a SharePoint developer to keep in mind that the platform is enormous. Moreover, it is a mind boggling framework with dark sides that even some SharePoint development teams have not checked out in years.

Every developer should also keep in mind that there is a lot to learn with the platform and some things one could never know. Having a good overview of the SharePoint components is essential. The various customizable components also means there is almost always more than a single solution to a problem. The first challenge with SharePoint is in discovering the presence of all the items that a developer does not understand yet. As soon as a developer gets a vague idea of all the components, then it is time to begin learning what each and every component is all about.