Saturday, July 17, 2010

Auto Provisioning, the next step in SharePoint

The thing that makes SharePoint great is the way it was built (yes – that narrows it down!). It was built for the business users (not developers), to have sufficient control and power to create their own web space, that will assist them in achieving their business goal.



Before SharePoint, we had two extremes when providing a business user with an application or web space to achieve their business goals.


On one side we have business users requesting an application from the IT department, resources were eventually allocation and the SDLC begins, a solution is provided about a month or so later.  This application had its own database, little to no integration with other systems, its own security component, meaning another set of usernames and passwords the business users need to remember, and its own unique look and feel.


On the other side, the business user will create an application themselves via Excel or Microsoft Access.  The solution will be available quickly but the solution will be stored on business users workstation. The IT department may have no knowledge of this application, and even if they did, they will have a limited skill set in maintaining the solution. This application will not be backed up and will only be accessible when the business user’s machine is on. 


So a big thank you goes to SharePoint, with this product, the IT department has an environment that is easily maintained and governed. If a business user require a feature/reporting tool/web space, the people in IT can select an appropriate template, create the site and give the business user sufficient privileges.  Business users do not need to memorise new login credentials, that sub-site is automatically added to the existing maintenance plan and it can easily integrate with other systems. You are now getting the advantages of using both extremes mentioned above.


Now lets add "Auto Provisioning" into the mix, with auto provisioning, sites are created quicker, governance rules are still followed, and no human intervention is required.

Thanks to SharePoint workflows and event handlers, sites can be created in code. Not only that, governance rules can be applied to the site via code. So things like themes, site quotas and permissions can all be automatically implemented without the need of getting someone from the IT department.


So what does this mean? It means that a business user, who requires a feature, can fill in a form and select a template that most closely fits their requirements, they submit the form and two seconds later the site is created, skinned and ready for use with governance rules, like site quotas, already in place.

Its magical, people in IT can now focus on more important things like improving processes, learning new technology and keeping the movie server up to date.

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