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What's new for IT professionals in Office SharePoint Server 2007

SharePoint 2007

Updated: November 16, 2006

Applies To: Office SharePoint Server 2007

Updated: 2006-11-16

Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 has many new features and enhancements that can help IT professionals deploy and maintain Office SharePoint Server 2007 solutions. Together, these new features and enhancements provide IT organizations with better control over information resources; individually these new features and enhancements provide functional benefits that help reduce administrative overhead and help IT administrators work more efficiently and effectively. The changes that impact IT organizations and IT professionals the most include:

  • An improved administration model that centralizes configuration and management tasks, and helps IT organizations delineate and delegate administrative roles.

  • New and improved compliance features and capabilities that help organizations secure resources and manage business-critical processes.

  • New and improved operational tools and capabilities that drive down the total cost of ownership (TCO).

  • Improved support for network configuration.

  • Improved extensibility of the object model that makes custom applications and components easier to deploy and manage.

Administration model enhancements

Office SharePoint Server 2007 includes several enhancements to the administration model that help IT organizations implement management plans and perform administrative tasks more effectively and efficiently.

Centralized configuration and management

Office SharePoint Server 2007 now has a centralized configuration and management model, which includes a centralized configuration database and two new services that automatically propagate and synchronize the centrally-stored configuration settings across all of the servers in your server farm. The new configuration and management model allows you to centrally manage your server farm without having to manage farm settings on a server-by-server basis. For example, if you create a Web application on one of your Web servers, the Web application is automatically propagated to all of your Web servers. You no longer have to create and configure individual Web applications on each of your Web servers.

To facilitate this centralized configuration model, Office SharePoint Server 2007 relies on two new and enhanced services: the Windows SharePoint Services Administration service and the Windows SharePoint Services Timer service. The Windows SharePoint Services Timer service acts as the heartbeat for the server farm and is responsible for running timer jobs that propagate configuration settings across a server farm. The Windows SharePoint Services Administration service works hand in hand with the Windows SharePoint Services Timer service and is responsible for carrying out the actual configuration changes on each of the servers in your server farm.

Three-tier administration model

Architecturally, Office SharePoint Server 2007 now has a three-tier administration model that makes it easier for IT organizations to differentiate administrative roles and assign administrative responsibilities.

  • Tier 1   Encompasses all of the administrative features and functionality for centrally managing the server farm. Tier 1 administrative tasks are typically performed by an organization's IT administrators and can include a wide range of tasks such as farm-level resource management tasks, farm-level status checks and monitoring, and farm-level security configuration. For example, a tier 1 administrator might be responsible for creating new Web applications and site collections, managing incoming and outgoing e-mail settings for the farm, and managing server farm topology.

  • Tier 2   Encompasses all of the administrative features and functionality for managing shared services across a server farm. Tier 2 administrative tasks are typically performed by a business unit IT administrator and can include a wide range of management tasks at the service level such as configuring search, indexing, or usage reporting. Tier 2 is relevant only if you are running Office SharePoint Server 2007.

  • Tier 3   Encompasses all of the administrative features and functionality for managing sites within a server farm. Tier 3 administrative tasks are typically performed by a business unit site administrator and can include a wide range of site-specific management tasks such as Web part management, access management, and content management. For example, a tier 3 administrator might be responsible for creating a new list on a site, configuring access permissions for users, and modifying site hierarchy.

Farm-based Central Administration user interface

The SharePoint Central Administration Web pages have been redesigned and reorganized, allowing easier implementation of administrative tasks and procedures. These changes include the following new features:

  • Administrative task list   Shows you the key tasks that need to be done, explains why the actions are needed, and provides a link directly to the SharePoint Central Administration Web page where the task can be performed.

  • Home page topology view   Provides a concise view of the servers that are running in a farm and the services that are running on each server. In addition, Office SharePoint Server 2007 provides a topology validator that examines your server farm topology and reports any inconsistencies or configuration problems.

  • Services on Server Web page   Provides an easy way to manage the services that are running on an individual server.

  • Flat menu structure   The SharePoint Central Administration home page consists of just two top-level navigation pages: an Operations page that lists tasks affecting farm resource usage, and an Application Management page that lists tasks specific to a single application or service within the farm.

Delegation of administrative responsibilities and roles

Because the multi-tier administration model provides a clear delineation of administrative tasks, IT managers can better delegate administrative responsibilities to the appropriate users and administrators within an organization. In addition, delegation capability is further enhanced in Office SharePoint Server 2007 by providing site owners a secure, scalable, and centrally managed set of administrative rights that can be granted to users and site administrators.

New and improved compliance features and capabilities

Office SharePoint Server 2007 includes new and enhanced features that provide IT organizations with better control over information resources. These new and enhanced compliance features include:

Policy management

You can now configure policies for Web applications based on the domain or the server authentication zone. For example, you can create intranet and extranet authentication zones to restrict access to information based on how users access information. You can also use authentication zones to create access control lists (ACLs) that include a group of users from different authentication providers.

Auditing and logging

Auditing and logging can now be configured for all actions on sites, content, and workflows.

Item-level access control

Office SharePoint Server 2007 provides item-level access control and security settings that allow site administrators and IT administrators to control which people or groups have access to sites, document libraries, lists, folders, documents, and list items. In addition to controlling access to Web page content, item-level access also allows administrators to control which user interface (UI) elements are visible or actionable. This feature, known as UI trimming, also reduces Web page clutter and makes Web pages easier to navigate.

Document lifecycle management

Using Office SharePoint Server 2007, you can take advantage of a stable, scalable, and efficient document management system that includes: a specialized Records Repository site template; a records vault with capabilities that help ensure the integrity of the files stored in the repository; information management policies that consistently and uniformly enforce the labeling, auditing, and expiration of records; hold capabilities that make it possible for IT, lawyers, and records managers to apply one or more holds that suspend the records management policies on items to help ensure that they remain unchanged during litigation, audits, or other investigations; records Collection Interface that helps people and automated systems easily submit content to a records repository—supporting "write only" access without requiring direct access to the records in the repository; record routing that enables automated routing of content to its proper location within the records management system, based on its content type.

Administrator access control

Office SharePoint Server 2007 now prohibits IT administrators from viewing site content unless the IT administrator is granted site collection administrator privileges. In addition, an event is written to the Event Viewer application log whenever an IT administrator changes site collection administrator privileges.

New and improved operational tools and capabilities

Office SharePoint Server 2007 includes several new and improved tools and capabilities that help IT organizations implement operational plans and tasks. These features and capabilities include:

Backup and recovery support

Several new and improved features make it easier to perform backup and recovery tasks. A multi-stage recycle bin allows users to retrieve inadvertently deleted documents, reducing dependence on IT departments for document retrieval functions. The recycle bin also allows administrators to manage the lifecycle of deleted items in the recycle bin.

The backup and restore functionality is also enhanced, providing support for Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS), which allows better integration with non-Microsoft backup and recovery programs. In addition, the backup and restore functionality in Office SharePoint Server 2007 allows you to back up and restore the data that is stored in your SQL database, such as your configuration database, content and configuration data for Web applications, and search databases. Also, backup and recovery functionality is provided natively at the command line through the Stsadm command, and it is provided in the user interface.

Upgrade and migration support

The following features have been added to make upgrades faster and easier:

Gradual upgrade support   By performing a gradual upgrade you can gradually upgrade data and functionality from Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server 2003 to Office SharePoint Server 2007 on the same server. This is particularly useful if you are upgrading a complex environment and you do not want to interrupt business processes.

Migration support   Office SharePoint Server 2007 provides support for migrating content. You can migrate content for an entire Web site or you can migrate content on a more granular basis, such as lists and documents. In addition, you can migrate content incrementally. Migration support cannot be used to migrate customized settings, features, solutions, or computer settings; migration support can only be used to migrate content.

Reparenting   This allows you to dynamically rearrange a hierarchy of SharePoint sites and is typically used during a migration.

Monitoring support

Improved instrumentation is provided through Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) management packs. MOM packages support centralized monitoring and management of configurations ranging from single server and small server farms to very large server farms.

Host header mode

Host header mode, a new feature in Office SharePoint Server 2007, allows you to create multiple domain-named sites in a single Web application. With host header mode, you can have host header-based site collections on multiple Web applications, and you can have a mix of path-based and host header-based site collections in the same Web application. You do not need to specify whether you want to use host header site collections when creating the configuration database. Instead, you can now specify whether site collections should be host header-based or path-based when creating the site collection.

Server renaming

Office SharePoint Server 2007 now has the command Stsadm renameserver, which makes it easier to rename your web servers and your back-end database servers. When you run Stsadm renameserver, the configuration database for your farm is updated so that any URLs or references to the old server name are now mapped to the new server name.

Credential management

You can now manage service account credentials, such as the application pool identity for your application pools, through the SharePoint Central Administration site. In addition, when you change the user account under which a service runs, Office SharePoint Server 2007 uses the Windows SharePoint Services Administration service and the Windows SharePoint Services Timer service to stop and start IIS services across your farm so that the credential changes immediately take effect. You can also change just the password for a service account through the command line.

Improved support for network configuration

Office SharePoint Server 2007 includes enhanced support for network configuration, including:

Alternate access mappings

Alternate access mappings (AAM) provides a mechanism for mapping newly-added front-end Web servers to your Web application. For example, if you install and configure Office SharePoint Server 2007 on a single front-end server, and a user browses to your server, the server will render the content that is in your Web application. However, if you add subsequent Web servers to your server farm, the newly-added servers will not have alternate access mappings configured to your Web application.

Pluggable authentication

Office SharePoint Server 2007 adds support for non-Windows-based identity systems by integrating with the pluggable ASP.NET forms authentication system. Microsoft ASP.NET authentication allows Office SharePoint Server 2007 to work with identity management systems that implement the MembershipProvider interface. You do not need to rewrite the security administration pages or manage shadow Active Directory directory service accounts.

SQL Server authentication

In previous versions of Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server, you did not have the ability to bypass Windows authentication and authenticate directly with the SQL Server. Now, in Office SharePoint Server 2007, you can authenticate using SQL Server authentication. This is useful if you are using Office SharePoint Server 2007 in a workgroup environment or an environment that does not use Active Directory directory service.

Extensibility enhancements

Office SharePoint Server 2007 has several extensibility enhancements that make it easier to create custom applications that are well integrated with Office SharePoint Server 2007 features, functionality, and user interface elements.

  • Site definitions have been enhanced so that sites are no longer locked or bound to your original template choice. For example, you can now enhance a document workspace site by using features from a team site.

  • Administration tasks and functionality can be extended to custom applications. For example, if you create a custom database by extending a database that was created by Office SharePoint Server 2007, you can have the custom database automatically appear in the backup and restore user interface.

  • Enhancements to the Windows SharePoint Services Timer service make it easier to create and manage timer jobs that control custom services.

In addition, Office SharePoint Server 2007 hosts the Windows Workflow Foundation, which allows the creation of customized workflow solutions and the use of structured workflows on document library and list items. In conjunction with the Office SharePoint Server 2007 application templates, the Windows Workflow Foundation allows you to create robust workflow-enabled business applications.

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