Blog: Entropy: The Enterprise Problem with SharePoint Management

May 16, 2017 Laurie Douglas

There’s an old saying – “A place for everything, and everything in its’ place.” When you first setup each new SharePoint server, site, library, and list, there’s some level of thought put into the architecting of where specific content should go. And, initially, users follow the design put before them, keeping everything organized and easily found.

However, we all know, over time, while the intent is to have a unified, well though-out environment, enterprise SharePoint environments tend to fall into a state of chaos. Sure, content may very well be placed in the right library, but, over the years, little time is spent on the identification, classification, securing, and disposing of content. So, like its file server predecessor, even mighty SharePoint begins its own journey towards a state of entropy.

It’s not just the content in a state of entropy; IT has its issues as well. Let’s say you assign an Active Directory group rights to a site created two years ago. When was the last time you reviewed both the group’s permissions and membership? For most organizations, the answer can be quarters ago, a year ago, or even never.

As the enterprise SharePoint installation begins to grow into tens of farms and hundreds of servers, and thousands of sites, these environments can no longer be easily managed centrally using native tools. If you don’t have central IT management, it’s likely your SharePoint environment is characterized by words like complex and disparate.

So, how do you regain control over the SharePoint chaos?

There’s a great demonstration of entropy - the dropping of a deck of cards over and over again. That once perfect deck falls into a greater state of disarray with each subsequent drop. In the end, to counteract the entropy, you need to gather the cards and put them back into a neatly stacked deck.

The same goes for SharePoint. Like that spread out, chaotic set of cards, your SharePoint environment is all over the place. So, the answer lies in centralizing the management of SharePoint in a few areas:

  • Visibility – whether you’ve got 10 sites, 10 servers, or 10 farms, IT has little ability to easily see into the security and content across a larger SharePoint environment. What’s needed is a means to document and understand the current state in order to take the first step at reorganizing, re-architecting, and re-securing SharePoint. Without a third-party solution, this will fall to built-in reporting and, more likely, PowerShell to automate much of the work. 
  • Security – This one gets a bit tricky, as one of the major benefits of SharePoint is the distributive nature of managing it. This isn’t about giving Becky in Accounting contribute rights to some document; but it is about establishing and maintaining proper controls so that content remains both accessible and secure.
  • Architecture – It’s possible that you have two separate sites hosting very similar content. With the right visibility to identify this type of scenario, you can migrate and consolidate sites – including both content and security – and help to elevate the productivity of the teams utilizing the data. 
  • Compliance / eDiscovery – With true visibility down to the very content within SharePoint comes a capacity to demonstrate and ensure compliance, as well as improve the speed and accuracy of eDiscovery.

I probably should have named this blog “SharePoint – taking on a life of its own… and how to stop it”, but the how to stop it isn’t something that can be answered in one blog. It’s a commitment to finding ways to centralize all parts of managing SharePoint, establishing governance, policy, and controls – and looking for solutions, like DocAuto’s SPorganizer™, that aid in your fight against entropy. 

 

SPorganizer is a trademark of DocAuto, Inc.

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