My decision to join AIS six years ago was a revelation. After almost seven years spent working as an embedded IT analyst for various government customers, I joined AIS to support a customer who was implementing SharePoint.  I soaked up everything I could about this (at the time) brave new world of SharePoint. I loved it.

SharePoint 2003 had been available for use in my previous office where I had initially set up out-of-the-box team sites for working groups to support a large department-wide initiative. I found it empowering to quickly set up sites, lists and libraries without any fuss (or custom coding) to get people working together. Working with my new team, I gained insight into what we could do with this tool in terms of workflow, integration and branding. It got even better when we migrated to SharePoint 2007.  We made great strides in consolidating our websites and communicating to those who were interested exactly what the tools could do in terms of collaboration and knowledge management.

This ability for a power user to quickly create a variety of new capabilities exposed a deeper customer need – easier communications with IT.  While we had all this great expertise and firepower to create and maintain IT tools and services, our core customer base did not have an easy way to quickly and reliably communicate their needs in a manner that matched their high operational tempo. It was a problem. We needed a way for our customers to quickly and easily communicate with us in order to really hear what they needed to meet their mission goals and work more effectively. Read More…

In this blog I’ll discuss some post-release reporting issues that we faced for one of our projects and the solutions we implemented. On the technology side, we had SQL Server 2008 R2 and MVC 4.0 application (which were hosted in Amazon Web Services) in our production environment.

The Problem

The post-production release reporting system was not responding as per the user expectations. For most of the high-volume reports (50K rows to 200K rows in report output), we were getting request timeout error. Client SLA for response time was two minutes; hence any report (big or small) must return data within two minutes. All the reports were designed using SQL Server Reporting Services 2008 R2. In all there were close to 40 reports with such timeout issues. Read More…

A large, enterprise-class application involves many servers. As the number of servers increases, the challenges to troubleshoot or investigate any application failure increases multifold.

Thus, there is a need to integrate different sources of data for a consolidated view – to help improve developers/testers’ productivity and quickly resolve application/environment issues. Moreover, the solution needs a browser-based interface as opposed to providing administrative privilege, remote access to the server. Splunk captures, indexes and correlates real-time data in a searchable repository from which it can generate graphs, reports, alerts, dashboards and visualizations. Read More…

System Center 2012 is all about cloud computing — it provides IT as a Service, so it offers support for heterogeneous environments extending from a private cloud to the public cloud.

Trying to describe what you can accomplish with Microsoft System Center 2012 is akin to defining what a carpenter can build when he opens his toolbox. The possibilities are virtually limitless. When all of the System Center 2012 management components are deployed, administrators and decision makers have access to a truly integrated lifecycle management platform. The seven core applications can each be deployed independently to provide specific capabilities to an organization, but are also tightly integrated with each other to form a comprehensive set of tools.

System Center 2012 is offered in two editions, Standard and Datacenter, with virtualization rights being the only difference. The simplified licensing structure is identical to that of Windows Server 2012. Further simplifying the licensing, SQL Server Standard is included and no longer needs to be licensed separately. The applications that make up the System Center 2012 suite, however, cannot be licensed individually, so it makes sense to have an idea of what each application can do, and how it fits into your environment.  Read More…

Good question. And we’ve got the answer.

Here at AIS, we’ve spent hundreds of thousands of hours envisioning, designing and constructing SharePoint-based solutions for our clients. With each new version of SharePoint, we make additional investments to deeply understand the new release’s capabilities.

We’ve taken a look at all the changes and enhancements in the latest version — and you just have to look at our blog archives to realize that a LOT has changed in 2013 — and put together a short, easy-to-read whitepaper that highlights the top new features that make SharePoint 2013 a must-have for your business, including:

  • Smarter Search
  • Simpler and Mobile-Ready UI
  • The game-changing SharePoint App Store Model
  • Better Workflow
  • Social SharePoint
  • Easy Migration Tools
  • Lower Costs
  • And much more!

Please CLICK HERE to download your free copy.

Not familiar with SharePoint as a business solution? Take a look at our SharePoint solutions on our website and contact us to learn more about how SharePoint can transform your organization.

Have you ever attended a technical training event, and three days later, couldn’t really remember what you were trained on? In trying to recall what you just sat through, your mind comes up with the mental equivalent of a desolate Wild Wild West ghost town, perhaps with a sad tumbleweed or two passing through. You are not alone! At one point or another, we’ve all fallen victim to a training presentation that simply does not stick.

Training is an opportunity to engender a self-propelling domino effect of learning that can better humanity.

As a training developer, it’s my job to prevent students from walking away empty-minded. Come to think of it, this is also the goal for most sales people. You want your presentation to make a lasting impression: You want something to hit home — to stick —for the other person, in order to produce results. Whether those results are improved on-the-job performance or the President’s Club Award for Outstanding Sales, it doesn’t matter. Recognize that training is so much more than a stand-alone event: It is an opportunity to engender a self-propelling domino effect of learning that can better humanity.  “Well, when you put it that way, serving as a Trainer is an honor and a privilege!” my colleague said to me.  Yes, indeed it is! Read More…

I was recently working on an automation task that involved opening an XML document, reading the values its contents, and passing them as arguments to install a variety of processes, etc., etc. All rather routine and mundane. Of course, my XML document was littered with environment variables and other special monikers that would be replaced after the file had been loaded. So I reached for my PowerShell editor and started putting together a solution. Then I got to thinking…why don’t I just embed PowerShell variables directly in the file?

Well, why not indeed. The problem was as PowerShell read the file in, it simply ignored my variables and I was stuck with an XML attribute value of something like $Domain\$User. It didn’t help me one whit. Surely there must be some way to convince PowerShell to evaluate that.

As luck would have it, there is! Or I should say, there are! Because it turns out there are multiple ways to do this, none of which are specific to XML (that was just my target data). So, let’s review the options…

Read More…

With the SharePoint Conference 2012 behind us, I have been reflecting on our SharePoint journey so far…and on the road ahead. And what an incredible journey it has been! SharePoint has allowed AIS to build mission-critical applications for various large federal government agencies and commercial organizations. And not just ECM or document management systems (which are great workloads enabled by SharePoint) but enterprise-class applications for tens of thousands users (such as the FBI’s Delta Project), built using SharePoint platform elements such as workflows, lists, libraries, search, etc.

This blog entry is comprised of two parts. The first part will focus on the SharePoint journey so far. Through a series of short video clips, I will present some of the key insights we have derived over the many years of building custom applications on SharePoint. We will end this the first part with a short demonstration of SharePoint-based Case Management application that brings together many of the key concepts. The second part will focus on the road ahead and the most important enhancements made in SharePoint 2013. Read More…

I’ve been working with Powershell lately, and I wrote a couple of functions to help verify server permissions in Microsoft SQL Server.

Why would I want to verify server permissions instead of verifying server roles? In my case, I’m interested in knowing if a particular user is able to create a database on a SQL Server. While the dbcreator role does allow a user to create a database, there are other roles that will also allow a user to create a database, such as sysadmin. Additionally, if a user is a member of an AD Group that has the role assigned, then the role is not directly assigned to the user. In the end, I found it simplest to check for the actual CREATE ANY DATABASE permission.

In this post, we will see how to check if the current AD user has a specific server permission and how to check if an AD account other than the current user has a specific server permission.

Read More…

Like the rest of the AIS team, I’d thought I’d share one of the most interesting sessions I attended during SPC12. It was called SharePoint Center of Excellence: Why you need one. Those IT Pro and Dev guys/gals might have missed this one because it was in the basement (politely known as the conference’s Business Section), but I found it extremely valuable.

The session was run by Andrew Woodward from App 21 on the usefulness of (and strategies for) successfully operating a Center of Excellence within an organization. For those that have never had the pleasure of actively participating in the evangelizing/educating/promoting of technology in reshaping workforce processes, Centers of Excellence serve as visible and real recognition by organizational leadership on the commitment of the investment. In other words, they help put weight behind the words.

Read More…