Q and A for Collection 5403 – Implementing Microsoft WSS 3.0

In a previous blog post I mentioned an MVP training on Windows SharePoint Server 3.0 based on the eLearning Collection 5403 - Implementing Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services 3.0. I posted the questions I posed at the end of each course in the collection in that previous post, but never published the answers. After a few requests for them, here are the answers.

a) Course 5244 - Introduction to Microsoft WSS 3.0

a1) What is a WSS site collection is how is it different from a WSS 3.0 site?

The site collection is the main unit of site storage and management. The site is where you have your lists and libraries (or subsites). Each site collection includes one and only one top-level site. Under that top-level site, you can have multiple sites. Sites must be in a site collection (either as a top-level site or sub-site).  The hierarchy is farm, web application, content database, site collection, top-level site, subsite (optional), list/library, folder (optional), item. Many configuration options are unique to the site collection level, like quotas, master pages and security groups.

There’s confusion around this because of the fact that each site collection includes a default, required top-level site and many users never create sites under that one. That top-level site shares the same URL as the site collection, which doesn't help with distinguishing them. Also, some of the confusion probably stems from the renaming of terms from WSS 2.0 to WSS 3.0 (the new "Site Collection" was previously called a "Site", the new “Site” was called a “Web”, the "Top-level Site" was called a "Root Web”).

a2) Name a few features that are included only in MOSS 2007 but not in a WSS 3.0 site.

A few important ones include My sites (Profile Services), Excel Services, out-of-the-box Workflows, Cross-site Search and the Business Data Connector. There are many more.

a3) Does WSS 3.0 integrate with Office 2003 or only with Office 2007?

WSS 3.0 and MOSS 2007 will integrate with both Office 2003 and Office 2007. Some features (like two-way synchronization of calendar items) do require the Office 2007 client.

a4) Can Outlook 2007 be used to take WSS 3.0 documents libraries offline in the same way it can be used to take discussions offline?

Document libraries can now be taken offline with Outlook 2007, but those are only read-only copies. Outlook 2007 will not be able to update the files offline and synchronize back, as you can do with discussions and calendar items. If you need that level of functionality, you should investigate Microsoft Office Groove 2007.

a5) If an organization implemented a simple SMTP/POP3 solution instead of Exchange Server, can they still integrate e-mail with WSS 3.0?

Yes. E-mail integration with WSS 3.0 is based on SMTP.

a6) What is a site collection administrator and is it different from a site owner?

This relates closely to question a1. A site collection administrator has rights over the site collection, which includes some additional capabilities related to storage allocations, usage reporting, master pages, etc.

a7) Is it possible to grant rights to an entire Active Directory group in SharePoint?

Yes. Just use the AD group name wherever you use a user name under People and Groups in SharePoint. Make sure it’s an Active Directory security group, not just a distribution group.

b) Course 5245 - Planning the WSS 3.0 Environment

b1) What are main differences between using one single site collection with three sub sites and using three separate site collections, in regards to capacity planning?

When you have a single site collection, you end up with a single quota for all sites and they all must live in the same content database. When you break them in separate site collections, each one has distinct quotas and they could even be each on a separate content database. You could also take it further and have distinct site collections in separate web applications, each in its own content database. This last step would isolate web server processes if the different web applications are configured with separate application pools.

b2) How do you prevent people from creating sites that end up unused?

It’s not easy. You need to strike a balance between ease of creation of new sites with user’s ability to create and forget. One thing you could do is require two owners when using self-service site creation. You could also enable the feature that will notify administrators of site collections not used within a certain period (and delete the site if no response is received within a certain time frame). You could even write some custom code to comb the farm for less used site collections and trigger reminder e-mails.

b3) Should you take support for versioning in consideration for SharePoint capacity planning or the impact negligible?

Versions do take up space and you should definitely not ignore that.

b4) If you use the single server deployment model, do you need to install SQL Server 2005 (or 2000) before installing WSS?

WSS will automatically install SQL Server Express, so you are not required to do it. However, most administrators will appreciate the extra features in the full version of SQL Server 2005.

b5) If you want to separate the database from the application layer and you also want to provide fault tolerance, what is the minimum number of servers you'll need and what would be their roles?

You would need at least two servers (in a cluster) for the database layer and two servers (load-balanced) for the application layer. You could take this further when using Shared Services, by dedicating servers to specific roles like Indexing, Excel Services, etc.

b6) If you are providing access to your WSS server to the outside (Internet), what ports do you need to open in your firewall?

You only need to open port 80 for HTTP (and/or port 443 for HTTPS if you’re using secure HTTP). You would need more between the servers in the farm, but all you need between client and web front-end servers is HTTP(S).

b7) Besides clustering, what other supported methods can you use to provide high reliability for your SharePoint content databases?

Microsoft does support Database Mirroring of content databases (available in SQL Server 2005 and up) in addition to clustering. Please not that Mirroring is not supported for other SharePoint databases like the configuration database or the SSP databases.

c) Course 5246 – Deploying WSS 3.0

c1) What are the server hardware requirements for installing WSS 3.0?

The minimum would be a 2.5 GHz processor, 1GB of RAM and 5GB of disk. It is recommended to have at least a dual 2.5 GHz processor and 2GB of RAM.

c2) What operating system and optional components do you need in place before you install WSS 3.0?

You need to be running Windows Server 2003 (at least SP1 or the x64 version), IIS 6 with ASP.NET support enabled, the .NET Framework 2.0 and the .NET Framework 3.0 (because of the Windows Workflow Foundation components). You might also want to enable SMTP in IIS.

c3) If you're using Kerberos in a single server deployment, which additional Active Directory-related steps do you need to perform?

If it’s all in a single server, there’s no extra AD configuration. The additional configuration is required when a server needs to relay credentials to another server. This multi-server scenario requires you to configure the environment to allow one server to send requests to another server on behalf of the authenticated user (the application pool account needs to be trusted for delegation).

c4) If you choose to use a separate server for SQL Server, what specific SQL Server permissions do you need to install WSS 3.0?

You need the user to be in the dbcreator and securityadmin SQL Server roles.

c5) What are the 3 different types of upgrade? Which one does not preserve your main configuration? Which one requires you to run both WSS 2.0 and 3.0 at the same time?

You can have an in-place upgrade, a gradual upgrade and a database migration. Each of the three has many pros and cons. The database migration will not preserve your entire SharePoint configuration. The gradual upgrade will require you to run both versions on the same server until the end of the upgrade.

d) Course 5247 – Administering WSS 3.0

d1) When configuring the incoming e-mail service for SharePoint, is it required to have the Windows Server SMTP service enabled?

No. This will just make it simpler to configure, since that enables the “Automatic” option. You can also use another SMTP server and specify the details manually.

d2) Where in the administration interface do you configure usage reporting?

You need to configure this in two places. The first one is is under the Central Administrations, Operations, Logging and Reporting, Usage Analysis Processing (you need to enable both Logging Setting, Enable Logging and Processing Settings, Enable Usage Analysis Processing). The other is the SSP configuration, in Portal Usage Reporting, Usage Reporting (here you need to enable Processing Setting, Enable Advanced Usage Analysis Processing and Serch Query Logging, Enable Search Query Logging).

d3) If you configure multiple content databases in for a web application, how does WSS select where the next site collection will be created?

That’s a tricky one. WSS will create new site collections in the content database with the most availability. This is calculated subtracting the configured number of site collections allowed in that database by the number of existing site collections. The database with the most “slots” available is used. Interestingly enough, database size and site collection quotas are not taken into consideration.

d4) Can you mention at least two different ways to create a new site collection for WSS?

Two easy ones are the self-service site creation page and the Central Administration page for new site collections. You can also use an option in STSADM and there’s always the option of writing some code...

d5) What settings are available only on site collection settings but not on site settings?

When you are a site collection administrator, an entire new column shows in the site settings page. That includes options for checking the second-level recycle bin, accessing usage summary reports, checking storage space allocation, enabling site collection features and specifying a portal site connection.

e) Course 5248 – Maintaining and Optimizing WSS 3.0

e1) If you backup only your content databases from SQL Server, what information are you missing in case you need to restore your environment from scratch?

You will basically lose the entire configuration databases, which will include farm-level and web application-level settings. If you’re using MOSS and you configured shared services, you will lose the settings for Profile Services, farm-wide Search Services, Business Data Connector, Excel Services, etc.

e2) If you install your WSS solution with a standard SQL Server install and never do any SQL Server maintenance, what is likely the first issue you will run into?

Unattended SQL Servers will likely run into storage issues (disk full) due to an ever increasing database log file. At the very least you should configure a scheduled backup, which has the nice side effect of clearing the database logs.

e3) How can you prevent a site collection from growing too large?

You should configure site collection quotas to address that. Then there’s the piece about educating your site collection administrators, including telling them how to use the built-in features to show what part of their site is consuming the most storage.

e4) Can a single site collection be configured to use multiple content databases?


e5) What are the roles of Event Viewer, Performance Monitor and MOM in the monitoring of a WSS server?

Event viewer will allow you to check the system and application logs, which give you a lot of insight on how things are running and are vital during troubleshooting. Performance monitor is also a great tool to monitor how your server resources (like CPU, disk, memory and network) are being used. MOM 2005 (Microsoft Operations Manager) and SCOM 2007 (System Center Operations Manager) will gather information from both event logs and performance counters, combining that application-specific knowledge to proactively monitor your servers. MOM/SCOM will be typically alert you (via e-mail, for instance) when something needs attention, hopefully before you run into a critical server-down situation.

e6) What specific counters and logs should you watch in a WSS server to make sure you're not running out of resources?

As with any application, you should check CPU, disk (both space and performance), memory and network. In the case of a SharePoint application server, you should keep a close eye on your application pool memory (the memory used by your W3WP.EXE processes).

f) Course 5249 – Customizing and Securing WSS 3.0

f1) What are the main types of modification that you can perform on a site to customize it?

There are many different types of customization, starting with the many options you can define under the “Site Settings” page, including the ability to enable and disable features at the site collection and site levels. You can also create additional lists and libraries, possibly with customized columns, views, content types and workflows. There are also many ways to customize the appearance of the site using custom master pages, modifying cascading style sheet definitions and editing pages in the site. When editing pages you can add, remove and customize web parts that appear on the page. If you are a developer, you can code entirely new web parts, create custom workflow definitions, define event handlers and even package your own custom features packaged as solutions.

f2) If you added a few custom lists and views to a site and wanted to have a similar site in another site collection, how would you do it?

The easiest way would be to save the site as a template (file with the .STP extension) and use it when creating that other site. Another possibility for administrations is to use the STSADM.EXE command-line tool to export a site and import it to another one. For developers, the WSS extensions for Visual Studio 2005 include a tool called SharePoint Solution Generation that can turn an existing site into a solution file (with the .WSP extension) that you can later use to recreate the same elements in another site.

f3) If you already customized a site (including several sub sites) and wanted to adjust the UI to include the company logo on all pages, how would you do it?

You can accomplish that by customizing the site collection’s master page.

f4) What’s the best way to have different types of files under the “New” option in a document library?

You can do this in a simple way by defining different content types for the library.

f5) What are the three default groups for a site collection and what are their default permissions?

You get three groups by default: Owners (full control), Members (contribute) and Visitors (read). You can add other groups and also customize permissions of these out-of-the-box groups.

f6) What’s the best procedure to limit access to a set of documents to a subset of the users of a site?

The easiest way would be to create a separate document library for that subset of documents and configure specific permissions on that library. You could create a specific SharePoint group for that which you could reuse in other areas of the same site collection. You could also create a group in Active Directory so you could reuse it in any site collection or even other scenarios (like regular file shares).

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