The breadth of technology packed into SharePoint 2013, the fifth iteration of the product, means there is a lot of terminology to assimilate. One of the benefits of being a consultant is that I get to see and put into practice many different facets of the technology.
Others may hear words and phrases and not understand what they mean. The title of this article contains three terms that span technologies related to the Administrator, Business User and Developer. The terms and their associated technologies are things that all should be familiar with.
Send in the clones!
I ran headfirst into this term “cloning” when building out a SharePoint 2013 implementation for an airline a few weeks ago. I got to the Search scale-out, which can only be done via PowerShell (there is no GUI), and ran into my first cloning experience.
When you create the Search default topology, there are several components: Admin, Crawler, Content Processing, Analytics Processing, Query Processing, and the Index Partition. You definitely do not want all of these to run on the same machine. Therefore you must scale out the active topology.
In order to do this, you follow these steps:
1. Create the Search Service application.
2. Clone the active topology. The command is SSA.ActiveTopology.Clone().
3. Create the search components (i.e., Query Processing).
4. Activate the clone! (i.e., $clone.Activate()).
(For the movie buffs out there, I could not get the voice of Austin Powers’ Frau Farbissina out of my head. Thankfully, the experience is not as painful as her voice.)
Business users, Microsoft has given you PowerPivot and Power View. Now Power Query and Power Maps have joined the band, making it a fearsome foursome. PowerPivot’s name has been modified, and the four now comprise what has been termed Power BI (Business Intelligence). The band’s manager is one you know well: Excel. It has been christened the primary tool for Self-Service BI.
What this really means is that SharePoint is the tool for delivering corporate BI, but now the business user with Excel can deliver complex BI solutions. Since PowerPivot and Power View already exist, I will briefly recap the other two components.
• Power Query (formerly known as Data Explorer) is for data preparation. It will search for data online (internal or external) and import it into an Excel table. You will be able to “shape” the data and save the process. You can then bring this into your Power Pivot model and work on it further.
• Power Maps is a visualization technology, formerly known as GeoFlow. Think 3D mapping. You have the ability to explore and interact with geographical data, which should elicit new insights.
The catch to these technologies is that they will only be made available to Office 365. Cloud goes first. Customers who have on-premise SharePoint will not be able to take advantage of these technologies and the mobile application of Power BI on the tablet (Windows or iPad).
Maybe Microsoft can name the next iteration of these applications for on-premise the Power Station, another popular four-person band. In any event, you can play with these technologies today via Microsoft downloads on your PC. (You must have Office Professional Plus 2013, though.)
Pull up to the Suite Bar
Finally, the SharePoint 2013 Suite Bar. Why is it named this, I have no idea, but here it is:
This is what it looks like out of the box. It is somewhat useful, but on a couple of installations I have been involved with, customers wanted to modify it. That is where the developers come into the picture. The caveat is that it must be done with a farm solution via Visual Studio. Sorry 365.
The bar is a delegate control, which is a component on a page that is rendered at runtime in the .aspx page. Therefore, we cannot go into the design mode and change text such as “SkyDrive”.
There are a few blogs out there that explain how to modify this control. There is even one blog I know of personally that put the actual code solution out there to do this. You might “Bing” the author of this article for that one.
The Suite Bar, Cloning and PowerPivot/View/Query/Maps are just three components in a product that has thousands. While you might not have to know the how, it is critical that you understand the what. That is one of the items I love about this space; every day I am learning something new and striving to share it. Now that is Suite!
Peter Serzo is a published author of the “SharePoint 2010 Administration Cookbook,” a founder of the SouthEastern SharePoint group, a speaker, and SharePoint Architect for High Monkey Consulting. Peter has been in the IT industry for 20 years. He has extensive experience with SharePoint implementing business solutions for several enterprise organizations over the past seven years.