What is Governance? Governance is the set of policies, roles, and processes that can help achieve an organization’s goals. In SharePoint 2013, governance can be categorized into three segments:
- IT Governance: This revolves around Software and the services offered. When a SharePoint farm is hosted, the departments will be hosting applications on the farm. One of the few expectation would be the high availability of the application and server. Team supporting would need SLAs to be defined and communicated with other teams involved.
- Information Management: How the data is categorized and presented on the farm to the end users. From a SharePoint admin and developer’s perspective, it’s important to understand what is the efficient way to store data, should the data stored on multiple site collections or sub sites? Who has access to see the information, how is the information made available to external users? What should the archiving strategy be?
- Application Management: This revolves around the policies, procedures, and best practices the custom solutions must adhere to before deploying it to the farm. Their policies may/may not allow farm solutions to be deployed and only app models or client side code is supported.
We will cover the above points in more detail.
Governance is an ongoing exercise that needs to be revisited periodically to access if the policies in place require any changes. Periodic audit will help ensure better maintenance of the SharePoint environment.
IT Governance is applied in the form of policies that can be applied at the web application level or at the site level. There are three type of policies that can be applied at the web application level from SharePoint central administration. This will then be applied to all the site collections in that web application. A policy, when applied at the web application level, enables a group of users and/or SharePoint groups to work with site collections in a specific way.
Figure 1: Policies
Let’s understand Permission policy. The default options available are as follows:
Figure 2: The default options
Administrators can create their own policy levels by clicking “Add Permission Policy Level”, as shown in Figure 3:
Figure 3: Adding a permission policy level
Once the permission policy is created, it can be used to define user policy and anonymous policy. In the ‘Web application general setting’, you also can specify a default quota for site collections and the maximum upload size.
|Figure 4: Default Quota Template||Figure 5: Maximum Upload Size|
In a site collection, there are be multiple sub sites created and, over a period of time, the number of sites created will be huge. By using ‘Site Policies’, the user can choose the action to be taken on the sites that are not being used. They can be backed up and deleted or marked as read only.
In addition to these, there should be regular backup done for SharePoint as well as the SP databases. The team supporting the servers in the farm should define the SLAs and communicate it across the team. An example of an SLA could be backup content databases every week and then retain last the three successful backups. This will help restore data when required.
In addition, classification of sites based on impact also helps better management. Sites can be classified as HBI (High Business Impact), MBI (Medium Business Impact), or LBI (Low Business Impact). A HBI application can have a requirement of availability as 99.99.
This is about how the organization’s data is managed: how it’s stored, retrieved, and presented to the user. This also addresses how easily and quickly the user can navigate to the required information. Information architecture plays a very important role in storing and retrieving data. It also depends on how the organization’s security is laid out.
Let’s understand with the help of an example:
A company wants to categorize data based on departments. A user from one department doesn’t have access to the other department’s data. In this scenario, either the two departments can be isolated as site collections or sub sites, depending upon the predicted growth. Data then can be be displayed on the respective department pages and on the corporate landing data can be displayed by using a search.
The definition of site columns, content types, lists and libraries, managed metadata, crawl information, and managed properties to refine the search are all a part of managing the information (IA).
There are tools such as ‘Workflows’ and ‘Content organizer’ available to help manage the data. By using a content organizer, documents can be routed to different sites or libraries based of the metadata/property they are tagged with. Workflows can be used to allow availability of the documents for public users only after it’s approved.
One part of application management deals customizations; in other words, what kind of applications can be deployed on the farm. Are farm solutions supported? If they are, then what are the pre-checks that are performed: code review, performance test, memory leak checks, and so forth? Custom solutions are normally tested in multiple pre-production environments before deploying on a production site. These all are a few best practices followed to ensure quality custom code is deployed on the farm.
With the addition of the APP model with SharePoint 2013, SP administrators may prefer an App solution as compared to a farm solution. An App solution also restricts the interaction with SharePoint to only to the client object model. There can be policies on who can purchase or download Apps from the SharePoint store, manage the licenses and monitor apps, and track errors and app usage.
In this article, we covered the different aspects of governance and how they can be achieved. Planning the different aspects in the farm scenario helps in better management of resources and their availability and performance.