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SharePoint Customization and Solution Deployment Management

As one of Microsoft’s SharePoint oldest ISV partners, we’ve been building software solutions for SharePoint for more than 10 years. Over this period of time, we’ve encountered numerous customer requests for products and solutions that help them extend SharePoint’s functionality, and make it more suitable for various business objectives. To address some of the more common concerns regarding the simplification of the implementation and management of SharePoint customization, solutions, or even applications, we built DocAve Deployment Manager.

Organizations have a few options to simplify the deployment and management of solutions and SharePoint customizations across sites and farms using the platform’s out-of-the-box functionality, including power shell cmdlets to facilitate SharePoint customization and design element automation. However, depending on your business and technical objectives; the technical abilities of your SharePoint team; and the complexity of the SharePoint environment, coding may or may not be a viable option. Why? There could potentially be a lack of development experience or an inability to properly support custom code on a long-term basis. If SharePoint is to be used as an enterprise-class collaboration platform and not as just a file server, then DocAve Deployment Manager is the third-party tool to address a large number of deployment pain points encountered in SharePoint environments.

DocAve Deployment Manager allows one to combine multiple source-destination deployment mappings in one reusable plan. There can be multiple deployment mapping types – for example site design, packaged solution, managed metadata and many others – allowing the user to deploy design elements at a fine granular level. The simple idea of a mapping along with the idea of grouping deployment mappings in a plan makes for a powerful and elegant tool allowing the SharePoint Administrator to address a large number of deployment pain points.

Here is a side-by-side comparison between common SharePoint customization deployment challenges and what DocAve Deployment Manager offers to help:

SharePoint Customization Challenge DocAve Advantage for SharePoint Customization
Site Design Deployment: Make site design change manually (first time only); package as site template; and then create a new site using the template (template cannot be applied to existing sites). (Note: Above method is not applicable for publishing templates since Save Site as Template does not exist for publishing sites.) Granularly select design elements to be copied, select destination(s), and save reusable plans to run now or periodically. For each design element mapping provide conflict resolution rules (at the container and content levels) in the event source and destination elements conflict. Deploy to multiple sites at once, across farms.
Packaged Solutions Deployment & SharePoint Customization: Copy the solution and then deploy using power shell scripts. A custom script must be created and debugged, increasing time-to-value. The script may be buggy, exposing SharePoint infrastructure to unintended consequences. Select the solution(s) to be deployed, select destination(s) and save plan. For each packaged solution mapping, provide conflict resolution rules, in the event same solutions exist at destination. Run now or later, deploy to multiple farms at a time. Save all solutions to a central library. Deploy from farm, file system, or solutions library.
Unpackaged Solutions Deployment: Copy SharePoint customization files, make necessary updates to IIS for every WFE in SharePoint environment, updates are necessary each time. Select all files on WFE for transfer. Select multiple destinations. Save reusable plan. IIS settings can be periodically updated with the click of a button.
Compare and Easily Deploy Site Differences between Source and Destination: Using native SharePoint features, a custom script must be created and debugged, increasing time-to-value. The script may also potentially expose SharePoint infrastructure to unintended consequences. Select source and destination sites to compare. DocAve Deployment Manager presents a visualization of the site differences. The user can then add mappings to a plan in order to effect synchronization of the sites.
Deploy Managed Metadata from one Term Store to another within the Same Farm or Across Farms: Using SharePoint out-of-the-box, a custom script must be created and debugged, increasing time-to-value and potentially having negative implications for SharePoint infrastructure. Select source term sets and/or terms, select destination term store, add source-destination mapping to a plan, and then save the plan. The reusable plan can be run at a specific point in time or periodically.
Restructure Existing Managed Metadata Hierarchy: A custom script must be created and debugged, increasing time-to-value, project delays, and chance for negative performance implications for SharePoint infrastructure. Select source term sets and/or terms, select destination location within the hierarchy of the same term store, add mapping to a plan, and then save the plan. The reusable plan can be run at a specific point in time or periodically.
Batch Deployment of Design Elements at the Site/List Level: Again, a custom script must be created and debugged, which can cause major performance degradation and increase time-to-value. DocAve Deployment manager can automatically deploy all design elements at the site/list level, which saves time and reduces the chance for human error in your SharePoint customization.
Batch Deployment of Solutions: With SharePoint out-of-the-box, a custom script must be created and debugged, increasing time-to-value and potentially expose SharePoint infrastructure to unintended consequences. DocAve Deployment Manager can deploy batch solutions automatically, which decreases time-to-value and reduces the potential for human error in creating custom scripts.
Batch Deployment of Web Front End (WFE) Components: With SharePoint out-of-the-box, you must manually update for each WFE – including IIS settings and .NET configurations. DocAve Deployment Manager enables you to deploy WFE components across the entire SharePoint environment, which saves time and limits the threat of human error when manually updating each WFE.
Granular SharePoint Customization Deployment: There is no automated way to pick and choose which customizations to deploy using SharePoint’s native features. Custom scripts must be created for this function. DocAve Deployment Manager enables you to pick which SharePoint customization you want to move either within or across farms, without the need for creating custom code – saving time and reducing the potential for human error.
Schedule Deployment Plans: All deployments must take place live, which could potentially cause business disruption. DocAve Deployment Manager ensures minimal business disruptions result from design and SharePoint customization element deployment.
Configure Repeatable Deployment Plans to Easily Apply Updates: Custom scripts must be created in order to attempt to save deployment plans for future use, which is time consuming and could lead to human error in manually writing new scripts. DocAve Deployment Manager allows you synchronize all WFE configurations, design elements, and solutions according to a pre-defined schedule that meets your specific business requirements.

We hope this SharePoint customization information is useful to you and your team as you clarify your thoughts on SharePoint deployment tools. To find out more about the power and elegance of DocAve 6 Deployment Manager please download a free 30-day trial today.

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