Happy New Year
For those of us on the western calendar, last week ushered in a new year. For me, 2008 is already promising to be a very exciting year, and I look forward to sharing part of it--the parts related to SharePoint--with you! I hope that you, your family, and your friends have a happy, peaceful, and fulfilling new year!

New Year News
Before the holiday break, I teased you with a note that I would have some cool announcements in the next issue--and this is that next issue. In the many years I've been a consultant, trainer, and author, I've never had year in which I knew, at the outset, just how busy and exciting it would be.

MVP a go-go
First, I was thrilled to learn on New Year's Day that I have been inducted as a Microsoft Valued Professional (MVP) in Microsoft Office SharePoint Server. MVP status is an invitation-only kind of "knighthood" that recognizes community leadership in a technology. There are 88 SharePoint MVPs worldwide.

In 2007, I was an MVP in Windows Server--Directory Services. This year, my category migrates (you can only be an MVP in one technology) to an area that will make me more valuable to you, the readers of To The SharePoint. I'm hopeful that this will enable me to enhance my relationships with the great folks on the SharePoint product team at Microsoft and to provide even richer insight into the technology, and to begin looking at the next generation of the Office System, currently dubbed "Office 14."

Global Reach
This week, I start my new year's work in Honolulu (not far from my base in Maui). It's actually the first time in probably 15 years that I've had a client in the same state in which I live. That makes me chuckle a bit. Next month, it's off to Dubai and Cairo for the DIVE DEEPER events (February 11 and 13) covering all kinds of Microsoft technologies. If you're in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, or western Asia, you should consider joining us! See DiveDeeper Cairo and DiveDeeper Dubai for details.

In March and April, you'll find me at several locations around the United States (details to come) including Windows Connections in Orlando, April 27 - May 1. I'll be presenting several SharePoint sessions there along with gurus Melissa Fraser and Wendy Henry. I hope to return to The Netherlands and Scandinavia, which feel like second homes to me, later in 2008, so if you're interested in any training or consulting sessions, let me know.

Beijing 2008
The really big news (for me anyway) is that I'll be traveling to Beijing with NBC television, the network that broadcasts the Olympic Games, as the Microsoft Technologies Consultant--a role I played in Torino. This will last from mid-July to the end of August, but we're already preparing right now for this incredible event and astounding feat of information and technology. This time, SharePoint is for real. We used it in Torino, but this time it's going to be a major part of the platform we use to manage the operations that bring the games to the air-waves and net-waves.

Throughout this year, I'll be sharing with you what we learn as we leverage SharePoint to manage the IT and production operation for NBC at the Beijing Olympics. I'm sure we'll find some nuggets of experience to share, and I'm sure you--the great SharePoint community--will have some awesome tips for us.

Technical Warm-up: SharePoint Database Options
I'd like to share one simple technical note as a warm-up for SharePoint tips in the new year. Many of you will have "been there, done that," but a client recently caused me to brush off my thoughts about database options for Windows SharePoint Services (or MOSS for that matter).

Most of my clients are very large, so SQL Server licenses and servers are a-plenty. But in smaller environments, or test environments, do you need SQL Server itself? Maybe not. Keep in mind that there are several "for free" options. First, there is SQL Server Express, freely downloadable from Microsoft's Web site. SQL Express has limitations, however--a database can't be greater than 4GB. Now let's think about that in terms of SharePoint. If a site collection lives in a database, that site collection is limited to 4GB. But other site collections can be in other databases, right? So SQL Express could theoretically host a reasonably large and complex WSS installation. Document libraries (which can easily grow larger than 4GB) would probably be less easy to support on SQL Express.

But even more straightforward is SQL Server Embedded Edition (SSEE)--the Windows Internal Database that's installed by default when you perform a basic installation of SharePoint. Believe it or not, this puny sounding database does not have limitations on database size, so your single-server WSS intranet or your test environment may be very well supported by SSEE.

There are other considerations, of course. You'll need to download the correct administrative tools for the version of SQL Server that you use. And any reasonably large or complex or multiserver configuration will certainly be better to deploy using SQL Server. So many other applications use SQL that the reality is if you don't have SQL Server today, you'll eventually need it. So you might as well pony up the coin and get some licenses. But today? Keep in mind that SQL Server 2008 is just around the corner. Before you cough up for a version of SQL Server (2005) that is about to be supplanted, think about your technology roadmap and whether it might make sense to wait for SQL Server 2008 licenses. Also talk to your Microsoft vendor to discuss what options might exist for buying 2005 licenses today and upgrading to 2008 tomorrow. I try to avoid tracking "license" issues since they're insanely complex and likely to chang e every few weeks, so spend some time talking with your Microsoft vendors about those issues.

For me, in my clients' large production environments, like the SharePoint framework we're deploying for NBC at the Beijing Olympics, we'll be using full-fledged versions of SQL Server. In smaller environments and in my own lab, it's often the Windows Internal Database I turn to...why not?

By the way, thanks to CA Callahan for helping me brush off the cobwebs on these thoughts in my brain! If you're reading this, I owe ya a beer or something like that :)

Until next week, all the best!

Dan Holme

danh at intelliem dot (top level commercial domain)