Any system, whether it be electronic, physical or mechanical, always benefits from a health check. These checks are carried out with a view to keeping things running smoothly and to anticipate any potential problems.
In this post, we're going to talk about the range of options opened to administrators when it comes to monitoring SharePoint environments; both Online and On-Premises. We’ll also explore some of the Sharegate functionalities as ways to enhance and go beyond the tools that Microsoft provide.
Monitor SharePoint 2013 with Logs
Each iteration of SharePoint, from the early days of SharePoint 2003 to the current On-Premises version, has both changed and enhanced how health checks are carried out. SharePoint 2013 provides an IT technician with a few resources to play with, these being:
- SharePoint Central Administration
- System Center Administration Pack
- Assorted PowerShell Scripts
SharePoint Central Administration
Central Administration is the command center of all things related to monitoring SharePoint. Out of the box, SharePoint logs and captures a lot of information. This information is captured to both the logging folder in the Hive 15 (Directories in which SharePoint lives) and to the logging database.
This information can be viewed and utilized in several ways but Microsoft try to provide a useful facility in here via their health reports. These are pre-built reports that use this logging data to analyze and assess various aspects of the SharePoint deployment, such as page loading speeds.
System Center Administration Pack
The System Center Management Pack for SharePoint 2013 provides an end-to-end monitoring and reporting system that can be used to monitor the SharePoint platform. The System Center itself is a platform that aims to deliver a unified management experience across all environments, whether they’re On-Premise, offered via a service provider or hosted in Azure. The center monitors the SharePoint Database, Configuration Database and the Content Database.
Assorted SharePoint PowerShell Scripts
PowerShell, the command line utility that provides access to the SharePoint API, is the last tool that experienced administrators can use. With PowerShell, administrators can carry out the same tasks as it's possible in Central Administration, but allows them to do it so much faster.
Good practice is to get familiar with the more common daily/weekly tasks within PowerShell. And a great place to begin with this is the MSDN TechNet Scripts Gallery. The additional power afforded by PowerShell also comes with greater responsibility however.
Apps to help monitor SharePoint online
Monitoring the health of the SharePoint Online environment has its own nuances and options, specifically with regards to:
- The SharePoint Service Health Dashboard
- Monitoring Apps
Via the Service Health Dashboard, administrators can access all the facilities that their licensing agreement enables them to use, including SharePoint. These tools give a snapshot view of the current status of the platform.
As an example of how this could work, the screenshot below indicates that the SharePoint Service is running in a degraded state. Clicking on this link would take an administrator to a screen which details the current incidents impacting the platform.
Further investigation of the dashboard also provides a breakdown of the status of each of the licensed components over the previous 30 days.
The last facility open to SharePoint Online administrators is the aptly titled SharePoint admin center, which allows you to manage items ranging from the User Profiles and BCS to Records Management and Search configuration.
One item to pay particular attention here is the Apps category, which allows an administrator to add apps to be monitored for errors and licensing information.
Lastly, the SharePoint Online PowerShell cmdlets, whilst being limited to the “Get” Commands are also possible tools on extracting information. It should be noted however, that these aren’t as powerful as the On-Premises version of PowerShell options.
So, having explored the native tools of both current versions of SharePoint, it’s fair to say that they are pretty powerful but also quite diverse in how they’re to be used and sometimes difficult to interface with.
With these options in mind, we should take a look at our own tool: Sharegate. One unique aspect of our utility is the desktop reporting tool that gives an administrator the ability to access on-demand and custom reports. The native packaged reports enable administrators to look at items, lists and libraries with custom permissions among many other things.
Furthermore, customized and on-demand reports can also be created and applied. Marrying those to the design and easier interface of Sharegate, we’re able to offer powerful reports that are accessible in an easy to use and friendly interface.
Monitor SharePoint more easily
In closing, we’d offer a view that SharePoint provides enough tools to be able to effectively and accurately gain a snapshot of the health of the platform/service. What isn’t as smooth however, is how technical staff may interact with these. Some tools require more IT knowhow and savvy than others for instance. Sharegate is able to both harmonize and extend what these tools are capable of, which makes both the delivery and adherence of best practice considerably easier.
What do you use for your SharePoint auditing?