Taming the SharePoint Beast

SharePoint is one of the most pervasively used technologies to come along since Microsoft Office. Once installed, SharePoint has the tendency to spread like a weed, often popping up in uncontrolled ways throughout the enterprise. Users simply love the freedom and autonomy of the tool, which is why CIO’s and CSO’s simply pull their hair out over the difficulty of managing and securing information contained therein.

For the record, I’m a big fan of autonomy – but then again, who isn’t? The trouble or threat really starts when someone stores sensitive information within SharePoint – which let’s face it, is going to happen often. That’s where the fun and games stop, and the need for enterprise class security begins. After all, proprietary information such as R&D, Financial Information, Strategy Documents, Market Analysis, Engineering Blueprints, etc. needs to be safeguarded, and as such, should adhere to the same security controls applied to other corporate information systems. So, if your company standardized on Oracle Access Manager, CA Siteminder, RSA Access Manager or IBM Tivoli Access Manager, etc. then you will most definitely want to leverage those systems with SharePoint. The trouble is, Microsoft’s approach to IdM is akin to Ford’s approach to Model T colors (you can have any car color you want as long as it’s black) – you can use SharePoint with IdM as long as you use Microsoft’s Identity Management products. Given the limited capabilities of Microsoft’s Identity Management Offering, this is neither a practical nor viable solution. So what should you do?

Fortunately, there is a seamless and elegant way to quickly and easily leverage your existing IdM infrastructure with SharePoint. By introducing a Gateway into your infrastructure you can close the door to potential threats and leverage your existing infrastructure. But here’s some other really great news.  First, you don’t have to install software everywhere.  Second,  you will gain insights about SharePoint (uptime, latency, & performance) that you can’t possibly have today.  And third, SharePoint application performance will greatly improve.

So, if you’ve been struggling to solve this problem for a while, I bet everything I just stated will sound like magic.  But once you understand the mechanic’s of what the Gateway is actually doing – the behind the scenes Gateway operations that makes it all happen – it will make perfect sense to you. A word of caution though, not all Gateway’s are created equal, and a number of Gateway vendor’s engines simply aren’t equipped to tackle this problem as efficiently as that of Vordel. I’m not saying that it can’t be done, but to use an analogy, the difference between the level of effort required is likely to be the same as the difference between planting a flower and planting a 50 foot grown tree. Both CAN be done, but it definitely will take much longer and you’ll have to commit a lot more resources to plant the tree.

I hope you enjoyed this article, and look forward to your feedback.

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