SUGUK Manchester – A Typical SharePoint BI Project

I recently had the pleasure of speaking at the SharePoint User Group in Manchester.  Mark Stokes does a great job of organising the group events in this region and always gets a good turnout. 

My session was titled ‘A Typical SharePoint BI Project’, and covers the journey of a project from my experience.  This journey starts with the valid question: Why Microsoft rather than any other toolset? I then walkthrough the Microsoft stack, from SQL Server, Analysis Services through to Excel and the SharePoint BI toolset.

It was sure a challenge to cover this all in one hour, and I did have some issues with my VMs which halted my demos.  However luckily Alex Pearce was at hand to resurrect this for me in time to give a reasonable showing of Excel and PerformancePoint –> thanks Alex!!

You can grab my slides over on SlideShare!

CRM 2011 Rollup 6–Plan It First!

Over the last few months I’ve been working on a CRM 2011 implementation for a customer of mine.  The customer is a heavy user and they have come across a number of issues, mostly with the Outlook plugin.  Microsoft Support now insist Rollup 6 is installed before tackling any issues and this is now considered the base build for CRM 2011.

Interestingly, Rollup 6 was originally release on Friday 13th January, and subsequently pulled – later to be released again around a week later.

Anyway, we have now installed Rollup 6 on client and server, but the process took about a week to properly plan, test and implement.  The bottom line is: don’t just go ahead and install this rollup!

Here are a few notes I thought Id share with my experience:

Client + Server Must be Patched Together

We ideally wanted to stage the rollup i.e. do the server first, and then clients bit by bit.  We had done this with previous rollups without issue.  However in testing we found the following:

– Rollup 6 Client would not connect to a Rollup 4 server

– Rollup 4 Clients did connect to a Rollup 6 server, but we experienced 404 errors when saving records.

Therefore my advice is to upgrade client and server together

Server Reboot Required

You will be asked to reboot your CRM Server after the server/email router/SSRS extensions Rollup 6 install completes. So be prepared for this. There is no need to reboot after every patch – I waited until the server, email router and SSRS extensions had all be done.

Rollup 6 Cannot be Uninstalled

There is no rolling back from Rollup 6 if something goes wrong – it cannot be uninstalled like some previous rollups.  The path back to your previous installation would be to rebuild your CRM Server.  Therefore its imperative to take a backup of your content database prior to attempting Rollup 6.  Of course if your server is virtual, snapshots can be your friend here.

Check CRM and SSRS Services Afterwards

I found on some occasions that one or more CRM related services failed to start.  This may have nothing to do with the rollup per say and maybe due to the required server reboot, but do check none the less.

Outlook Crashes

One of the main reasons we looked at Rollup 6 was the claim to fix ‘random Outlook crashes’. Unfortunately Outlook is still crashing on users’ machines following the Rollup – I am still investigating that one and I’ll update this post as soon as I get a breakthrough.


In short, this is a BIG release and a milestone of sorts, although it doesn’t solve every problem! But give it some respect and test the patch on a non production system first and plan the upgrade of your clients to co-inside with the server patching.