SharePoint 2010 Development Environment Performance: SSD, i5 vs. i7, WEI and Sandy Bridge

Late last year my colleagues and I tried to distil the tasks that impede SharePoint developer productivity. Then I ran those tests on EC2, Hyper-V and VMware Workstation, with the latter two virtualisation technologies running on a desktop, an older laptop and a newer laptop. In this post I hope to shed a bit of light on some follow-up testing that I’ve squeezed in to the odd hour here and there over the last six months. Unfortunately hardware availability and my schedule have not aligned to produce a further round of comprehensive tests and since I can’t see that occurring in the immediate future I’m going to fill in some gaps here with a couple of additional concrete findings, particularly regarding i5 vs. i7 testing and the impact of SSD on first page load times after application pool recycles. I’ll also talk less rigorously about a few related issues.

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Amazon VPC and VM Import Updates

In the last couple of weeks I’ve received notification of two important updates regarding Amazon Web Services. I thought I’d share them here, as they are both relevant to use of SharePoint 2010 on EC2 and I’ve seen no mention of them elsewhere. If you’re interested in this broader topic, I’ve covered it in detail here:


My commentary here assumes some familiarity with these earlier posts. This is new functionality that enables new design options. These options should make SharePoint 2010 on EC2 more appealing for a few specific uses.

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SharePoint 2010 Development Environment Performance Test Results

Drum roll please! At long last, I bring you the results of a great deal of testing. Here’s the background:

I’ve said my preamble in those posts, so I’ll cut to the chase here.

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SharePoint 2010 Development Environment Performance Tests

As I indicated in my last post, I’ve been plundering the depths of SharePoint development productivity in recent months. Understanding the context established in that post is pretty essential to understanding what follows here. In a nutshell, I’m trying to improve system performance for current users of our SharePoint development environment. This is not as simple as examining the Windows Experience Index on a number of laptop models. I needed to consult with our users to identify which tasks are slow for them and devise tests that would allow me to measure system performance on different physical and virtual systems. In this post I will describe the systems, the tests and the testing process before reviewing the results.

The Tests

The 21 tests that we settled on were the result of discussions with a number of the core developers, consultants and architects at Content and Code, plus a few tests that I threw in to confirm/disconfirm some of my suppositions, such as the impact of the User Profile Service Connection on first page load time. All 21 tests were run three times for each permutation of hardware candidate and virtualisation technology. We also tested on Amazon EC2. I will discuss the testing process in more detail in a moment.

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SharePoint Development Productivity and Virtualisation Technologies

In the near future, I’ll be discussing the results of the SharePoint Development productivity testing that I’ve been working on for some time. A key part of the background to that story is a choice to virtualise SharePoint, and within that, a choice of virtualisation technology. In this post I’ll be reviewing the problem in advance of a more detailed discussion of the productivity gains and losses with some of these technologies/approaches.

For clarity, I will quickly state the problem as I see it. SharePoint 2010 system requirements and practitioner mobility requirements are inherently at odds. What guidance exists for this unique problem space tends to regurgitate preferences/allegiances rather than comparing technologies and ratifying assumptions with real-world tests. At best, you get system performance indices for a single laptop model, but these results may vary when any hardware component is changed.

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Dynamic Memory for Hyper-V in Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1

I’ve just finished watching Virtual PC Guy’s TechEd video on the forthcoming Dynamic Memory update for Hyper-V in Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1. The beta release of the service pack is due in July. The video is fairly lengthy, at around 80 minutes, but is well worth a watch if you’re interested and find the time. If not, here’s a round-up: Continue reading “Dynamic Memory for Hyper-V in Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1”

Building a SharePoint 2007/2010 development environment – Part II: Design

In the first part of this series, I introduced the pros and cons of various SharePoint development approaches and the objectives of this system redesign. In this part I will focus on design choices and conclusions, starting with the core technology.

Why we’ve chosen Hyper-V

There are broadly five decisive factors: performance, management features (like snapshots), cost, 64-bit OS support and a full host OS (not just a virtualisation administration console): Continue reading “Building a SharePoint 2007/2010 development environment — Part II: Design”

Monitor stroke and Ctrl+click in jump lists

I was just looking at the Virtual PC Guy blog about the combined on/offline VDI in a forthcoming VMWare release when I noticed that he says he has six monitors on his desk at work. Six!!! I remember having three (when I also had three computers) on my desk in 2001-2002, and I’ve definitely had that many again while working on crazy builds, but I’m finding it hard to fathom how cool it would be to have six (let alone enough desk space to accommodate them).

Then it occurred to me that this must require a fairly massive amount of added power, especially when you account for the monitor envy this would induce in his colleagues. In fact, I think Virtual PC Guy’s monitors probably account for an ice shelf or two singlehandedly. 😉

I’d struggle to justify it myself, especially with that new Windows 7 (and Server 2008 R2) taskbar. I’m particularly enamoured with Ctrl+click in the jump list. The jump list itself has been much discussed, and I reckon it may justify the upgrade to Windows 7 in its own right. This added functionality seals the deal though.

The length of the title of a document (or perhaps just a rubbish name for a document, or multiple versions of a document) sometimes makes it hard to identify a target in the jump list. If you click the taskbar icon for the application (Word, Notepad, Outlook, browser, etc) while holding down Ctrl it will cycle through the instances of that application, bringing each to the fore in turn for a peek. Think of it as ALT+TAB within a jump list. It’s an excellent way to unveil what’s hidden without introducing a requirement for seventeen screens.