All versions of SharePoint have shared the same weakness: Managing the server is often confusing because tasks are split among central management consoles, settings configured from the standard user interface (if the user has administrator rights) and server-based options. The SharePoint 2010 beta I tested has the central console and standard interface options, as well as PowerShell capabilities for management tasks. In some ways, this is a good thing, as it gives businesses more options for managing their servers and for automating common tasks. But it does increase the learning curve for administrators.One very welcome aspect of SharePoint 2010 is the new Service Applications model, which replaces the SSP (Shared Service Provider) model. SSP forced admins to do a lot of upfront work and make early choices about their SharePoint deployments. With the new Service Applications model, it is much easier to pick and choose which services will be used on your server, and to enable or disable them as needed. However, probably the coolest new management feature in SharePoint 2010 is the Visual Upgrade. With all of the interface changes in SharePoint 2010, many businesses will rightly be concerned about the training issues. Visual Upgrade helps to address this by making it possible to upgrade to SharePoint 2010 but keep the older interfaces. This way, a business could upgrade to SharePoint 2010 without a negative impact on day-to-day use of the server. The second stage provides a parallel test setup with the new interfaces, allowing for user training while regular work continues on the old interface. Then, when everybody's ready, the new interface can be enabled across the server. For more information or to download the SharePoint 2010 beta, go to sharepoint2010.microsoft.com. Chief Technology Analyst Jim Rapoza can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In SharePoint 2010, the Central Administration Interface has been improved, with more common management tasks in one place. For the most part, I liked this management interface, including new health-tracking features that will be useful for pointing out problems in the SharePoint system.