Project Server 2013 Preview First Impressions

First impressions matter and so far I’m impressed.

Exciting Stuff (in no particular order)

  • SharePoint Security model – no more Manage Users / Groups! Literally, the links are gone! Awesome.
  • Integration of PDP’s and the Project Site is great! Such a simple change but it does improve the navigation.

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  • Set Baseline from PWA! (If that doesn’t excite you then think about it; Baseline through Demand Management / Governance Workflows!)

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  • Performance is good – granted my lab runs on SSD but page loads are fast, perception of performance is very good.
  • SharePoint Task List projects are nice, perfect replacement for what would currently be a basic online edited project. I especially love the fact that from Project Centre New Project throws the user directly into the Project Site after creation!

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  • Timeline all over PWA – love it! (So will my customers!)

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The not so great

  • Still cannot do % allocations in PWA. :(
  • Need to read-up on what happened to Security Categories my favourite miss-understood Project feature.
  • I still can’t find the site breadcrumb? (e.g. Navigate back to PWA from a project site)

Project 2010 Ignite

Just finished up at the Microsoft Project 2010 Ignite conference in Sydney and wanted to share some of the great things I learnt over the week. The sessions were very good over all I must say and it was good to meet many of the familiar names in both the .AU EPM field but also the Redmond guys who came down.

I’ll post here all my notes taken, basically covering significant items that I learnt and some questions asked and / or answered. Note though that this list is in way a complete list of content covered as basically all the hundreds of things that I have previously learnt over the past few months beta testing are not mentioned in these notes! Also the order is as it was discussed so mostly relates to the agenda, but of course some questions or items discussed were of course off topic.

Day 1

Points of Interest:

  • Release date for General Availability of Office 2010 scheduled for June!
  • Project Server 2010 requires SharePoint 2010 Enterprise version as a minimum.
  • 2007 PWA CAL will upgrade to a full PWA 2010 AND SharePoint Enterprise 2010 CAL if on Software Assurance.
  • Portfolio Server CAL’s upgrade to full Project Server 2010 CAL’s with SA.
  • Full pricing is to be released very soon, and is apparently very similar to the current pricing.
  • Project Pro 2010 is not backwards compatible, ie it cannot connect to PS2007.
  • Synch to SharePoint lists requires only Project Pro (not Standard) 2010 and SharePoint Foundation 2010 (WSS4)
  • Synch to SharePoint task function is fully disabled when connected to a Project Server (interesting).
  • PWA requires Internet Explorer 7 as a minimum, and does not support Tier 2 (other modern) browsers unlike SharePoint
  • Team Foundation Server 2010 for Application Lifecycle Management supported out of the box with a connector, however so far only a client based sync connector is released, the server to server connector will be released soon. Also no support for any previous versions.
  • Project Web App views published data, e.g. Project Centre, but editing a project opens the working or draft copy. (Something to watch out for)
  • MPP format has changed again with PPRO2010 and is not backwards compatible unless the option is specifically selected on save.

Questions asked or answered:

  • Office version required for PS2010 is mainly revolving around Excel Services 2010 which requires Excel 2007/2010 for editing. However no Office version is required for just viewing reports, etc. (Not sure what Word requirements there are for editing / saving, assume the same as 2007)
  • Migration / import from other data sources such as Primavera is not considered. (Not really surprising)

New Buzzwords:

  • Demand Management (my favourite new topic!)
  • Top Down Portfolio Management (included in PS now with PPS)
  • Project Lifecycle Management – preferred to Demand Management as is more accurate to describe the workflow features.

Day 2

Points of Interest:

  • Project Workspaces are now created at the very outset of any workflow or new project, before the first publish. This has the effect in particular if you change workflow mid process and that results in a workspace change then manual extra effort would be required.
  • The SDK will include a tool to visualise workflow through a webpart (like in Portfolio Server)
  • The SDK will also include a tool to pull workspace data (artefacts) into a PDP (Project Details Page).
  • UMT plans to release a few products to supplement the features omitted from Portfolio Server 2010 such as a Project Financial Management and Application Management add-on’s.
  • Timesheets include a new function ‘Send Status’ which performs a status update (submit task updates) of selected or all timesheet lines, without requiring a full timesheet submit.
  • New Timesheet option in settings to require Status Manager approval prior to Timesheet manager approval of a timesheet. (This should address most of the rejection scenario issues in Tied-Mode)
  • Surrogate Timesheets have been completely replaced by the new Delegate functionality.
  • OLAP cubes no longer require the DSO (and thus backwards compatibility components), they are now built using AMO.
  • Project file properties (File->Properties) now selectively stored in the RDB, such as keywords, etc. This would be particularly useful for search.
  • No more OWC (hurrah).
  • Report viewer users do not need direct security permissions on database, this is handled by the Secure Store which uses the appropriate service account. This does not apply to editing of reports.

Things to read:

  • Power Pivot! (Awesome name!)
  • Eigen Vector (which is the formula behind the Portfolio optimiser percentages)

Day 3

Points of Interest:

  • Must check out the BI content on the Project Programmability blog.
  • Visio Services is great for dynamic data driven charts and diagrams, however it does not accept parameters (like Excel Services) which may limit some uses (such as in a project workspace template).
  • Hosted option “Project Online” to be announced soon, which will comprise of a slightly cut down EPM solution for entry level clients.
  • Still not possible to set a baseline using PSI.
  • Delegation feature is basically equivalent to giving someone your password.
  • However delegation is only valid in PWA or with Project web parts, and not in SharePoint including workspaces, or in Project Pro.
  • AD synchronisation and WSS permissions sync have been ‘greatly improved’ to prevent dead-locks, etc.
  • New option for Project Managers via PWA is the ‘project permissions’ option which allows project level security permissions to be assigned by the project owner, negating the need for the use of delegates for project access. (Love it, more user self service!)
  • Project Pro no longer provides the password prompt option, however as it uses Claims based authentication it relies on IE settings and so if IE prompts for password then so does Project Pro.
  • Now need to always think of Project Server as having 5 databases, as the SharePoint content database stores so much important data such as BI, workflow, PDP’s etc.
  • Bulk Update option in Server Settings provides WSSRelinker tool functionality.
  • Playbooks upgrade for 2010 to be released near release date.
  • Playbooks has been fixed to not rely on GUID’s and instead use names to prevent migration issues.
  • A new tool is to be released to migrate PDP’s and workflow like Playbooks.
  • WSS_Logging database is a new SharePoint 2010 feature and provides fully documented performance / issue logging for the farm.
  • The SharePoint Developer Dashboard feature provides very detailed page stats once enabled, detailing things like load times per web parts, SQL stored procedures called, etc.
  • SQL database mirroring is now also supported in 2010.
  • Manually scheduled tasks still have the old duration, start and finish stored as “Scheduled Start, etc”.
  • RDB stores the scheduled start / finish etc as the normal date field, and stores the new manual values separately, and also contains a task field indicating if the task is auto / manual.

Project Server 2010 Beta migration / upgrade overview

After having a couple of days to test the migration procedures to 2010 I wanted to share my experience in this blog entry for everyone to see.  

Overall I would say that the migration process is quite straightforward, certainly compared with what we used to have to do from 2003 – 2007! I’ll start by detailing the options and requirements for migration as at Beta2 of Project 2010:

Upgrade Options

To upgrade to Project Server 2010 from 2007 the following options are available:

1.       In-place upgrade – in which the existing 2007 servers are directly upgraded.

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee662104(office.14).aspx

2.       DB-attach upgrade – whereby you upgrade a backup of the databases only.

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee662500(office.14).aspx

3.       Full database migration from Project Server 2003 –

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee662498(office.14).aspx

Upgrade Requirements

Different circumstances require the use of different option, or options in the case of number 3. However the specific requirements for each can be summarised as:

1.       In-place requirements:

a.       Existing Project Server 2007 must be installed in a 64-bit environment including SQL Server 64bit.

2.       DB-attach requirements:

a.       Extra hardware is required on which to run 2010 separately from the 2007 version.

3.       Project Server 2003 requirements:

a.       This is a two step upgrade – first migrate from 2003 to 2007, then 2007 to 2010 using either method 1 or 2 above.

b.      For this migration a Virtual Migration Environment (VME) is available for use, it contains a fully pre-configured 2007 instance including all required tools in a Hyper-V image format. Using this requires the use of a DB-Attach upgrade for the second step.

Other requirements:

SQL Server version required for the server which will host the 2010 databases is as follows;

  • 64-bit version of SQL Server 2008 SP1 with CU2, or
  • 64-bit SQL Server 2005 SP3 with CU3.

 

Once the upgrade is complete the restored databases will be configured in Backwards Compatibility Mode, which enables the following:

Backwards Compatibility Mode (BCM)

  • Enabled by default after upgrading
  • Enables connection to Project Server 2010 by Project Professional 2007 clients
  • Can be disabled from Server Settings, but then can not be re-enabled

 Note: When enabled the following client features are disabled:

  • Manually scheduled tasks are not available on the server or client.
  • Tasks cannot be set to inactive.
  • Font strikethrough is not available.
  • All departmental custom fields are enforced in Office Project Professional 2007.

 

Upgrade Procedure Summary

In-place upgrade

The in-place upgrade is similar to a typical MOSS service pack installation, once all software version pre-requisites have been met (Oct CU, SQL + CU, etc) then the process is roughly as follows:

1.       Stop WWW service on all front end servers and stop Project Queue service on all application servers

2.       Install SharePoint 2010 binaries on all servers in farm (do not run config wizard yet)

3.       Install Project Server 2010 binaries on all servers in the farm

4.       Run the SharePoint Configuration Wizard on the server hosting Central Administration

5.       Run the SharePoint Configuration Wizard on the remaining servers in the farm

6.       Restart all Queue and WWW services previously stopped

There you have it.

Project Server 2010 Migration Requirements

I’m doing some testing this week on migrating to 2010 so I have a few things I will be blogging about in the next day or so, but I noticed that my draft blog is getting very long so I thought I’d split one very important part of it into a separate entry altogether.

A few things have come out as obvious ‘gotchas’  in the migration requirements, and I’ll summarise them here quickly;

  • In-place migration requires 64bit Project Server / MOSS in order to ‘upgrade’
    This one is no surprise as 2010 is 64bit only.
  • Upgraded 2007 installations need to start by running all latest patches (as of October ’09), so that means:
    Project Server OctCU, MOSS OctCU, WSS OctCU, SQL 2005 SP3 + CU3 OR SQL 2008 SP1 + CU2. It’s worthwhile when doing any new installs from no onwards to START at that level.
  • DB-Attach upgrades (more on the upgrade methods in my main blog), which is probably the method that will be used 90% of the time due to #1 above will need Workspaces provisioned OUTSIDE of the default content database, i.e. Not at /PWA.
    Fortunately there are steps provided in the  migration guide to move your workspaces to a new site collection and content db so that this is possible.

 

Come back later for more comments and some lessons learnt.