A number of times over the past few years I have stumbled into discussions (in person or online) about how to automate the creation of MySites for all users in the organization. Creating the sites programmatically is actually pretty simple, but the real question is “Why do you want to do that?” There are advantages and disadvantages to automating the process, but for me it almost always comes down to two big things; Governance and Business Reason.
MySites present an interesting challenge with regards to governance. While most of the topics are outside the scope of this article there are a few important topics that relate to the number of MySites within an organization.
Storage Considerations – Even with quotas in place it is easy to see exponential growth for the storage requirements. In larger environments with 1,000s of users serious planning needs to take place to build out a SQL environment to support the site collections. Planning should also be done to manage the number of sites per content database to ensure long term maintainability.
When you provision all of the sites at once all of the planning has to be done up front, where conversely if you provision the sites slowly over time you spend a little time planning out the long term assumptions and then tweak the strategy over time as the sites and their usage evolves. It is much easier to make corrections with the slow approach.
User Support and Training – A MySite is very different than an email account which is something nearly all computer users are familiar with at this point. The average SharePoint user has never received any formal training and has little understanding of the capabilities of a site collection. Without proper training it is unlikely that user will be able to take advantage of any of the real benefits of the MySite leaving them to just use it as a replacement for a personal network share (see Storage Considerations above).
In my experience site owners or administrators for traditional collaboration or department sites are much more likely to have success and less likely to need extra support. That narrower group of people is a much better starting point, and they are also sophisticated enough to initiate the automatic provisioning process themselves.
Each organization should develop a user story for what the purpose of a MySite is within their organization. Like any site collection, it can be used for many different purposes such as; Landing Page, Dashboard, Personal Site, etc. The user story may help establish how the MySite will be used, who is expected to use it, and ultimately if customization is needed to provide the functionality and content. The answers to those questions should help guide the decision about how to provision the sites.
While I tend to like the go slow and make adjustments path, there are valid reasons for needing to auto-provision sites for large groups of users. Hopefully the guidance here will help to guide the team through proper planning so that the implementation can be successful.