Why haven’t you patched your SharePoint farm?

AHHH! It seems a week doesn’t go by that I don’t find some ancient SharePoint farm lying around. Just recently I found such an environment that one of our customers was using. I swear this last one was used by the ancient Egyptians and was using the Hieroglyphs language pack. As of May 29, 2012 that farm is running SharePoint Server 2007 RTM. RTM? Yes, you know the thing that came out on November 11, 2006. That was 2,026 days ago! Can you imagine not patching your server for over 2,000 days? That is just crazy! Oh, and in case you were wondering, this was one of their production farms. (And don’t get me started on the insanity of having multiple production farms without really good reasons, which they didn’t have.)

Why do I care so much? Because I am a caring kind of guy. Ok, maybe not. Really, it’s more because they are doing two things that make me a sad panda. One is giving SharePoint a bad name. I don’t know the exact number but let’s just say there have been hundreds of fixes, several performance enhancements, and more than handful of new pieces of functionality introduced in those 2,000-plus days since SharePoint 2007 was first released. And those patches, performance enhancements, and new functionality generally help alleviate many of the pain points some users may be having with SharePoint. If the users of that farm were complaining about something not working right, chances are that issue could have been addressed by simply applying updates to the farm. And, they could get all of that for exactly the price of free. Ok, I realize “free” isn’t completely true because patching does have an associated cost but, whatever that cost is for you it is far outweighed by the cost of not patching. I will not dive into the nerdy details on this topic but remember you should always test your patches on your TEST FARM before you install them on your production farm. J

The second downside of not keeping up with your patches, and what aggravated me the most about this customer, is there is often a minimum build that a farm needs to be at in order to upgrade to the next version of SharePoint. This customer is on SharePoint 2007 RTM and they want me to move them to SharePoint 2010 (hopefully not RTM). The only problem? SharePoint 2007 has to be at Service Pack 2 or later before you can even attempt to do an upgrade! Then I ask the customer what it will take to do an upgrade and they send me over a nine slide PowerPoint that I will need to work through to help me submit the upgrade proposal to their IT governance group. It will take me probably four hours of my life just to go through the first round of justification to put this patch on, and this is even before getting to the actual upgrade to SharePoint 2010. WHY? You can give me your song and dance about controls and such but this is just ludicrous. I have written a lot of governance plans for SharePoint and I have never included a section on requiring a sacrifice to deploy a two year old patch that is pretty much mandatory. Heck, I’ll even point out that right now they are not even supported. Support for the RTM version of SharePoint 2007 stopped January 13, 2009 if I can read the Product Lifecycle correctly.

If you are still on SharePoint 2007 and want to check where you are with patches you can use this link. For SharePoint 2010 use this one.

So in the future, please do yourselves, your users, and even me a favor by keeping your SharePoint farm up to date with the latest patches. You’ll be happy you did, and I will too!


7 Comments so far

  1.   Octavio on June 8th, 2012          Reply

    Hear hear! Preach it brother Shane!

  2.   Matt on June 8th, 2012          Reply

    I’m dealing with a similar upgrade in a couple weeks. Some added excitement, no one knows the passwords to the SharePoint accounts and no test farm. Tear, Tear! Good Luck!

  3.   Sean McDonough on June 12th, 2012          Reply

    A sad panda? Really? I guess that’s better than a sad clown. Clowns are creepy. I hate clowns.

    All clowning-around aside …

    You make some excellent points; hopefully the “out of support” message for 2007 RTM is compelling enough to move them forward. I’ve worked with organizations like the one you describe. Invariably they have some governance or architecture group nestled away in an ivory tower – and those folks don’t get out into the real world too much. They make their own reality, and it doesn’t overlap too often with the reality that most of us call home.

    Just out of curiosity: do they keep their Windows Servers patched, or are those as equally out-of-date? If the baseline OS is patched, I’d love to hear why they feel that patching it is “okay” but SharePoint isn’t.

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  7.   DerRoboter on March 4th, 2013          Reply

    Hi Shane, so by saying “have it patched” you strictly refer to service packs, right? I’m hoping not CUs – because we’re preaching this: “As a rule of thumb you shouldn’t apply a CU unless you have a specific problem and you can point to the CU that fixes it”

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