Managing Information Management Policy in SharePoint Server 2010 (ECM)

Last modified: April 20, 2010

Applies to: SharePoint Server 2010

An information management policy is a set of rules that govern the availability and behavior of a certain type of important content. Policy enables administrators to control and evaluate who can access information, how long to retain information, and how effectively people are complying with the policy. The most common creators and enforcers of policy are compliance officers, records managers, IT staff, and others who are responsible for managing risk.

With Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010, you can apply policies to manage your content according to business processes. SharePoint Server 2010 contains several policy features that you can customize for your needs, and an extensibility framework that enables you to create, customize, and deploy your own policies and policy features.

Policies provide the following benefits:

  • Administrators can set and manage "the rules" for a content type from a single location, including both client-side policy features and server-side policy features.

  • Policies are tightly coupled to the content, both within SharePoint Server 2010 and in downloaded Microsoft Office 2010 content.

  • Policies require little involvement from end users, because corporate policies are automatically and transparently followed.

NoteNote

When content is stored in SharePoint Server 2010, instances of saving the content from the client to the server are captured by auditing events. However, if a user downloads content to their desktop, the policy is not enforced on the desktop copy.

Policy Architecture

In SharePoint Server 2010, each policy is a collection of instruction sets for one or more policy features. Each policy feature provides a specific kind of content management functionality. You can assign a policy to a content type or to a list.

Figure 1 shows the conceptual relationships of the various policy elements.

Figure 1. Policy framework components technical architecture

Policy framework component conceptual architecture

Logically, each policy is a collection of instruction sets for one or more policy features. A policy feature is an assembly that provides some content management functionality to SharePoint Server 2010, and possibly to Office 2010 documents in client applications. For example, expiration, auditing, document labels, and bar codes are all policy features included in SharePoint Server 2010.

Each policy is represented by an XML document. For each policy feature that you want to include in a policy, you include an instruction set, called a policy item, in the policy. A policy item is an XML node within a policy that contains the settings for only one policy feature. These settings include information required for all policy items, such as the ID and name of the policy feature. It can also include a custom data element, which only the policy feature must be able to parse.

For each policy feature in a policy, there is only one policy item. You can include the same policy feature in multiple policies; in each policy, the feature has a single associated policy item.

In addition, a policy feature can use one or more policy resources. A policy resource is an assembly that assists the policy feature by providing some functionality that the feature needs. For example, the bar code policy feature uses a bar code provider, which generates bar codes, as a policy resource. Similarly, the expiration policy feature employs an Expiration Formula Calculator as a policy resource to determine a document's actual expiration date. This policy feature also uses an expiration action policy resource to determine what action to take when an item reaches its expiration date.

Policy features can use multiple policy resources, but each policy resource can be used by only one policy feature.

There is one policy collection per site collection; this collection can contain any number of policies. Each policy contains any number of policy items, and each item encapsulates settings information for—and points to—a single policy feature. Multiple policies can contain a policy item that points to the same policy feature. Each policy feature can employ any number of policy resources to assist its operation. Each policy feature employs its own collection of policy resources; policy resources are not shared between policy features.

You can assign only one policy to a given content type or SharePoint list. However, that policy can contain any number of policy items.