By Laurie Head
AIS Network Vice President, Marketing Communications
So, you know your organization needs hosted Microsoft® SharePoint® 2010. What are the next steps?
Which version of hosted SharePoint 2010 is best for your organization? Should it be hosted in a cloud environment? Is a single server adequate?
These are good questions, and AIS Network’s expert staff can help you make sense of all the considerations involved in determining an optimal SharePoint 2010 architecture.
Getting Started With SharePoint 2010
The choice of Foundation vs. Standard vs. Enterprise is not based on the size of your installation or even the number of users. Rather, it is based on how SharePoint will be used within your organization. What functionality will the end users require? Which SharePoint features will solve their business problems?
Why isn’t a SharePoint configuration based on the number of users? The number of end users is less meaningful than what they’re doing with the application. For example, if 100 users all log onto SharePoint and don’t do anything except stare at their home page, there is absolutely no burden placed on the server(s). If the 100 users do only their wiki or blog updates, there is minimal impact on the SharePoint server(s). If the 100 users click and go from one page to another to look at media files, there is also only minimal impact on the server(s). If, however, all 100 users are uploading documents, downloading documents, and searching through documents, then the server(s) may be seriously impacted.
Why focus on functionality and features? SharePoint 2010 has so many cool features that the temptation to turn on all the features is irresistible.
But, bear in mind that the manner in which those SharePoint features are utilized will significantly impact the architecture of your solution. It may mean adding one or more servers, so that’s why it’s important to comprehend fully how SharePoint will be utilized by the end users.
For example, want a daily content crawl for 100,000 documents totaling 90GB? It’s entirely feasible. However, if you have everything residing on a single server, it may take up to 12 hours to complete if you are simultaneously running your system and SQL server backups. An end user attempting to access SharePoint while this crawl/backup process is in progress may find that the system performs poorly, freezing up at times because it cannot readily access its databases. That’s why if you were planning to give your end users all the features and leave it to them to figure out on their own which are best suited to their needs, you should resist that urge now. Ask them for their input and simply plan ahead.
SharePoint Installations: Some Due Diligence Questions to Ask
To get started on configuring a SharePoint 2010 installation, take several first steps:
1) Estimate your SharePoint user numbers. SharePoint 2010 is a database-driven application; everything is managed and presented via the SQL server database. Knowing the number of users is going to drive your storage requirements, which also affects performance. You should also be able to define who they are. Are the end users casual, daily, concurrent or critical? Are they employees? Contractors? Clients?
2) Determine how SharePoint will be utilized by the end users. What specific business problems are you trying to solve for end users within – and even outside of – your organization? What end user expectations are there?
3) Decide what features you need. The required features not only determine the architecture of your solution but they also dictate what version of the server software you should use. For example, if the ability to have (Excel, Access, Visio, etc.) forms and data access displayed directly within a SharePoint Web site is required, then the Enterprise version of the software is required.
4) Ask the right questions. To determine sizing, versions, and hosting environment, here are some initial questions that you must first ask yourself:
- How will users log in?
- Will you be using Active Directory?
- Will you require Anonymous user access from the Internet?
- Is this an Intranet, Extranet or Internet Web site?
- Documents and files are a big factor in determining storage requirements. How many do you anticipate? What types of content exist (surveys, images/graphics, forms, discussion boards, lists, etc.)?
- What are the average sizes of your documents/files? Is that static? How often will it change? Weekly? Monthly? Yearly?
- Will the content be made available to all users or to controlled groups of users?
- Will any content require user permission assignments or an approval process before users can see it?
- Do you require a collaboration workspace for end users to work on documents, projects or meetings?
- Will you require daily content crawls?
- Will you be using the Fast Search feature?
- Are advanced search features needed? Will users be able to narrow their search results via selecting search topics?
- Do users need to be able to search for content on a specific site? Or, on a server?
Services & Support
- What services do end users require? Status reports, online payroll, human resource policies, etc.?
- What level of interaction will end users require? How often? Short-term or long-term?
- What are your setup, support and administrative needs? Who will fulfill those on an ongoing basis?
- Have you designated administrative roles (site manager, security manager, etc.)?
- Do you know if you will be using Web parts? Any third party Web parts?
- Will direct access to MS Office applications/ other applications be required?
- Do you need custom functionality?
5) Review AISN’s SharePoint 2010 pricing guide. Download our “Standard Configurations for a Dedicated Server Environment” and review the SharePoint 2010 pricing Web page to determine which additional features and options might be attractive to your organization. Remember: Underestimating size requirements for the SharePoint environment can lead to problems down the road. For multiple reasons, squeezing everything into one server may not be optimal, so planning ahead is critical.
6) Contact AISN’s expert staff for a consultation and proposal quote. We’ve been hosting Microsoft products almost as long as we’ve been in business and can answer a litany of questions. We’ll guide you through the process and help you make smart choices. Good luck!