Planning the Server Farm Topology

Technical people are responsible for figuring out your server farm topology. Only in rare circumstances is SharePoint deployed to a single server. In most cases, SharePoint requires at least two servers.

Planning the server farm topology requires tasks such as these:

  • Matching the topology to the project’s requirements.
  • Determining the requirements for capacity, performance, and availability.
  • Deciding how many servers are required of each kind of server role.
  • Figuring out how the servers are configured within the existing network topology to prevent unauthorized access.
  • Providing access to authorized and anonymous third parties as required by the project.
  • Determining strategies for upgrading and migrating content from previous versions of SharePoint and other server applications.
  • Identifying requirements for multilingual sites.
  • Provisioning databases for use by the server farm.
  • Making sure you have the proper licensing to match requirements.
  • Creating a backup and restore strategy.
  • Creating an ongoing administration plan.

Technical folks are also responsible for planning for the deployment of the server farm. This requires coordination with other planners to ensure that the deployment occurs in accordance with requirements.

If you don’t have the internal staff to complete this phase of planning, don’t worry. You have two options:

  • Hiring consultants: You can hire a third party to come in and take care of the technical stuff for you. Depending on the size and complexity of your project, it could take as little as a day to get you up and running. This option works best for companies who already have an existing IT infrastructure but don’t have the time or the skill set to bring up a server farm.
  • Hosting: If you don’t have the internal staff to support a SharePoint farm, hosting may be a good alternative. With a hosted solution, a third party allows you to access SharePoint on their servers. Hosting is a great way to get up and running with SharePoint in a very short period of time and for the lowest amount of up-front cash outlay.

Several kinds of hosting options are available. You can find companies who host only WSS and those who also host MOSS 2007. You must decide whether you want to use a shared server or a dedicated server.

With a shared server, your SharePoint installation lives alongside other people’s SharePoint sites on the same server. For the highest amount of security and availability, you can use a dedicated server that only your company accesses.

Obviously, a shared solution is less costly than a dedicated solution. If you go with a dedicated server, most companies let you bring the server in-house whenever you get ready.