A colleague asked me what questions I would ask a client to quickly size a global SharePoint infrastructure which is usually comprised of multiple farms. What people often don’t think about when collecting data, assessing and architecting is the following:
- How much funding is available for the service?
- What services can I provide based on that funding?
- What service levels can I deliver based on funding?
- What are the gaps between what can be delivered based on funding vs. the expectation of the business?
- What are the guiding principles mandated by the executive team?
After some thought about the above points over a coffee, I assembled some questions I thought would be a good first pass down that long road of discovery. These questions cover many topics and are what i call the first layer of the onion. The following question use a top down approach and provide traceability from business requirements, operational impacts and technology:
- What are the business drivers?
- What is the operational budget?
- Are there compliance policies we must follow?
- What are the Service levels to be delivered?
- What are the SLAs in place today?
- How will success be measured?
- What features and functionality will the client need to use?
- What do they require that SharePoint doesn’t have?
- How has the clients cored on past IT audits?
- How well is the current environment managed? Operational quality?
- Are Microsoft RAP recommendations being followed?
- How successful have their prior 3-5 projects been?
- What risks do Business representatives, operations, engineering, architecture, infrastructures and their third party provider see?
Content Strategy/Information Architecture:
- What is the content strategy?
- What is the information architecture?
- What are the content sources (e.g. file shares, business systems, old websites, third party)?
- What applications will the client need to integrate?
- Provide a detailed breakdown (Type, applications, locations, size) of data to be migrated.
- What data stores does the client plan to index? Sizes? Location within the network?
- What is the geographic dispersion of intended users?
- What’s the user population on each continent?
- What are their workloads? Search? Document management? Basic Website?
- Provide estimates on data growth over 5 years.
- What languages will the client support?
- Where are the data centers located?
- What is their network structure and bandwidth?
- What are the performance characteristics of the network?
- Has an impact assessment been done by the Telco?
- What are the Help Desk requirements?
- What backup and restore systems are in place?
- What monitoring and reporting tools are in place?
- DLP scanning and reporting in place?
- What is the AD structure?
- Does the AD structure align with administrative needs?
- What data must be migrated? Format? Location? What can I archive?
- Provide record disposition schedules for the data/record types.
- How will data be captured (Office clients, scanners, ascent captures etc.)?
- How will the client utilize team sites (Projects, communities etc.)?
- How long will team sites be in use before being deleted?
- Will there collaboration and data sharing across continents?
- What operational procedures are in place for change mgmt? Quality assurance? Support? Administration?
- What third party contracts (Outsourcing) must I be concerned about?
- Do they lease or purchase?
- What staffing is in place today? Where is change/upgrading required?
- If the environment has been audited, collect the reports and recommendations as they will help expose risks.
In parallel with these questions I would run the HP Sizer for SharePoint (See my previous Blog) and create a few scenarios to understand the impacts of planned usage and data sizing from a technical perspective. From a culture and operations (Don’t over simplify the impact to culture and operations – big mistake!) perspective that’s a different story, a subject for another blog.