discovering_the_soul_of_tibet112aaf1f7a1926bafcbbA 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:

Business Drivers:

  • 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?

Risk Management:

  • 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?
  • Geographic’s/Localization:
  • 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.