cropped-world-connect-26465371Many companies are struggling with data center consolidations for the purposes of simplifying and reducing costs. Why? Globalization has forced organizations to reduce their cost structures and that usually means, people, real estate and other assets considered to be unwanted overhead or redundant.

Centralizing SharePoint is an interesting subject since the information contained within it is usually subject to regional laws that specify data cannot be housed/shared outside the countries borders. Another interesting point is the WAN – can it support the traffic of a centralized deployment?

Another aspect to consider is how to manage service levels since geographically modeled farms don’t lend well to supporting service levels. This is a concern since the Microsoft literature used by 90% of the consultants out there uses a geo model –  global organizations with past SharePoint experience don’t go this route anymore and there’s good reason not to!

When designing your SharePoint environment you require a multi-disciplined team to make sure you address the legal, regulatory, information, operational and technical aspects of a design. Too many companies just focus on the physical design of SharePoint such as number of servers, location and capacity. That’s okay but its only 20% of an overall architecture. More on this in a future blog…

WAN acceleration products by Citrix and F5 can really make a difference in performance from a user perspective. Such as:

  • Faster page loads
  • Faster document downloads
  • Faster search

By deploying these technologies SharePoint performance can increase by as much as 80% in some cases – but the weak link is still the WAN. In areas such as ASIAPAC your dealing with WAN speeds that are very slow in comparison with NA and therefore get used to the fact that you will most likely require small farms in some locations.

To good to be true? In some cases yes. If your traffic patterns are varied, your planning to migrate data or perform large data uploads then you will need a bigger pipe. Also, if your users are doing a lot of searching then you’ll run into the same performance problems – but not as bad due to the compression.

In any case, designing a SharePoint environment can be a complex task when centralizing. I believe the 80/20 rule applies, expect to centralize 80% of your offices and the other 20% will require a small farm. This will probably fly in the face of most CIOs vision of complete centralization but I find that reality prevails sooner or later.

Want more information? Network World article