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Editor's note: Contributor Tanya Melnichenko is a Level 2 Engineer at PLEXHOSTED LLC. Follow her @PlexHosted
Microsoft SharePoint is Microsoft’s fast growing server product. It is deployed in servers around the world for use by large and small companies alike. For large companies, the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) says that as many as half have deployed SharePoint in some form and of those companies, 22% have all their employees using SharePoint.
So you may ask, “Why are so many large companies and their employees using SharePoint, and what are the deployment implications?”
For large companies, SharePoint is way more than a simple Content Management System (CMS). Primarily it provides a framework for developing numerous collaboration, document management, content management, project management, work flow and business intelligence capabilities delivered over an intranet, extranet, or internet environment. This framework can be organized into “sites” for secure access by separate departments and can be managed at the “farm” level by IT Departments. Most important for large companies, SharePoint is vastly customizable at the site or farm level. There is a robust catalog of third party software that can support most conceivable customizations and if that does not work, there is an army of consultants who can develop the customization software from scratch.
Now the companies’ on-the-go employees have permissioned and managed access to the critical information necessary to do their jobs.
With all this critical information being used by all these important employees, in all these diverse applications, “What’s an over taxed IT Department to do?”
High Availability Cloud Based Servers! By their very nature cloud based servers are reliable. When combined with a high availability service architecture and SharePoint 2010 Server, large companies can build robust, fault-tolerant, and highly available corporate portals.
Note there is a difference between high availability and disaster recovery. High availability gives users the ability to continually access their system even when there is failure in some part of the infrastructure. Disaster recovery is the process of recovering an environment that has already failed. Company risk associated with total system failure is huge. According to the National Archives & Records Administration, 50% of companies that completely lose their data center capability wind up filing for bankruptcy. The lesson, deploy a high availability cloud based server architecture.
So, when investing in SharePoint, a high availability environment assures a company and its users will continue to have access to critical information thereby preventing the loss of business and customers as well as preventing damaged reputations.
The other advantage of a SharePoint high availability environment is access by large numbers of users online at the same time. Normally a company can have up to 2 million users per site collection in SharePoint 2010. It is not a problem if a few thousand of these users are online at the same time. This is a great benefit especially for large companies planning to have public facing sites.
The costs associated with high availability cloud based servers are quite naturally high. By choosing a high availability SharePoint 2010 environment keep in mind that you will need to pay for additional hardware and software, which increases the complexity of interactions between software applications and settings as well as additional operational complexity. Existing data centers and IT staff with re-purposed servers and new software licenses can be used to deploy a high availability SharePoint portal.
Alternatively there are reputable hosting companies that can deploy your high availability specificationa across multiple data centers using secure and redundant VPNs for access back to your corporate network. When outsourcing to a hosting company that is deploying a cloud based server environment, cost savings associated with the “shared” nature of a cloud based server environment can be passed along. Additionally the hosting company staff can take care of all the infrastructure monitoring and maintenance.
Because of all these advantages that assure the availability of critical SharePoint services, SharePoint 2010 Server continues its fast growth record and leading place in the market. As proof of complex SharePoint portals in the corporate world, the following companies consider SharePoint as a “one-stop shop” for their business: Procter & Gamble, Kroger , Dell (Financial Services), Pfizer (UK site), Kraft Foods, HESS, Chrysler Group, Philip Morris International, and Fluor.
So, if you need a secure, flexible and fault tolerant corporate portal, do not waste your time and choose high availability cloud based SharePoint servers for this purpose.