Plan for server farms

SharePoint 2007

Updated: April 23, 2009

Applies To: Office SharePoint Server 2007

This Office product will reach end of support on October 10, 2017. To stay supported, you will need to upgrade. For more information, see , Resources to help you upgrade your Office 2007 servers and clients.


Topic Last Modified: 2016-11-14

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This article can help you determine how many server farms your organization requires. There are many different types of sites that you can build and operate using Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007. Depending on how many and what types of sites you plan to deploy, you might plan for more than one server farm.

This article describes criteria that can be used to determine if multiple server farms are required. Subsequent planning articles provide guidance on planning for individual farms, including the following:

Consider licensing requirements to determine the minimum number of server farms that you need to plan for. There are two server licenses available for Office SharePoint Server 2007. These licenses can be combined on the same server computer or on the same server farm. The following table lists and describes each license offering.


Offering Description

Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, Server License

This license is required to run Office SharePoint Server 2007 in client/server mode. You should use this license with the requisite number of Client Access Licenses (CALs) appropriate for your organizational needs.

Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 for Internet sites

You may use the software for Internet-facing Web sites only. All content, information, and applications must be accessible to non-employees. This license has all the features of the Enterprise Edition of Office SharePoint Server. This is a per server license that does not require the purchase of Client Access Licenses.

If you plan to deploy internal content for your organization and Internet-facing content for non-employees from the same farm, you must purchase both license types for that farm. As an accommodation for possible deployment scenarios, customers wishing to consolidate their Office SharePoint Server 2007 needs under a single deployment may acquire licenses for both products, assign those licenses to the same server, and use the same running instance of the software simultaneously under both licenses. However, customers must acquire CALs as required under the Office SharePoint Server 2007 use rights for users and devices accessing content in any manner not permitted under the Office SharePoint Server 2007 for Internet sites use rights.

The remainder of this section describes which license to use for different types of deployments.

Use the server license with the appropriate number of CALs. Even though intranet sites might be exposed to the Internet to allow access to remote employees, this is the correct license for this scenario.

Use the Internet sites license.

You can choose the following options for partner extranet sites:

  • Add a partner extranet site to a server farm that is hosting the company intranet (server license). With this option, you must ensure that you purchase the requisite number of CALs for partner employees.

  • Add a partner extranet site to a server farm that is hosting the company Internet site (Internet sites license). This option does not require CALs for partner employees or for your own employees who are collaborating with partners. However, on this farm, you may not create sites that are used exclusively by employees of your organization.

  • Deploy a dedicated server farm for partner collaboration and use the Internet sites license. This option does not require CALs for partner employees or for your own employees who are collaborating with partners. However, on this farm, you may not create sites that are used exclusively by employees of your organization.

If you plan to deploy a single server farm, use this server farm. If you plan to deploy two different server farms, one for intranet sites and one for Internet sites, consider the following aspects to help you decide which server farm to use for partner extranet sites:

  • Nature of collaboration   If the primary purpose of a partner extranet site is to securely communicate information to many partners, the Internet server farm is the most economical choice. On the other hand, if the primary purpose is to work collaboratively with a small number of partner employees, the intranet server farm might be a better choice. Choose the option that enables you to optimize the farm for its intended role (that is, collaboration vs. read-only content).

  • Number of partner employees   If you collaborate with many partner employees and cost is a strong criterion, you can securely host both collaborative and anonymous content on an Internet-facing farm with the Internet sites license.

If you collaborate with many partner employees, consider deploying a dedicated server farm for partner extranet sites in the following circumstances:

  • You do not plan to deploy a server farm for Internet sites and it is more cost effective to purchase the Internet sites license than to purchase CALs for all partner employees.

  • Your organization prevents authenticated access to or collaboration on the same server farm that hosts your Internet site.

  • You anticipate or are experiencing performance issues on a server farm that hosts both Internet sites and partner extranet sites. For example, partner employees report slow response times when collaborating on content.

In pre-publishing environments where multiple environments are used for development, authoring, testing, and staging, use the following guidelines:

  • Code development and testing   Use an MSDN license. For more information, see MSDN Subscription Licensing (

  • Content authoring   Use theserver license with the appropriate number of CALs.

  • Staging   Staging environments are typically configured to match the production environment. Consequently, use the Internet sites license.

For more information about licensing, see the following resources:

Several criteria that are determined by your organization might affect the number of server farms that are required, including:

  • Operational divisions of responsibility

  • Funding sources

  • Datacenter locations

In some organizations, different divisions are responsible for different types of Web sites or applications. If a division requires autonomy in deploying and operating these applications, it might be appropriate to plan a separate server farm for the division. Alternatively, you can negotiate with multiple divisions to determine if you can be more efficient and combine multiple sites onto a single server farm.

In some organizations, the way that projects are funded might influence the number of server farms that are required. For example, the following scenarios might require multiple server farms:

  • Each division has a separate hardware budget.

  • Projects are funded independently with little opportunity to combine hardware budgets or operational costs across multiple projects.

  • Projects are funded by using different funding models. For example, an organization might fund My Sites with a shared hardware budget, but offer team sites to individual teams by using a cost-recovered internal hosting model that results in a charge-back cost for each team.

If sites must be hosted in different datacenter locations, you will need to plan for more than one server farm.

If sites have different availability requirements and service-level agreements, it might be more cost-effective to implement multiple server farms. The types of scenarios that might require multiple server farms include:

  • Publishing environment

  • Different service-level agreements

  • High availability

A publishing environment often contains multiple environments for authoring, staging, and testing. Each of these environments will have different availability requirements and service-level agreements than the production environment. The authoring, staging, and testing sites have a much smaller user load and are subject to greater instability from testing activities.

At a minimum, plan to deploy at least two server farms: one for the published site and one for the authoring, staging, and testing activities. Depending on your organization, you might need to plan a separate server farm for each of the pre-publishing activities.

For more information about planning for a publishing environment, see "Functional requirements" later in this article.

Some sites in your production environment might have different service-level agreements. Consider the following examples:

  • Your organization might define some types of content as more critical than others. For example, content in team sites might be more critical to business objectives than content in My Sites. Consequently, the service windows for restoring each type of content in the event of a disaster might differ.

  • Sites that host security-critical data might require greater measures of security, including a more secure authentication method, increased logging, or faster application of software updates.

Different service-level agreements do not necessarily require separate server farms. In some cases, sites with different service-level agreements can be hosted efficiently on one server farm. In other cases, specific service-level requirements are better met by deploying sites to separate server farms.

Evaluate the service-level agreements with the following in mind:

  • Creating separate Web applications or application pools on the same server farm provides the opportunity to implement different authentication methods and access-control policies. This approach also results in separate content databases, which can be restored in priority order based on service-level agreements.

  • Requirements that affect the topology, configuration, and operations of the overall server environment might be met more efficiently by deploying more than one farm.

Some organizations require the ability to fail over to a server farm in a different geographic location in the event of a disaster. Office SharePoint Server 2007 supports SQL Server log shipping to back up databases. By using the backup copies, you can quickly build a server farm to bring data online.

If your organization requires the ability to bring up a server farm in a remote datacenter, then plan for at least two server farms.

Many isolation requirements can be achieved on a single server farm. On the other hand, some scenarios require more than one server farm.

Office SharePoint Server 2007 provides the opportunity to isolate applications that are hosted on the same server farm by using one or more of the following isolation methods:

  • Use different Internet Information Services (IIS) application pools with different process identities to achieve isolation at the process level.

  • Use separate Web applications to achieve isolation at the Web application level.

  • Use separate Shared Services Providers (SSPs) to achieve isolation at the content and audience levels.

For more information about using these methods, see the following articles:

Although there are no technical reasons why you might need to deploy more than one server farm to achieve security isolation, some organizational requirements will dictate that more than one server farm be implemented. The following scenarios are examples:

  • In some industries, such as investment banking, industry rules dictate physical isolation between sites.

  • Some organizations that outsource IT projects, such as a state government, might issue contracts that require physical isolation of applications.

  • Some organizations are not comfortable relying on isolation at the software level and insist on physical isolation.

  • The need to secure critically sensitive data, including administrative access to operate a server farm, might result in a requirement for a physically separate environment.

If any of these types of scenarios apply to your deployment, you might need to plan for more than one server farm.

If none of the previous criteria mandate more than one server farm, consider the following aspects of performance and scalability:

  • Software boundaries

  • Application profile

  • Throughput

Depending on the scope of your deployment, scale guidelines might indicate that more than one server farm is necessary. Review the Plan for software boundaries (Office SharePoint Server) article to determine if a single server farm will accommodate the scale that you expect.

In larger environments, you can increase the performance of a server farm by optimizing the farm for applications with similar performance profiles. For example, published intranet content, such as a human resources site, has a much different performance profile than collaborative content, such as team sites.

Consider the following types of factors that contribute to a performance profile:

  • Volume of requests. For example, My Sites typically result in fewer requests than team sites.

  • Read-only content vs. collaborative content.

  • Volume of content. For example, a records center stores a great volume of data but processes few user requests.

In some cases, the expectation for throughput requires you to implement multiple server farms. For information about planning to meet throughput requirements, see Plan for performance and capacity (Office SharePoint Server).

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