Frequently Asked Questions

What are Infrastructure Planning and Design (IPD) guides?

The Infrastructure Planning and Design guides describe the architectural considerations and streamline the design processes for planning and implementing Microsoft infrastructure technologies. Each guide addresses a unique infrastructure technology or scenario. All guides share a common structure including:

  • Defining the technical decision flow through the planning process.

  • Listing the decisions to be made and the commonly available options and considerations.

  • Relating the decisions and options to the business in terms of cost, complexity, and other characteristics.

  • Framing decisions in terms of additional questions to the business to ensure a comprehensive alignment with the appropriate business landscape.

These guides complement product documentation by focusing on infrastructure design options with the aim to help lower upfront planning time and ensure the right decisions are made to reduce IT operational costs and increase efficiencies.

How is an IPD guide different from product documentation?

The guides are structured so that they complement the product documentation. Each guide defines the critical architectural design decisions that must be made when planning the infrastructure for that technology. The guide then leads the reader through those design decisions in the appropriate order, evaluating the available options for each decision against its impact on critical characteristics of the infrastructure.

Since business decisions may affect the infrastructure design, a section on validating with the business is included to provide appropriate questions for the business leaders. In addition, these questions provide checkpoints that enable business leaders to provide additional input into the design process. This prescriptive, architectural design approach results in successful, repeatable, infrastructure implementations.

While the guides inform readers about the key design points that must be decided, the guides are not intended to provide a feature education of a particular technology. References are provided that link to further information about the technology.

Which guides are currently available?

Guides are available for System Center products, Virtualization, and Windows Server 2008, as well as guides for Selecting the Right Technology and Software-plus-Services. For more information, see Infrastructure Planning and Design Guide Series.

The IPD series is ongoing and will have multiple release waves throughout the year. Future guides will extend the architectural guidance to additional Microsoft operating system and software technologies, as well as Forefront products and security.

How might a business decision maker (BDM) use the IPD guides?

The Infrastructure Planning and Design guides are designed to help the business decision maker strike the balance between the need for upgrading technology and controlling IT operational costs. Our customers and partners can look at the characteristics section of each major decision and see which types of levers—such as cost, complexity, and manageability—are most important to their IT departments and then use that information to make balanced and informed decisions about their IT investments. For example, if cost is the biggest driver for the project, then the business manager can review all of the design options during the planning process to ensure that IT is selecting the least expensive options.

What happened to WSSRA, the Windows Server System Reference Architecture?

Microsoft is not investing in WSSRA at this time; but since the content is still relevant, it will continue to be available for the foreseeable future. Instead of investing in WSSRA, our research indicated that we should steer toward providing clear and concise architecture guidance for planning and designing Microsoft infrastructure technologies. To that end, we have introduced this new document series, Infrastructure Planning and Design.

Will there be an IPD guide for Microsoft Exchange Server?

Yes! We have released an IPD guide, Exchange Online—Evaluating Software-plus-Services, and have future plans to release more for Unified Communications. This is a large area and will be covered by more than one guide.

I have some comments on one of the guides; how can I provide these as input?

The Solution Accelerators team is very interested in your feedback on the Infrastructure Planning and Design guides! Please send questions and comments about any guide to

I have a lot of expertise; I’d like to participate in writing an IPD guide. How can I do that?

You can get involved in these ways:

Is there a companion series of guides covering operations?

Not at this time. If this is something that you believe would be valuable, please let us know, sending e-mail to Please include your ideas on how such a series should look and what it might include.

About Solution Accelerators

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