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Portal design (multiple web apps, site collections, navigation)

    Question

  • Hello there,

    I am working on developing an intranet portal for my company in SharePoint Server 2010. My question is purely about the design of the farm in terms of the web apps, site collections and sites as well as navigation between them.

    What would you recommend as a best practice route in terms of usability, scalability and security of the system?

    Now, grab a nice cup of coffee, tea or whatever you fancy and sit comfortably in your chair. This will challenge you intellectually J [some would prefer vodka at this point].

    Here is the scenario:

    My company has two business branches: United Kingdom and USA.

    UK is where everything originated so we keep their branch as the primary one and US (recently launched) is just mirroring their British colleagues.

    Altogether, we do not have more than 100 users and we operate on the same network with UK GMT and US GMT-6.

    We will have WFE and APP on the same server and a dedicated SQL. Server resources and size of the data are not of a concern.

    I am thinking of:

    1. [Web App] Central Admin + IIS App Pool

    1. [Web App] uk.<company>.com + IIS Pool + Search Service

                                        [Site collection] uk.<company>.com/accounts    with SP_uk.accounts     content db

                                                    [Site] uk.<company>.com/accounts/Sites/budget     with libraries and lists

                                                    [Site] uk.<company>.com/accounts/Sites/yearend   with libraries and lists

                                                                            :

                                        [Site collection] uk.<company>.com/production with SP_uk.production content db

                                                    [Site] uk.<company>.com/production/Sites/testing   with libraries and lists

                                                                            :

                                        [Site collection] uk.<company>.com/sales            with SP_uk.sales           content db

                                                    :

                                                    :

    …and exactly the same (mirror) Web App for the US:

    1. [Web App] us.<company>.com + IIS Pool + Search Service

                                        [Site collection] us.<company>.com/accounts    with SP_us.accounts     content db

                                                    [Site] us.<company>.com/accounts/Sites/budget     with libraries and lists

                                                    [Site] us.<company>.com/accounts/Sites/yearend   with libraries and lists

                                                                            :

                                        [Site collection] us.<company>.com/production with SP_us.production content db

                                                    [Site] us.<company>.com/production/Sites/testing   with libraries and lists

                                                                            :

                                        [Site collection] us.<company>.com/sales            with SP_us.sales           content db

                                                    :

                                                    :

    There is no need for ‘My site’ Web App.


    I am fine up to this point. Perhaps you have any comments or suggestions here?

    Now, I would like to create a ‘one-stop-shop’ (portal) site housing fly-out menu links to respective departments [Site Collections] and their functions [Sites] for each business branch (UK and US).

    At the same time I want to have a portal page same for everybody (with its unique URL).

    I was thinking of creating another [Web App] called portal.<company>.com with a [Site Collection] portal.<company>.com/home that would show some UK-US-wide info like holiday calendar, weather and time, company announcements, some aggregated figures etc. that will be the same regardless US or UK User Group.

    On that home site, in a top navigation I would create a link visible only to managers and the CEO which will take them to their personal high level view of figures and data they want to see (aggregated from UK and US Web Apps).

    Being on the same landing page for everybody (portal Web App) I want users to access a Web App relevant to them (UK Web App or US Web App) based on their authentication. Again, portal page would look exactly the same for everybody.

    1. Is it even achievable that way (pulling data from across Web Apps and have a ‘smart redirection’ to relevant Site Collection in another Web App in the farm)?
    2. Is the above a good approach?
    3. How can I achieve this in global navigation on a portal page? (hard-coded links too cumbersome for maintenance?)

    I think I prefer Web Apps as opposed to Site Collections since I can have a dedicated search service running on each app.

    These apps will be in separated application pools so if something happens to one, others are unaffected.

    (I think 4 app pools will not cause server crying out for resources, will it?)

    Security wise, Web Apps serve better than site collections.

    Please share your wisdom and suggest some robust solutions. I seem to be stuck and running down in circles with the ideas.

    Thanks a lot!


    Tuesday, April 23, 2013 3:21 PM

Answers

  • You cannot span a single farm across the ocean.  You're limited to 186 mi in a vacuum between farm members :-)  SharePoint's stretched farm requirements are <1ms latency (one-way) average over a 10 minute period with 1Gbps connectivity.

    You could have two separate farms (which means separate databases, including content databases) and use something like Metalogix Replicator to replicate content between the farms.

    Your usage is small enough, however, that a single farm would be more cost effective.  Latency would be your biggest issue (which could perhaps be helped via a WAN accelerator, like a Riverbed Steelhead appliance).


    SharePoint - Nauplius Applications
    Microsoft SharePoint Server MVP
    MCITP: SharePoint Administrator 2010

    -----------------------
    This post is my own opinion and does not necessarily reflect the opinion or view of Microsoft, its employees, or other MVPs.

    Tuesday, April 23, 2013 5:38 PM
    Moderator
  • First off, I would go with a single Web Application and multiple Site Collections.  Unless you removed the Managed Path, site collections would be at uk.<company>.com/sites/accounts, /sites/budget, etc.

    I would go with a single Search Application.  Search security trims the results.


    SharePoint - Nauplius Applications
    Microsoft SharePoint Server MVP
    MCITP: SharePoint Administrator 2010

    -----------------------
    This post is my own opinion and does not necessarily reflect the opinion or view of Microsoft, its employees, or other MVPs.

    Wednesday, April 24, 2013 3:49 PM
    Moderator
  • A single Web Application using HNSCs is the most scalable, most performant configuration per Microsoft.  It also allows you to separate the US and UK just like you would with two Web Applications, excluding Web Application-based settings.

    As far as global nav and what out, that is a bit outside of my expertise.


    SharePoint - Nauplius Applications
    Microsoft SharePoint Server MVP
    MCITP: SharePoint Administrator 2010

    -----------------------
    This post is my own opinion and does not necessarily reflect the opinion or view of Microsoft, its employees, or other MVPs.

    Thursday, April 25, 2013 1:47 PM
    Moderator

All replies

  • You cannot span a single farm across the ocean.  You're limited to 186 mi in a vacuum between farm members :-)  SharePoint's stretched farm requirements are <1ms latency (one-way) average over a 10 minute period with 1Gbps connectivity.

    You could have two separate farms (which means separate databases, including content databases) and use something like Metalogix Replicator to replicate content between the farms.

    Your usage is small enough, however, that a single farm would be more cost effective.  Latency would be your biggest issue (which could perhaps be helped via a WAN accelerator, like a Riverbed Steelhead appliance).


    SharePoint - Nauplius Applications
    Microsoft SharePoint Server MVP
    MCITP: SharePoint Administrator 2010

    -----------------------
    This post is my own opinion and does not necessarily reflect the opinion or view of Microsoft, its employees, or other MVPs.

    Tuesday, April 23, 2013 5:38 PM
    Moderator
  • Thanks for your reply Trevor.

    US users are members of an AD in our domain controller. We share the same network (mapped drives), Voip phones and everything (UK and US branches) are hosted in our server room in the UK. As I stated, technical (networking) aspects of my problem are in fact... -not my problem. There is an IT support company and that is their headache.

    So, going back to the design of the farm in terms of Web Apps, Site Collections, shared and restricted content between them as well as navigation- what would suggest? Can I achieve what I am thinking of? How? Or maybe there is a more robust, scalable solution?

    I'm grateful for any suggestions.. Regards  

    Wednesday, April 24, 2013 8:25 AM
  • First off, I would go with a single Web Application and multiple Site Collections.  Unless you removed the Managed Path, site collections would be at uk.<company>.com/sites/accounts, /sites/budget, etc.

    I would go with a single Search Application.  Search security trims the results.


    SharePoint - Nauplius Applications
    Microsoft SharePoint Server MVP
    MCITP: SharePoint Administrator 2010

    -----------------------
    This post is my own opinion and does not necessarily reflect the opinion or view of Microsoft, its employees, or other MVPs.

    Wednesday, April 24, 2013 3:49 PM
    Moderator
  • Any reasoning behind that? Why it would be better to use Site Collections as opposed to Web Apps for separating these clearly distinct business units of US and UK?

    I know there are long debates about Web Apps, Site Collections and what is better in given situations. In my company, UK and US are still separate entities- what would they share is just the portal page and that is my next problem. Will this portal page be part of UK as it will be administered from here? Will it form its separate Web App so if I screw smthg up, US and UK can work unaffected? How can I incorporate links from multiple Site Collections (across multiple Web Apps) in another Site Collection within another Web App? Hard-wiring? Global Navigation solution? (I know there is global nav but tutorial I have spans only multiple Site Collections, do not know if it applies to multiple Web Apps...) These are the kind of questions I am asking. 

    I think, with your approach (1 Web App and Site collections within it) I would have to use 'Host-named Site Collections' which has its advantages and disadvantages. HNSCs' would make my Web App much less scalable (lack of AAM, only Default authentication zone, lack of GUI). I know it is doable- but do I really want that? 2-3 Web Apps will not kill my server. I think we are getting a brand new server anyway- top of the range- it will cope with it.

    Any suggestions much appreciated...  

    Thursday, April 25, 2013 8:34 AM
  • A single Web Application using HNSCs is the most scalable, most performant configuration per Microsoft.  It also allows you to separate the US and UK just like you would with two Web Applications, excluding Web Application-based settings.

    As far as global nav and what out, that is a bit outside of my expertise.


    SharePoint - Nauplius Applications
    Microsoft SharePoint Server MVP
    MCITP: SharePoint Administrator 2010

    -----------------------
    This post is my own opinion and does not necessarily reflect the opinion or view of Microsoft, its employees, or other MVPs.

    Thursday, April 25, 2013 1:47 PM
    Moderator
  • Anyone can comment on my scenario please?
    Thursday, April 25, 2013 2:08 PM