Architecting a SharePoint 2010 Deployment : Choosing the Right Hardware for SharePoint

1/16/2011 3:12:03 PM
When farm architecture has been outlined, it is critical to properly size the hardware environment that makes up your SharePoint farm. Each SharePoint server role has different hardware requirements, however, so it is important to first understand what those requirements are before beginning the procurement process.

Hardware Requirements for the SQL Database Role Servers

The heaviest hitter of all the SharePoint roles is the SQL database server role. This server role houses the SharePoint databases, where nearly all content in a SharePoint environment is stored. The databases house document libraries, documents, lists, sites, site collections, and their contents. For obvious reasons, this server is highly critical for SharePoint and requires a significant amount of hardware resources. Following are several key hardware requirements for the SQL database role:

  • Disk space— Because SharePoint content is stored in the databases, the SQL database role server requires a large amount of disk space. How much disk space depends on how much content is stored in SharePoint, but assume the worst—when document versioning is turned on, SharePoint can consume much more space than people realize.

  • Processor— The SQL database role works best when multiple processor cores are allocated to the database role. SQL Server is built to be multithreaded and can use whatever you give it. Today’s multicore processors are the perfect fit for SharePoint.

  • Memory— Server memory requirements are also high for the database role. The same general rule of thumb applies...the more memory allocated, the better a SQL server will perform. The total amount of memory recommended will vary depending on how heavily utilized the server is, but it is common to have SQL servers with 12GB, 16GB, 32GB, or more.

Hardware Requirements for Service Application Roles

The service application roles, depending on how many run on an individual server, can have serious hardware requirements. The search service application role, for example, which is responsible for creating a full-text searchable index for search, is the heaviest hitting of the SharePoint roles, excluding, of course, the database role. Search service application servers typically consume more memory and processor capacity because they are constantly engaged in the process of crawling content and making it searchable. Depending on the number of content sources crawled, there can be significant memory requirements, and index servers have been known to use at least 8GB, 12GB, or 16GB of memory and take advantage of multiple processor cores as well.

Other service application role servers may require an equal amount of memory and processor cores allocated as well. It’s a general rule of thumb that SharePoint 2010 memory and processor requirements are much higher than for SharePoint 2007, and many people underestimate the required resources.

In addition to its processor and memory requirements, the search service application role also requires enough drive space to physically store the index files, which are essentially copies of all text that has been crawled across all data sources. The size of this index can range from 5 percent to 30 percent of the total size of the searchable content being crawled. For example, if SharePoint is configured to search a file share, and that file share contains 100GB of office documents, the index size will total between 5GB and 30GB, depending on how much actual text is stored in the documents. Large, graphical documents with little text will not bloat the index by much, but simple text files can consume a much larger percentage.


Remember to calculate your index size based on the total size of all crawled content. Because SharePoint is an enterprise search application, the total size of all content may include not only documents in SharePoint, but also file servers, Exchange public folders, and websites.

Hardware Requirements for Web Role Servers

The web role server is the most utilitarian role, requiring a reasonable amount of memory and processor power, but nothing excessive. Indeed, better performance can often be gained by adding additional web role servers to a farm rather than by increasing the size of memory and processor power added to a system. Typically web role servers will have between 8GB and 12GB of RAM in most cases, and at least two cores allocated to it.

  •  Architecting a SharePoint 2010 Deployment : Understanding the Reasons for Deploying Multiple Farms
  •  Understanding the SharePoint Server Roles
  •  Installing Exchange Server 2010 : Installing the Edge Transport Server
  •  Installing Exchange Server 2010 : Installing dedicated server roles
  •  Installing Exchange Server 2010 : Check the Exchange installation
  •  Introducing SharePoint 2010 (part 2)
  •  Introducing SharePoint 2010 (part 1)
  •  Installing Exchange Server 2010 : Unattended setup
  •  Performing a typical Exchange Server 2010 install
  •  Installing the Exchange Server 2010 prerequisites
  •  Outlining Improvements in SharePoint 2010
  •  Understanding the Capabilities of SharePoint 2010
  •  Exchange Server 2010 server roles (part 3) - Edge Transport Server role
  •  Exchange Server 2010 server roles (part 2)
  •  Exchange Server 2010 server roles (part 1) - Mailbox Server role
  •  Exchange Server 2010 and Active Directory
  •  Microsoft Enterprise Library : Non-Formatted Trace Listeners
  •  .NET Micro Framework : Execution Constraints
  •  .NET Micro Framework : Weak Delegates
  •  .NET Micro Framework : Multithreading and Synchronization
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