Sharepoint 2010 : Making Search Work - Analyzing and Designing Search (part 2) - Creating a Design Document

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1/19/2014 6:48:44 PM

Creating a Design Document

When you have completed the business analysis and planning process, you will need to translate the business needs to native SharePoint search functionality. Create a design document that contains sections that closely map to the SharePoint configurations. The design document is valuable because it not only represents what you need to do to build your solution, but it also doubles as an administrator document, which the support staff can reference and use to better understand how search has been configured.

While the process of designing the functional requirements of a SharePoint search solution initiate from the business-user perspective, the approach taken in configuring search runs a completely opposite course. When configuring, you should start with back end and gradually make your way to the user experience at the end of the process. First in the configuration sequence is the infrastructure, where you configure the necessary storage and processing resources. Next, you move into SharePoint Central Administration where you configure the farm-wide settings and server topology. Next, you go into the Search Service Application and configure search settings. Finally, you move into the Site Collection where you configure subsites, pages, Web Parts, and the navigation. The design document should flow in the direction of the configuration, from the back end forward to the end-user experience.

To effectively design and document a search solution, you must be very familiar with configuration steps and have in-depth understanding of the business requirements. The design document merges these knowledge areas into one cohesive artifact, which is why it is a critical component to the overall approach. Table 2 through Table 6 provide a starting point for creating a SharePoint search design document. These tables resemble the actual configuration screens within SharePoint, which make the process of configuring search a whole lot easier. And by having the configuration documented upfront, you can race through the configuration while making only minor adjustments to the document as you go, rather than trying to write a document from scratch and configure at the same time—or worse, try to backfill the documentation later.

Table 2. How Unique Content Sources May Be Configured
Content Sources
TitleTypeStart Address
Local Office SharePoint Server SitesSharePoint sites
PeopleSharePoint sites sps3s://
Corporate PortalSharePoint sites
Extranet PortalSharePoint sites
Search PortalSharePoint sites
Public Web SiteWeb sites

Table 3. Crawl Schedule for Each Content Source
Crawl Schedules
Content SourceFull CrawlIncremental Crawl
Local Office SharePoint Server SitesNot ScheduledNot Scheduled
PeopleAt 2:00 AM on 15th of every monthEvery 12 hour(s) from 6:00 AM for 12 hour(s) every day
Corporate PortalAt 2:00 AM on 15th of every monthEvery 5 minute(s) from 6:00 AM for 12 hour(s) every day
Extranet PortalAt 2:00 AM on 15th of every monthEvery 5 minute(s) from 6:00 AM for 12 hour(s) every day
Search PortalNot ScheduledNot Scheduled
Public Web SiteAt 4:00 AM on 15th of every monthEvery 12 hour(s) from 6:00 AM for 12 hour(s) every day

Table 4. Document Your Service Account Credentials
Crawl Rules
URLInclude or ExcludeService Account
*://*ExcludeRefer to Service

Table 5. Metadata Property Mapping Illustrates How Managed Properties Are Configured to Map to One or More Crawled Properties
Metadata Property Mappings
Managed PropertyTypeUse in ScopesInclude Values fromCrawled PropertyInclude in Index
 IntegerYesSingleSharePoint:isdocument (Integer)Yes
    SharePoint:isdocument (Integer)Yes
CustomIsDocument   Basic:22(Integer)Yes
CreatedDate and TimeNoSingleBasic:15(Date and Time) Office:12(Date and Time)Yes Yes
 TextYesSingleOws_Created_x0020_By (Text)Yes
 Text  Office:4(Text)Yes
Created ByText  Mail:6(Text)Yes
    Ows_FileType (Text)Yes
Fileextension   Ows_File_x0020_Type (Text)Yes

Table 6. You May Require Numerous Scopes, Each Having Several Rules Each—It Is Important to Capture These Settings in a Document
Scope NameExcel 
Target Results PageDefault 
Scope Rule TypeValueBehavior
Property QueryFileExtension = xlsInclude
Property QueryFileExtension = xlsxInclude
Property QueryFileExtension = xltInclude
Property QueryFileExtension = xlsmInclude


To understand what is required to configure search, you may benefit from first breaking this topic into manageable parts. Search configurations occur at the following areas:

  • Server/infrastructure

  • Central Administration, Farm-wide Settings

  • Central Administration, Search Service Application

  • Site Collection

Following the business analysis activities, you should have a good idea what content sources need to be included in the search solution. Use the content source information to plan for capacity. Investigate each content source, calculating the total size of the content in each source. Keep track of the current size as well as an estimated size using future milestone dates. When calculating the size of content stored within SharePoint Web applications, keep in mind that SQL Server content databases consume more space than just the size of the content itself, as database files (.mdf) and log files (.ldf) require additional overhead. With this information you can begin the technical analysis and design of the search infrastructure, including defining the following requirements:

  • Accessibility requirements

  • Capacity and storage requirements

  • System performance requirements (remember to monitor the systems being crawled)

  • Hardware requirements (servers, storage, processor, memory, network)

  • Service Level Agreements (SLA) and availability requirements

  • Disaster recovery

SharePoint search is a resource-intensive service, and so hardware needs to be sized accordingly. Storage requirements can vary greatly, depending on the size of the SharePoint farm, amount of content being crawled, nature of the content, as well as the use of properties. It is advisable to refer to online resources, such as Microsoft TechNet ( or MSDN Blogs ( for credible guidance on estimation approaches for infrastructure components. Table 7 provides some detail on capacity planning requirements.

Table 7. Storage Estimates for Capacity Planning
Content Storage Estimates
TitleCurrent SizeEstimated Size Now +1 YearEstimated Size Now 3 Years
Local Office SharePoint Server Sites100 MB100 MB100 MB
People500 MB500 MB500 MB
Corporate Portal2 GB4 GB6 GB
Extranet Portal4 GB5 GB6 GB
Search Portal100 MB100 MB100 MB
Public Web Site500 MB500 MB500 MB
Space Required for Additional5 GB10 GB20 GB
Content Source TBD   
Total Corpus~12 GB~21 GB~34 GB

Beyond the crawled content, you must plan to allocate storage for the search service application components. These include

  • The inverted index files (located on index servers)

  • Propagated index files (located on query servers)

  • Search Service Application Crawl Store database (located on the database servers)

  • Search Service Application database

  • Search Service Application Property Store database

  • SharePoint WSS Search database

  • SQL Server Temp database

There are several components that make up SharePoint search topology. Among these include an Administration Component, a Crawl Component, Index, Databases, and a Query Component. With respect to servers in a server farm, SharePoint search components may be configured to run together on one system or spread apart on separate systems. This topology is defined within the SharePoint Central Administration, Modify Topology panel and must be configured prior to using search.

The optimal topology configuration depends on many variables. Hardware resources such as storage, CPU, disk I/O, memory, and network play an important role in planning the topology. Other factors might include available hardware, budget for future hardware, number of users, geographical characteristics, performance requirements, amount of content being crawled, nature of the systems being crawled, operational responsibility assignments, high availability requirements, and disaster recovery requirements.

The topology can adapt and scale as needs change. For example, to scale out from a single server topology, a general rule of thumb is that the SQL Server role would be the first component to separate onto its own server. Next, the indexing engine as it is processor-intensive, leaving only the Web Front End role and Query Server role remaining on the original server. Next, another SharePoint Web front end can be added and optionally dedicated for crawling purposes so that the users are not competing with the crawler for system resources. The environment can continue to scale by adding hardware nodes and reconfiguring the topology. As with capacity and performance planning, the infrastructure planning does require a detailed analysis of the environment because every situation is different.

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