One of the biggest costs of SharePoint is the infrastructure required to host it correctly. Insufficient servers will cause SharePoint to run sluggishly and potentially fail more frequently. This could lead to issues with end-user satisfaction and also have a detrimental impact your bottom line as productivity, data and potentially client trust in you, is lost.
A properly configured SharePoint server farm that has been built to meet your specifications is an essential investment and there are a number of options open to you when planning.
A Typical SharePoint Server Farm
In most deployments of SharePoint, different functions and systems are distributed across multiple servers in order to provide stability and security. The schematic for a typical on-premise SharePoint server farm is shown below:
In this configuration, SharePoint applications, data and user information (Active Directory) are hosted across multiple servers to balance the load and ensure optimised performance and security. The specification for each of the different servers is dependent on the requirements of different applications and the size of the overall database.
Complex infrastructures such as that shown above can have a high cost to the business, but the cost of lost productivity or security breaches can be mitigated by adopting a hybrid cloud solution using Microsoft Azure.
This replaces certain components of the farm with virtual machines hosted in Azure that are coupled with on-premise servers for sensitive information such as Active Directory:
The advantage of the virtual SharePoint farm in Azure is that machine use can be scaled based on demand by using technology like igroup’s Cloud Control, which utilises resources only when they are needed and works to reduce costs.
As with any business infrastructure, there are a number of potential pitfalls that could arise with your SharePoint farm and result in increased costs:
SharePoint servers typically run 24/7/365 but while this may be necessary, it can result in a relatively short lifespan in comparison with hardware that is used more sparingly. The failure of one component could cascade into other areas as functionality is lost and this can potentially result in large losses of data.
Regular backups of the data hosted on traditional servers is essential. Depending on the frequency that your information is updated, a suitable back-up schedule needs to be set.
In addition to backing up data, you should also have a back-up infrastructure in place to meet your needs in the event of a failure. This could be either another machine in your data centre or a cloud based virtual machine that replicates the affected device.
In the longer term, where possible, you might consider migrating your SharePoint farm to the cloud. This will require some planning and consultancy time with a qualified service provider to create the exact specifications, but this will pay for itself over time due to the lower cost of maintaining the environment.
Data has never been more valuable. According to a study by Akamai, there was a 132% increase in the number of DDoS attacks on businesses in 2015 and maximising security to prevent unauthorised access to your data is essential.
The same study by Akamai found that of 1300 web applications they tested, more than 2% had an unpatched vulnerability while more than 20% had vulnerabilities where patches were available, but not widely installed.
A unique risk of SharePoint for large organisations is that internal data is often accessible via the regular web connection that facilitates user access, and where there is significant custom code in applications that have been developed by third parties, the risk of security breaches is increased.
It is essential to ensure that all of your software is regularly patched. Older versions of SharePoint are now outside mainstream support and as such, any new vulnerabilities will not be fixed. This lack of support from Microsoft could leave your business at risk of breaching data security regulations.
Ensuring that your software, including the OS, on your servers is up to date should be a priority. Moving to virtual machines in Azure means that software patches can be tested on alternative machines before being applied generally.
As mentioned above, a SharePoint farm which has not been built to the correct specification for your needs will not operate smoothly, and this will have a knock-on effect on the way users interact with it.
According to a 2015 study by the Office of National Statistics, the average UK business could expect to lose 5.5 days per employee over the course of a year due to outdated or slow IT systems. This can be extrapolated to an actual cost based on national average salaries:
- UK National Average Salary £26,500*
- Cost per hour (40 hr week) £12.74
- Cost for 5.5 x 8 hr days £560.56
An organisation with 100 employees could be losing over £50,000 per year – or 2% of their productivity due to slow IT infrastructure.
Your business requirements change over time. One of the main reasons why your SharePoint Server is no longer providing the level of service you need is that your usage has changed. We’d recommend conducting a full health check of SharePoint and your current server architecture to find out whether it meets your needs.
Be proactive about protecting your business from lost productivity or security breaches by contacting a member of the igroup team today to arrange a full healthcheck and review of your SharePoint server.