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How to Select SharePoint Server Architecture for Medium Sized Business

SharePoint Server Topology Primer

The first step to deploying SharePoint is to determine an appropriate server topology. This decisions is largely is dictated by the number of SharePoint users. For this blog post, let’s assume that an on-premise server farm is designed for a medium sized company with 500 employees.

Traditionally, SharePoint server farms follow a three-tiered topology, and this approach still works for medium sized companies where the workload on the servers is not extremely high. For SharePoint 2013, these three tiers are as follows:


  • Front-end Servers: these are the servers that sent information to users directly. Services such as Central Administration, Search Query, and Distributed Cache are hosted on this tier. Since this tier interacts with users directly, it must consist of servers that have low latency, low resource utilization, and optimized for faster performance and response time.
  • Batch Processing Servers: these are the servers that deal with background services such as workflows, search crawl and indexing, and Machine Translation. These services are resource intensive, so servers on this tier must have high resource utilization and are optimized for higher workloads.
  • Database Servers: these servers store data. The type of servers on this tier will depend on how much data you store on SharePoint. If you plan on storing many large files on SharePoint, then you would need to install high density storage. Otherwise you can settle for cheaper servers.

For a medium sized company, purchasing three servers, one for each tier, should sufficiently fill the roles on each tier.