Establishing and governing a SharePoint service

Applies To: Office SharePoint Server 2007

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Topic Last Modified: 2017-01-24

When you develop an IT service to support Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, a key to success is your enterprise’s ability to govern the service to ensure that it meets the business needs of your internal customers in a secure and cost-effective way. This article describes typical elements of an IT service that hosts Office SharePoint Server 2007, suggests key success factors in governing an Office SharePoint Server service, and provides an example of a three-tiered SharePoint service.

  • What is a SharePoint service?

  • Elements of a successful service

  • What to govern in a SharePoint service

  • Creating multiple services

What is a SharePoint service?

A SharePoint service is an IT service that offers hosted sites and portals based on SharePoint products and technologies. Among the things that a service provides are:

  • Sites and portals at a scope, such as site collection, Web application, or server farm

  • Backup and restoration

  • Content storage

  • Support for customizations

  • Security

  • Service levels that are based on speed and availability

Elements of a successful service

As you envision and implement your Office SharePoint Server service, consider the following elements that can contribute to the success of the governing effort:

  • Form and use a governing group

    Your IT service that supports Office SharePoint Server should be governed by a group that includes executive stakeholders, business division leaders, influential information workers, IT managers, and IT technical specialists, among others. The goal of the governing group should be to oversee the service. In this capacity, the governing group defines the initial offerings of the service, defines the service's ongoing policies, and meets regularly to evaluate success.

  • Communicate about the services

    The governance policies that you develop must be publicized to your enterprise. Maintain a Web site that describes the set of services.

  • Encourage use of the service

    Discourage users from deploying their own servers and instead, encourage them to use the service. Isolated servers may not be configured in accordance with IT security policy and the enterprise’s regulatory requirements. Furthermore, users who deploy their own servers may fail to properly back up their servers or fail to keep servers up to date with software patches and updates. Finally, content on servers that are not governed by the service may not be crawled by the enterprise’s indexing service, which may create isolated pockets of content.

  • Create multiple services

    You should offer a set of services that support Office SharePoint Server. For example, one service could provide thousands of sites for collaboration and another could support very large, mission-critical sites, such as enterprise portals. A set of Office SharePoint Server services enables you apply unique governance rules and policies at various levels of service. Another benefit of a range of services is that you can vary the cost that you assess to organizations based on their level of service. Lastly, a tiered service enables you to phase in services in a manageable way.

What to govern in a SharePoint service

As you design IT services that support Office SharePoint Server, your governing group should determine the limits and policies that control the following elements of your services:

  • Quota templates

    A quota template consists of values that specify how much data can be stored in a site collection. The value also indicates the limit that triggers an e-mail alert to the site collection administrator. You can associate quotas with sites that are offered at various service levels to govern the growth of Office SharePoint Server in your enterprise. You can also set limits on the maximum size of uploaded files available per service level.

  • Self-service provisioning

    You can enable users to create their own top-level Web sites by visiting an IT-hosted page and supplying data about the site’s intended usage. The site can then be provisioned based on a custom workflow. For various levels of service, you can govern the size of such sites and control their longevity.

  • Customization policy

    A primary benefit of using sites that are based on Office SharePoint Server is the ability of site owners to customize them. For example, site owners might change a site's appearance or provide new functionality, such as a custom Web part or workflow. Carefully consider the amount of customization that is allowed and supported at each level of service, because some types of customizations are global to the server farm. For example, services that allow self-service site creation may include thousands of sites that share a single Web application. In this instance, you could limit customizations to only those supported by the user interface, such as adding Web parts to pages. In a service that provides virtual or physical isolation of the server farm, such as for an enterprise portal site, you might allow a large range of customizations, such as custom event handlers and workflows.

  • Asset classification

    You can develop and implement a classification system for sites and content supported by your service that identifies the value of the information to your organization. For example, using metadata, you could classify content as having high, moderate, or low business value. Each classification would then cause other behaviors – for example you could require that high value content be transferred only in encrypted form, or you could require that an approval process be run on medium impact content before it can be published on a public-facing Web site.

  • Lifecycle management

    Your service should provide lifecycle guidelines or tools for active sites and unused sites. For lower service levels, you could, for example, implement a mechanism that lets only site owners create sites that last six months before the user would have to extend the request for the site. Also, you can implement a tool that looks for sites that have not been used for a specified period of time and deletes them. Lifecycle management also means integrating your service with the records management tools and processes in place in your organization. For more information, see Plan records management. See Governance and manageability tools on CodePlex ( for a set of governance and manageability samples and tools, including the “MS IT Lifecycle management tool,” designed to help IT professionals.

  • Branding and templates

    A site template is a set of saved customizations on a site definition. (See Working with Site Templates and Definitions ( for more information.) You can choose which site templates to make available, especially for lower levels of your service, in which the owner cannot substantially customize the site. Use site templates to provide branding and other elements that identify the purpose of the site and associate it with your enterprise.

  • Data protection

    Features that provide data protection include backup and recovery. You can vary the level of data protection you offer based on the service levels you provide (where higher levels may require charges to the site owner). For each level of service, plan the frequency at which you will back up sites and the response time you will guarantee for restoring sites. For more information, see Plan for data protection and recovery (Office SharePoint Server).

  • Training

    A well-trained user community provides benefits to IT. It reduces support calls, encourages adoption, helps ensure proper use of Office SharePoint Server, and helps users understand their responsibilities in using the Office SharePoint Server service. For each level of service, consider requiring the appropriate level of training. Even for a basic service, users with site administration privileges will have access to many features that affect the functionality of the site. Online training, such as tutorials, for these users can help them take the best advantage of their site.

Creating multiple services

Users of your enterprise’s Office SharePoint Server service will require sites that meet a range of purposes, such as:

  • Short-lived, single-purpose workspaces for planning events

  • Team sites for general collaboration

  • Divisional portals for large workgroups to manage their business processes

  • Enterprise portals to broadcast information and supply services to the entire organization

Consider dividing your Office SharePoint Server service into a set of services that meets the range of needs in your enterprise. Each user of a particular service would get the same level of support and would be charged a similar cost. As more complex or costly solutions are needed, you could add new services to support them. One benefit of this approach is that you can introduce one service at a time, which eases the burden on your IT staff. Work with executive stakeholders, business division leaders, and IT managers to determine the requirements of each level of service and the order in which services are introduced.

The following table illustrates a sample approach to creating a tiered set of services. In this example, three service levels are offered. Note that values provided are not recommendations but are supplied as samples:

Sample approach to a set of services

Basic Service Advanced Service Premium Service


A server farm used to host tens of thousands of customer site collections.

It is intended to support short-lived sites along with small team sites.

A server farm that is designed to host a small number of portal sites.

It is applicable to customers with some requirements for server-side customizations that will not interfere with other sites hosted on the same servers.

A server farm dedicated to hosting a large, highly customized or highly critical site.

The topology is scalable depending on the agreed upon hosting requirements between the customer and the hosting team.


Collaboration site to plan an event

Division portal including integration with line-of-business data and custom workflows

Enterprise portal that includes large-scale integration with multiple back-end systems


Site collection

Web application

Server farm with multiple Web applications


Only customizations available in the user interface are supported.

Some server-side customizations are supported, such as custom site templates. All customizations are tested and reviewed before being accepted for deployment.

Extensive customizations are permitted. All customizations are tested and reviewed before being accepted for deployment.

Cost to user

None to minimal



Self-service provisioning?




Content storage limits

500 MB

2 GB


Backup frequency

Twice weekly



Backups maintained for

14 days

30 days

60 days

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