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Network Upgrades May Be Required

Bear in mind that the existing network environment may need to be changed in conjunction with, or as a result of the SharePoint implementation. For example, the addition of a SharePoint 2003 server may require dramatic changes to the network environment, such as opening up the network to external users or clients, or upgrading an out-of-date messaging or document management system.

The implementation of SharePoint 2003 sites and technologies may result in the relocation of large amounts of data from multiple file servers within the company, or from other applications. This can require upgrades to the tape backup hardware and software, antivirus software, and network monitoring software.

The SharePoint 2003 integration with Exchange and the Office products makes it a natural product to implement at the same time, or soon after these types of upgrades. Desktop refreshes or updates can be driven by the adoption of SharePoint 2003 because the features offered by Outlook 2003, Word 2003, and Excel 2003 help users better utilize SharePoint 2003 sites and justify the cost of upgrading. Many organizations have reported that the integration between Microsoft Word 2003, Excel 2003, Outlook 2003, and SharePoint 2003 makes it worth the cost to upgrade to the new version of Office.

Although SharePoint 2003 is designed to use a minimal amount of bandwidth and to be accessible over relatively slow Internet connections, this new traffic can affect the performance of the network. Current Internet connectivity may be sufficient for Internet access from within the organization and the occasional user who visits the company website, but it might not be sufficient to handle dozens of staff in the field accessing SharePoint 2003 sites and moving large quantities of data to and from the site.

If clients or external partners will be accessing the SharePoint 2003 environment, it will also be important to provide a high level of security and performance, which may require significant investments in connectivity to the Internet, as well as higher end servers, with more RAM and faster drives. Likewise, it may be more important to invest in redundancy throughout the environment when business transactions depend on the SharePoint environment being available. Microsoft’s Internet and Security Acceleration Server 2004 (ISA 2004) provides an excellent set of features that many organizations are taking advantage of during the SharePoint 2003 implementation process and is covered in Chapter 16, "Securing Remote Access to SharePoint 2003 with ISA Server 2004."

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