Summit 7 Blogs

The 12 Networking Truths Applied to SharePoint Deployments

When I was learning basic networking back in the late 90's, I was introduced to a fun, yet insightful RFC that contained the 12 Fundamental Truths of Networking (RFC 1925). In this post, I'd like to correlate those truths with SharePoint. The truths were meant to be a bit tongue-in-cheek, but they are useful when thinking about a SharePoint deployment.

Truth #1: It Has to Work.

SharePoint is no different. It has to work. But "work" can mean different things. I'd suggest that "work" is defined by resolving the problems outlined in the business requirements for the SharePoint implementation.

Truth #2: No matter how hard you push and no matter what the priority, you can't increase the speed of light.

(2a) (corollary). No matter how hard you try, you can't make a baby in much less than 9 months. Trying to speed this up *might* make it slower, but it won't make it happen any quicker.

SharePoint's implementation can be accomplished at a certain pace. Going faster than what your culture can handle in your SharePoint implementation will only result in frustration and friction. Be aware – people learn at a certain pace. Putting pressure on them to adopt faster won't help your cause at all and might backfire in passive resistance.

Truth #3: With sufficient thrust, pigs fly just fine.

The SharePoint correlation is that while you can "muscle" and "force" SharePoint to be a CRM, ERP or some other type of system, the results likely will be that you'll perpetually be unhappy with what SharePoint is delivering. Use SharePoint for its' intended purpose and stay away from turning it into a system that it was never intended to be.


Truth #4: Some things in life can never be fully appreciated nor understood unless experienced firsthand. Some things in networking can never be fully understood by someone who neither builds commercial networking equipment nor runs an operational network.

A SharePoint correlation is that even though you might have experienced the power and advantages of SharePoint, you can't expect others in your organization to "buy-in" without using the product first. Simply telling them how great SharePoint is won't help all that much in your deployment. Training and education will be needed.

Truth #5: It is always possible to agglutinate multiple separate problems into a single complex interdependent solution. In most cases this is a bad idea.

If you know what "agglutinate" means without looking it up, the correlation to SharePoint will be self-evident. J

Truth #6: It is easier to move a problem around (for example, by moving the problem to a different part of the overall network architecture) than it is to solve it.

A common SharePoint correlation might be that moving content from a file server to SharePoint simply because you *can* doesn't mean you're solving a Findability problem.

(6a) (corollary). It is always possible to add another level of indirection.

Truth #7: Good, Fast, Cheap: Pick any two (you can't have all three).

In any software implementation, including SharePoint, this rule applies.

Truth #8: It is more complicated than you think.

Ask anyone who has implemented SharePoint as an enterprise service offering or in a hybrid deployment with cloud and on –premises. Microsoft is skilled at telling the market how easy their products are to use. Always take such claims with a grain of salt.

Truth #9: For all resources, whatever it is, you need more. (9a) (corollary) Every networking problem always takes longer to solve than it seems like it should.

One of the advantages of cloud deployments is that you no longer need to think about capacity planning for your server farm. But if you are doing an on-premises deployment, just plan on hardware resources taking up more than you originally planned for.

Truth #10: One size never fits all.

This is why planning and design efforts for SharePoint are so important. Every SharePoint implementation I've ever been a part of is unlike any other I've ever done. It's like building a fire. I have a fire pit in my back yard. I enjoy building fires there several times each week. I can honestly say that I've build hundreds of fires in my back yard and yet, each fire has been different. No two fires are the same. SharePoint deployments are no different.

Truth #11: Every old idea will be proposed again with a different name and a different presentation, regardless of whether it works.

As the Bible says, there is nothing new under the sun. The core concepts in SharePoint are not new – we just learn new ways to generate, share and manage content.

Truth #12: In protocol design, perfection has been reached not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.

In SharePoint design, perfection has been reached when the business requirements for the implementation are met.

Bill English