I recently had a client ask be about how to get started on understanding the SharePoint 2010 architecture and how they should deploy. Unfortunately the answer is it depends based on your business requirements.
Gartner recognizes the SharePoint platform as a best of breed across all major workloads like web portal, enterprise content management (document management, web content management, records management, etc.), business intelligence, workplace social computing, search/enterprise search, and as an application development platform. Knowing this, the SharePoint platform delivers a single platform that is managed together helping agencies consolidate costs in people, process and technology. Plus SharePoint is tightly aligned to Office and Lync (instant messaging, sharing, meeting, and phone solution).
Now depending on what you will implement will depend on how you scale SharePoint 2010. Plus with many agencies, there is never just on SharePoint farm. There will be multiple SharePoint farms which will be configured to support the business requirements.
If you are trying to get an initial understanding of the SharePoint 2010 architecture, here are some good references:
· SharePoint 2010 Architecture - http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/gg552610.aspx - this is a good starting place if you are not familiar with SharePoint.
· SharePoint 2010 Technical Diagrams - http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc263199.aspx - all the big picture of both physical and logical architecture.
· Hardware and Software Requirements - http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc262485.aspx - I suggest reading this right off the bat.
Performance, scaling, business continuity topics always come up when starting to learn about SharePoint 2010. Here is a good place to start.
· Performance and capacity technical case studies (SharePoint Server 2010) http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc261716.aspx - More good case studies.
· SharePoint 2010 Performance and Capacity whitepapers - http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff608068.aspx - Whitepapers on specific workloads.
· SharePoint 2010 Capacity boundaries - http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc262787.aspx - This is pretty detailed discussion on testing.
Now if you are familiar with SharePoint 2007 architecture:
· I have written a multiple part series on SharePoint 2010 architecture here- http://www.astaticstate.com/2010/01/sharepoint-2010-service-architecture.html
· I have another blog on scaling SQL Server because this is a critical component to SharePoint - http://www.astaticstate.com/2010/12/sharepoint-2010-high-availability-with.html.
· Here is a series on SharePoint 2010 Search - http://www.astaticstate.com/2010/12/sharepoint-2010-search-architecture.html
· Here is a series on FAST for SharePoint 2010 - http://www.astaticstate.com/2011/01/part-1-fast-for-sharepoint-2010.html
Finally it is also IMPORTANT to know when reviewing all these architectures, that SharePoint 2010 is the only portal technology on the market that software as a service (SaaS) cloud offering called Office365. This ultimately means major reduction on hardware and software that must be installed and managed, better service level agreements to your users, quicker deployment of solutions, better ability to scale, better ability to support telework and external collaboration, and the list really just goes on. Be in the business of creating business solutions.
I say the best way to learn about SharePoint Online Service is read the service level agreements which I have linked to here - http://www.astaticstate.com/2011/07/office365-slas.html