Editor’s note: This post is one in a series from CollabTalk CEO Christian Buckley called “Top Concerns with Hybrid SharePoint.” Read the other blogs in the series below: 

When I travel abroad, I am often reminded how far some regions still have to go to reach parity with our digital environments in the United States, and, specifically, availability of broadband. Having spent several years working with manufacturing technology companies around the Pacific Rim, I have worked with customers at facilities in areas with just-better-than dial up connections, trying to connect and collaborate with US partners on advanced systems. In fact, my former company spent a great deal of time and resources reducing the footprint of our collaboration solutions, developing an edge device to decrease the “noise” on these low-bandwidth connections, and investigating costly WAN optimization solutions to improve performance.

For any online solution, there are some key performance metrics that must be considered:

  • Page load speed
  • Number of round trips are required per page
  • Quality of service (up-time)
  • Issues that cause performance degradation

Whether reviewing your company website, or designing a SharePoint environment, these standards remain true.

A few years back, I bookmarked an article from MVP Eric Shupps that was published in NetworkWorld back in 2010 that still has relevance to today’s environments, especially as you look for ways to improve performance of your hybrid environment. In the article, Eric outlines some traditional server management guidelines that can impact system performance, from defragmenting database indexes and SQL tuning, to cleaning up your navigation and customizations.

Historically, the conversation around performance was about server-to-server communication. But with most solutions moving to the cloud, the issue has become a conversation about connectivity, bandwidth, and throughput. As Microsoft and other leading providers expands their data center footprints globally, the performance of most systems are getting better and better. As more data centers come online, and broadband access becomes the standard around the world, the world is getting smaller and smaller.

Quick Overview: Hybrid SharePoint Performance

In the following video interview with Bill Baer (@williambaer), a Senior Technical Product Manager on the SharePoint team, we discuss some of the issues and concerns surrounding SharePoint performance in a hybrid environment. Bill mentions that performance is often brought up as one of the top three concerns when he speaks with customers, but usually divides the discussion into two points: He first focuses on performance of the system (SharePoint or Office 365), and then discusses performance (and throughput) of the network. He shares some interesting insights in his years of working with Office 365 in managing the right perceptions around SharePoint performance:

Why is this topic important?

As I mention in the video, the way to think about SharePoint performance is much like the telephony example: you might have fiber running down your street, but if the connection from your home to the street is an old copper line, then your bandwidth will be limited to the reduced throughput of that old copper line. Within a hybrid SharePoint environment, it is important to understand the impacts to performance due to the platform itself, due to your configuration decisions, and to connectivity.

Microsoft provides some similar guidance. You can categorize the connections between the server and the user into three main components, which you should consider when designing any SharePoint environment:

  • The servers that Microsoft hosts in datacenters.
  • The Microsoft network, the Internet, and your on-premises network between the datacenter and your users.
  • Where the page is loaded.

Furthermore, within these three connections there are typically five reasons that cause 95% of slow pages:

  • Navigation issues
  • Content roll up
  • Large files
  • Many requests to the server
  • Web Part processing

Additionally, your storage options can adversely impact performance. The storage needs of your end users could overwhelm SharePoint’s underlying SQL Server database, which isn’t designed for the unstructured data that organizations seek to distribute, industry executives contend. Microsoft provides extensive guidance on where to place the various SharePoint components to optimize your environment’s performance.

Microsoft Guidance on Optimizing Hybrid SharePoint Performance

If I can quickly summarize, understand *how* your organization is utilizing SharePoint. One way to really get to the pulse of what is happening within your environment, in addition to usage reports, is to regularly check / clean up your data, including what kind of data is being stored, and how it is being managed.

Microsoft also recommends optimizing your hybrid environment based on the specific workloads being used. In other words, if you determine that a remote team primarily collaborates through email and Skype, using SharePoint locally but sharing files between geographies using OneDrive for Business, your performance strategy should adjust accordingly. Watch the performance of specific workloads, and optimize your plans based on actual usage patterns.

Probably the most comprehensive list of performance guidance from Microsoft is in a Support.Office.com article called ‘Tune SharePoint Online Performance,’ which links to supporting documentation around all of the prime suspects for degraded SharePoint performance.

How AvePoint can help

One of the most compelling aspects of AvePoint’s product portfolio is the level of visibility and control they give to your environment, whether online, on-premises, of somewhere in between with a hybrid deployment. Through alerts, reports, and management of every aspect of your SharePoint environment, your administrators will be able to proactively or automatically optimize SharePoint to meet the performance needs of your organization.

Additional hybrid SharePoint Resources

The following list of resources provide best practices and guidance across a variety of performance-based topics, and will give you a solid overview of what to consider and plan for in your own SharePoint performance optimization strategy:

  • Tune SharePoint Online performance [Support.Office.com]
  • The Benefits of Office 365 and File Share Integration [Blog]
  • Introduction to performance tuning for SharePoint Online [Support.Office.com]
  • Business and IT Challenges in the Cloud [Blog]
  • SharePoint Storage Optimization: Why Shredded Storage and Remote Blob Storage are Better Together [Blog]
  • Service Health and Continuity [TechNet]
  • The Ultimate SharePoint Performance Guide! [book]
  • How to diagnose cloud performance issues [InfoWorld]
  • Diagnosing performance issues with SharePoint Online [Support.Office.com]
  • Four Highly Available Architectures for SharePoint Today [fpWeb]
  • Optimize performance for SharePoint Server 2013 [TechNet]
  • 6 ways to improve SharePoint site speed and performance [SharePointMaven]
  • Using Content Search Web Part instead of Content Query Web Part to improve performance in SharePoint Online [Suppport.Office.com]

As always, the AvePoint team wants to hear your feedback on this topic, and answer any open questions. Post your questions here, and myself or someone from the AvePoint team will respond.