The cloud is all the rage now, and it seems inevitable, as if the gods have seemingly decreed the next phase in the evolution of the continuum of computing.  However, just four short years ago, when Nicolas Carr was writing “The Big Switch3 the concept of computing services as a utility was still controversial, but not to all.  In the prologue to his book, he wrote about his visit to VeriCenter’s data center:

“As I stood there surveying the data center, I might as well have been a cartoon figure with a big light bulb flashing above my head. I realized that what I was standing in was a prototype of a new kind of power plant – a computing plant that would come to power our information age the way great electric plants powered the industrial age. Connected to the Net, this modern dynamo would deliver into our businesses and homes vast quantities of digitized information and data processing might. It would run all the complicated software programs that we used to have to install on our own computers. And, just like the earlier electric dynamos, it would operate with the efficiency never possible before. It would turn computing into cheap, universal commodity.

            “This really is a utility,” I said to Sullivan.
            “He nodded, grinning.” This is the future.” 3

In just four short years, we have gone from the cloud being the future, to the cloud as being a standard deployment option for IT software services.  One of the key enablers of cloud computing is the drive to virtualize and consolidate hardware. Once your computing environment is virtualized, taking the next step to deploy your virtual machines to an off premise data center, seems like a logical next step.

We support your drive to virtualize your data center services. All our enterprise software is tested running in a Hyper-V Server environment.  For a list of our software and the supported virtualization environments navigate to: This document is updated regularly.

As the march to the cloud continues, the way we define or model this service is typically as an “operations model”.  James Urquhart, summarizes it quite succinctly:  “The cornerstone of everything I believe about the cloud can be summarized in one simple statement:

Cloud computing is an application-centric operations model.”4

How will operations have to evolve to meet the needs of this model? Mr. Urquhart goes on to break down operations to the following roles.

As you are reading this you are probably asking, “So what does all of this have to do with SharePoint, and in particular SharePoint search?” I feel it is important to first define how I look at cloud computing, i.e. as an application-centric operations model.  We can now look specifically at SharePoint as one of the key applications.


In coming posts, I will look at SharePoint and its search services as part of Office 365 and as a SharePoint farm for a geographically dispersed application. In the mean time, I recommend you check out Jeff DeVerter’s series of blog posts on “Geographical SharePoint Redundancy” 1. Jeff is a SharePoint Architect at Rackspace Hosting and has architected some of the largest distributed SharePoint farms on the planet.



1) DeVerter J (2011)  Content Delivery Networks and SharePoint, SharePoint in the Cloud | LinkedIn Group

2) Wicklund, P. (2011) Microsoft SharePoint 2010: Deploying Cloud-Based Solutions, Microsoft Press

3) Carr, N. (2008) The Big Switch, rewiring the world, from Edison to Google. W. W. Norton and Company, page 5

4) Urquhart J (2011)   What cloud boils down to for the enterprise ,  Gigaom


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By Philip E. Helsel