The 12 Networking Truths Applied to SharePoint

By Bill English posted 08-30-2010 21:25


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.  This post isn't entirely serious, but then again, perhaps it is.

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.  Of course, it must functionally work too, but that is a given.

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 only 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 learn 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” things to happen that are not natural, the results will likely be that which you don’t want.  If you have to force people to use SharePoint, your energies and efforts will likely be better focused on something other than “muscling” people to use SharePoint.  SharePoint isn't for everyone.

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, then you should win a prize.  And you'll see how SharePoint might be considered (by some) a very bad idea.

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 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.  For example, if you want SharePoint stood up swiftly and with little cost, it will be a bad implementation. 

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

  Ask anyone who has implemented SharePoint as an enterprise service offering without robust training for their end-users and you’ll understand how this networking truth applies to SharePoint.  Don’t drink the Kool-Aid that SharePoint is so intuitive that your end-users don’t need training.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

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.

  For those in organizations whose users are clamoring for SharePoint, be aware that it will take longer than you’d like to get SharePoint rolled out.  For sure, it will take longer than your users will like.  But sticking to your methods and processes for the rollout will pay big dividends down the road.

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.  SharePoint is the poster-child for “one size never fits all”.  If you have 3 months to deploy SharePoint, be sure to take at least 6 weeks for business analysis, planning and design before you even build a POC, let alone a production environment.

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 – just the code and access vectors on how those concepts are implemented.

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 features of SharePoint are implemented in such a way as to meet the business requirements for the implementation.

#SharePoint #2010