Before reading the details of how to design, deploy, and manage SharePoint Server 2007, you should understand the overall plan Microsoft used to develop it. Just as Office SharePoint Server 2007 helps turn raw data into meaningful information by providing a context, so this chapter will help provide a context for SharePoint Server 2007 itself. The rest of this book is about the details; this chapter is about the big picture of architecture.
Before Microsoft developed SharePoint Server 2007, it first developed a plan to build the platform. This plan, known in the industry as an architecture, described in detail how the 2007 Microsoft Office release and SharePoint Server 2007 would be organized-how all the components would work together. Microsoft's architectural plan for the Microsoft Office system goes further than this immediate product release. A good architecture plan is also a vision or strategy for future growth and development. The architecture plan, which guided the development of the 2007 release, provided an excellent platform for today while allowing room for some services and features to be matured and developed in later releases.
Architecture planning is the process of organizing a set of concepts and ideas that lead to repeatable and effective decision making. With a well-thought-out and thorough architecture, individuals are able to make independent decisions that fit with the overall technical design. A robust architecture also provides a set of tools that can be used to objectively assess the quality and fit of decisions made by others. These aspects of architecture are said to be logical rather than physical. This means that they define patterns of thought used in making technical decisions rather than the organization of physical technologies that are described in a physical architecture. Because they represent a method for organizing thoughts and decisions, logical architectures, by their nature, can be difficult to understand. They are conceptual and not concrete.
To make sure the logic of SharePoint Server 2007's architecture is easy to understand, this discussion begins with a concrete example from the past. As you'll see, once the technical jargon is removed, logical architecture planning is nothing new. To help understand the concepts of Microsoft's leading-edge architecture, a brief discussion of the American railway systems of the 1800s will prove useful. This particular discussion will focus on the railway of North America because it was an achievement brought about by a large number of people from many different countries. Working without common language, they were able to unify a wild continent with a well-designed railway system. The railway system worked because its architects had a plan.