There are many different ways to design and implement SharePoint Server 2007. Although the majority of design choices will depend on your specific implementation, many need to remain constant across all SharePoint Server 2007 installations. Note that configurations contrary to best practices can resist scaling, ease of administration, performance, and availability.
The SharePoint Server 2007 Web front-end (WFE) server renders Web content to the end user. The Web front-end server runs Internet Information Services (IIS) and provides the user interface via a Web browser. Using a Web browser simplifies many things, such as client software, firewall rules, customization and portability. Simply open TCP Port 443 (HTTPS) on your firewall and your users will have rich, secure document sharing. This approach alleviates the need for open Server Message Block (SMB) and NetBIOS ports, and eliminates the possible vulnerabilities that are associated with them. Keep in mind that WFEs do not store content-content is stored on SQL Server
Although most popular Web browsers function with SharePoint Server 2007, full functionality cannot be realized without Internet Explorer 6.0 or higher.
An index server crawls data from many sources, and a query server consumes that content index to search for data. Users interact with the query server, not the index server. Searching and indexing are a large component of SharePoint Server 2007 and are covered in Chapter 16, "Enterprise Search and Indexing Architecture and Administration," and Chapter 17, "Enterprise Search and Indexing Deployment."
If you have a large environment and crawl very little external content, use a dedicated Web front-end server for indexing your SharePoint Server 2007 content. The dedicated WFE can be the indexing server itself (legacy functionality of SharePoint Portal Server 2003) or a standalone machine. This approach can significantly increase user-side WFE performance when indexing your SharePoint Server 2007 databases. The down-side with this implementation is all indexing will proxy through this WFE and could present a bottleneck. Using a standalone, dedicated WFE is illustrated in Figure 3-2.
A new feature in SharePoint Server 2007, Excel Calculation Services, includes a number of features found in the desktop Office application. Excel Calculation Services can be used by the full desktop client, Web browser, or custom application. Although Excel Calculation Services are easily scaled, it is best to have your calculation requirements defined before the production rollout. In calculation-intensive environments, you might have several Excel Calculation Services servers, with the possibility of scaling further by moving the query service to its own hardware.
Excel Calculation Services does not allow authoring in the browser or handle multiuser Excel authoring.
In SharePoint Services 2003, the functionality of lists was less than perfect for most organizations. SharePoint Server 2007 allows for most Excel functions to be embedded in your Web pages, allowing for a clutter-free and user-friendly Web site. More information on Excel Calculation Services can be found in Chapter 20, "Excel Services and Building Business Intelligence Solutions."