Concerns for Information Architecture and SharePoint Online

Many of you will have done some planning around how your web applications and site collections are created and managed.  You will have been very aware of the boundaries that exist on the platform to ensure your use of SharePoint is supported and works as expected. You will likely have also paid some attention to the way you manage your content.

Common areas that I have always recommended people look at are

Web applications

  • keep the numbers low
  • use when security is important
  • apply quotas
  • good content database allocation
  • split you applications types (collaboration, my sites and social, publishing)

Site collections

  • good content database allocation
  • use managed paths to aid information grouping (projects, communities, apps)

In your on premises deployment this all makes sense and the numbers allowed are often much greater than you are likely to use – for example the site collection limits

Software boundaries and limits for 2013

Site collection limits

The following table lists the recommended guidelines for site collections.

Limit Maximum value Limit type Notes
Site collections per farm 750,000 (500,000 Personal Sites and 250,000 other sites per farm) Supported The maximum recommended number of site collections per farm is 500,000 Personal Sites plus 250,000 for all other site templates. The Sites can all reside on one web application, or can be distributed across multiple web applications.Note that this limit is affected by other factors that might reduce the effective number of site collections that can be supported by a given content database. Care must be exercised to avoid exceeding supported limits when a container object, such as a content database, contains a large number of other objects. For example, if a farm contains a smaller total number of content databases, each of which contains a large number of site collections, farm performance might be adversely affected long before the supported limit for the number of site collections is reached.

For example, Farm A contains a web application that has 200 content databases, a supported configuration. If each of these content databases contains 1,000 site collections, the total number of site collections in the web application will be 200,000, which falls within supported limits. However, if each content database contains 10,000 site collections, even though this number is supported for a content database, the total number of site collections in the farm will be 2,000,000, which exceeds the limit for the number of site collections per web application.

Memory usage on the web servers should be monitored, as memory usage is dependent on usage patterns and how many sites are being accessed in given timeframe. Similarly, the crawl targets might also exhibit memory pressure, and if so the application pool should be configured to recycle before available memory on any web server drops to less than 2 GB.

But looking at SharePoint Online for Enterprise Customers we get very different limits

SharePoint Online for enterprises

The following table describes software boundaries and limits for SharePoint Online for Enterprises in Office 365.

UPDATE: 4th March 2013 – Microsoft have corrected the post which now states 3,000 site collections.

Storage (pooled) 10 gigabytes (GB) base customer storage plus 500 megabytes (MB) per enterprise user.  
Storage per Kiosk Worker Zero (0). Licensed Kiosk Workers do not bring additional storage allocation.  
Maximum number of Active Directory user objects Up to 2,000,000 AD user objects  
Additional storage (per GB per month); no minimum purchase. $0.20 USD/GB/month.  
Site collection storage quotas Up to 100 gigabytes (GB) per site collection.  
My Site storage allocation (does not count against tenant‘s overall storage pool) 500 megabytes (MB) of personal storage per My Site (as soon as provisioned).  
Site collections (#) per tenant Up to 300 (other than My Site collections).  
Total storage per tenant Up to 25 terabytes (TB) per tenant.  
File upload limit 250 megabytes (MB) per file.
Storage base per tenant 10 gigabytes (GB) base customer storage. 10 gigabytes (GB) base customer storage.
Storage per user (contributes to total storage base of tenant) 500 megabytes (MB) per subscribed user. Zero (0). Licensed Kiosk Workers do not add to the tenant storage base.
Additional storage (per GB per month); no minimum purchase. $0.20 USD/GB/month. $0.20 USD/GB/month.
Storage base per tenant 10 GB + 500 MB per subscribed user + additional storage purchased. . For the maximum number of users (500,000), the base storage allocation is 25 Terabytes (10 GB + 500 MB * 500,000 users), and you can purchase more storage. 10 GB + additional storage purchased.
Site collection quota limit Up to 100 GB per site collection. Up to 100 GB per site collection.
Site collections (#) per tenant 3000 site collections (other than Sky Drive Pro personal sites). 3000 site collections.
SkyDrive Pro storage allocation 7 GB (as soon as provisioned). This amount is counted separately, and does not add to or subtract from a tenant‘s overall storage pool. Not available.
Public Website storage limit 5 GB 5 GB
File upload limit 250 MB per file. 250 MB per file.
Maximum number of users per tenant 1 – 500,000

 NOTE    If you have more than 500,000 users, please contact the Microsoft represenative to discuss detailed requirements.

1 – 500,000

 NOTE    If you have more than 500,000 users, please contact the Microsoft represenative to discuss detailed requirements.

Maximum number of external user invitees Up to 10,000 unique external users per month Up to 10,000 unique external users per month


A few numbers that stand out as a possible challenge to way we have been configuring our sites on premises.

Number of site collection = 300  3000  Updated post 4th March

Site collection storage quote = 100GB

I do express some concern by this shift, and it will mean some careful thought and planning to ensure that we can achieve some of the basic information governance controls like

  • Ownership of site collection and its content
  • Ensuring users know where to put things
  • The lifecycle of the site collection
  • Not building huge site collection depth and complexity

I personally have always looked at trying to encourage the creation, use and disposal of site collections based on well defined use cases.  A good example of this is a project.

In the project you have a well defined owner, membership, content structure, purpose and lifecycle.

If based on the numbers above we have to move back to managing this more at the sub site level I can see challenges around management.

For example

  • can the project manager be given rights to invite new people to his project site if its just a sub site?
  • where does a project site get created if it has to be a sub site?

There are lots more questions and that need to be worked through.  Perhaps the answer is to allow enterprise customers to have multiple tenancies – but that I believe will bring in many more issues.

I would be interested in people experience with this?  Are the numbers accurate – i.e. for a larger enterprise can they get more – or do they do a dedicated offering.

It appears that the social network helps keep us on track and hi-lights any issues / duplications.  This being a prime example


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