Tip #21. Do you know about the problems of multiple SSPs?

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The main role of the SSP is to serve as the provider of key centralized services to consuming sites and portals. It was designed with isolation in mind that Web Application Web Application is working with the single SSP only, so that an organization would have a single SSP from which all of its sites could consume enterprise-level services.

Each Web Application in SharePoint farm must get its Shared Services from a single SSP. It’s not possible to use different SSPs for certain Shared Services. Neither is it possible to say that a certain SSPs only provides certain services. The concept of the single SSP works well for hosted scenarios and non-global organizations and companies.

There are several scenarios for having multiple SSPs:

  1. Index Server scale. There is a recommended maximum of 50 million items per Index Server. Since you can only have 1 Index server per SSP. If you can more than 50 million items to index, you may need to split the load across multiple SSPs.
  2. Privacy. Some parts of the organization may actually want to host their own My Sites, Profiles etc and the split is seen as a good thing.
  3. Geographically Dispersed deployments.

In such scenarios isolated SSP doesn’t provide required functionality, especially for User Profiles and Personalization. So, you have to configure the farms with multiple SSPs. There are no limitation to have several SSPs in farms, but that configuration introduces additional level of complexity to have services synchronized.

In case of multiple SharedServices you end up with duplicated services. If you do have 2 SSPs, then you have 2 My Sites per user, 2 profiles per user, 2 sets of search indexes etc.  Such configuration requires additional steps to keep the SSPs in sync with each other and make sure that user's are redirected to the correct SSP for their My Site.

To simplify synchronisations Microsoft provides tool “User Profile Replication Engine” (part of SharePoint Administration Toolkit) to maintaining consistent user profile data throughout the complete SharePoint ecosystem, including geographic deployments. It does multi-master data replication from one source to multiple destinations in the form of a full or incremental synchronization.

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