So, you’re all in, eh? Time to start studying for this test. As we covered in Part 1, the SharePoint test is broken into seven major Objective Domains:

Skill Covered % of questions on the exam
Design SharePoint Infrastructure 15-20%
Plan authentication and security 15-20%
Plan workload optimization 15-20%
Plan productivity solutions 15-20%
Manage search capabilities 10-15%
Plan and configure cloud services 5-10%
Monitor and optimize a SharePoint environment 10-15%

To keep you on track, each blog post from here on out will concentrate on a particular Skill within the Objective Domain; this post focuses on the Design SharePoint Infrastructure Skill.

Design SharePoint Infrastructure

The first set of skills in the 70-339 exam is arguably the largest in terms of topics covered. These topics are broken down into five groupings:

  1. Design Information Architecture
  2. Design a Logical Architecture
  3. Design a Physical Architecture
  4. Plan an installation
  5. Plan a hybrid cloud deployment

Designing an Information Architecture

The information architecture component of the test concentrates on how information is organized and implemented in a SharePoint 2016 farm.

  • Navigation – How are your sites going to be organized from a navigational point of view? Are you going to use Managed Navigation (using tags in the Term Store), Structural Navigation (rolling up subsites into one or more navigational topics), or some combination of both navigational types? What sort of navigational plan do you have in place for users on a mobile platform?
  • Information Structure – How are you going to plan out your Site Columns and Content Types? Will they be additive, starting with a basic information structure and then adding new columns and behaviors into the child Content Types?
  • Initial Planning for Search – Although not directly focused on search itself, the mechanism for designing an effective Keyword and Synonym strategy should be considered. Other search topics such as Promoted Results (remember Best Bets?) and Managed Properties are also covered – know the difference between a Folksonomy and a Taxonomy, and how a Folksonomy can become a Taxonomy.
  • DLP, IRM, and eDiscovery – These tool sets, including Digital Loss Prevention, Information Rights Management, and eDiscovery within the SharePoint platform are a core toolset for knowledge management professionals in your organization. Understanding each of these elements is a key facet to an overarching information governance strategy.
  • Newer Features – Topics such as Durable Links within a site collection and support for Open Document Format (ODF) are among the newest features present in a SharePoint 2016 farm.

Designing a Logical Architecture

This skill focuses on the Web Server (IIS) and Database components of the farm.

  • Plan for Software Boundaries – This concept is specifically crafted around the “Software boundaries and limits for SharePoint Server 2016” guidance found at Understand the differences between Boundaries (static, unchangeable), Thresholds (limits that can be exceeded in given situations), and Supported limits (recommended configuration limits that have been tested by Microsoft)
  • Plan Web Applications, Host Header Site Collections and Application Pools – How familiar are you with SharePoint from an IIS point of view? What are the impacts of spinning up more than one web application/application pool? How do you handle authentication within those constructs, and what are the practical limitations for their use (from a Microsoft best practices point of view)? What happens when Host Header Site Collections are enabled, both from IIS and SharePoint points of view?
  • Plan Zones and Alternate Access Mappings – Both focused on how web applications are presented to users, these topics cause a lot of newer administrators headaches due to the surrounding authentication and authorization topics.
  • Plan Fast Site Collection creation – Be familiar with how this new SharePoint 2016 feature can be best utilized, and its effect on the Content Database structure within a SharePoint 2016 farm.

Designing a Physical Architecture

This skill focuses on the underlying physical configurations available for a SharePoint 2016 farm, which can be fundamentally different from a 2013 implementation.

  • Design a Server Farm Topology – This concept combines two major topics, the topology itself, and the MinRole concept. If you’ve never read about MinRole, this is your chance, because you need to understand how the streamlined topology in SharePoint 2013 translates to the MinRole topology in SharePoint 2016. Essentially, choosing to use a MinRole topology (and there are additional ones available after the 2016 Feature Pack 1), influences both the arrangement and implementations of servers in each level of a SharePoint farm.
  • Designing Central Administration – Did you know that Central Administration is NOT a claims-aware service application? How about the fact that you can make CA available using HTTPS and on more than one server in a SharePoint farm?
  • Designing Physical Components of a farm – SharePoint (combined with SQL Server as its backend) can require a significant amount of storage and hardware configuration planning. How resilient will your design be? Will your individual server be up to the task? How about the Service Topologies, do you have any special load that may require a Custom server (or servers) within the farm?
  • Planning outside requirements – What measures will need to be taken within your design to host large files? How will you accommodate applications which use the Add-In (App) Model?

Plan an Installation

This skill focuses on the core requirements for implementing a SharePoint solution.

  • Identifying Prerequisites – Although it is quite possible to hook a SharePoint server to the internet and download the software prerequisites for installation, the fact remains that many organizations simply do not allow their servers external access. With no access to the outside world, what would be your plan for aggregating and deploying these prerequisites, making them available for future SharePoint installations (scripted and unscripted)?
  • Planning Service Application and additional features – Be familiar with the requirements for deploying both Access Services 2010 (deprecated, but available for backward compatibility) and Project Server (installed in the SharePoint binaries, but not activated by default).
  • Installation and Patch planning – When building a SharePoint farm, how will you streamline your install approach, from both a patching and language pack perspective? How will you prevent rogue installations of SharePoint from appearing within your organization? What are your plans for connecting your SharePoint 2016 farm to the cloud (hybrid) or moving to Office 365 altogether?

Plan a hybrid cloud environment

This skill focuses on the steps required to connect an on-premises SharePoint installation to Office 365. Although there is a separate Office 365 test (more than one, actually), this test requires a core understanding of the subject.

  • Plan for the deployment of Office Online – Understanding how your on-premises environment hooks up to the cloud is a fundamental requirement. Topics such as OAuth, Server-to-server authentication, and ways to selectively deploy Office 365 components are covered in some detail within this topic.


If this section sounds immense, that’s because it is – it roughly comprises half of what used to be the 70-331 test. Fact is, there is a lot of ground to cover in the 70-339 test. Come back when you’re tired of reading and we’ll go on to Skill 2, Planning Authentication and Security; it sounds tough, but I guarantee it’s smaller in scope than what you just read.