I had a question in one of my SharePoint classes the other day from a very sharp student. “What is the best practice for deciding when to create a new SharePoint Site Collection?”
Well for starters, I’d like to say that any time you start talking about “best practices” there always has to be a disclaimer of, “It depends.” Rather than try to hammer out a hard and fast rule, I can give some general thoughts on whether a new site collection makes sense for your specific circumstances.
- Inheritance – this is the biggest reason. Security (specifically groups) and Content Types are inherited throughout the structure of SharePoint, so one huge reason for creating a new Site Collection is that you want the content or security to be very much separated from what you currently have. You will lose some of the functionality with having to recreate some structure, but it may be that there is absolutely nothing in common with the rest of your information and it will not affect you.
- Site Collection features – there may be times when you have certain site collection features turned on that make life a little too complicated. The publishing feature is one example. While I love the publishing features and you can generally do some awesome stuff with them, there are times when it makes doing things a tad bit more complicated. The only real way to separate this out is to have separate site collections.
- Site Collection Administrators; this one goes along in a similar vein with the inheritance but I consider it to be distinctly different enough that it’s worth mentioning. The Site Collection Administrator, for the most part, knows no boundaries within a site collection. There is an implied authority that goes beyond being assigned permissions. In some cases you might want to assign this authority to different people depending on what is contained within the site collection. Perhaps you have different divisions that should have different people assigned as the responsible parties, hence the different site collection administrators.
I think that covers the major things to consider in creating a new site collection. Individual experience may vary, but these general guidelines will get you started. If you have further criteria that you think is important, let me know in the comments.