[This is a sneak preview to a whitepaper that I am writting]

Short answer:

It depends…

Some reading to whet your appetite:

With the eminent pervasion of SharePoint as the mainstream web application development platform at most Microsoft shops, it’s more then essential now to get the SharePoint infrastructure right. Ideally it should be an abstraction for developers and business users and needless to say forward thinking and able to meet all the ‘abilities’.

Here is a quick list of Best Practices that I have discovered along the way, the white paper will detail the reasoning arguments and background on each point as well will include capacity and performance planning guidelines.

a)      Start with a single farm (note: not a single box), this could be small, medium or large based on the outcome from capacity planning.

b)      Multiple farms should be a big no, unless you have to cater for drastically different SLAs

c)      Each application should be based in an individual Site Collection and have it’s own unique Content Database.

d)      Try to discourage more then 6 web applications in a single farm (as they are replicated onto all front-end servers) by factoring logical grouping i.e. Collaboration, Portal, Intranet, Extranet and so on.

e)      Have Site Collections live under the respective logically grouped web applications.

f)       Use host headers and not IP addresses when naming site collections.

g)      Factor in one site per content database per category if content size is expected to be large (more then 4 GB).

Long answer:

Well please be on the look out for the white paper when it’s out.