SharePoint 2013: As Light as a Feather

OK, look, the end of the world predictions need to stop. Yes, I’m talking about the memory requirements for SharePoint 2013. No, you’re not going to die from starvation, having been unable to afford the upgrade.

You may recall that I broke my self-imposed radio silence regarding SharePoint 2013 a few days after the release to correct what was rubbish information from several MVPs (and others, and I would like to stress, not all MVPs are idiots).

I’m going to break radio silence once again regarding this topic because it seems the community is going nuts over what is essentially very light requirements. In fact, I’ll claim, and show you, that SharePoint 2013 is really light as a feather.

What? You’re Nuts! 24 GB Is Way Too Much!

OK, OK, let’s start with the facts. SharePoint Server 2013, according to the current documentation, states that a minimum requirement for development is 24 GB RAM. There are other Microsoft documents suggesting the same. Those are the numbers, so let’s examine what this means.

Let’s start with some history. In 2009, I reported that SharePoint 2010 would require a minimum of 8 GB RAM, or about 4 GB for a development setup. I predicted that most people would want 4x that, and lo’ and behold, most people today use either 8 or 16 GB of RAM for their development machines.

What’s interesting about this, beyond the fact that I was right and everyone else was wrong, is what people had to pay for that RAM. In 2009, and I’ll compare the first memory price update after the public beta in November, the price of a MB or RAM (MB, not GB) was $0.0205, which roughly translates to $335 for 16 GB. (source: http://www.jcmit.com/memoryprice.htm)

Note: I’ve previously stated that I had to pay $800 for my 16 GB back then, but I obviously didn’t shop around enough.

Today, on NewEgg, the cheapest 32 GB laptop RAM goes for $172 or roughly half the price of what the required RAM for 2010 cost in 2009. In fact, this comparison isn’t even accurate, because the first price, from 2009, is for the cheapest RAM possible, which was 2×4 GB DIMM. The cheapest 2×4 GB DIMM you can get from NewEgg today (August 1, 2012) is $38.49, which translates to a price for 32 GB of $153.

The point of this, however, is to say that what you have to pay for a reasonable amount of RAM for SharePoint development, is less than half of what you had to pay back in 2009. That’s right, the ridiculously over-the-top requirements actually cost you far less than what we had to pay if we wanted to do reasonable SharePoint 2010 development.

It’s Still Too Heavy!

One of the arguments I made earlier was that the early ejaculation MVPs should have known that adding a ton of bricks to your wagon will mean you need to add more power to pull that wagon at the same speed.

If you look at the improvements and the massive amounts of new features that SharePoint 2013 adds on top of SharePoint 2010, it’s no wonder that you need more hardware. Does anyone still really think that new software should just run fine on three year old hardware?

The amazing thing, however, is that everyone seems to focus on having to shell out a couple of hundred bucks, rather than the fact that, with SharePoint 2013, you actually get twice as much functionality at half the price!

Geez, I don’t get some people and why it’s so difficult to understand that professional performers need tools that are up to the task, especially in a business that pays as well as SharePoint does.

I Can’t Get Approval For It!

I’ve been asked several times about how to approach managers and business people to get approval for such a ridiculous amount of money. I’m going out on a limb here and guessing that those asking haven’t done their leg work in figuring out how much it actually will cost, but just assume it’s going to be expensive. That’s not the case.

However, there are some who are nervous because they might need a new laptop, and after all, a 32 GB beast with four cores will ruin any budget, right?

You’re wrong.

I’ve checked with a couple of vendors. Dell currently has a ‘beast’ in its Precision M6600, which goes for, with no RAM and just a quad core upgrade, for around $1800. That gives you a 17 inch laptop with room for three hard drives. It’s extremely powerful, I’ve had its older brother for over two years now and it really packs a punch. Add 32 GB NewEgg RAM to that and you’re down a whooping $2,000 for one of the most powerful laptops you can build today.

A smaller size HP EliteBook seems to be around $1,400 ($1,600 with RAM upgrade). A Lenovo W530 is around $1,300 ($1,500 with 32 GB RAM).

I Still Want To Run on Less!

Here’s the thing; it doesn’t make sense to save a couple of hundred (or at worst, a couple of thousand) dollars by using inferior hardware. Let’s say you’re a SharePoint consultant working for $150 per hour. If your productivity drops even 10% because you have problems with performance, then you incur costs of $15 every hour you work. After 10 hours, you have lost more money than a RAM upgrade to 32 GB would cost. After 100 hours (which is just over two weeks) you have lost more money than a new laptop would cost.

So, stop turning your dime over and over again, and get out there and buy the tools you need to do your job. If your boss says otherwise, tell him he or she is an idiot that is costing the company money every moment he or she delays approving your upgrade.

And, let’s face it, it’s cool to have the biggest laptop there is, isn’t it?

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Bjørn Furuknap

I previously did SharePoint. These days, I try new things to see where I can find the passion. If you have great ideas, cool projects, or is in general an awesome person, get in touch and we might find out together.

8 thoughts on “SharePoint 2013: As Light as a Feather”

  1. Let’s say you’re a SharePoint consultant working for $150 per hour. If your productivity drops even 10% because you have problems with performance, then your tasks takes 11.1…% longer which means that you’re earning even more.

    Or that’s at least how many consulting firms will see it.

  2. I agree a powerful laptop might not be that expensive, but I’ll be damned if I want a luggable. My favorite laptop is my MacBook Air. Very lightweight indeed. My work computer is a Lenovo T420s. The S is for more lightweight.

    So my dilemma is this… I want my laptop at tops 2kg, can I get a quad core, with 32gb and decent battery at that weight….? So I will stay with my dual core and 16gb ram for now, running 2013 decent enough 🙂

    1. Mikael,

      Why not just do cloud development? An EC2 instance with 32 Gb runs at between $1 and $2 per hour. For the few cases where you are totally offline, you may get away with running lighter installs, but most of the real work is done online in any case, and I’m sure a MacBook air will be just fine.

      .b

  3. I’ve been running just fine on 4 virtual processors, 14 GB of RAM, and 100 GB vhd. I have SQL 2012, Windows Server 2012, SharePoint Server 2013 Enterprise, Workflow Manager, and Visual Studio 2012 all running on a single Hyper-V VM. SharePoint has all the bells and whistles running (Search, Apps, Workflow, etc.).

    The only bottleneck I’ve been seeing is disk speed. Occasionally I can get the memory usage up in the 90% range, but the 7200 rpm drive that is both my host and VM drive is typically the problem. I’m hoping to pony up for a 512GB SSD for the second bay at some point this year.

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