This blog post is authored by Ravikanth Chaganti.  Connect with him on his blog and Twitter.

Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 is the latest version of Microsoft’s platform for web-based collaboration, portals, and content management. The product has undergone several changes compared to its predecessor, Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007. A wide array of out-of-the-box functionality is available, but SharePoint also provides a programming platform that enables significant customization so that its services can be integrated into existing business processes.

SharePoint Foundation 2010 provides the core engine, services, and facilities for creating and using templates. This core functionality employs Microsoft programming and Web platforms, such as ASP.NET; it can be enhanced and extended by developing custom templates, webparts, and code.  SharePoint Server 2010 significantly extends the functionality and capability beyond the core services offered by Foundation. There are different editions of SharePoint Server 2010; some service applications such as Excel Services, PerformancePoint services will only be available in Enterprise Edition.

The SharePoint solutions engineering team at Dell worked extensively on evaluating the capabilities of SharePoint 2010 and created the following four white papers that provide reference architectures for deploying highly available/scalable SharePoint 2010 deployments, hardware / software recommendations, and best practices.

SharePoint 2010 – An introduction
Designing and Implementing a Small Server Farm with SharePoint 2010
Designing and Implementing a Medium Server Farm with SharePoint 2010
Designing and Implementing a Large Server Farm with SharePoint 2010

SharePoint 2010 – An introduction” provides a high-level overview of SharePoint Server 2010, key concepts and terminology that are helpful for understanding SharePoint 2010 deployment. This paper also touches upon upgrading from MOSS 2007 to SharePoint 2010 and provides an overview of upgrade methods.

The “SharePoint 2010 – Designing and implementing a small farm” paper provides reference architecture to implement a small farm with HA and no HA and provides recommendation on what Dell PowerEdge Server and Dell PowerVault storage is best suited for a small SharePoint 2010 farm.

A medium SharePoint 2010 farm consists of several servers, each of which is provisioned with different SharePoint components. The “SharePoint 2010 – Designing and implementing a medium farm” paper recommends three-tier architecture - featuring a presentation tier that provides Web and search query functions, an application tier that provides search indexing and service application functions, and a database tier that hosts the SQL Server databases for the farm. This paper recommends Dell PowerEdge blade servers, 11th generation rack servers, Dell EqualLogic PS 6000 series storage arrays.

The “SharePoint 2010 – Designing and implementing a large farm” paper provides a reference architecture for SharePoint 2010 that can support more than 10000 users and includes recommendations for implementing a central search service farm. This paper recommends Dell/EMC and Dell EqualLogic storage arrays for the SharePoint 2010 content databases.

I encourage you to read these reference architecture papers for a complete server / storage hardware and infrastructure sizing guidance for your SharePoint 2010 deployment.