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Otherwise known as planning.

Things that will be needed include:

  • A business model - it also helps if you understand it.
    • This should give you a preliminary budget as well.
  • Hardware
  • Basic network
  • Internet Connection - Cable or FIOS
  • Firewall/Router - Assume it's a throw-away, just make sure it's fast enough to support connection speed.
  • Software licenses for proprietary software
    • Hint: To get started, join TechNet/MSDN or look at other Microsoft programs for small businesses.
  • Internal sub-net
    • Hint: stay away from the low number in 192.168.x.x subnet as most devices use them.
  • Some basic architectural decisions - In particular
    • 32 bit or 64 bit, or mixed
    • What language run time environments will be needed. Be particularly sensitive to versioning.
    • Service levels
      • Uptime requirements
      • Resiliency requirements

Resist temptation to over-design at this time. And do not implement any robustness features that will not be tested. Given that most hardware is very reliable in a data-center once its survived the first 30 days, untested robustness features will cause more problems than they solve. Only exception is RAID/disk-mirroring which you'd be a fool not to use.