Your friendly guide to host-named site collections


With Microsoft’s cloud strategy and engineering investment into Office 365, one SharePoint 2013 feature is a rising star: host-named site collections.

Host-named site collections are how Microsoft achieves scale in its multi-tenant environment. New features and existing features are optimized to work with host-named site collections like never before. However, it’s not just the feature that is important. It’s how it is configured — all host-named site collections are deployed to a single web application. The App model and Request Management, for example, are optimized for this configuration.

Being the author of many of the logical architecture design samples and articles that told you to isolate different types of content into different web applications, I recognize how disruptive this new recommendation might be for those of us who are SharePoint troupers. Nevertheless, the argument for moving in this direction is compelling. Because we run this configuration in our Office 365 environment, it is the most comprehensively tested and reliable configuration going forward.

Host-named site collections require more sophistication than the alternative, path-based site collections. It’s all described in a new article — Host-named site collection architecture and deployment (SharePoint 2013).

I’m proud to say that this article is the result of a close partnership with one of Microsoft’s field solution architects  — Timo Heidschuster — who has implemented many production-level solutions using host-named site collections. Timo’s customers are early adopters of SharePoint 2013. He has been working with this feature set for several product versions and he provided valuable feedback to the product team throughout the release cycle. Timo provided the Windows PowerShell scripts and much of the guidance based on his experience in the field.

Since the emphasis on using host-named site collections is relatively new, feel free to use this blog post to ask questions, comment on the article, request more information, or simply vent.

Brenda Carter, Long-time SharePoint Writer

Comments (26)

  1. Anonymous says:

    Great Post. I have a quick question about migrating legacy SPSites hosted in Sp2010 to HNSC in SP2013. What are my options there? Am I looking at backup-spsite? I have over 2TB of content so I'm looking at least painless way of moving to Sp2013. Thanks

    Mike

  2. Anonymous says:

    Hello Johnson Joseph,

    no this is not possible. There is no change between SP2010 and SP2013. Also you should understand that you can not extend the web application as we are using now Set-SPSite as alternate URL. Why not to use a custom claims provider instead of? Let me know a little bit more about your scenario.

    Timo

  3. Anonymous says:

    Timo,

    I love that your are replying to comments with such detail.

    Thanks!

    Tom

  4. Anonymous says:

    Hi Mike,

    you have to use Backup-SPSite.

    timo

  5. Anonymous says:

    @Tim – yes there is a gap.

    Timo

  6. Anonymous says:

    Hi Mahmoud,

    let me clarify the my site story.

    We recommend to use only one web application for everything. If you do this and you activate the SSSC to be able to create the my site all of them will be path based. To be clear we do support this.

    However you can also implement your custom solution to use your own provisioning process. In that case you are able to create hostnamed sites.

    So both scenarios are supported. A custom solution give you the approach to have everything in hostnamed.

    Note: We do not recommend to pre-create my sites.

    Btw. We will discuss this internally to update unclear points.

    Timo

  7. Anonymous says:

    Brenda,

    I am a SharePoint Consultant and have blogged about and spoken with quite a few SharePoint Consultants about HNSC's. The feedback I steadily hear, like a drum beat, is that most SP Consultants see this new best practice as an effort to prep customers' deployments for an eventual push to the cloud. Which is probably a good option for smaller customers, however, most of my enterprise customers have no desire at this time.

    Many consultants and customers seem to be pushing back against being herded to a cloud solution and have skepticism as to the reasons behind MS's 180 degree about-face regarding HNSC's and the single app pool model. I realize you may not be able to be completely transparent about this model and whether or not it truly is a better model than the past, but I would encourage more explanation as to what benefits this model will provide customers WITHOUT leaning on O365 and recommending this model because "it is the most comprehensively tested and reliable configuration going forward", as that sounds a lot like a sales speech, as opposed sound technical advice.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the heads-up, Brenda! The MSDN article you referenced is quite extensive.

    The main reason the create multiple web applications was to have complete separation of permissions as well as being able to have different authentication mechanisms per web application. Content databases is not an issue as you can still have a content database per site collection. The big drawback of using a single web application means that there can only be one web.config with particular settings for the whole web app.

    How could I address those points in host named site collections? In particular what is the advice concerning security aware customers in an Extranet/Intranet scenario where the Extranet users should never be able to access anything from the Intranet – with different People Picker set-ups, noone from the Extranet could be selected in the Intranet environment. What about different authentication mechanisms? On the same note, you might even be able to give some advice concerning the discontinued Forefront TMG (Thread Management Gateway) and what the MS solution would be for external facing login mechanisms.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Hi moontear,

    Definitly you have valid points. You are able to use multiple web applications even in HNSC. This brings complexity into your system since you need to deal with multiple IP's. If you do not want and still like to use path based scenario keep in mind your are still supported.

    Timo

  10. Anonymous says:

    thanks for Great Post

  11. Johnson Joseph says:

    Brenda,

    Is it possible to have multiple FBA membership providers in a single Web application?  We would like to use Host Named Site Collections where each site collection would authenticate a different FBA membership provider.  Is it possible to specify different FBA Membership providers in a single web.config for a web application?

  12. Tim Myers says:

    I wonder if more people would use Host Named Site Collections if they could be created from Central Admin? http://www.boxesandarrows.co.uk/host-named-site-collections-and-sharepoint-2013

  13. Mahmoud Hamed says:

    Hi Brenda,

    we have a conversion about this article on yammer and please find the questions and answers below please correct anything you see wrong:

    Barney Gwyther: I'm not entirely sure I understand this guidance: Microsoft recommend using a single web application to house multiple host named site collections, including a My Sites site collection.

    Further down the document they point out that self service site creation doesn't work with HNSC. Isn't My Site functionality dependent on SSSC?

    Mahmoud Hamed in reply to Barney Gwyther: Barney Gwyther You are right. but the document says:

    "My Sites:

    When you use both types of site collections with My Sites, consider implementing your own provisioning process to create My Sites as host-named sites instead of path based sites."

    I just checked the 2010 version of this document and I found this interesting words:

    "MySite should be created as a path-based site or a custom solution should be provided."

    technet.microsoft.com/…/cc424952(v=office…

    So Microsft mean that you pre-create all the mysite site collection for your farm by yourself by powershell in this format:

    my.consoso.com/…/<site_name>

    I think that this document need more clarification in this point !

    _____________________________________________________________________________________

    Eric Raff: So I like this twist.

    "You can use host-named and path based site collections in the same web application." OK, that's cool…

    If you then want to do SSL offloading with HNSC, this is possible by sending the HTTP header to SharePoint server of "Front-End-Https: On". BUT,

    "This custom header works only with host-named site collections. It does not work with path-based site collections."

    So in summary, if you are going to do HNSC with SSL offloading, then you cannot add path based site collections into that same web app. My testing shows the SP server returning a 404 not found error if you have SSL offloading, with HNSC and you try to hit a path based site collection. The HNSC works great with SSL offloading however. If you want HNSC and Path based SC mixed you cannot do ssl offloading.

    ???????????????????

    Regards,

    Mahmoud Hamed

  14. Anonymous says:

    Your friendly guide to host-named site collections – SharePoint IT Pro Blog – Site Home – TechNet Blogs

  15. Anonymous says:

    Your friendly guide to host-named site collections – SharePoint IT Pro Blog – Site Home – TechNet Blogs

  16. Anonymous says:

    Your friendly guide to host-named site collections – SharePoint IT Pro Blog – Site Home – TechNet Blogs

  17. Anonymous says:

    Your friendly guide to host-named site collections – SharePoint IT Pro Blog – Site Home – TechNet Blogs

  18. Anonymous says:

    Your friendly guide to host-named site collections – SharePoint IT Pro Blog – Site Home – TechNet Blogs

  19. Anonymous says:

    Your friendly guide to host-named site collections – SharePoint IT Pro Blog – Site Home – TechNet Blogs

  20. Anonymous says:

    Your friendly guide to host-named site collections – SharePoint IT Pro Blog – Site Home – TechNet Blogs

  21. Anonymous says:

    Your friendly guide to host-named site collections – SharePoint IT Pro Blog – Site Home – TechNet Blogs

  22. Anonymous says:

    Your friendly guide to host-named site collections – SharePoint IT Pro Blog – Site Home – TechNet Blogs

  23. Anonymous says:

    Your friendly guide to host-named site collections – SharePoint IT Pro Blog – Site Home – TechNet Blogs

  24. Anonymous says:

    Your friendly guide to host-named site collections – SharePoint IT Pro Blog – Site Home – TechNet Blogs

  25. Anonymous says:

    Your friendly guide to host-named site collections – SharePoint IT Pro Blog – Site Home – TechNet Blogs

  26. Anonymous says:

    Your friendly guide to host-named site collections – SharePoint IT Pro Blog – Site Home – TechNet Blogs