Planning Farm Topology in SharePoint 2013: Part I

In this article we can learn various types of topology available in SharePoint 2013. SharePoint 2013 has been out for some time now, and most of the new SharePoint projects use SharePoint 2013. However, when it comes topology planning and which services should be run on each server, there isn't enough information available. I wrote this article to resolve all this confusion and to give you an idea of the various types of topology that we can use.

SharePoint 2013 topologies

There are two type of approaches available for the topology
as in the following:

  • Streamlined topologies: the distribution of services and other components in a farm is intended to maximize system resources of server hardware. Streamlined architectures include front-end servers, batch-processing servers, and database servers
  • Traditional topologies: Topologies are based on traditional approaches to building architectures with Web servers, application servers, and database servers.

We can discuss each of them in detail.

Traditional topologies

The traditional three-tier roles of a Microsoft SharePoint® 2013 farm can be deployed on a single server for evaluation or development, or on many servers. The three-tier roles include the following.

Web server role

Fast, light-weight server that responds to user requests for web pages. All web servers in a farm are mirrors of each other and are load balanced.

  • Hosts web pages, Web services, and Web Parts that are necessary to process requests served by the farm.
  • Directs requests to the appropriate application servers.
  • In dedicated services farms, this role is not necessary because web servers at remote farms contact application servers directly.

Application server role

Provides the service features of SharePoint products and technologies. An application server often provides all or a subset of service features. Multiple redundant application servers can be load balanced.


  • In many farms, all services will run on two identically configured application servers for redundancy.
  • The Search service application automatically configures the necessary services on application servers. Using the Services on Server page is not necessary.
  • After deployment, look for services that consume a disproportionate amount of resources and consider placing these services on dedicated hardware.

Database server role

Stores content and service data. All databases can be assigned to one database server. Or databases can be spread across multiple servers. All databases can be clustered or mirrored for failover protection. In a small farm, server roles can be combined on one or two servers. For example, web server and application server roles can be combined on a single server or on two or more servers to provide redundancy.


  • In a small farm environment, all databases can be deployed to a single server. In larger environments, group databases by roles and deploy these to multiple database servers.

Service Applications

Service applications are services that are shared across sites within a farm. Some service applications can be shared across multiple farms. Service applications are deployed to the application server tier. Some services include multiple components, and deployment of these components require planning.

Service applications and Services on Server for traditional topologies

If we are using the traditional approach then the following are the service applications that should run on each server. I took this table from the MSDN so if you have any clarification then please check on the link.

Service Application Services on Server Server Recommendation More information
Access Services 2010 Access Database Service 2010 Application Server Allows continued maintenance of SharePoint 2010 Access service applications by using Access 2010 clients and Access 2013 clients. Does not allow users to create new applications.
Access Services Access Services Application Server Allows creation of new Access service applications by using the Access 2013 client. View, edit, and interact with Access Services databases in a browser.
App Management Service App Management Service Application Server  
Business Data Connectivity Business Data Connectivity Application Server  
Excel Calculation Services Excel Calculation Services Application Server  
Machine Translation Service Machine Translation Service Application Server The Machine Translation Service uses SharePoint OAuth for file management. The Machine Translation Service Application's app pool account needs permissions to the User Profile Application to function correctly. The Machine Translation Service connects to the Microsoft Translator online service. Microsoft Translator may collect some data to improve the quality of translations.
Managed Metadata Service Managed Metadata Service Application Server  
Microsoft SharePoint Foundation Subscription Settings Service Microsoft SharePoint Foundation Subscription Settings Service Web server or application server This service application is deployed only by using Windows PowerShell. In hosting environments, this service is typically started on one or more application servers. Start this service if you have deployed service applications in multi-tenant mode or if the farm includes sites that use site subscriptions. This service stores settings and configuration data for tenants in a multi-tenant environment. After it is started, web applications consume this service automatically.
PerformancePoint PerformancePoint Application Server  
PowerPoint Conversion PowerPoint Conversion Service Application Server This service converts PowerPoint presentations to other formats. It typically runs on one or more application servers. It starts one or more worker processes to perform conversions. When actively converting, a worker process may use up a entire processor core. Memory usage depends on the size and content of files being converted. The number of worker processes that are used can be controlled through Windows PowerShell cmdlets. Several other configuration options are also available through Windows PowerShell cmdlets.
Search Lotus Notes Connector Application Server  
Search Search Host Controller Service   Automatically configured to run on the appropriate application servers This service manages the search topology components. The service is automatically started on all servers that run search topology components.
Search Search Query and Site Settings Service Automatically configured to run on the appropriate application servers This service load balances queries within the search topology. It also detects farm-level changes to the search service and puts these in the Search Admin database. The service is automatically started on all servers that run the query processing component.
Search SharePoint Server Search Automatically configured to run on the appropriate application servers This service crawls content for the search index. This service is automatically started on all servers that run search topology components. The service cannot be stopped or started from the Services on Server page.
Secure Store Service Secure Store Service Application server  
Usage and Health Data Collection NA NA This service application has no associated service on server.
User Profile User Profile Service Application server  
User Profile User Profile Synchronization Service Application Server  
Visio Graphics Service Visio Graphics Service Application Server  
Word Automation Service Word Automation Service Application Server Performs automated bulk document conversions. When actively converting, this service will fully use one CPU for each worker process (configured in Central Administration). If the service is started on multiple servers, a job will be shared across all the servers.
Work Management Work Management Servives    
  Central Administration Application Server This service runs the SharePoint Central Administration website.
  Claims to Windows Token Service Web and application servers This service is automatically configured to run on applicable servers.
  Distributed Cache Web and application servers By default this service is started on all web servers and application servers in a farm.
  Document Conversions Launcher Service Application Server Schedules and starts the document conversions on a server.
  Document Conversions Load Balancer Service Application Server Balances document conversion requests from across the server farm. Each web application can have only one load balancer registered with it at a time.
  Microsoft SharePoint Foundation Incoming E-Mail Web server or application server Typically, this service runs on a web server. If you need to isolate this service then you can start it on an application server.
  Microsoft SharePoint Foundation Sandboxed Code Service Web server or application server Start this service on computers in the farm that run sandboxed code. This can include web servers and application servers. This service runs code that is deployed as part of a sandboxed solution in a remote, rights-restricted process and measures the server resources that are used during execution against a site collection-scoped, daily quota.
  Microsoft SharePoint Foundation Web Application Web server Ensure that this service is started on all web servers in a farm. Stop this service on application servers. This service provides web server functionality. It is started by default on web servers. Custom features scoped to web applications may not display in Central Administration as intended if this service is not started on the server that runs Central Administration and if the feature cannot be deployed globally.
  Microsoft SharePoint Foundation Workflow Timer Service Web server This service is automatically configured to run on all web servers in a farm.
  Request Management Web server or dedicated servers In integrated mode, Request Management runs on all web servers in a farm. In dedicated mode servers in a separate Request Management farm are between the hardware load balancer and one or more SharePoint farms.