I'm having trouble finding some concrete information on what the minimum hardware requirements are for a production SharePoint 2013 environment. I'm talking number of servers in the farm.

I see the technet article but the details are skewed to me. It says

Web server or application server in a three-tier farm Pilot, user acceptance test, or production deployment of SharePoint Server 2013 or SharePoint Foundation 2013. 12 GB 64-bit, 4 cores 80 GB for system drive

Well, that's IF I have a 3 tiered environment. What if I have a 2 tiered environment?

Common sense would tell me that if I am running a heavy amount of services and a large user base, I should consider upgrading to a 3 tier. However, I have a customer who is arguing with me saying that performance is not "optimal" and that Microsoft technically supports a 2 tier environment so it should be fast. Is there somewhere where Microsoft definitively says "You must have 3 servers in a production environment"? Or how can I tell a customer that they need a 3rd server without so much push back on it?

  • Have you seen this thread sharepoint.stackexchange.com/questions/28275/… Nov 10, 2014 at 16:13
  • Looks like he is saying that 1 web server is sufficient for 10,000 users? That doesn't seem right. I've seen all the technet articles. It's very open ended. Is there something that outlines the recommended topologies given a specific scenario? (ex: Production environment, 5000 users, search, UPS, 3 site collections, 1 web app, needs 3 servers load balanced...) or something along those lines?... that comes from Microsoft
    – spex5
    Nov 10, 2014 at 16:23
  • No there is only the technet you have already found. Other than that is it trial and error Nov 10, 2014 at 16:33

2 Answers 2


The following excerpt describes official Microsoft recommendation for 3-tier:

This architecture introduces the breakdown of the topology into three tiers:(...) A medium farm deployment is useful to serve environments that have the following:

  • Several service applications distributed across multiple servers. A typical set of features might include the Office Web Apps Service,
    User Profile Service, Managed Metadata Service, and Excel Calculation Service.
  • A user base of tens of thousands of users and a load of 10 to 50 requests per second.
  • A data store of one or two terabytes.

They also write that:

A small farm [two-tier] is useful to serve only limited deployments, with a minimal set of service applications enabled, a relatively small user base, a relatively low usage load (a few requests per minute up to very few requests per second), and a relatively small volume of data (10 or more gigabytes).

It all comes from here: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff758647(v=office.15).aspx

  • I guess that will have to do.
    – spex5
    Nov 10, 2014 at 19:50

It is highly depend upon on the usage of the SharePoint.

  • Total Number of User, Unique Users and Active User per day
  • How many request per day
  • How many Web Applications
  • How much the Content , Number Of items (Document)
  • how much crawl items?
  • Upload Limit
  • what kind of Service Application, Search, UPA, MMS, Excel etc?
  • Fault Tolerance( 100% up time).

If you get the above answer then you can easily get which tier is good for you. It is highly recommended setup a stage farm and test it.

You can also check the Streamline Topology from MSFT which will give you more information.

Streamlined Topologies for SharePoint 2013

Plan service deployment in SharePoint 2013

Services on Server Install Worksheet for Streamlined Topologies

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.