We're having some severe performance issues with Sharepoint so we're going to move it off onto a Hyper V server (separate it from other servers and dedicate more resources to it). Thing is, does Sharepoint consist of the following: 1. Website (run on IIS) 2. SQL Server 3. Windows Service (does this exist or does everything work from the web app)?

Was looking at some Hyper V scenarios and one in particular had 3 web servers AND a sharepoint server which is where I got a bit lost.

Regards, Jacques

4 Answers 4


Note that SharePoint can also run on a single server, so all components would be on the same server (also SQL Server).

In your scenario, the 3 servers most probably referred to the Front End Servers, while the one was probably the Application server.


SharePoint consists of following server types:

  1. Front End web server - displays data to the user
  2. Database server - stores data
  3. Application (services) - additional services like user profiles, search, excel, word, visio and so on.

There can be several instances of each server type configured as requested. SharePoint is installed to Front End and Application servers.

It's all together is a SharePoint Farm. There can be different topologies (it seems what you really need, not the architecture) for different number of users, amount of data and so on.

You can see detailed overview of servers and application services and suggested topologies here - http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?displaylang=en&id=6096.

  • We're not using user profile services, search doesn't work, even though it would have been nice. As for the rest, we do use Excel services, but very little. Mostly we're using Sharepoint for it's CMS and document management (repository) features and it's killing our server.
    – Jacques
    Feb 20, 2012 at 8:51
  • Please let us know how many users do you have, how much data is there and what is the server configuration you have now. Feb 20, 2012 at 18:15
  • 5 users, not sure about data, but it definitely won't be more than 2Gb, we haven't been using SharePoint for that long. Server is SBS 2008, with Exchange 2007 and SQL 2008
    – Jacques
    Feb 21, 2012 at 7:04
  • it's required minimal 4 gb for foundation, if you have server - 6gb, so the first step could be adding additional ram to the server and see the results. Also a quad or at lease 2 core processor is required. Feb 21, 2012 at 8:15
  • It's an Intel Core i7 with 8Gb RAM. Big question is how does this get impacted when Exchange is on the same server where Exchange swallows up all the memory and supposedly releases when and as needed?
    – Jacques
    Feb 21, 2012 at 12:07

Hyper-V is most definitely not the culprit as I've created and run literally dozens of farms in Hyper-V with no significant performance issues. However, SharePoint can be a resource monster. This is especially true for a large site or high volume site.

It is also advisable to move the SQL database onto a machine/VM of its own and not have it share CPU with SharePoint. This can be virtualized as well.

Really, the best place to start is to find Microsoft's recommended guidelines for CPU/RAM/HD and ensure that all of the Virtuals that you have comply with the Recommended not minimum requirements. Once that is satisfied, look into what is eating up CPU and RAM. If there is nothing major there, make sure that both your SharePoint farm and your SQL Database are up to the appropriate patch level as there are performance fixes in both.

On last thing that we normally do is to buy a relatively powerful Host machine and run all of the SharePoint VMs on that machine. This keeps SharePoint from unexpected device contention with apps in other VMs. This isn't required but has always worked out well.

You do not mention the version of SharePoint involved so it is worth noting that 2010 requires far greater resources than 2007.

  • Thanks Dave, we're running 2010. I can't actually remember, but during installation can you actually split Sharepoint up as in you can certainly point the DB connection to a different server running SQL, but can the web UI components be installed on a different machine from the application services? Or is that not advisable?
    – Jacques
    Feb 20, 2012 at 8:49
  • All SharePoint bits are installed on all servers in the farm regardless of their role. You control which servers do what through Central Admin. As to SQL, yes, you can certainly do this by choosing the "Complete" option when installing SharePoint as this will prompt you for the location of the SQL Server. It is a Best Practice to use a SQL Alias for this instead of the actual SQL/Instance name.
    – Dave Wise
    Feb 20, 2012 at 15:54

sharepoint consists of several service applications, the service applications are always installed and by default many of them are activated in the default installation. If you dont need many of them can deactivated.

Also the good thing about sharepoint is that you can scale up very easily by installing more servers and only allow some service applications to be running on some server.

So, first you need to identify the blottleneck, what are you doing in sharepoint? user profile syncrhonization? heavy crawling? or maybe something else?

If you are doing heave user profile synchronization I would enable one server for the UPS service app.

THe same for crawling content, most of the times, the crawling components are installed on a different server, not in the same Web Front End Server.

You can divice the services in as many SERVERS as you want, the key here is to know which one is causing the performance issues.

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