I have been working on SharePoint for a long time but still confused with the concept of webapplications in SharePoint and IIS, I would also like to know the relationship between them.

I just studied that SharePoint web application consists of Web App IIS + Content DB but thats not enough to understand the whole concept.

2 Answers 2


A SharePoint web application is primarily a logical concept, whereas IIS Web Sites are a physical concept. A web application is a container and a boundary of a lot of settings related to serving content to the users such as security policies, URLs, content databases etc. A web application is defined inside the configuration database.

An IIS Web Site is the underlying physical component that actually serves the content to the users. It enables to define host headers, ports, SSL certificates etc. Each IIS Web Site is assigned to an application pool - another physical concept - that provides the necessary worker processes (w3wp.exe) and user identity.

In fact, a SharePoint web application can contain multiple IIS Web Sites to fulfill different requirements such as different SSL certificates or web.config files.

You might want to take a look at the following article that provides a nice overview:




You have studied correct and that's the whole concept, the only difference I see is that SharePoint Web Application has both Web App IIS + Content DB...

Question: So why separate it from Web App IIS?
SharePoint handles everything in its own way and most of the information is stored in database, when you wish to create a SharePoint Web Application you use the Central Admin - and there it asks for the Web App IIS settings as well like Port, Application Pool and so on!

And it saves this information in the database as well, and when you wish to edit something in the SharePoint Web Application, let's say change the Application Pool - its not recommended that you use IIS for this... You should do this through Central Admin so it updates the relations in database as well!

The answer is totally based on my personal experience and may be incorrect.. You should wait for someone else to answer this question as well ! :)

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