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I have developed internet facing web application using SharePoint Foundation 2010 for my client acting as a front end portal from where customers can get related information with FBA authentication.

All development is done on single server machine i.e. Web Front End, Application Server and Database Server all on single box.

At the time of deployment in hosting environment, client want to move this web application on 3-tier architecture with this configuration:

  • 1 Web Front End Server
  • 1 Application Server
  • 1 Database Server

Problem starts here that all servers are on similar workgroup not on domain. after lot of googling and review articles i have found that with previous version of sharepoint i.e. MOSS 2007 and even Sharepoint 2010 we can create 2-tier farm on workgroup (i.e. only 1 WFE and 1 Database Server only.) but 3-tier is not possible.

Reference URL

I need your suggestions to how to move forward.

  1. Is domain is necessary for 3-tier implementation in hosting environment
  2. Is there any possibility to add 3rd server in workgroup farm
  3. whats the best way to move forward in current scenario
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2 Answers

It's a bit out of date, but this article backs up your need to use a windows domain to achieve the n-tier setup for sharepoint.

So, 1. Yes, 2. No, 3. Create a domain, even if it's just used for sharepoint.

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I would always use a domain, even if it meant installing AD DS role on the SQL server. Security between servers is better, less user management is needed, and generally you'll be in a more supported scenario when you need Microsoft help. Even if you could get workgroup to work it would be an unusual scenario that you'll end up struggling at some point through authentication issues. Add the AD DS role (which also adds DNS role), add the other servers to the domain, and boom you're done and life is easier.

Ideally you'd want redundant Domain Controllers (two servers with AD DS role) but if it's just for a SharePoint farm then if the SQL box was down what's the point of having AD :)... If you make the SQL box clustered/redundant then it may be more difficult to ad AD DS role properly so if you go high-availability then do research on that.

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