I am developing on SharePoint Service 3.0/SharePoint Server 2007. I always read document says create an application or create a site (collection). The term application and site always make me confused. Could anyone help to clarify what is the relationship between a SharePoint application and a site (collection)?

For example, here is one of the case when I am confused,


"1, Create a new site – go to Office Server Central Administration -> Application Management -> Create or Extend Web Application -> Create a new Web Application Enter the settings to create a new SharePoint site." -- mixing site and application make me confused.

"Once the Application has been created choose to ‘Create a new Windows SharePoint Services site collection’." -- seems application has 1:1 relationship with site collection?

thanks in advance, George


It's fairly easy:

A Web Application has a one-to-one mapping with a IIS Site. You can have multiple web applications on your sharepoint server, mapping to different IP Addresses and what not, or to use different Application Pools in IIS.

A site collection is one or multiple sharepoint sites, that share the same Content Database and URL "structure". Several site collections can be hosted by one SHarepoint Web Application.

A site is either the root site of your site collection, or a sub-site.

so, say your sharepoint server is named wss01, and has two IIS web sites, one for the sharepoint admin application, and one for regular sites. on this server, you host two sharepoint sites for various departments in your company, research.acme.com and finance.acme.com, these two are not related to each other.

in this setup, you would have one Web Application (pointing to the port 80 site in IIS), and two site collections - research and finance.

Pretty easy!

  • Thanks! I am confused about the differences between application and site collection. As you said, one application could have multiple site collections. My confusion is, what is the related concept of application and site collection to IIS object (IIS web site/IIS virtual directory)? – George2 Oct 27 '09 at 16:31
  • Another question is, my understanding is, for the sites in the same site collection, they must have the same prefix in URL and varies in suffix. Since in your sample research.acme.com and finance.acme.com are of different prefix, so they must belong to different site collection and cannot be two sites under the same site collection. My understanding correct? – George2 Oct 27 '09 at 16:34
  • 1
    yes, in my example there are two site collections. As for your confusion: Just think of a hosting provider wanting to provide hosted sharepoint to various companies: Instead of having to maintain one IIS web site pr customer, they could instead set up just one web application (and IIS Site), and from that web application serve hundreds of customers, where each customer would have his own site collection. – Trondh Oct 27 '09 at 16:50
  • 1. Thanks Trondh, could you let me know how to create multiple site collection from MOSS Central Administration please? In my past experience, I have wrong understanding and do not know how to configure multiple site collection under one SharePoint application. 2. I have understood SharePoint application maps to IIS web site object, and site maps to IIS virtual directory object, but what IIS object does site collection maps to? – George2 Oct 27 '09 at 17:12
  • Thanks for your update. My confusion is I think for all site collections or sites inside a SharePoint application, they should be of common URL prefix. But for your sample, research.acme.com and finance.acme.com, they are of different prefix (research/finance). Could you let me know how to create multiple site collections with different URL prefix in the same web application (IIS web site) please? – George2 Oct 28 '09 at 4:31

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