Your friendly guide to host-named site collections

With Microsoft’s cloud strategy and engineering investment into Office 365, one SharePoint 2013 feature is a rising star: host-named site collections.

Host-named site collections are how Microsoft achieves scale in its multi-tenant environment. New features and existing features are optimized to work with host-named site collections like never before. However, it’s not just the feature that is important. It’s how it is configured — all host-named site collections are deployed to a single web application. The App model and Request Management, for example, are optimized for this configuration.

Being the author of many of the logical architecture design samples and articles that told you to isolate different types of content into different web applications, I recognize how disruptive this new recommendation might be for those of us who are SharePoint troupers. Nevertheless, the argument for moving in this direction is compelling. Because we run this configuration in our Office 365 environment, it is the most comprehensively tested and reliable configuration going forward.

Host-named site collections require more sophistication than the alternative, path-based site collections. It’s all described in a new article — Host-named site collection architecture and deployment (SharePoint 2013).

I’m proud to say that this article is the result of a close partnership with one of Microsoft’s field solution architects  — Timo Heidschuster — who has implemented many production-level solutions using host-named site collections. Timo’s customers are early adopters of SharePoint 2013. He has been working with this feature set for several product versions and he provided valuable feedback to the product team throughout the release cycle. Timo provided the Windows PowerShell scripts and much of the guidance based on his experience in the field.

Since the emphasis on using host-named site collections is relatively new, feel free to use this blog post to ask questions, comment on the article, request more information, or simply vent.

Brenda Carter, Long-time SharePoint Writer