Wednesday, October 11, 2006

QA - IIS Websites vs Applications

Question:

Should we create multiple sites (perhaps one site for each of our home grown applications) or one site with many applications in it?

Answer:

The answer completely depends on your needs and requirements. Here are some food for thought.

You can view a website as something that has website features along with a "root" application named "/", so a website has a superset of features over an application. The line between an application and virtual directory is mostly a matter of ancient legacy starting with IIS6, so I will not distinguish between them much.

Considerations between website and application include:


  • Logging format/file/configuration is per-website, not per-app
  • SSL Server Certificate binding is per-website
  • Host header binding is per web-site
  • etc...

So, your considerations should contain the following:

IIS only provides per-website based logging, so if you need each application to have its own individual web server log file, then each application must be its own website. Of course, you can also write/find an ISAPI Filter which produces customized per-app Request Log File, but that's not a core component shipped with IIS.

If you are ok with https://server/app1 and https://server/app2 sending the same SSL Server Certificate as identification, then they can be applications on the same website. If you need them to send different SSL Server Certificates, then they must be on different websites since IIS supports only one SSL Server Certificate per website. Note that I say one SSL Server Certificate and NOT one SSL host per website... read the next option.

If you need https://app1.server.com and https://app2.server.com to send the same SSL Server Certificate as identification, then they can be applications on the same website using a wildcard SSL Certificate for *.server.com. This is possible starting with IIS6 on Windows Server 2003 SP1. They can also be applications on two different websites sending the same SSL Server Certificate.

If you need https://app1.com and https://app2.com, then they must be on different websites. IIS supports only one SSL Server Certificate per website, and you probably will not be able to get a *.com wildcard SSL Certificate... ;-)

Finally... since websites have a superset of features over application, it also uses a bit more memory resources. But, you probably do not need to worry about this difference unless you are talking about 10,000 websites...

So... it all depends on what you need. And this is just a subset of all the possible considerations.

//David

11 comments:

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