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Application Server: Frequently Asked Questions

Updated: May 16, 2008

Applies To: Windows Server 2008

Application Server is a server role in the Windows Server® 2008 operating system that provides an integrated environment for deploying and running custom business applications that are built with the Microsoft® .NET Framework version 3.0. Application Server includes services that support applications that are built to use COM+, Message Queuing, Web services, and distributed transactions.

noteNote
If you have applications that are built with .NET Framework 3.5, you can download and install the .NET Framework 3.5 onto the operating system.

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A. Application Server is a server configuration that provides an integrated environment for deploying and running custom business applications that are built with the .NET Framework 3.0. When you install the Application Server role, you can select services that support applications that are designed to use COM+, Message Queuing, Web services, and distributed transactions. If you have applications that are built with the .NET Framework 3.5, you can download and install the .NET Framework 3.5 onto the operating system.

Application Server provides the following benefits:

  • A core runtime that supports effective deployment and management of high-performance business applications

  • The .NET Framework development environment that delivers a simplified programming model and a high-performance execution model for server-based applications

    The .NET Framework, which enables Web services and integrates new applications with existing applications and infrastructure

  • A user-friendly installation wizard that provides choices for the various role services and features that you need to run applications in your organization

  • Installation functionality that automatically installs the features for a given role service

Typically, applications that are deployed and run on Application Server take advantage of one or more of the following:

  • Internet Information Services (IIS), the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) server that is built into Windows Server

  • The .NET Framework 3.0 and 2.0

  • Microsoft Distributed Transaction Coordinator (MS DTC)

  • ASP.NET

  • COM+

  • Message Queuing

  • Web services that are built with Windows Communication Foundation (WCF)

For more information about the Application Server role, see Application Server (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=48544).

A. The following technologies are selected as role services by the administrator during the server role installation process for Application Server.

Application Server Foundation

The Application Server Foundation is the group of technologies that are installed by default when you install the Application Server role. Essentially, the Application Server Foundation is the .NET Framework 3.0.

Windows Server 2008 includes the .NET Framework 2.0, regardless of any server role that is installed. The .NET Framework 2.0 contains the Common Language Runtime (CLR), which provides a code-execution environment that promotes safe execution of code, simplified code deployment, and support for interoperability of multiple languages, as well as extensive libraries for building applications.

At a high level, the .NET Framework 3.0 consists of the following basic components:

  • The .NET Framework

  • WCF

  • Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF)

  • Windows Workflow Foundation (WF)

The Application Server Foundation adds the .NET Framework 3.0 features to the baseline .NET Framework 2.0 features. For more information about the .NET Framework 3.0, see .NET Framework Developer Center (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=81263).

noteNote
If you have applications that are built with the .NET Framework 3.5, you can download and install the .NET Framework 3.5 onto the operating system.

Selecting this option during Application Server installation adds IIS 7.0, the Web server that is built into Windows Server 2008. IIS has been available in Windows Server for many years, but it has been revised significantly for Windows Server 2008 to provide improvements in performance, security, management, supportability, reliability, and modularity.

IIS provides the following benefits:

  • IIS makes it possible for Application Server to host internal or external Web sites or services with static or dynamic content.

  • IIS provides support for ASP.NET applications that are accessed from a Web browser.

  • IIS provides support for Web services that are built with WCF or ASP.NET.

For more information about IIS 7.0, see Internet Information Services 7.0 (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=100708).

COM+ Network Access

Selecting this option during Application Server installation adds COM+ Network Access for remote invocation of application components that are built on and hosted in COM+. Such application components are also sometimes called Enterprise Services components.

COM+ Network Access is a remote invocation capability that has been supported in Windows Server since Windows 2000 Server, and it continues to be supported in Windows Server 2008. Newer applications typically use WCF to support remote invocation because WCF provides interoperability across multiple platforms, along with loose coupling, which makes integrated systems less dependent on each other.

Windows Process Activation Service

Selecting this option during installation of the Application Server role adds the Windows Process Activation Server (WAS). WAS is the new process activation mechanism for Windows Vista® and the Windows Server 2008 operating systems. WAS retains the familiar IIS 6.0 process model (application pools and message-based process activation) and hosting features (such as rapid failure protection, health monitoring, and recycling), but it removes the dependency on HTTP from the activation architecture. IIS 7.0 uses WAS to accomplish message-based activation over HTTP. WCF can also use the non-HTTP protocols that are supported by WAS, such as TCP, Message Queuing, and Named Pipes—in addition to HTTP—to provide message-based activation. This makes it possible for applications that use communication protocols to take advantage of IIS features, such as process recycling, rapid fail protection, and the common configuration system, that were previously available only to HTTP-based applications.

Net.TCP Port Sharing

Net.TCP Port Sharing is a new service in Windows Server 2008. Selecting this option during Application Server installation adds the Net.TCP Port Sharing Service. This role service makes it possible for multiple applications to use a single TCP port for incoming communications. For example, multiple applications in an SOA that is built with WCF can share the same port. Sharing ports is often a requirement when firewall configurations or network restrictions allow only a limited number of open ports or when multiple, distinct instances of a WCF application must be running and available at the same time.

So that multiple WCF applications can share ports (also known as multiplexing), the Net.TCP Port Sharing Service performs multiplexing. The Net.TCP Port Sharing Service accepts incoming connection requests using TCP. The service then forwards incoming requests automatically to the various WCF services based on the target addresses of the requests. Port sharing works only when the WCF applications use the net.tcp protocol for incoming communications.

Distributed Transactions

Distributed transaction support has been in Windows Server since Microsoft Windows NT® Server 4.0, and this support continues in Windows Server 2008. Applications that connect to and perform updates on multiple databases or other transactional resources may require that these updates are performed with "all-or-none" transactional semantics—a technology that ensures that every part of the transaction is complete or the whole transaction is rolled back to its original state. These databases and transactional resources may be on a single computer or distributed across a network. MS DTC in Windows Server 2008 provides these transactional semantics.

A. When you install the Application Server role using the Add Server Role Wizard in Server Manager, your server is configured as an Application Server that provides the features and role services that are necessary for running your custom business applications.

During the installation process for the Application Server role, you select and enable only those role services and features that are necessary to run your applications. Enabling only the services and features that are necessary for running your applications is considered a security best practice, and it helps to provide a reduced attack surface that might be targeted by malicious users. Enabling fewer services also helps to ensure that server performance is not affected by the presence of unused services.

Administrators who have line-of-business (LOB) applications that are built with the .NET Framework 3.0 may discover that setting up a hosting environment for these applications is simpler using this server role. The Add Roles Wizard guides the administrator through the process of selecting the role services and supporting features that are necessary to run specific LOB applications.

For a complete list of the Application Server technologies, see "Which technologies are part of the Application Server role?" in this document.

A. A Web Server, such as IIS version 7.0 (the Web Server that ships with Windows Server 2008) hosts content that users view and interact with in a browser. The Web Server role installs the Web Server and supporting role services that are needed to run Web applications, such as Web applications that are built with ASP.NET.

An Application Server hosts applications that run natively on the server and the client—in contrast to running only in a browser. These applications can take advantage of the rich set of technologies and protocols that are available in Windows, including non-HTTP technologies, such as remote procedure call (RPC), Component Object Model (COM), MS DTC, and Message Queuing. In Windows Server 2008, the all-new Application Server includes default services for running managed, distributed applications, such as applications that are built with the .NET Framework 3.0 and WCF. It also provides options for you to install support for services, such as distributed transactions and Web services. The Application Server role installs Application Server and the supporting role services for running these types of applications.

To host applications that are built with WCF that also use IIS and ASP.NET, install Application Server and then select Web Server (IIS) support during the installation process. This configuration of Application Server provides a flexible hosting environment that incorporates the benefits of both server roles.

A. The Application Server role is one of the server roles that you can install through Server Manager. By installing the Application Server role on a computer using the Add Role Wizard, you make the computer an Application Server.

A. Application Server was rebuilt completely for Windows Server 2008. To begin with, the new Application Server role is simpler to install because it is one of the server roles that administrators can install using the Add Roles Wizard in the new Server Manager feature.

In addition, by default, Application Server installs the Application Server Foundation, which is, essentially, a group of technologies that make up the .NET Framework 3.0. Application Server Foundation adds the .NET Framework 3.0 features to the baseline .NET Framework 2.0 features that are already enabled in Windows Server 2008. For more information about the .NET Framework 3.0, see .NET Framework Developer Center (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=81263).

noteNote
If you have applications that are built with the .NET Framework 3.5, you can download and install the .NET Framework 3.5 onto the operating system.

Application Server is the right platform for running connected applications in a service-oriented architecture (SOA). These applications, which are built with WCF, use Web services to communicate with each other. The ability to run applications in an SOA environment is becoming increasingly important for business. For more information about WCF, see What is Windows Communication Foundation? (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=81260).

Application Server installs IIS 7.0, the Web server that is built into Windows Server 2008. IIS has been available in Windows Server for many years, but it has been revised significantly for Windows Server 2008 to provide improvements in performance, security, management, supportability, reliability, and modularity. For more information about IIS, see Internet Information Services 7.0 (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=100708).

Windows Process Activation Service (WAS) is a new service in Windows Server 2008. WAS is part of Application Server. WAS can start and stop applications dynamically, based on messages that are received over the network through HTTP, Message Queuing, TCP, and Named Pipes. Dynamic start and stop of applications makes it possible for server resources to be used more efficiently. For more information about WAS, see WAS Activation Architecture (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=100709).

Application Server includes an option to activate the Net.TCP Port Sharing Service. Net.TCP Port Sharing is a new service in Windows Server 2008.This role service makes it possible for multiple applications to use a single TCP port for incoming communications. For example, a service that is built with WCF can share the same port. Sharing ports is often a requirement when firewall configurations or network restrictions allow only a limited number of open ports or when multiple distinct instances of a WCF application must be running and available at the same time.

A. The Microsoft Application Platform provides a portfolio of technology capabilities, core products, and best practice guidance that can help information technology (IT) and development departments partner with their business organizations to achieve business success through five key areas of investment:

  • Data management: Increase the performance of your applications with reliable, scalable data infrastructure and management processes.

  • Business intelligence: Enable informed business decisions by driving data at every level of your organization.

  • Business process and SOA: Improve predictability by establishing flexible, repeatable, and collaborative business and IT processes.

  • Development: Respond to business priorities by offering the right level of visibility, collaboration, and control in the software development process.

  • User experience: Deliver customizable and superior user experiences to drive employee productivity, customer loyalty, and business growth.

The core products of the Microsoft Application Platform are Microsoft SQL Server™ 2005, Visual Studio® 2005, and BizTalk® Server 2006.

You can use the Microsoft Application Platform for developing custom, high-performance applications for your business. Windows Server 2008 is the operating system that helps ensure that you can easily configure, manage, monitor, and optimize your servers for the requirements of your business workloads.

Application Server fits into the Microsoft Application Platform as part of the Infrastructure and Management layer. An administrator can easily install and configure the Application Server role to be the reliable middle-tier layer for deploying and running high-performance, server-based business applications. These applications are then able to service requests from remote client systems, including Web browsers that connect from the public Internet or from a corporate network or intranet and remote computer systems that may send requests as messages. Clients interact with the applications on Application Server, which then interacts with the Microsoft Application Platform.

To learn more about the Microsoft Application Platform, see What is an Application Platform? (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=100712).

A. The Application Server role is required when Windows Server 2008 runs applications that depend on role services or features that are part of the integrated Application Server role and that you select during the installation process. An example might be a specific configuration of BizTalk Server that uses a set of role services or features that are part of the Application Server environment.

Typically, the Application Server role is recommended when you are deploying a business application that was developed within your organization (or developed by an independent software vendor (ISV) for your organization) and when the developer indicates that specific role services are required. For example, your organization may have an order-processing application that accesses customer records that are stored in a database. The application accesses the customer information through a set of WCF Web services. In this case, you can configure one Windows Server 2008 computer as an application server, and you can install the database on the same computer or on a different computer.

Not every server application needs the installation of the Application Server role to run properly. For example, the Application Server role is not needed to support Microsoft Exchange Server or SQL Server on Windows Server 2008.

To determine if the Application Server role is useful for running your organization's business applications, have your administrators work closely with the application's developers to understand the requirements of the application, for example, whether it uses .NET Framework 3.0 or COM+ components.

A. Server applications such as BizTalk Server do not necessarily need Application Server to run properly. The answer depends entirely on the configuration of the BizTalk Server application. If your BizTalk Server application does not use the role services or features that are provided by Application Server, Application Server is not needed.

To determine if the Application Server role is useful for your organization's business applications, have your administrators work closely with the application's developers to understand the requirements of the application.

To learn about the features and benefits of BizTalk Server, see BizTalk Server TechCenter (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=100723).

A. No, if your applications are built with the .NET Framework 2.0, you do not need Application Server. This is because Windows Server 2008 includes the .NET Framework 2.0, regardless of any server role that is installed.

The .NET Framework 2.0 contains the CLR, which provides a code-execution environment that promotes safe execution of code, simplified code deployment, and support for interoperability of multiple languages, as well as extensive libraries for building applications.

A. Yes, if your applications are built with the .NET Framework 3.0, you should install the Application Server role.

Application Server Foundation adds the .NET Framework 3.0 features to the baseline .NET Framework 2.0 features. For more information about the .NET Framework 3.0, see .NET Framework Developer Center (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=81263).

During the installation process, you can choose additional services from a set of optional role services. We recommend that you add only the role services that are required for your applications. Unused services can increase the attack surface area of the system, and they should be avoided.

noteNote
If you have applications that are built with .NET Framework 3.5, you can download and install the .NET Framework 3.5 onto the operating system.

A. If your application is built with .NET Framework 3.0 components, such as WCF, WF, or WPF, and the application does not require additional role services, such as support for IIS, COM+ Network Access, WAS, TCP Port Sharing, or distributed transactions, install the Application Server role without selecting the optional role services. By default, the Application Server role includes Application Server Foundation, a group of technologies that make up the .NET Framework 3.0.

noteNote
If you have applications that are built with .NET Framework 3.5, you can download and install the .NET Framework 3.5 onto the operating system.

A. No. The Application Server role provides system components and services to support the development and execution of distributed applications. However, to benefit from the Application Server role, an application must be written to take advantage of the technologies that are included in the Application Server role.

A. Most applications will work in the same way as they did before a migration from Windows Server 2003 to Windows Server 2008. For more information about migrating applications to Windows Server 2008, see Application Considerations When Upgrading to Windows Server 2008 (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=110831) and Description of the Microsoft server applications that are supported on Windows Server 2008 (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=118660). For more information about migration planning, see Information and resources to use when you plan to upgrade Windows Server 2003 to Windows Server 2008 (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=118662).

A. No. Application Server for Windows Server 2008 was rebuilt completely and now includes default support for applications that are built with .NET Framework 3.0 components, such as WCF, WF, and WPF. Application Server offers optional role services that activate new features in Windows Server 2008, such as WAS support for non-HTTP protocols, TCP Port Sharing, and support for IIS 7.0. Because the role functionality is completely new, administrators should be aware that there is no migration path for the Application Server role from Windows Server 2003 or earlier operating systems.

If you upgrade your server to Windows Server 2008 from Windows Server 2003 or an earlier operating system, and you want to use the capabilities of the Application Server role, you must reinstall the Application Server role by using the Add Roles Wizard in Server Manager. As long as you configure Windows Server 2008 with the correct application services by using the Add Roles Wizard in Server Manager, your applications will work correctly after you move them from Windows Server 2003 to Windows Server 2008.

A. After you install the Application Server role by using the Add Roles Wizard in Server Manager, you can use Server Manager to add or remove role services or to remove the Application Server role if you no longer need it.

Application Server does not include a separate management console or Microsoft Management Console (MMC) snap-in.

A. Server Manager and the Application Server role do not include functionality to install and configure applications.

Server Manager provides an interface for installing and managing server roles, including the Application Server role. Application Server provides a set of role services and features that your applications may require to run correctly.

A. The following table provides links to information about Application Server technologies for the developer audience.

 

Technology or feature Description Development information

.NET Framework 3.0

The .NET Framework 3.0 provides developers with a simplified programming model for connected server applications. Developers use the built-in .NET Framework libraries for many application functions, including input/output (I/O), numerical and text processing, database access, XML processing, transaction control, workflow, and Web services.

.NET Framework Developer Center (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=81263)

Windows Communication Foundation (WCF)

Developers can use WCF to compose or combine the various technologies that are available today for building distributed applications (COM+ and .NET Enterprise services, Message Queuing, .NET Remoting, ASP.NET Web Services, and Web Services Enhancements (WSE)) in ways that make sense for their organization’s business needs and computing environment.

What Is Windows Communication Foundation? (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=81260)

Windows Workflow Foundation (WF)

WF is the programming model and engine for building workflow-enabled applications quickly on Windows Server 2008. A workflow is a set of activities that describe a real-world process, such as an order-purchasing process. A workflow is commonly described and viewed graphically—something like a flowchart. The description of the workflow is often called "the model." Work items pass through the workflow model from start to finish.

Windows Workflow Foundation (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=82119)

Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF)

WPF is used primarily in client-based applications. It provides the foundation for building applications and high-fidelity experiences in Windows Vista, blending together application user interface (UI), documents, and media content, while exploiting the full power of the computer. WPF functionality extends to support for tablet PC input and other forms of input, a more modern imaging and printing pipeline, accessibility and UI automation infrastructure, data-driven UI and visualization, as well as integration points for weaving the application experience into the Windows shell.

Windows Presentation Foundation (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=78407)

Windows Process Activation Service (WAS)

WAS is the new process activation mechanism for Windows Server 2008. It is also available on Windows Vista. WAS retains the familiar IIS 6.0 process model (application pools and message-based process activation) and hosting features (such as rapid failure protection, health monitoring, and recycling), but it removes the dependency on HTTP from the activation architecture. IIS 7.0 uses WAS to accomplish message-based activation over HTTP. But there are additional WCF components that plug into WAS to provide message-based activation over the other protocols that WCF supports, such as TCP, Message Queuing, and Named Pipes. This makes it possible for applications that use communication protocols to take advantage of IIS features, such as process recycling, rapid fail protection, and the common configuration system, that were only available to HTTP-based applications.

This hosting option requires that WAS be configured properly, but it does not require that any hosting code be written as part of the application.

How to Host a WCF Service in WAS (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=100728)

TCP Port Sharing

WCF provides a new TCP-based network protocol (net.tcp://) for high-performance communication. WCF also introduces a new system component, the Net.TCP Port Sharing Service, that makes it possible for net.tcp ports to be shared across multiple user processes.

Net.TCP Port Sharing (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=93614)

Web Server support (IIS 7.0)

IIS 7.0, the Web Server that is built into Windows Server 2008, has been revised significantly to provide improvements in performance, security, management, supportability, reliability, and modularity.

Baseline benefits of IIS 7.0 include the following:

  • IIS makes it possible for Application Server to host internal or external Web sites or services with static or dynamic content.

  • IIS provides support for ASP.NET applications that are accessed from a Web browser.

  • IIS provides support for Web services that are built with WCF or ASP.NET.

Internet Information Services 7.0 (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=100708)

COM+ Network Access

COM+ Network Access enables remote invocation of applications that are built on and hosted in COM+ and Enterprise Services components. Such applications are also sometimes called Enterprise Services components.

COM+ Network Access is one of the remote invocation capabilities that is supported in Windows Server 2008.

What's New in COM+ 1.5 (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=81264)

Microsoft Distributed Transaction Coordinator (MS DTC)

MS DTC provides all-or-none transaction semantics for applications and updates on transactional resources, such as databases, the file system, and the registry.

Distributed Transaction Coordinator (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=93847)

A. There are a number of resources for getting answers to questions about Windows Server 2008. To post a question to experts in the Windows Server 2008 forums, go to TechNet Forums Windows Server 2008 (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=90920).

For more information about the Application Server role, see Application Server (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=48544).

To submit your own question for consideration for the next update to this FAQ, at the bottom of this page, under Was this information helpful?, click Yes, No, or Somewhat, type your question in the text box, and then click Submit.

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