Conceptual Overview of SharePoint Foundation
Last modified: January 05, 2011
Applies to: SharePoint Foundation 2010
Microsoft SharePoint Foundation is an application that is built on top of Internet Information Services (IIS) and the Microsoft ASP.NET Framework. A set of servers that run the various components of SharePoint Foundation is called a server farm. A server farm can contain multiple front-end web servers and multiple Microsoft SQL Server database servers. Each farm has its own configuration database on the database server. The configuration database contains information about the front-end web servers in a farm and administrators of the farm. In SharePoint Foundation, all the content, including user information, is stored in a content database. Every server farm can have multiple content databases. For more information about SharePoint Foundation architecture, see Server and Site Architecture: Object Model Overview.
A site collection is a hierarchical set, or collection, of sites. A site collection includes only one top-level site but can contain multiple child sites within. Sites in a site collection share common features, such as permissions, galleries, and Web Parts. Each site collection has a site collection administrator and unique permissions from other site collections. This allows a decentralized approach to server farm administration. Within a site collection, a site is used to store content in the form of pages, libraries, and lists. A site can be secured so that only specified users have access to the content of that site. For more information about sites and site collections, see Building Block: Websites and Site Collections.
Within each site, you can provision lists, libraries, and pages. A list is the basic type of object inside SharePoint Foundation. There are different kinds of lists. Some of the list types include announcement lists, task lists, and event lists. Lists contain columns of information that are often referred to as fields. You can define custom columns to suit the kind of data that you want to store in a list. And you can use columns to sort, filter, and group list items. A document library is a specialized kind of list that is used to store files and folders. The columns in a document library are used to store metadata about a document. For more information about lists and document libraries, see Building Block: Lists and Document Libraries.
Because SharePoint Foundation is built on top of ASP.NET, it carries familiar concepts from that environment, including Web Parts, master pages, navigation controls, and mobile adapters. For more information about similarities to ASP.NET, see Glide Path for ASP.NET Developers.