SharePoint 2013’s New Office Apps Architecture

Almost everyone who implements Microsoft SharePoint 2010 loves the capability of editing Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents right in the browser using the Office Web Applications tools. However, in the SharePoint 2010 architecture, every single server must have its own Office Web Applications service running.

In Microsoft SharePoint 2013, that’s changed. Now, SharePoint 2013 has separated out the Office Web Apps into its own server, allowing all of your SharePoint Web Front End Servers to leverage the Office Web Apps services from a separate server, or even a farm of Office Web Apps servers if the need exists.

 Image from Microsoft’s TechNet.

There’s a number of advantages to this new change in the architecture of SharePoint 2013:

  • No need to worry about optimizing resources on your SharePoint server for Office Web Apps — it lives on its own little planet with its own set of resources, freeing up more resources for Web Front End functions.
  • Smart phone and tablet access to Office Web Apps — get stuff done anywhere in any client form factor with Windows 8.
  • Better integration with Exchange/Outlook Web Access — Office Web Apps can be used to preview documents.
  • Ease of updating Office Web Apps — you only need to update the Office Web Apps server(s) for the latest and greatest, not every SharePoint Web Front End server.

To sum it all up, this major shift in providing Office Web Apps services from a separate host will smooth out a number of issues that surrounded the Office services we came to love in SharePoint 2010. We think you’ll love it even more with this new way of providing Office Web Apps to your users, and it will make your life as a SharePoint administrator just a little bit nicer.

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