Jul 1, 2009

SharePoint Authentication and IIS

We know SharePoint relies on IIS to do authentication (unless FBA), and provides contents based on AAM configuration. When a request such as http://sp.company.com/ hits a WFE, the IIS select a site to authenticate the request. The selection process works as follows:
  1. first it looks for the site listening to port 80 with header as sp.company.com. If it is found, it is selected;
  2. Otherwise, it looks for the site without any header and listening to any unsigned ip address at port 80. If there is one, it will be selected for authentication;
  3. If neither is found, IIS error out

Notice the URL doesn't have to point to the WFE. for example, in the case of Load Balancer, URL points to LB, not WFE.

After authentication succeed, It is up to SharePoint to serve the http request. SharePoint provides content solely based on its AAM configuration, i.e, it must have that specfic FQDN configured (in the prvious example, it is sharepoint.company.com), otherwise, it errors out.

Notice in some scenario, IIS site which does authentication can have a different FQDN than that in SharePoint AAM.

AAM reference: http://blogs.msdn.com/sharepoint/archive/2007/03/06/what-every-sharepoint-administrator-needs-to-know-about-alternate-access-mappings-part-1.aspx