Can the new Workflow engine be installed on a SharePoint Server?

Before considering server deployment targets, it’s important to understand the new workflow architecture in SP 2013. A new option exists when you build a workflow for SharePoint Server 2013. This option is called Platform Type. The figure shows the Platform Type option when you are creating a new workflow by using SharePoint Designer 2013.

Figure 1: SharePoint 2013 includes three workflow platform options.
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The only platform available when you first install SharePoint Server 2013 is the SharePoint 2010 Workflow platform. The SharePoint 2013 Workflow platform and the Project Server platform require additional steps. The three workflow platforms are outlined in the following table.

Workflow Platform types available in SharePoint Server 2013

Platform Type Platform Framework Requirements
SharePoint 2010 Workflow Windows   Workflow Foundation 3 Installs   automatically with SharePoint 2013 Products.
SharePoint 2013 Workflow Windows   Workflow Foundation 4 Requires   SharePoint Server 2013 and Workflow Manager.

Note:
Workflow     Manager must be downloaded and installed separately from SharePoint Server     2013. It does not install automatically when you install SharePoint Server     2013.
SharePoint 2013 Workflow – Project Server Windows   Workflow Foundation 4 Requires   SharePoint Server 2013, Workflow Manager, and Project Server 2013.

Reference: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj658588%28v=office.15%29

What this boils down to: if you are running OOTB SharePoint 2013, it will have the SharePoint 2010 Workflow model built in, which runs on Windows Workflow Foundation 3 and “lives” in the OWSTIMER.EXE process just as it did on 2010. If we want to leverage the new 2013 Workflow engine, we need to install the Workflow Manager from http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkID=252092Instructions for Installing and Configuring Workflow Manager: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj193478.aspx

So, now we understand the flavours, let’s examine the base question which is essentially – could I/should I install the Workflow Manager on just the App Server in a WFE + App server environment, to reduce load on WFE’s?

Can Workflow Manager be installed on a SharePoint server?

Yes
1. On http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc262485%28v=office.15%29 it’s indicated that “You can install Workflow Manager on a dedicated computer.”
2. On the topology chart at http://zoom.it/GvRG#full it displays configurations (e.g. “Two-Tier”) where it’s all in one.

Is there any benefit to isolating the Workflow Manager to the App Server?

The same concepts that would apply to standard SP2010 workflow topology considerations apply: if you are expecting heavy lifting, then offsetting the Workflow Manager to an App server is prudent.  For “high-availability” mode you would need involve Service Bus and it requires 3 servers running Workflow Manager, in their own internal “farm” network.

workflow foundation, workflow manager

Comments (6)

  • Can you install Workflow manager/client after installing project server?

    I have SharePoint Server 2013 with Project Server 2013, now I want to add Workflow Manager and Workflow Client without uninstalling project server

    • I don’t believe there’s anything that would prevent that scenario, other than Microsoft wanting you to of course have all those systems on their own dedicated server farms. 🙂

  • We have our SP2013 farm completely virtualized, including the SQL Server. In deploying OWA on it’s sole VM we’ve found the resource utilization is extremely low compared to the two APP and two WFEs.
    Would it be advised to add the Workflow Manager to the OWAS or should it have it’s own dedicated VM?
    Thanks in advance!

    • Sure, this was the same question we were pondering in our internal corp infrastructure- can we consolidate these servers to maximize efficiency and resource usage? Since the official guidance is that yes, you could install Workflow Manager on a SharePoint server- I see no reason and have no evidence that it would not work for an OWA server as well.

      OWA is basically a pumped-up web application that’s sole purpose is to answer the phone on it’s web service. SharePoint is massively more complex with many more moving parts and dependencies – so logic stands that if you can make WFM work on the same box with SP, getting WFM to work on OWA should be even easier.

      I would suggest you give it a shot, monitor & test carefully, and let us know how it goes!

    • Ah party poopers – using the Wayback Machine it seems MS updated the official guidance on that page sometime after October 2013 to include the following new directives:

      -Don’t install any other server applications on the server that’s running Office Web Apps Server. This includes Exchange Server, SharePoint Server, Lync Server, and SQL Server. If you have a shortage of servers, consider running Office Web Apps Server in a virtual machine instance on one of the servers you have.

      -Don’t install any services or roles that depend on the Web Server (IIS) role on port 80, 443, or 809 because Office Web Apps Server periodically removes web applications on these ports.

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