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The following diagram shows the SharePoint Foundation server architecture in relation to the collections and objects of the Microsoft.SharePoint.Administration namespace.
The SPFarm object is the highest object within the SharePoint Foundation object model hierarchy. The Servers property gets a collection representing all the servers in the deployment, and the Services property gets a collection representing all the services.
Each SPServer object represents a physical server computer. The ServiceInstances property provides access to the set of individual service instances that run on the individual computer.
Each SPService object represents a logical service installed in the server farm. Derived types of the SPService class include, for example, objects for Windows services, such as the timer service, search, the database service, etc. and also objects for Web services, such as the basic content publishing Web service which supports the Web applications.
An SPWebService object provides access to configuration settings for a specific logical service or application. The WebApplications property gets the collection of Web applications that run the service.
If the service implements the Service Application Framework of SharePoint Foundation, then it can be split into multiple configured farm-scoped instantiations (CFSIs). Each of these provides the functionality of the service but each has its own individual permission and provisioning settings.
Each instance of a service, or a CFSI, that is running on a specific server is represented by an SPServiceInstance object.
An SPDatabaseServiceInstance object represents a single instance of a database service running on the database server computer. The SPDatabaseServiceInstance class derives from the SPServiceInstance class and thus inherits the Service property, which provides access to the service or application that the instance implements. The Databases property gets the collection of content databases used in the service.
Each SPWebApplication object represents a Web application hosted in an Internet Information Services (IIS) Web site. The SPWebApplication object provides access to credentials and other farm-wide application settings. The Sites property gets the collection of site collections within the Web application, and the ContentDatabases property gets the collection of content databases used in the Web application.
An SPContentDatabase object inherits from the SPDatabase class and represents a database that contains user data for a Web application. The Sites property gets the collection of site collections for which the content database stores data, and the WebApplication property gets the parent Web application.
An SPSiteCollection object represents the collection of site collections within the Web application.
For more information, see Server and Site Architecture: Object Model Overview.