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WCF service has to be hosted in windows process called as host process. Single host process can host multiple servers and same service type can be hosted in multiple host process

There are mainly four different way of hosting the WCF service.

  1. IIS hosting
  2. Self hosting
  3. Windows Activation Service
  4. Windows Service
The WCF host architecture

The WCF context is conceptually similar to the Enterprise Services context or the .NET context-bound object context Multiple hosting and protocols supported by WCF. Microsoft has introduced the WCF concept in order to make distributed application development and deployment simple.

Hosting Environment Supported protocol
Windows console and form application HTTP,net.tcp,net.pipe,net.msmq
Windows service application (formerly known as NT services) HTTP,net.tcp,net.pipe,net.msmq
Web server IIS6 http, wshttp
Web server IIS7 - Windows Process Activation Service (WAS) HTTP,net.tcp,net.pipe,net.msmq

A summary of hosting options and supported features.

Feature Self-Hosting IIS Hosting WAS Hosting
Executable Process/ App Domain Yes Yes Yes
Configuration App.config Web.config Web.config
Activation Manual at startup Message-based Message-based
Idle-Time Management No Yes Yes
Health Monitoring No Yes Yes
Process Recycling No Yes Yes
Management Tools No Yes Yes
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