Thursday, 27 June 2013

SharePoint 2013 Server Installation

To install SharePoint 2013 in our environment we used the great tools available on CodePlex, called AutoInstaller and corresponding GUI Tool to configure the input XML file.

Our scenario is quite simple. Everything will be virtualised. SharePoint WFE and APP will be installed on one server connecting to the SQL server so it is a 2-tier topology (we have up to 100 users all together so according to Microsoft Topology Examples for SharePoint 2013 we should be all right). In fact they suggest 2-tier farm for up to 10k users when utilising physical servers, but what is the difference if you allocate more than enough resources to your VM's?
We have the IT Support company who does the servers' management for us. They take care of the fail-overs, disaster recovery, daily backups and overall maintenance of our IT infrastructure.
They even have a solution to backing up the whole farm using snapshots without creating latency between the VM's (SharePoint has a timer than runs when it is scheduled to run). Taking a snapshot of the VM was argued as not very useful approach in backing up the farm. But there you go, they guarantee it, it costs a lot of money, it is something I cannot quite understand yet but I am getting there...

It is not like we have not run into problems using AutoInstaller and its GUI. There were several errors but we were able to quickly spot what was actually wrong. The XML file itself and available documentation were somewhat self-explanatory. We ran into errors because we forgot to define something, had a typo or did not provide fully qualified server name for our SQL.
Further, the script halted at "Creating MySite web application" and we could not find what was actually wrong. We then got rid of that Web App in an XML file and re-ran the script. This time- it worked like a charm. Additional Web Apps can be added easily using Central Admin later on anyway. 
The good thing with Autoinstaller and the whole process of SP installation using this tool is that if you re-run the scripts after fixing an error, it picks up from that point and carries forward. Everything before is already installed/configured.
As I said, it took a few attempts for the script to actually finish off the installation but it was worth it. We benefited from all the great features available to us by using AutoInstaller

Stay tuned as now it is when the real party gets started! 

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