Step 1 – Installing OS

In previous article we have discussed pre-installation steps to take into account when planning to install SharePoint 2013 tree-tier farm. In this article we’ll discuss installation and configuration of OS to prepare this one to host SharePoint 2013 farm.

Pre-installation – Planning farm
Step 1 – Installing OS
Step 2 – Installing Domain controller
Step 3 – Installing SQL Server
Step 4 – Installing SharePoint Server

When installing SharePoint on virtual environment there is two options to create storage disks:

  • Differencing disk
  • Standalone VHD disk

Differencing disk

A differencing disk is a virtual hard disk you use to isolate changes to a virtual hard disk or the guest operating system by storing them in a separate file. A differencing disk is similar to the Undo Disks feature because both offer a way to isolate changes in case you want to reverse them. However, Undo Disks is associated with a virtual machine and all disks assigned to it, while a differencing disk is associated only with one disk. In addition, Undo Disks is intended to be a shorter-term method of isolating changes.
You can use this type of installation for your farm. Meanwhile, from the practical point of view you can easily brake your farm configuration in case your source differencing disk is corrupted. Doing backup/restore of the differencing disk not always brings your VMs alive.
In case you have decide to use this type of installation, I advise you to create checkpoints for your VMs and activate backup/restore feature of Windows in order to have more chances to restore your disks when corrupted.

Standalone VHD disk

Standalone disk installation will manage server as a standalone physical machine. In this case you will have more control on VM management. On the other hand VM will be stored inside separate physical VHD file which will increase size of the host storage. In this article we will use standalone disk installation.

Installation steps

Activate Hyper-V feature

To create Hyper-V hosted farm you should activate Hyper-V feature on your virtual environment hosting PC. To do that go to “Control panel”.

Control panel

Turn windows feature on

Enable Hyper-V

When installing Hyper-V on Windows Server, Hyper-V role should be added using “Server Manager” panel.

Windows Server 2008R2 Hyper-V activate

Create network adaptor

Before creating your VM these should be connected between each other to communicate (DOMAIN to SQL, SQL to DOMAIN, SHAREPOINT to DOMAIN, DOMAIN to SHAREPOINT, SHAREPOINT to SQL, and SQL to SHAREPOINT etc.). In Hyper-V you can create one or any number of virtual switches that will be recognized on guest VM as a network adaptor. When IP is assigned on this adaptor, this will allow you to make communication between your virtual VMs. In our case we should create internal network VM with following structure:

Virtual network configuration

This will connect all your VMs to Hyper-V virtual switch that will allow your VMs to communicate.

Note that on Hyper-V when creating virtual switch, if you’d like to connect any of your VMs to internet this will connect all your VMs to it. This can cause troubles when working inside company as this will assign IP to each VM and register one inside your DMZ. To avoid this there should be one “router” VM created that will be acting as virtual router for all other VMs but physically will be connected to internet. In my case to avoid luck of resources on Hyper-V we have created Linux VM where all external incoming internet traffic was redirected to internal network interface which was served by all other VMs.

Linux VM as default getaway

To create your virtual switch open Hyper-V manager panel. In the right “Actions” pane find “Virtual Switch Manager” option.

Virtual switch manager

When manager window is opened, create two new virtual network switches:

  • Internal VMs network (Internal type only)

  • External Network (should be connected to physical network adaptor – External)

Create virtual switch

Creating VM

Once you have installed Hyper-V role on your host operation system you can proceed with farm installation.
Let’s create base VM where new operation system will be installed. Open Hyper-V manager panel. On the right pane select “Create new”->”Virtual Machine”.

Add new Hyper-V

In the opened window specify desired name of the VM which you have planned in previous step.

New Hyper-V

Select which generation of virtual machine:

Generation 1 – This mode is used to install old operation systems on the VM where old compatible hardware configuration is used.

Generation 2 – This mode is used to install new configuration hardware suitable for Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8 which use virtualization mode.

For our farm we will use “Generation 1” mode as we’ll install Windows Server 2008 R2 operation system.

VHD file generation

Select amount of RAM that you VM will be using. When installing base VM you can assign as much memory as you want as this VM will only serve as a base VM for all others.

Select amount of RAM

Select network adaptor to which connect you VM in case you plan to connect this VM to the internet.

Note, that this VM should be connected at least once to internet to be able to activate Windows Online and install all required updates. This will be also useful to connect this VM to internet to download required prerequisites for SharePoint 2013 server.

Select netwok adaptor

Next step allows you to create virtual disk. I advise you to create smallest possible disk to be able to install operation system and its updates. Specify disk name which you have planned in previous step.

Note, you can assign 20GB of disk size which should be enough to install windows server 2008 R2 on it and its updates.

Disk create

Next step allows you to specify from where operation system will be installed. Select appropriate method that suits you best.

Install OS

Review settings you have specified and click “Finish” to create you Base virtual machine.

Installing OS

This step is out of scope in this article. Here I will try to give you some useful things to do when your operation system is installed:
Checkbox   Configure IP of the VM in case this one is not dynamic.
Checkbox   Activate windows.
Checkbox   Update windows with latest updates.
Checkbox   Change PC name.
Checkbox   Configure IE ESC if you want to access internet pages.
Checkbox   Enable remote desktop in case you’re planning to connect to VM not only from Hyper-V manager panel.

Windows server settings

This also can be useful to install some default programs which can be useful when work on the server:
Checkbox   Antivirus if connection to internet is active.
Checkbox   7zip or other archive program to be able to open ZIP and/or RAR archives.
Checkbox   Notepad++ – useful and free text editor.
Checkbox   Adobe reader to be able to read PDFs (optional).

Prepare system to be cloned

Once all updates and default programs are installed, you are ready to create 4 virtual machines to host our SharePoint farm environment. To prepare base VM we should execute “sysprep.exe” which will clear all Windows instance specific parameters and what will allow you to copy same VM as new instance. To launch “sysprep.exe” do following:

  • Open windows RUN menu by clicking on “Start” menu button or by calling it with keyboard shortcut “Windows”+”R”. In the “Search programs and files” input type “%windir%\system32\sysprep\sysprep.exe”. This will open sysprep dialogue window.
  • In “system cleanup action” select “Enter System Out-of-Box experience (OOBE)”.
  • Tick “Generalize” checkbox.
  • In “Shutdown Options” select “Shutdown”.
  • Click OK.

Sysprep tool

Creating farm VMs

To create out farm VMs we are going just copy/paste our base VM 4 times. Once disks are copied we will proceed with its configuration.

  • Copy paste Base VM disk 4 times.
  • Rename copied disks accordingly to names you have chosen on prepare installation step.

Extend VMs’ HDDs size

Remember, we have chosen 20 GB of disk size when creating our Base VM. This is enough for default Windows Server installation and for installing domain controller on it but what about SQL and SharePoint servers?
Well we will need to increase disk size for each of them. Hyper-V management panel allows you to do this easily. To do this:

  • Open Hyper-V management panel.
  • In the right pane find and select “Edit disk”.
  • Choose SQL server VM disk location.
  • On the next screen select “Expand” radio button menu t expand the disk.
  • Choose new size of the disk.
  • Review settings and click finish.
  • Repeat the same steps for SharePoint server.

Andrew Adamich

Pre-installation – Planning farm
Step 1 – Installing OS
Step 2 – Installing Domain controller
Step 3 – Installing SQL Server
Step 4 – Installing SharePoint Server

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