This summer, the Microsoft Azure Team released a very interesting feature with the new feature in which you can create a full SharePoint 2013 Farm in Azure with just a few clicks. Microsoft, however explicitly says that this is not for production, but only for evaluating SharePoint 2013 or testing your deployments on a SharePoint 2013 highly available (HA) environment.
Talking about HA, the SharePoint 2013 farm template comes in two flavors:
A basic two tier SharePoint 2013 farm (SP + SQL + DC)
- A Highly Available SharePoint Farm (2 WFE + 2 APP + 2 SQL + 2 DC)
In this Blog Posts, I will show you a step by step on how to create your SharePoint 2013 farm in a few clicks and what result you get at the end! Before you start the tutorial, you might ask yourself “What exactly am I going to have after finishing this tutorial?”. It’s a great question, so here is the short version:
- A SharePoint 2013 farm that represents one of the topologies above. You cannot customize the number of APP / WFE servers, the only two options are pictured above.
- The farm will run on SharePoint 2013 Service pack 1.
- No Service Applications or customizations.
- SQL Server is running SQL Server 2014.
- If you went for the high availability option, the databases will be in an AlwaysOn availability group.
- 1 Webapp & 1 Site collection
Step by Step Guide
Navigate to the Azure Portal (in Preview at the time of writing this posts) > https://portal.azure.com/
On the bottom left, click on the “New” green plus sign, and then select “SharePoint Server Farm”
- The first few questions will ask you to name your Resource Group as well as to create a User. Please remember this user, as you will need it to login to the servers later on! This screen will also ask you if you want to “Enable High Availability”. Although it’s just a simple checkbox, this is where you decide if you want the simple two-tier SharePoint or the Highly Available SharePoint three tier farm we saw above! For the purpose of this tutorial I went for the highly available option!
Click on the Domain Controllers tab to configure settings. In this tab, you can select your Host name prefix as well as your forest root domain name. You can also modify the size of the Virtual Machines you want to create! If you want your credit to last longer, you can put a smaller size, however performance will suffer as well! When you’re done with your settings, press OK!
- After your DC’s are setup, click on the SQL Servers tab to setup your SQL Servers. In this tab you can setup your Host name Prefix again as well as select the size of your SQL VM’s. You can also change the SQL Service account and give it a different password. Since this is for a test, I just left the same password as the account I created in Step 3. Again, if you want your credits to last longer, you can choose smaller Virtual Machines in the Pricing Tier category, however your performance will suffer! The file Share witness, is the witness of your availability group. You can’t change any options on that one! Press OK when done
- After you’re done with the SQL, time to setup SharePoint Servers. In the SharePoint Servers tab you can again select what pricing tier you want your four virtual machines to use, as well as select the username and password for your two service accounts. Microsoft will only create two service accounts for you, since, as mentioned before, it won’t create any service applications! You can either use a custom password or the same one as the account in step 3.
- I didn’t list it in the steps, but in the Optional Configuration you can change your subnet and a lot of Network stuff. Since it’s only a test farm, I don’t recommend changing anything unless you really need to. In the Subscription tab, you must choose the subscription that will pay for this farm! Most people only have one, so not a lot of choices, but for other people they have one from the MCT and one from their partner MSDN for example! I choose my biggest one so I could at least finish this article before it runs out!
- The last Step before we hit the Create button is to select where do we want our farm to be hosted! Since I live in Montreal, I choose Eastern US since it’s the closest one to me!
- Click the Create Button!
- Wait! The whole process took about 1h30 for me
Let’s see the result
After waiting for the farm to create, you can see a new “tile” in your Azure Portal by the name of your farm. When you click on it you see all the information about your resource group.
For your SharePoint Farm, one important detail to check out is in the Deployment history. When you click on the tab, you will find out what the Central Admin URL is as well as your first Site Collection!
If you want to Remote Desktop into a Virtual Machine, click on the SharePointFarm1 resource group, then select the server you want to remote Desktop into, and lastly click on Connect.
I hope you enjoyed this step by step tutorial and it will help you test drive Cumulative Updates, lab scenarios or anything before you send them in production! I think that this a great new feature in Azure from the Azure team and I will probably use it in the past! However, I wish we had the option to include Office Web Apps, as well as having all or at least some Service Application (ex; Search) coming configured out of the box!
What do you think about this feature?
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