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New Zealand SPUG Tour Auckland, Tauranga , Napier, Wellington, Christchurch, NZ 14-16 April , 2009. Michael Noel Convergent Computing Twitter : @ michaeltnoel. Building the Perfect SharePoint Farm. Michael Noel.

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Michael noel convergent computing twitter @ michaeltnoel

New Zealand SPUG Tour

Auckland, Tauranga, Napier, Wellington, Christchurch, NZ

14-16 April, 2009

Michael Noel

Convergent Computing

Twitter: @michaeltnoel

Building the Perfect SharePoint Farm


Michael noel
Michael Noel

  • Author of SAMS Publishing titles “SharePoint 2007 Unleashed,” the upcoming “Teach Yourself SharePoint 2007 in 10 Minutes,” “SharePoint 2003 Unleashed”, “Teach Yourself SharePoint 2003 in 10 Minutes,” “Windows Server 2008 Unleashed,” “Exchange Server 2007 Unleashed”, “ISA Server 2006 Unleashed”, and many other titles .

  • Partner at Convergent Computing (www.cco.com / +1(510)444-5700) – San Francisco, U.S.A. based Infrastructure/Security specialists for SharePoint, AD, Exchange, Security


Session objectives and agenda
Session Objectives And Agenda

  • Examine various SharePoint farm architecture best practises that have developed over the years

  • Understand SharePoint Virtualisation Options

  • Dive into specific details for each step in the build process:

    • Server Architecture

    • Hardware

    • Operating System

    • SharePoint Binaries Installation

    • Farm Installation/Adding to farm

    • Shared Services Provider Configuration

    • Farm Configuration


Various sharepoint designs

Various SharePoint Designs

Architecting the Farm


Farm architecture all in one farm
Farm ArchitectureAll-in-One Farm

  • All SharePoint roles and SQL Server on the same box

  • For very small environment without a lot of load

  • SQL contention with SharePoint

  • Easy to deploy, but highest potential for contention

  • NOTE: Only the smallest environments use SQL Server Express or SQL Embedded


Farm architecture dedicated sql database server
Farm ArchitectureDedicated SQL Database Server

  • Dedicated SQL Server

  • All SharePoint roles on single box

  • Disk IO contention lessened by moving SQL off SP Server

  • Greater performance can be gained by breaking SharePoint roles onto separate servers


Farm architecture smallest highly available farm
Farm ArchitectureSmallest Highly-Available Farm

  • 2 Web/Query/Application /Central Admin/Inbound Email Servers

  • 1 Dedicated Index Server (With Web role to allow it to crawl content)

  • 2 SQL Standard Edition Cluster Nodes (Active/Passive)

  • Smallest highly available farm (loss of any one server will not affect functionality)


Farm architecture scalable farm
Farm ArchitectureScalable Farm

  • Multiple Dedicated Web Role Servers

  • Multiple Dedicated Query Servers

  • Multiple Dedicated Application Servers

  • Dedicated SharePoint Central Admin Server(s)

  • Single Index Server (per Shared Services Provider)

  • Multiple node or multiple instance SQL Server Enterprise Edition Cluster(s)


Building the perfect sharepoint farm

Virtualised Farm ArchitectureCost-effective Virtual Environment

  • Allows organisations that wouldn’t normally be able to have a test environment to run one

  • Allows for separation of the database role onto a dedicated server

  • Can be more easily scaled out in the future


Building the perfect sharepoint farm

Virtualised Farm ArchitectureFully Redundant Farm with only Two Servers

  • High-Availability across Hosts

  • All components virtualised

  • Uses only two Windows Ent Edition Licenses


Building the perfect sharepoint farm

Virtualised Farm ArchitectureBest Practise Mixed Virtual/Physical Config with High Performance

  • Highest transaction servers are physical

  • Multiple farm support, with DBs for all farms on the SQL cluster

  • Only five physical servers total, but high performance



Content database and site collection planning distribute by default
Content Database and Site Collection PlanningDistribute by Default

  • Start with a distributed architecture of content databases from the beginning, within reason (more than 50 per SQL instance is not recommended)

  • Distribute content across Site Collections from the beginning as well, it is very difficult to extract content after the face

  • Allow your environment to scale and your users to ‘grow into’ their SharePoint site collections




Hardware planning considerations disk memory and processor
Hardware Planning ConsiderationsDisk, Memory, and Processor

  • SQL Database role requires a great deal of space, especially if versioning is turned on in Document Libraries. Don’t underestimate!

  • Index and Query servers also need hard drive space to store the Index files, which can be 5%-30% of the size of the items being indexed.

  • The more memory and processor cores that can be given to SharePoint the better, in the following priority:

    • Database Role

    • Index Role

    • Web/Query Role


Hardware planning considerations virtualisation
Hardware Planning ConsiderationsVirtualisation

  • Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V is an excellent option, and can save money.

  • Microsoft supports third party if they are a member of the SVVP (KB 897615), this includes VMware and Citrix XenServer. There are some limitations, consult the KB article.

  • Not all roles are the best candidates for virtualisation, depending on the level of disk I/O that is expected. The best candidate for virtualisation is the Web/Frontend, followed by Query, Application, Index, and finally SQL.


Laying the foundation

Laying the foundation

Operating System


Operating system best practises versions
Operating System Best practisesVersions

  • Highly recommended: Windows Server 2008 for security, performance (client/server traffic improvements), and ease of setup

  • x64 bit also very highly recommended (Next version of SharePoint is x64 bit only.

  • Enterprise Edition of Windows only required for very large SQL instances (More than two cluster nodes, high transaction volume, etc.) Standard edition of Windows is adequate in nearly all other cases.


Operating system best practises sql server
Operating System Best practisesSQL Server

  • SQL Server 2008 Recommended, particularly if you have high security requirements, as it allows for transparent encryption of databases

  • SQL Server 2005 also fully supported

  • Enterprise edition of SQLonly required for more than two nodes in a cluster, Asynchronous database mirror replication, and/or greater than 32GB RAM

  • Separate Reporting Services server may be required for intensive reporting


Operating system best practises installation sql server
Operating System Best practisesInstallation: SQL Server

  • Install the defaults for Windows Server 2008

  • SQL Server

    • Install SQL Server 2005/2008

    • Install any service packs and updates (i.e. SQL 2005 SP2 / SQL 2008 SP1)

    • Open port 1433 on the Windows Firewall.


Operating system best practises installation sharepoint server
Operating System Best practisesInstallation: SharePoint Server

  • Install the defaults for Windows Server 2008

  • SharePoint Servers

    • Add the ‘.NET Framework 3.0 Features’ from the Add Features wizard

    • Default Windows Firewall settings will work for front-ends


Adding the sharepoint binaries

Adding the SharePoint binaries

SharePoint Installation


Sharepoint installation service accounts
SharePoint InstallationService Accounts

  • Never use a single account for all services unless it’s a test farm.

  • At a minimum, create the following accounts:

    • SQL Admin Account

    • Installation Account (Local admin rights on SP servers)

    • SharePoint Farm Admin (Requires SQL DBCreator and SQL Security Admin on SQL box)

    • Search Admin (Requires local admin rights on any Query or Index servers

    • Default Content Access Account (Read-only access to all indexed locations)

    • Application Pool Identity Account (at least one, can use multiple for each App pool.) It is critical for security that this isn’t the farm admin account.


Sharepoint installation installation process
SharePoint InstallationInstallation Process

  • For most flexibility, choose ‘Complete’ Installation, even if not installing all of the roles on the server. This will allow for the addition of roles in the future as needed.

  • Be sure not to select ‘Stand-Alone’, unless you plan on having a very small farm with a limited database (SQL Server Express)


Sharepoint installation installation process1
SharePoint InstallationInstallation Process

  • Highly recommended to choose the final destination for the Index/Query to live (i.e. if it’s on a different drive, enter that during installation). It’s difficult to change index location later.

  • Remember, after installing the binaries, the server is not a farm member yet…it can be added to any farm. Good concept to use to pre-stage servers.


Sharepoint installation command line installation of sharepoint
SharePoint InstallationCommand-line Installation of SharePoint

  • Good to understand how to install SharePoint from the command-line, especially if setting up multiple servers.

  • Allows for options not available in the GUI, such as the option to rename the Central Admin Database to something easier to understand.

  • Use SETUP, PSCONFIG and STSADM to script the install process, check online blogs for details.



Creating the farm running the config wizard to install servers
Creating the FarmRunning the Config Wizard to Install Servers

  • Consider using an easy to remember port for the Central Admin service (i.e. 8888)

  • You are welcome to change the Config Database name to match a common naming convention

  • Your database access account is the SP Service account, which only needs DBCreator and Security Admin rights on SQL. Don’t give it more!

  • Run the wizard on additional servers as necessary


Creating the farm using a sql alias
Creating the FarmUsing a SQL Alias

  • Do yourself a HUGE favor and don’t forget to use a SQL Alias when creating the SQL Config Database. For example, if your SQL server name is ‘SQLSERVER1’, use something like ‘SPSQL’ to connect, and have DNS point to the proper server location. This makes it MUCH more flexible.


Best practises

Best Practises

Shared Services Provider


Reviewing sharepoint architecture understanding the shared services provider
Reviewing SharePoint ArchitectureUnderstanding the Shared Services Provider

  • A Shared Services Provider coordinates services that are used by multiple servers in a farm, including:

    • AD Profile Import

    • Enterprise Search (Including Index)

    • Business Data Catalog

    • Audiences

    • Excel Services

    • My Sites

    • Usage Reporting

  • There can only be one Index per SSP

  • Some scenarios why multiple SSPs can be created:

    • If needing to separate Indexes from multiple content sources (Security reasons)

    • Unique search required for different branches of the organisation

    • If needing to separate My Sites content, including custom settings

    • Global multi-farm SharePoint deployments


Ssp web applications web application best practises
SSP Web ApplicationsWeb Application Best practises

  • Recommended to create multiple Web Applications, even for smaller farms, i.e.:

    • SP Central Admin Web App

    • ssp1.companyabc.com

    • mysite.companyabc.com

    • home.companyabc.com

  • Much more flexible approach to use dedicated web applications. Mysite and the root SP site can be combined in certain circumstances, but is not as flexible.


Ssp web applications web applications best practises
SSP Web ApplicationsWeb Applications Best practises

  • Consider using unique hosts headers when creating the web applications, even if you will separate by IP later. This helps when provisioning new web front-ends.

  • For the SSP and Central Admin Web Apps you can use NTLM for convenience, but know that post SP2 it is now supported to use Kerberos on them.


Kerberos best practise enable kerberos
KerberosBest practise: Enable Kerberos!

  • When creating any Web Applications for Content, USE KERBEROS. It is much more secure and also much faster as the SP server doesn’t have to keep asking for auth requests from AD.

  • Kerberos auth does require extra steps, which makes people shy away from it, but once configured, it improves performance and security considerably.


Kerberos in 4 easy steps step 1 create the service principal names
Kerberos in 4 ‘Easy’ StepsStep 1: Create the Service Principal Names

  • Use the setspn utility to create Service Principle Names in AD, the following syntax for example:

    • Setspn.exe -A HTTP/mysite.companyabc.com DOMAINNAME\MYSiteAppAccount

    • Setspn.exe -A HTTP/mysite DOMAINNAME\MYSITEAppAccount

    • Setspn.exe -A HTTP/home.companyabc.com DOMAINNAME\HOMEAppAccount

    • Setspn.exe -A HTTP/sp DOMAINNAME\HOMEAppAccount


Kerberos in 4 easy steps step 2 allow user and computer accounts to delegate
Kerberos in 4 ‘Easy’ Steps Step 2: Allow User and Computer Accounts to Delegate

  • On all SP Computer accounts and on the Application Identity accounts, check the box in ADUC to allow for delegation.

    • In ADUC, navigate to the computer or user account, right-click and choose Properties.

    •  Go to the Delegation tab

    • Choose Trust this user/computer for delegation to any service (Kerberos)


Kerberos in 4 easy steps step 3a set default impersonation level in component services
Kerberos in 4 ‘Easy’ Steps Step 3A: Set default Impersonation Level in Component Services

  • On Each SharePoint Web Front-end:

    • Go to Start – All Programs – Administrative Tools – Component Services

    • Navigate to Component Services – Computers – My Computer

    • Right-click My Computers, choose Properties

    • Choose the Default Properties tab

    • Change Default Impersonation Level to Delegate

    • Click OK


Kerberos in 4 easy steps step 3b set iiswamreg permissions
Kerberos in 4 ‘Easy’ Steps Step 3B: Set IISWAMREG Permissions

  • From Component Services snap-in on each web role:

    • Navigate to Component Services – Computers – My Computers – DCOM Config

    • Right-click on IIS WAMREG Admin Service and choose Properties

    • Select the Security tab

    • Under Launch and Activation Permissions, click the Edit button

    • Add the application pool account and check the Allow box for Local Activation on each account.

    • Click OK, OK, and close Component Services


Kerberos in 4 easy steps step 4 windows 2008 only edit applicationhost config file
Kerberos in 4 ‘Easy’ Steps Step 4 (Windows 2008 only): Edit ApplicationHost.config file

  • Windows Server 2008 front-ends requires the ApplicationHost.config file to be modified to contain the following string:

    • <windowsAuthentication enabled="true" useKernelMode="true" useAppPoolCredentials="true">


A smattering of best practises

A smattering of best practises

Configuring the Farm


Configuring the farm best practises
Configuring the FarmBest practises

  • For Email enabled content, create a dedicated OU for Email enabled contacts and distribution lists and give the SP Admin account rights to create and modify contacts and groups in that OU.

  • Use the Index server (if a separate role) as a dedicated server for crawling content, to do this you have to turn on the web role, however.

  • Don’t forget to configure an NLB VIP for inbound Mail using the SMTP service in a multi-server environment.

  • You can use multiple web applications that are ‘extended’ if you need to provide multiple access mechanisms to the same content.


Configuring the farm best practises1
Configuring the FarmBest practises

  • Don’t forget Alternate Access Mappings if connecting to the content in more than one way (i.e. https://home.companyabc.com vs. just http://home)

  • If using SSL on a web app, it is recommended to have a dedicated IP address, not just a host header

  • Don’t forget to install Antivirus (MS Forefront Security for SharePoint recommended)

  • Don’t forget a comprehensive backup solution (MS System Center Data Protection Manager (DPM) 2007 recommended)

  • For indexing PDFs, consider a 64bit iFilter like FoxIT


Key takeaways
Key Takeaways

  • Use multiple service accounts, definitely don’t mix Application Pool identity accounts with the farm admin acccounts

  • Use Kerberos for any user facing web application

  • Use a SQL Alias for greatest flexibility

  • A five server farm is the smallest that is highly available

  • Separate the DB role from the SP server if you can


For more information
For More Information

  • SharePoint 2007 Unleashed (SAMS Publishing) (http://www.samspublishing.com)

  • SAMS Teach Yourself SharePoint 2007 in 10 Minutes

  • (http://www.samspublishing.com)

  • Microsoft ‘Virtualizing SharePoint Infrastructure’ Whitepaper (http://tinyurl.com/virtualsp )


Thanks for having me at your user group in beautiful new zealand questions
Thanks for having me at your User Group in beautiful New Zealand!Questions?

Michael Noel

Twitter: @michaeltnoel

www.cco.com