SharePoint Server 2013 Installation & Planning Guide

Since the time I posted this SharePoint 2013 VM on my blog, I have received requests from a few SharePoint enthusiasts to also post detailed steps for installing SharePoint Server 2013. Since these steps are available on TechNet (see below for the link) and have been blogged about in a number of other places, I did not want to duplicate the effort here. What I did want to post here though is a step by step approach, architectural guidance, recommendations & resources that you will need to build a well-planned, scalable and error free SharePoint 2013 on premise production farm. The post will cover guidance around the following aspects of SharePoint Installation:

  1. Planning your SharePoint architecture
  2. Pre installation server prep
  3. Installing & configuring SharePoint
  4. Post installation maintenance & planning
  1. Plan your farm:
    1. Plan the physical and logical architecture: In addition to the above here are a few links that will help you plan the physical and logical architecture and topology for the farm: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepoint/fp123594.aspx, http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=30377, http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc263199.aspx, http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff829836.aspx
    2. Review the hardware & software requirements: The following link describes the hardware & software requirements for SharePoint: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc262485.aspx. A quick note here is that to avoid seeing future SharePoint health analyzer issues related to disk space (http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff805057(v=office.14).aspx), I will also recommend  starting with system drive that is higher than the recommended 80 GB (I typically start with a 100 GBS). I will also recommend placing the SharePoint logs, usage reports and search indexes to a drive other than the system drive
    3. Capacity plan your hardware: While the link above will get you started with the minimum recommended environment, it is always recommended to capacity plan your hardware in advance from a performance and scalability perspective. The following link describes advanced capacity and sizing recommendations for SharePoint Server 2013: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff758647.aspx
    4. Plan Service and admin accounts for your farm: SharePoint needs various accounts to be configured with different sets of permissions. The following article is a good reference for the different accounts that need to be set up and configured for SharePoint: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc263445.aspx
    5. More in-Depth planning for SharePoint 2013: Finally, for advanced readers or for those who’d like to setup sophisticated  farms, the following is a very comprehensive guide for an in-depth planning of different aspects of SharePoint Server 2013: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc261834.aspx
  2. Prepare your servers for SharePoint installation:
    1. OS:
      1. Before you install any software on either the SharePoint or SQL servers, ensure that you have activated the OS licenses on these servers (although this is not a required step at this point)
      2. Also ensure that you have applied the latest patches for the OS on all the servers
    2. SQL Server(s): SharePoint is a very database intensive product. For optimal performance and throughput, it is highly recommended that the SQL Server be optimally set up by following these practices:
      1. Apply the latest patches and updates (this should be done before even you begin installing SharePoint)
      2. Follow the guidelines on this link to ensure that you have carried out the necessary planning and configuration on the SQL server front as well: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh292622.aspx. Besides other considerations, I’d like to specifically point you to the sections titled “Configure specific SQL Server settings before you deploy SharePoint Server 2013”, “Design storage for optimal throughput and manageability” & “Proactively manage the growth of data and log files” from this article for optimal performance of the SQL server
      3. Plan your SQL Server capacity and configuration: The following link provides in depth details about planning Your SQL server for the various SharePoint databases: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc298801.aspx
  3. SharePoint installation and configuration:
    1. Installation guides for manual installation: The following links provide detailed installation & configuration steps for SharePoint 2013 installation: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc262957.aspx & http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=30384. This includes installing the pre-requisites for SharePoint Server 2013.
    2. Scripted Installations: For those who prefer a scripted approach or would like to build multiple environments, you can refer to tools such as the AutoSPInstaller & AutoSPSourceBuilder to script your SharePoint 2013 installation. Matthey J. Bailey in a very useful blog post here also provides links to other guides and tools to build your scripted/ non-scripted SharePoint environments (Search for the section titled “Detailed Instructions on How to Install a SharePoint 2013 Development Environment”)
    3. Cumulative Updates: After SharePoint is installed, I will recommend installing the latest updates and CUs from this link: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepoint/jj891062.aspx after you install SharePoint and before you run the SharePoint products configuration wizard.
    4. Possible installation issues & troubleshooting: The following articles describe a few possible issues while installing SharePoint & their resolution (I’ll keep updating these as and when I find more links and based on any inputs): http://blogs.msdn.com/b/fabdulwahab/archive/2013/08/29/sharepoint-2013-installation-and-configuration-issues.aspx & https://gauravmahajan.net/2013/01/31/sharepoint-2013-installation-error-iisext-vbs/
  4. Monitoring & post installation maintenance:
    1. Plan for monitoring SharePoint: The following article provides good details on SharePoint monitoring tools, scenarios and schedules: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj219701.aspx
    2. The following article discusses configuring monitoring and performance counters for SharePoint 2013: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff758658.aspx
    3. SQL Server maintenance: The following article describes maintenance that needs to be carried out for a SQL server serving SharePoint databases: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc262731.aspx The article refers to SharePoint 2010 but a lot of it is still true for SharePoint 2013

Hope this blog will serve as a comprehensive resource that you can refer to for planning, installing and maintaining your SharePoint 2013 farm. Good luck with your installation!

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