Patching and SharePoint Server 2016 Cumulative Updates

Keeping up with the cumulative updates (CU) and service packs for SharePoint has always been fun. There is always the question of what build are you on and what build should you be on.

To help keep track of the build numbers Todd has always had a great resource available at his blog. http://www.toddklindt.com If you look up in navigation you will see he has SharePoint 2010, SharePoint 2013, and SharePoint 2016 builds all covered. He has the build numbers, the links to the various Microsoft Knowledge Base articles for what is in that build, links to download the updates, and finally any notes or bugs he knows about for a given resource. The site is top notch.

Since Todd has all of those bases covered I thought I would try to help out by creating videos on how to install each of the CUs and any added information I could share. To make it easy to find I have put all of the 2016 update videos in a playlist. That will always give you easy access to the latest and greatest. As of right now I have covered June, July, and August 2016. The nice thing is there is some variety in there.

·       The June 2016 cumulative update for SharePoint server update video shows how to install a CU as part of doing a fresh install.

·       The July 2016 cumulative update for SharePoint Server actually shows up in Windows Update so if you aren’t paying attention you can actually install it on accident. This video shows you that process and how to tell if that is what happened to you.

·       The August 2016 cumulative update for SharePoint Server is actually a simple, straightforward applying it to an existing farm. A breath of fresh air really.

As additional updates roll out I will continue to create videos. In theory they should all be the same steps with just different bits but we all know SharePoint better than that. There will be curve balls.

In each video I also try to discuss that you shouldn’t just apply and update because it is available. You need to have a rhyme and a reason and even then it can be dicey. You have been warned.

Also, with my updates I concentrate on how to install it and just work through the process. This method while effective does lead to downtime. If you are looking for Zero Downtime Patching (ZDP) then you should watch this fine video by Microsoft. They have a multi-server farm in Azure and walk you through how to patch with no downtime. Pretty cool stuff if you have a farm of that size.

I think between watching that video and one of mine you should have a great understanding of how patching really works in SharePoint. They show you the uber complex process but without all of the context and I show you the simple process but try to break down each step a little better. A winning combination. J

Shane

Create a new Active Directory forest in Azure

Today I released another free video: Creating an Active Directory Forest in Azure.

This video shows you how to do some newish things with Azure. The main one is setting static IPs and editing the DNS server for the virtual network using the Portal. All of the other guidance out there shows you only some crazy PowerShell. I love PowerShell but not when I am trying to learn how to do things in Azure. For learning I prefer good ole clicky-clicky with a mouse.

In this video we walk through creating a new active directory domain using two Azure IaaS VMs. Topics covered include:
* Azure Availability Sets, Resource Groups, and Virtual Networks
* Setting static IPs and DNS Settings
* DCPromo

Let me know in the comments what topics you want to see covered next.

Shane

Free SharePoint Training

So rumors of my demise were greatly exaggerated, even if I did start them.

Turns out I just missed SharePoint too much. So Bold Zebras has been reborn as an all things Microsoft Cloud Consulting group. So anything SharePoint, Office 365, and Azure are fair game.

The good news for you is in order to promote the site I have decided to create a bunch of free SharePoint trainings. I am making them all available via my YouTube Channel.

The first completed training series is Zero to SharePoint 2016 on-prem.  The series starts with a blank Windows 2012 R2 Hyper-V server and walks you through all of the steps needed including:

  • Building out VMs
  • Create a new AD Forest
  • Installing SQL 2014 and SQL 2016
  • Installing and patching SharePoint Server 2016
  • Configuring all of the SharePoint 2016 Service Applications
  • All using 180 trials

To see all of the gory details of each video there is a guide available here.

Anyone can follow along with the videos as all of the steps are there. No “magic” just lots of work. And to make the videos easier to follow and to eliminate all of the typing of PowerShell there are also premium packages available from Bold Zebras.

Hope you enjoy. And I am always looking for ideas for other content you would like to see so let me know.

Shane

 

Probably NOT my last blog post

Edit 8/14/2016 – The rumors of my demise were greatly exaggerated even if I was the one who started them. I am back to kicking ass on SharePoint and all things Microsoft Cloud. Check out Bold Zebras for more information on my consulting work. Or if you are into Free SharePoint, Azure, and Office365 training check out my Microsoft Cloud YouTube channel.

Wow, this place brings back memories. As you can tell since my last post was in 2012 I haven’t been doing a lot of the SharePoint thing lately. Looking through the archives some of my posts have been read hundreds of thousands of times. The most popular one being how to install SP2 for WSS 2007. Wow, that was a crazy time.

In the SharePoint world I still do speaking here and there, host Todd Klindt’s podcast, and work on SharePoint as necessary but it is far from my primary gig. Since I get the question a lot, what have I been up to, I thought I would just write it all down. So here it is, to catch everyone up the quick version of what I have been up to is:

Feb 2012, I sold SharePoint911 to Rackspace and I became a “Racker”. I helped run the SharePoint business as Director of something or another. If you want to read about all of the screw-ups I made growing SharePoint911 check out this post.

Spring of 2014, I switched gears and helped lead the building of a Microsoft Private Cloud practice on Hyper-V and System Center. I had a cool role of Chief Technologist.

Early 2015, we evolved the Private Cloud practice to be Fanatical Support for Azure. Went back to a fancy Director of Product title.

Late 2015, I retired from Rackspace and played a lot of Call of Duty.

Since then I have actually become a member of the startup scene here in Cincinnati. I am doing some angel investing with Connetic  in a couple of cool companies (I would list them but they are still flying under the radar), advising a few others, and I have started a couple of my own companies. What companies you ask? Let me tell you about them.

boxChecked is a Virtual Assistant company. Growing SharePoint911 was hard and I wasted a lot of money trying to figure out the right way to do little things like government paperwork and trying to keep good accounting records. So with boxChecked I took all of those back office services that we grew in house and I am now making them available to the masses. Yes, I realize there are a lot of personal assistant services out there but most of them just do what you say. So as long as you have figured everything out you are golden. On the other hand, our virtual assistants take pride in not only doing what you request but also putting your request in context. So when you say get this new lady setup in payroll they know you need to also think about unemployment insurance, benefits, government filings, and a bunch of other little things.

I also started Bold Zebras. Just between us the website needs a reboot. I originally positioned it as a company to help small businesses embrace technology for an advantage. What an awesome service but the messaging didn’t resonate with people. So I have, in theory, simplified it to being we are a management consultant for small businesses. From conversations I have had with people that seems to be much easier to understand. With Bold Zebras I have helped people with growth, online and offline marketing, new product ideas, retail setup, launch a startup, technology, and other topics. It is really fun to get in and try to help a business owner take the next step in growing their company. Website reboot completed. Bold Zebras is all Microsoft Cloud all of the time now!

The third company I am involved with is called Rescoper.  It is project management software that doesn’t suck. (Probably not the official tag line.) It is all web driven software and its magic power is context. Most of the software in the market today is just a mirror. You put in information and it just pretties it up and shows it back to you. Not sure how anyone finds that super helpful. With Rescoper you enter your data and the software learns from the data and makes recommendations. For example. If you have your schedule in Rescoper and you add an ad hoc meeting for an hour the software will say “okay, you can add that meeting but you are going to put these other things at risk” in real time. So you can decide if an hour meeting of the party planning committee is worth missing your project deadline. There are lots of little things like that which make Rescoper better than the other magic mirrors.

I also have one iron in the fire that might bring me back to the SharePoint teaching world. I have a meeting tomorrow so I will cross my fingers.

As always you can still find me on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn. Or you can email me through the contact form on the homepage at www.boxChecked.com.

Shane

View my install SharePoint 2013 Webinar

My Christmas gift to you!

I don’t know why I didn’t do this years ago. I guess you can thank the fine folks at Rackspace for this. Today I did a 1.5 hour webinar on installing and configuring SharePoint 2013. And in a totally unexpected twist not only did everything work but I actually got everything done in the allotted time. You know what is even more exciting? I recorded the whole thing and the recording is available for you to watch. The link to the webinar is at this webinar link. Sorry you will have to register to watch just because that is how the tool works.

There is also a presentation I used during the webinar with some screenshots, PowerShell, and other links. You can find that presentation at this link.

The team is actually doing a bunch of these this week. You can sign up or watch the recordings by using the links found here.

Hope you enjoy the show. Happy holidays!

Shane

SharePoint 2013 is coming, SharePoint 2013 is coming

Thankfully, unlike the night of Paul Revere’s fateful ride we are happy to see it coming. Side note: If you are bored go read this article talking about Israel Bissell who did the hard work. He managed to ride 345 miles to Paul’s 12. Unfortunately Bissell doesn’t rhyme as well as Revere. J Ok, enough history back to SharePoint.

SharePoint 2013 is exciting with lots of new features. Two of the biggest will be more social capabilities and the App store. The inspiration for social feature are pretty clear, it is like a hybrid of Twitter and Facebook. That’s a really good thing as we move closer to the social enterprise. The App store just makes sense. Everyone these days has more Apps than they can even imagine at their fingertips on their smart phones, it was only logical that other software would start having the same capabilities. These two features are just scratching the surface of SharePoint 2013. Fortunately, if you are interested, Microsoft has some great reading on what is new and the Rackspace team has provided 9 free videos showing off some of the 2013 coolness. This article isn’t about what is new.

The thing I want to focus on, the information that is hardest to find, is what you can be doing today to get ready for when the final version of SharePoint 2013 is released. The easy answer is nothing. If you are actively caring for and feeding SharePoint then you have nothing to worry about. On the other hand, if you haven’t been showing your SharePoint farm all the love and attention it deserves don’t feel too bad, about 95% of farms are in the same situation. If you are a little behind, let’s talk a little about your “fall cleaning” plans.

Patching

Where are you with patching your current SharePoint 2010 farm? You don’t know do you? That isn’t a good sign. Luckily Todd has a great post that helps you find your build number and then tells you what that number means. Now, when you look at Todd’s list you don’t necessarily need to be on the latest and greatest; technically as long as you are at RTM then upgrading to 2013 is supported. Let’s be honest though, you shouldn’t be running RTM. You should be at service pack 1(SP1) at a minimum. There are 100’s of fixes between RTM and SP1 so if you are not there then get a plan together to get there. What about all of those cumulative updates (CU) after SP1? Good question. As a rule of thumb you shouldn’t apply a CU unless you have a specific problem and you can point to the CU that fixes it. CUs are not tested like service packs and can introduce a lot of risk. With that in mind be sure to read Todd’s note on each Cumulative Update carefully to get an idea of what features they may fix or add. Another important point to remember, there is no way to uninstall a SharePoint CU or SP once you start installing it, so practice on a test farm first and then plan for the worst.

Purging

When was the last time you deleted old content out of SharePoint? No, not your field guide to the battle of Lexington and Concord, but all of those SharePoint sites that nobody uses. There have been studies that show up to 50% of collaboration sites that get created are never used. Even if you are 50% better than the average company, did you delete the 25% that aren’t in use? Probably not. This is a great way to get ready for your upgrade. Everything about less content is a win when it comes to doing an upgrade. Nothing is worse than troubleshooting upgrade errors for content that you just end up deleting.

Preparing

Since SharePoint 2013 isn’t RTM yet hardware specifics are still a little up in the air, but it is still obvious there will be changes. For example, are you using the Office Web Applications in SharePoint 2010? In 2010 Office Web Apps are required to be installed on a SharePoint server. In 2013 it is required that they not be installed on a SharePoint server. With that one change you have already added at least one server to your farm. What about the operating system and SQL? Windows Server 2008 (not R2) and SQL 2005 or 2008 were supported. Not with SharePoint 2013. Digging into the hardware and software requirements document provided by Microsoft will give you the information you will need to start planning you infrastructure to support SharePoint.

There is a lot more you could do to get prepared, but let’s not get carried away. Your server room has smoke detectors, so one lantern by land or two by water might be overkill. If you can get through patching, purging, and preparing then you should be in good shape.

Shane Young – Rackspace Hosting

A simple install of SQL Server 2012 for SharePoint Server 2013 or 2010

Edit: 9/2/2016 Check out my latest post that puts most of this work in video format. 🙂

One of the things that comes up in my SharePoint Administrator classes a lot is people who are looking for an easy guide to just get SQL Server up and running so they can deploy SharePoint. They aren’t looking for best practices or optimal configurations just cut-to-the-chase, what they should do, instructions. So in this blog post I have attempted to provide that. If you are an old pro at SQL installs (meaning you have done it more than twice) this post isn’t for you. If you are new to it all then read on.

These instructions were written using Windows 2008 R2 but I did use them on a Windows 2012 VM and the steps were the same except I did not have to install the .NET piece.

There are three things you need to get a SQL Server ready. Install, configure max degrees of parallelism, and setup your SQL permissions.

Installing SQL Server 2012 for SharePoint

  1. Run setup.exe
  2. From the SQL Server Installation Center click on Installation on the left hand side of the page.
  3. On the right hand side of the page click on New SQL Server stand-alone or add features to an existing installation.

  4. After the Setup Support Rules run, click OK.
  5. Enter your appropriate Product Key and then click Next.
  6. Select I accept the license terms.
  7. Select Send feature usage data to Microsoft….
  8. Click Next.
  9. When the Setup Support Rules screen pops up review any errors or warnings you get. If nothing bad has happened the Next button will be available to click. Click Next.
  10. For Setup Role select SQL Server Feature Installation and click Next.
  11. On the Feature Selection screen this is where you need to be smart. In order to make SharePoint run you only need to select one check box, Database Engine Services. I would highly recommend you also check Management Tools – Basic and Management Tools – Complete.

    Now when you read all of these awesome features you might be thinking “I want to kick the tires of Reporting Services – SharePoint” or some other random feature. That is great, tire kicking is fun and important but if you are reading the blog post to get SQL Server installed correctly for SharePoint then you probably aren’t ready to start randomly installing features. Even if you were ready to install them you would still most likely come back and do them after SharePoint was up and running, not before. So let’s ignore them for now and click Next.

  12. On the Installation Rules screen SQL will make some checks. In this case my Server did not have the Microsoft .NET Features installed. You will need to manually add the feature now. While you do go ahead and leave this SQL window open.

  13. To add the .NET Windows Server feature click on Start > All Programs > Administrative Tools > Server Manager.
    1. From the right side of the screen click on Features.
    2. Over on the left side of the screen click on Add Features.
    3. Check the box for .NET Framework 3.5.1 Features.
    4. When you check the box a window for Add Features Wizard will appear telling you the additional required roles. Click Add Required Role Services.
    5. Click Next.
    6. At the Web Server (IIS) screen click Next.
    7. Accept all of the defaults and click Next.
    8. At the Confirm Installation Selections click Install.
    9. At the Installation Results screen make sure everything was successful and then click Close.
    10. Jump back over to your SQL Installation Rules screen and click the Re-run button.
  14. If the tests are Passed click Next to continue.
  15. Assuming this is the only install of SQL Server on this server then you are going to want to take all of the default settings for the Instance Configuration screen. If you have other SQL Instances installed on this server you are more advanced than reading this blog post. J Click Next.
  16. At the Disk Space Requirements screen click Next.
  17. For the Server Configuration screen it is asking you what accounts you want to run SQL Server as. The only service you are worried about right now is the SQL Server Database Engine. This service should always be run as a domain account not a local account. Next to SQL Server Database engine click on NT Service\MSSQLSERVER and a drop down arrow will appear.

  18. Click <<Browse…>>.
  19. Select your SQL Service account and click OK.
  20. Enter the account password and click Next.

  21. On the Database Engine Configuration screen there are lots of changes you could make and over time you will learn about these options but for the purpose this guide you will except all of the defaults. You only need to click Add Current User before you continue on.

     

    If you were building a production capable SQL Server best practice 101 would be to store your data and log files on different volumes. By default SQL Server will store everything on the C: drive. If you want change that behavior take a gander at the Data Directories tab.

  22. Once you are ready click Next.
  23. For the Error Reporting screen select Send Windows and SQL Server Error Reports…
  24. Click Next.
  25. At the Installation Configuration Rules screen click Next.
  26. You are Ready To Install, so click Install.
  27. When the installation finishes you may be prompted to restart. This is not directly because of SQL Server but instead because of other recent installs you have done that you haven’t rebooted since. In my case because I added the .NET feature. When SQL is all done click Close. If you have any other open windows at this point you can close them as well. You are all done.
  28. If you got the pop up screen to do a reboot it will not automatically happen, you will need to Reboot on your own.

Max Degree of Parallelism

Now that you have SQL Server all installed there is one more configuration change you need to do in order to make SharePoint happy. You need to change the max degree of parallelism. Don’t ask me what that is. Something about number of processors and how SQL uses them. Unfortunately SQL Server defaults to 0 and SharePoint 2013 necessitates, demands, forces, requires, and otherwise really wants you to set it to 1. So make the change. If you are running SharePoint 2010 this change is not required but is recommended.

Now if you look at the link I gave you saw a bunch of fancy SQL to change it. Barf! Let’s change it the easy way, with a mouse.

  1. From your newly installed SQL Server click Start > All Programs > Microsoft SQL Server 2012 > SQL Server Management 2012.
  2. On the Connect to Server screen click Connect. If for some reason the Server name: field is blank you would just type in the name of the server.
  3. At the top of the Object Explorer window you see your server. Right click on it.
  4. From the menu that appears click Properties.
  5. In the Select a page section click Advanced.
  6. Scroll to the bottom and change Max Degree of Parallelism from 0 to 1.
  7. Click OK.

That does it. No need to reboot or anything else to make the change take effect.

SQL Permissions

One more quick change since we already have SQL Server Management Studio running. You need to give the Windows Account that you plan to install and configure SharePoint with some elevated rights in SQL. Typically we recommend you use a dedicated account (I like the name sp_install) and this account will need the following roles on the SQL Server.

  • DB_Creator
  • Security_Admin
  • Public

     

  1. Make sure you still have SQL Server 2012 Management Studio open on your SQL Server.
  2. From Object Explorer expand out Security.
  3. Under Security expand out Logins.
  4. Right click on Logins.
  5. From the menu choose New Login….

  6. For Login name: enter domain\sp_install or whatever account you will be logged into SharePoint as when you do the install.
  7. On the left, under select a page click Server Roles.
  8. Check the box for dbcreator and securityadmin. Also, leave public selected.

  9. Click OK.

Hooray! Now you have your whole SQL Server ready to rock and roll so you can install SharePoint.

Why haven’t you patched your SharePoint farm?

AHHH! It seems a week doesn’t go by that I don’t find some ancient SharePoint farm lying around. Just recently I found such an environment that one of our customers was using. I swear this last one was used by the ancient Egyptians and was using the Hieroglyphs language pack. As of May 29, 2012 that farm is running SharePoint Server 2007 RTM. RTM? Yes, you know the thing that came out on November 11, 2006. That was 2,026 days ago! Can you imagine not patching your server for over 2,000 days? That is just crazy! Oh, and in case you were wondering, this was one of their production farms. (And don’t get me started on the insanity of having multiple production farms without really good reasons, which they didn’t have.)

Why do I care so much? Because I am a caring kind of guy. Ok, maybe not. Really, it’s more because they are doing two things that make me a sad panda. One is giving SharePoint a bad name. I don’t know the exact number but let’s just say there have been hundreds of fixes, several performance enhancements, and more than handful of new pieces of functionality introduced in those 2,000-plus days since SharePoint 2007 was first released. And those patches, performance enhancements, and new functionality generally help alleviate many of the pain points some users may be having with SharePoint. If the users of that farm were complaining about something not working right, chances are that issue could have been addressed by simply applying updates to the farm. And, they could get all of that for exactly the price of free. Ok, I realize “free” isn’t completely true because patching does have an associated cost but, whatever that cost is for you it is far outweighed by the cost of not patching. I will not dive into the nerdy details on this topic but remember you should always test your patches on your TEST FARM before you install them on your production farm. J

The second downside of not keeping up with your patches, and what aggravated me the most about this customer, is there is often a minimum build that a farm needs to be at in order to upgrade to the next version of SharePoint. This customer is on SharePoint 2007 RTM and they want me to move them to SharePoint 2010 (hopefully not RTM). The only problem? SharePoint 2007 has to be at Service Pack 2 or later before you can even attempt to do an upgrade! Then I ask the customer what it will take to do an upgrade and they send me over a nine slide PowerPoint that I will need to work through to help me submit the upgrade proposal to their IT governance group. It will take me probably four hours of my life just to go through the first round of justification to put this patch on, and this is even before getting to the actual upgrade to SharePoint 2010. WHY? You can give me your song and dance about controls and such but this is just ludicrous. I have written a lot of governance plans for SharePoint and I have never included a section on requiring a sacrifice to deploy a two year old patch that is pretty much mandatory. Heck, I’ll even point out that right now they are not even supported. Support for the RTM version of SharePoint 2007 stopped January 13, 2009 if I can read the Product Lifecycle correctly.

If you are still on SharePoint 2007 and want to check where you are with patches you can use this link. For SharePoint 2010 use this one.

So in the future, please do yourselves, your users, and even me a favor by keeping your SharePoint farm up to date with the latest patches. You’ll be happy you did, and I will too!

Shane

Health Check – Happy New Year to you and your SharePoint servers!

Happy New Year. Hopefully you have recovered from all of the good times and/or you got some rest on the break.

I figured many of us have SharePoint 2010 deployments at this point that are mature. Which is awesome. But one thing I know about mature SharePoint farms is we often take them for granted. Below I am going to throw a couple of things at you to double check this week and make sure SharePoint is happy.

What is your build number?

You should be running at least service pack 1 at this point. Now if you are not I am not recommending blindly installing it on your production server. You should test it first. J But once you do let’s get it on there. How do you check your build number? Todd has a great blog post here that will show you how to find your build number and then tell you what it means. He also has links to the different patches for download. Remember service packs are always good cumulative updates… you should only install them if you have a very specific reason and you have tested.

Check those health rules

We have all gotten used to the big read bar at the top of the page in Central Administration. We know that it is generally there because some of the rules can just never be made happy. But when was the last time you checked to see what problems it was reporting? Especially with some of the updates the rules have gotten better. So take a quick peek at the list today and see if there is anything you can remedy. No reason to have a broken farm.

Check your disk space

What the heck. I know when I was a full time systems guy I had scripts that checked drive space daily and reported back to me. But maybe you don’t. Either way RDP into all of those servers and just make sure some rogue log or temp files aren’t wasting a bunch of space. It will take you 5 minutes per server and might very well save you from having a bad day in the future.

How is SQL Server doing?

Whether you manage your SQL Server or you have a DBA who does it you need to ask the questions. This isn’t a perfect list but off the top of my head I would ask:

  • How much free space do we have on the data drive? The log drive? The backup drives?
  • How long is that space going to last us at current growth rates?
  • When was the last time someone confirmed we can restore from the SQL backups?
  • Does SQL need any patches applied for general SQL Server health?
  • Anybody checked the SQL logs for errors?

Remember even though it is easy to say that isn’t your job it is. If SQL Server isn’t happy then SharePoint isn’t happy.

What is your backup/restore plan?

I know you have one in theory but do you have one in actuality? When was the last time you did a practice restore? I will leave at this. You know if you have a bad feeling in your stomach right now or not.

Clearly this isn’t an exhaustive list but you get the idea. Spend this slow week making sure that awesome server farm you built is still awesome. Next week you will start getting busy and will go back into firefighting mode. Don’t make your next SharePoint touch point require a 4 alarm fire.

 

Shane

SharePoint Consulting

SharePoint Admin class in Orlando

I sat down to write a blog post but then my VM client decided it wanted to install updates and all of that chaos so I got distracted. Now I am out of time to write a helpful blog post. So instead I will put a quick post here to remind you that I am teaching my SharePoint 2010 admin class in warm Orlando, Florida the week of December 12th. I don’t know about you but Cincinnati (where I live) is very cold that time of year so I am looking forward to a company sponsored get away. Why don’t you come join me?

Shane

SharePoint Consulting

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