This is going to be a very quick post that I hope helps a few people who want to be able to spin up a new SharePoint 2013 farm without it becoming an almighty ordeal involving SQL Servers, Domain Controllers and dodgy powershell scripts downloaded from the internet that don’t actually work 😉

One of the coolest features of the new Azure Portal Microsoft has been trialing is the ability to generate entire multi-server environments, preconfigured from a template. Unless I’d missed it, this wasn’t a feature of the old azure portal – at least not as far as SharePoint was concerned. We absolutely could spin up individual machines quite quickly but they were very much isolated and all the networking, DC configuration and product installations needed to be done by hand. This wasn’t much fun and was pretty much missing out on a huge potential win for IAAS.

Check out the new portal here: portal.azure.com

I’ll let you figure out the UI. It took a bit of clicking around but I now much prefer it to the old portal.

You want to find the new “SharePoint Server Farm” option. This simple menu item belies an incredible time saving in setting up a typical SharePoint OnPrem instance for test or demo purposes.

The New

The only thing I want to highlight specifically is the “Enable High Availability” option. That option is both very cool, and very expensive. Tick it and it will create a 9 server, fully resilient farm in under 15 minutes complete with multiple DCs, front ends and domain controllers. I’m not shitting you – just leave your credit card behind the bar though.

Leave it unticked you will get the still perfectly serviceable but much more cost effective 3 server option. SP FE + DC + SQL.

Whip through the wizard and you will very quickly have a full SharePoint 2013 setup that is fully accessible via the internet. The DC, DNS, SQL Server and Private/Public networking will be preconfigured for you and both Central Admin and a single web app will be waiting for you when you log in for the first time.

A couple of tips if you are trying it for the first time:

  • Some of the machine sizings seem a little off to me. I’d encourage you to go through the wizard options carefully and tweak the size of the machines to what you actually need. Some of the machines seemed a little small to me, whilst others seemed overspec’d. Choose carefully as it will have cost implications.
  • The first run through of the wizard actually failed for me. Something to do with a timeout when creating the SQL Server. I got the impression there is a lot of Azure Powershell flying about to create and configure these machines. Perseverance paid off however because once I had nuked the first set of machines, it worked like a charm on the second go.

Really looking forward to more complex templates coming to azure in the future!

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