Creating a SharePoint Server Farm on Azure from the Gallery

As many of you know creating a SharePoint farm for testing can be a daunting task. I volunteered to help troubleshoot an issue that was working with SharePoint Excel Services and it couldn’t be done in Office365. So, my first attempt was to grab the SharePoint Server 2013 Trial from Azure’s VM Gallery.

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However, once I created the VM, it turns out that SharePoint is not installed, which is what I really wanted. To complicate matters further, the download stopped because IE was blocking file downloads. You can change that setting in Internet Explorer options on the Security tab. Select the Internet Zone and click on the Custom Level button. Scroll down to the Downloads section and enable File download. Restart IE and you can get the file downloaded. Of course, we have to ask, why isn’t it already enabled on the VM since that would be the obvious goal.

As I was troubleshooting that issue, I happened to check out the Azure gallery on the Azure site and found a SharePoint Server Farm gallery image that I could use.

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I clicked on the Farm icon to see what it was. It does the multi-server farm install in Azure.

You start the process by clicking the green Create Virtual Machine button in the middle of the screen. And then you are off to the configuration parts. The next few screen shots will show you the basic configuration points used during the install. Click the button… and your journey will begin.

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This will open up the preview portal from Azure with a blade for configuring your farm.

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Add a group name and work your way through the configuration steps on the blade. It will create 3 VMs by default unless you select the Enable high availability checkbox under the password textboxes.

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Each configuration step will open another blade in the portal allowing you to configure the various servers to be added to the farm.

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Once you have configured the settings you are ready to create your farm. Click the Create button and the “magic” starts to happen.

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You will see the following tile added to your Startboard.

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It took a little more than an hour to set up the three servers required – domain controller, SQL Server and SharePoint server.

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If you click on the new tile, you will get an overview of what was created including resources and estimated spend. The next step is to log into the instance and check out what is set up. If you click the Deployment history button and then the Microsoft.SharePoint.Farm tile, you can see the SharePoint Central Admin URL and the SharePoint Site URL. Each of these blades provide additional information about your environment.

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Log in to Central Admin or the SharePoint site. And you now have a functioning SharePoint Farm in Azure. If you are using this as a testing platform be sure to manage your VMs (e.g. shut them down) to reduce costs.

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Lync 2013 Video Issues on Windows 8

Part of the reason I have a blog is to document issues and resolutions I do not want to forget. Yesterday morning I was on two calls using Lync and the video was blank or white. I had great audio and messaging worked fine. So the only part that was not functioning was the video. I have been using Lync for years usually the problem was related to connectivity.

I started by leaving and rejoining both calls multiple times. That was primarily just annoying with no change in the video issue. Time to search. So, giving credit to whom credit is due, I found the following blog post by Shay Atik – Lync 2013 Desktop Sharing Shows White Screen. Turns out you need to remove a registry entry related to IE and ActiveX. I am copying the steps that Shay gives here and letting you know it works.

From Shay’s blog:

1. Open the Registry Editor (Start + R -> regedit -> OK).

2. Backup the registry (just in case): File -> Export.

3. Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\ActiveX Compatibility and delete the {00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000} expandable folder.

4. Mission completed. Run Lync desktop sharing, and you’re good to go.

Hopefully this helps someone else, and thanks Shay for posting this.

The Only Constant Is Change

In March of this year, I celebrated 10 years at Magenic. I blogged about it and called out values and reasons for staying (Ten Years and Counting …). Now, I am writing to talk about my departure from Magenic. I can start by saying the decision to leave was neither quick nor easy. As I noted in my previous post, I really liked working at Magenic and still have nothing bad to say about it.

So, let’s get on with it. As of Friday, October 3, 2014, I left Magenic and am starting a new opportunity at Pragmatic Works. It is only fair that I talk about my decision and some of the reasons behind it. In my March blog post, I focused on three areas that kept me at Magenic. For me to make the move I did, I had to see that these three areas must bePragmaticHeaderLogo covered by Pragmatic Works as well. So, being a research type of person, I asked friends who were currently employed at Pragmatic Works and, in particular, one consultant who had also worked at Magenic. Would Pragmatic Works measure up in Family, Opportunity, and Appreciation? Based on what I learned about it, yes. I think both companies provide much of what I look for in these three key areas. So, why the change? After taking some time off, I realized that I wanted to pursue more of Microsoft’s cutting edge BI, data, and cloud technologies. Magenic has always been a cutting edge company, but Microsoft was moving in directions that did not particularly align with what Magenic does in these areas. (For the record, Magenic’s pursuit of Microsoft’s cutting edge application development technologies is excellent.) This is where Pragmatic Works comes in. They do a lot of work with the latest advancements in Azure, Power BI, and SQL Server and which gives me more opportunities to work on those tools to deliver great customer solutions.

The interesting part for me about the entire process is that I truly think I would be happy at either company. With over 10 years of service and over 15 years of history with Magenic, I am sad to go. I have made many friends over the years and I truly enjoyed the opportunities I had to influence people and careers as a Practice Lead. I wish Magenic and the team that I left, only the best. Without Magenic, I would not be where I open-dooram today.

That being said, I joined Pragmatic Works because I believe that I will be able to say the same thing about them in 10-15 years.

Thanks to everyone at Magenic for all you have done and the friendships that have been made.

Pragmatic Works team, let’s get started. I am ready to open the next door of my career.