Hello and welcome to the 4th part in our series on how to prepare, install, configure and administer a SharePoint farm. We have been coming all the way from the first part in the series, and there we established key thoughts that we need to have to successfully plan for the farm, and we created scenarios under which this whole series is now based, where we currently are still working on that first scenario, and we still have two more scenarios to go. So far, I would say we are still on track, because when we are through laying these foundations we would need the experience later for a bigger playing field. In that part we did mention a few arguments which became the basis for our server specifications and configurations.

MCSE Training – Resources (Intense)

In part two of the series we went on to get our hands dirty by doing a walkthrough on how to get our virtual machines ready based on specific configurations we had earlier identified. We created three server boxes, added additional hardware such as hard disk, configured networking and placed the setup disk in the virtual drives.

In part three we configured the first server box by installing the operating system, made some initial configuration tasks such as time zone change, static IP address assignment and computer name change. Subsequently we installed domain services and promoted the server to a domain controller equally hosting the DNS service. And of course we installed the very important VMware tools, which was more of a set of drivers to help manage transactions between the server on which it is installed and the host machine, as well as better display and resizing.

In this Part 4 of the series we are going to copy over the necessary files into the server using drag and drop for very light files, and another method provided for bigger files. One important aspect of part one that I will like to emphasize again was the prerequisite files we would need. This is where we would show how to copy them over using all the different methods available, and go on from there to install and configure messaging services (Exchange Server) for our domain. We know how important messaging service is in a domain. Our Outlook email depends on it, SharePoint depends on it for workflow based emails and alerts for business productivity.

BEFORE WE BEGIN

It is important to note that sometimes things may go awry in your VM implementations especially if you are yet to master the ropes, and you may find yourself having to start from scratch sometimes, and that can be really frustrating. To reduce the amount of time to recover whatever you are doing, let me introduce you to a feature in VMware called Snapshots. In photography a snapshot is a moment in time capture of a person, and the result is a picture. In VM the same holds true. It is a moment in time capture of the state of a virtual machine that you are working on. It is not automatic, you have to remember to take it. It is useful to take a snapshot before you make any major changes to your virtual machine. In our case, we have a domain controller that is working and clean, no Group Policy has been defined yet, no user has been created. It is just new, out of the box, therefore it is a good time to take a snapshot, and if ever I need to revert to this state later I can do so. To do this:

Go to the VM menu, select Snapshot, in the sub-menu click Take Snapshot.

Give it a name and description, then click Take Snapshot.


We can now proceed with our next configuration changes. Note that you can take as many snapshots as you want at any point in your setup.

COPYING FILES TO YOUR VIRTUAL MACHINE

Next is how to copy all our huge files into the virtual machine that we call our domain controller. There are a couple of ways to achieve this.

  1. If the files are setup files, you can virtualize them using ISO making software such as PowerISO. There are a host of other software available out there in the world as well. You can use the Use ISO Image File option available in the VM tab, in the drop down menu, select Settings, in the Virtual Machine Settings dialog box that pops-up, under the Hardware tab, locate CD/DVD (SATA), click it as shown below, on the right hand side choose your preferred radio button and then browse for the ISO file on your system to open it. Click OK. Open your virtual machine’s My Computer, and in the virtual media drive D:\ bay you will see the ISO media loaded as a physical drive would have been loaded.
  2. If the files are physical DVDs, you can simply insert it the DVD in the host machine media drive, your VM will pick that automatically, if you have set your VM settings to Use Physical Drive option, and the Connected, and Connect At Power On checkboxes are checked. To do this, go to VM tab, in the drop down menu select Settings, in the Virtual Machine Settings dialog box that pops-up, under the Hardware tab, locate CD/DVD (SATA), click it as shown below.

  3. If the files are multiple small sized individual executables, a good example would be our numerous prerequisite files, you can either:
    1. Drag and drop them from the desktop of the host machine
    2. Copy the files to removable media such as USB, and enable the virtual machine to recognize when removable media is plugged into the host machine, and to grab it as if it were plugged into the virtual machine. To do this navigate to the VM tab, select Removable Devices, in the sub-menu that opens up identify which of the listed items especially at the bottommost part of the submenu that is your removable device, in my example shown the screenshot below it is Lite-On Bluetooth USB Module, select it, and another submenu opens up, to connect it click Connect (Disconnect from Host).
  4. The last option is to use a neat method of sharing your host machine’s drive or folder with the virtual machine, and you can even map it as a drive in your virtual machine to become available in your virtual machine’s My Computer window. To do this, click on the VM tab, select Settings, in the Virtual Machine Settings dialog box, click the Options tab, in the Options tab, click Shared Folder.

    In the display on the right hand side, select the Always Enabled radio button, check the Map As A Network Drive In Windows Guest box, as shown below:

Click Add.

The Add Shared Folder Wizard dialog starts. Click Next.


In the Host Path section, click Browse.

In the Browse For Folder dialog box, scroll down, expand, and identify the folder you want to share, select it or the top-level folder (all at your discretion), and click OK.


Click Next, accept the default on the next screen, and click Finish.


Click OK.

In your virtual machine, open My Computer, and observe under Network Location (1) the mapped drive. Open the drive, navigate through the folder structure, and you can copy and paste all the files that you need into your virtual machine, or execute it directly without copying.

These are the methods available that you can use to copy all the contents that you need in your virtual machine known as DCEX-1.testlab.com, and we can now commence our installation of messaging service known as Exchange Server.

JUST BEFORE INSTALLING EXCHANGE SERVER 2010

Now, in every installation, especially as someone who is going to be a consultant, you need to have the mindset of not lumping all installations into a single C:\ drive disk or partition. For your test environment, maybe yes, nevertheless, it is not advisable. It is for this reason that I remind you that during the setup of this server we had installed four hard disk drives if you remember. However, in the My Computer window of this server we can only see the C:\ drive. Why is that? Because the other hard disk drives have not been formatted. So let’s get them formatted and loaded in the My Computer window.

FORMAT ADDITONAL HARD DISK DRIVES

From the START menu, click RUN.

In the RUN dialog box, type diskmgmt.msc, meaning Disk Management.

In the Disk Management window, observe the information displayed. There are four (4) disks labelled Disk 0, Disk 1, Disk 2, Disk 3. In computer terms, you need to know that zero (0) is a valid number. It is the first digit in the numerical parlance, not one (1). Digit one (1) is not the first number in numerical parlance, it starts at zero (0). This is the reason the first disk is labelled Disk 0 – that is the C:\ drive where the operating system is installed. Observe the colour is blue and white. It is made up of two partitions, System Reserved (100MB NTFS), and (C) which is 39.90GB NTFS. Now observe also that Disk 1 is all black and white, this is because the disk is not yet usable and readable, except by the Disk Management utility. So, what we need to do is to:

  1. Bring the disk online
  2. Initialize the disk
  3. Format the disk and label

Right-click Disk 1 gray coloured area and select Online.

This marks the disk’s status as “Disk 1 Unknown 30.00GB Not Initialized“. Right-click Disk 1 gray coloured area again and select Initialize Disk.

The Initialize Disk dialog box pops-up with Disk 1 checkbox checked, accept the default, and click OK.

Observe the disk status is “Disk 1 Basic 30.00GB Online”. What needs to be done now is to format the disk, and to do this we need to create volumes.

Right-click Disk 1 black and white coloured area (not the gray coloured area), and select New Simple Volume. Please note that the gray coloured area and the white coloured area when right-clicked give different options.

The New Simple Volume Wizard dialog box opens, click Next.

On the Specify Volume Size page, accept the default, because we want to use all the drive space. Click Next.

On the Assign Drive Letter or Path page, accept the default, because drive letter E, is the next available drive letter in sequence for drive letter availability in this system, click Next.

In the Format Partition page change the Volume Label section from “New Volume” to “Data”. Click Next.


In the summary page click Finish.

Observe that Disk 1 is now ready.


Repeat this for the remaining two (2) hard disks found in the diskmgmt.msc window, labelling them using the table below:

Disk No

Drive Letter

Drive Label

Disk 0

C:\

Local Disk C
Disk 1

E:\

Data
Disk 2

F:\

Log
Disk 3

G:\

Backup

When all is done, you should have your Disk Management window and My Computer window looking like as shown in the screenshots below.

INSTALLING EXCHANGE SERVER 2010

The next thing we are going to do is install IIS on this domain controller. Bad idea. Why is this a bad idea? Because your domain controller should host only the domain controller functions and nothing else that can have vulnerabilities. IIS is a service that can be exploited by malicious programs or an attacker. In real life production scenario you would not need to do this. In that scenario, Exchange Server service will sit on a box that is dedicated to it, and that will run the required IIS service. For our scenario, however, due to server box constrain, we will run the IIS service on this domain controller so as to enable Exchange Server to properly install, otherwise, during the prerequisite check of the Exchange Server setup up process we would have issues. That being said, lets install IIS. To do this:

Click Start Menu, navigate to Administrative Tools, select Server Manager. Click Add Roles, and click Next to move on from the Before You Begin page.

The following features must be checked, IIS 6 WMI Compatibility, ASP.Net, ISAPI Filters, Client Certificate Mapping Authentication, Directory Browsing, HTTP Errors, HTTP Logging, HTTP Redirection, Tracing, Request Monitor, Static Content must all be installed as part of the requirement needed to pass the Readiness Checks of the installation process.

For the sake of other uses required in IIS, these other features below should also be checked to be installed Security, Management Tools, IIS6 Management Compatibility


Ensure to check them one-by-one, as selecting the top-level checkbox may not automatically select all sub-items.


Watch the installation progress.

Browse to the SharePoint Prerequisite folder already mapped into the My Computer window, and locate the FilterPack64bit setup file and install.

Double click the file, click Next

Accept the licensing agreement, click Next.

The installation completes successfully.

INSTALL INTERNET INFORMATION SERVICES (IIS)

Browse to the Exchange Server 2010 setup files, run the setup.

Click on Step 3: Choose Exchange language options. Select Install only languages from the DVD.

Click Step 4: Install Microsoft Exchange

The setup initiates by copying files.

On the introduction page click Next.

Accept the license agreement and click Next.

Accept the default option of No, on the error Reporting page, and click Next.

Select Typical Exchange Server Installation on the Installation Type page, click Next.

On the Exchange Organization page, type Testlab as the name of the organization.

On the Client Settings page, click the No, radio button. This is because we are not going to be using Office 2003 or earlier, but Office 2010 and above.

On the Configure Client Access server external domain page, do not select anything, accept the default.

Click Next.

On the Customer Experience Improvement Program page, select the I don’t wish to join the program at this time radio button. Click Next.

The Readiness Checks begins to run.

Wait for the Readiness Checks to complete before continuing. If there are any issues that will the installation of Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 to not complete successfully it will be flagged by a red circle and a white “X” shown as Failed. Underneath the failure point will be the specific items of the failure which is not outside the purview of our discussion. In our case here below, these items will not be shown because we have hitherto fixed proactively and by way prerequisite the failure points, hence they will not occur.

If the failed item shown above, and magnified below shows up in your setup:

Then run this PowerShell command:

Click Start Menu, navigate to All Programs, expand Accessories, and expand Windows PowerShell, click Windows PowerShell without the x86 written in front of it.

Then type the command shown below, hit ENTER.

Set-Service NetTcpPortSharing –StartupType Automatic

Then click Retry

The only thing that will exist as an error, and everything else will be green and checked out will be Organizational Prerequisites, which is primarily just a feature to check and see if you were previously running a previous version of Exchange Server, namely 2007:

Click Install to continue with the setup.

On completion, click Finish.

To verify this installation, navigate to Start Menu, then to All Programs, and expand Microsoft Exchange Server 2010, select Exchange Management Console.

Exchange Server has been successfully verified as installed.

And this is where we wrap it up for this 4th part in the series. I hope you have enjoyed it. In the next part, we shall continue to verify a few items in our Exchange server setup, and proceed to test this with a client machine to be sure the email system is working as expected in order for SharePoint to function well. Thereafter we will move to the SharePoint box and begin prepping it for installation. Cheeerio!!!