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26Nov/100

Article – Setting up a SharePoint 2010 environment for try-outs or development – Part I – Introduction

We didn’t have much trouble installing MOSS 2007 since we didn’t have many options at that time. It supported only Windows Server 2003 or 2008 and it was not supported by client operating systems such as Windows XP or Windows Vista. So we ended up following same set of instructions which demonstrated of installing MOSS 2007 on Windows Server 2003 or 2008.

I know you guys will say, “No we did install WSS 3.0 on Windows XP ad Windows Vista using Bamboo Solutions”, but don’t forget it was an unsupported installation as per Microsoft. Above all, it didn’t support installing MOSS 2007 and only supported WSS 3.0.

And how did you try MOSS or WSS? Did you go about installing everything into your local machine? What if your environment gets dirty when you try all the features and customization? I guess you had to re-install right? The other option would have been using a virtualization technology such as VMware, Virtual PC or Hyper-V. The moment we talk about virtualized environments we also talk about having to have high configuration PCs with at least 4 GB RAM. But the trade-off between PC configurations versus portability was acceptable. Because you get an ability to switch between different environments when you have a virtualized environment.

Now we are in year 2010 with the latest release of SharePoint which is SharePoint Foundation 2010 (FREE) and SharePoint Server 2010. After collecting feedback from the previous release, Microsoft now provides handful different options for us to setup a SharePoint 2010 environment. They are:

  1. Base machine installation (AKA On-the-metal installation)
  2. Bootable VHD
  3. Virtualization

Base machine (on-the-metal) installation

In this option you will be installing everything in your base machine and we require following hardware configurations:

Hardware/ Software:

  • Intel Core 2 Duo Processor with 64-bit support
  • Minimum 4 GB RAM
  • Minimum 80 GB Hard Disk space

An advantage of this approach is that you can start it with standard hardware and you will be able to consume all the resources to your SharePoint farm.

Disadvantage of this approach is that if anything bad happens to your SharePoint farm, you need to re-install everything starting from the operating system.

Personally, I don’t recommend going for this option.

Bootable VHD

This is a new feature provided only by Widows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7 operating systems. With this feature you can have any of the above operating system as your primary operating system and any no of bootable .VHDs running from above mentioned operating systems based on your disk space available.

Advantages of this approach are, though it looks like dual-boot but it is not and it is booting an operating system from a single .vhd file. In that case, you can easily back up your .vhd file and copy whenever you need to switch back to a different environment. For  instance you can have one .vhd with SharePoint Foundation 2010 installed and one more with SharePoint Server 2010 Standard and one more with SharePoint Server 2010 Enterprise and one more with SharePoint Server 2010 Enterprise with PowerPivot so on. Other advantage is that you can use all the resources of your base machine when you load from bootable VHD. In this way you can get started easily with the same hardware I recommended for base machine (on-the-metal) installation also you have a nice fail-safe environment for your SharePoint 2010 farm.

Disadvantage I see here is usually bootable VHD performs 3% lesser compared to actual dual boot even with the same hardware configuration.

Personally this is my favorite and I’m ok not to consider 3% performance drop compared to great deal of portability, fail-safe features offered by this option.

Virtualization

Virtualization can be achieved by using either VMware or Hyper-V. Hyper-V comes free as an add-on to Windows Server 2008 R2 and for VMware you need to pay additionally for licensing. Hyper-V comes only with the Windows Server and will not be available with any of the client operating systems. But VMware can be installed to any of the operating systems.

Advantage of using virtualization is that you can use it for production as well. Also it helps you to maintain different environments running at the same time depending on the memory capacity of your system. Also both the virtualization products provide the concept of snapshots so that we can maintain different versions of the same virtual environment. Also it can be exported and imported into different systems without any issues and you don’t have this facility in the above mentioned approaches.

Disadvantages I see in this approach are that if you go for VMware you need to pay additionally. But VMware can be loaded on any operating system which means we can have SharePoint 2010 running on any operating system. In case of Hyper-V you don’t have to pay additionally other than the Windows Server license but it forces you to use Windows Server and most of the developers don’t like it because of its look and feel. But you can follow this link and it guides you how you can configure Windows Server to look and act like Windows 7. Also this approach requires lot of hardware resources depending on the no of virtual machines you are planning to run simultaneously. If it’s just 01, you need minimum 6 GB RAM and enough free disk space no matter whether it’s VMware or Hyper-V.

Personally, I hate Hyper-V just because it depends heavily on hardware and I had a situation I had to install Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1 beta to get my blue screen issues resolved. I like VMware but you need to have a license for that and we MVPs get one free.

Conclusion

Conclusion to this 1st part of the article is that in this release of SharePoint we have 03 options to choose from when we want to setup a test or development environment. Which is better over the other is all depend on the features you look at and how much you can pay for hardware resources.

Posted by Joy