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Configuring Farm Operations in Microsoft SharePoint 2013

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This chapter shows you how to set up farm operations that are configured only once, such as Short Messaging Service (SMS) mobile services. The interaction with other Microsoft SharePoint Server functional areas are also discussed.
This chapter is from the book
  • Introducing Central Administration
  • System Settings
  • Database Management
  • Configuring Send To Connections

Core Operations refers to farm-level settings and applications such as Central Administration, server services, settings, and email configuration. Items such as service applications, search, and web applications are such large and important topics that they have dedicated chapters. This chapter will cover the core farm operations not covered elsewhere in the book. Much of this chapter will show you how to set up farm operations that are configured only once, such as Short Messaging Service (SMS) mobile services. Although the interaction with other Microsoft SharePoint Server functional areas will be discussed, you should reference the chapter for each of those functional areas for detailed information.

Introducing Central Administration

At the heart of every server farm is the configuration database. This database stores the majority of your core server farm configuration. The association of Service Applications, configuration of Web Applications and content databases, email settings, server services architecture, farm solutions, and farm features are stored in this database. To manage all this configuration data, you need a tool. Central Administration is the primary administrative tool available to you. How you access the Central Administration website will depend on what operating system is running on your SharePoint server.

Accessing Central Administration

To access the Central Administration website on a SharePoint server running Windows 2008 R2 SP 2, click through the following path: Start, All Programs, Microsoft SharePoint 2013 Products, SharePoint 2013 Central Administration.

To access the Central Administration website on a SharePoint server running Windows Server 2012, take the following steps:

  1. Access the Start page either by using the icon on the right side of the desktop or using the pop-up menu in the lower-left corner.
  2. On the Start page find the SharePoint 2013 Central Administration tile and click it. If you do not see the tile, start typing Share and it will search for the application.

    Figure 2.1 shows Central Administration as installed out of the box.

    FIGURE 2.1

    FIGURE 2.1 Central Administration is the primary administrative interface for SharePoint Server 2013.

In addition to Central Administration, much of the SharePoint farm configuration can be managed through the use of Windows PowerShell and STSADM.exe. In fact, as you read through this book, in several situations the use of Windows PowerShell is required. This is because there are certain configuration tasks that cannot be performed through the Central Administration user interface (UI).

To access the Windows PowerShell console on a SharePoint server running Windows Server 2008 R2 SP2, navigate through the following path: Start, All Programs, Microsoft SharePoint 2013 Products, SharePoint 2013 Administration Shell.

To access the Central Administration website on a SharePoint server running Windows Server 2012, take the following steps:

  1. Access the Start page either by using the icon on the right side of the desktop or using the pop-up menu in the lower-left corner.
  2. On the Start page find the SharePoint 2013 Management Shell and right-click it.
  3. In the taskbar find the icon to Run as Administrator and click it. This runs the management shell with elevated permissions.

Additionally, the stsadm.exe command still exists in SharePoint Server 2013 and can be used where appropriate. We do not recommend using stsadm.exe except in those situations where you may have no other choice or are unable to get Windows PowerShell to perform as desired.

Central Administration Architecture

It’s important to understand that Central Administration is a site collection contained in a dedicated web application. As such, it has an associated content database for the web application. If you use the SharePoint 2013 Products Configuration Wizard, by default the content database will be named SharePoint_AdminContent_<GUID>, as shown in Figure 2.2. Although it’s not difficult, you need to detach the content DB, rename, and reattach if you want to rename it later. Therefore, if you want a different name for your Central Administration content database, it’s simpler to create your server farm using Windows PowerShell.

FIGURE 2.2

FIGURE 2.2 You can view your Central Administration content database using Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio.

Because Central Administration requires write access to your server farm configuration database, you should never use this web application or associated application pool for collaborative web applications. Doing so could provide a hacker with potential write access through another web application. Central Administration was created automatically when you ran the SharePoint 2013 Products Configuration Wizard and should not be modified. Although Central Administration is technically just another site collection and can be modified as such, a best practice is to leave it in the default state. Only administrators access the site collection, so branding and customization shouldn’t be an issue.

As shown in Figure 2.1, Central Administration has nine primary areas:

  • Application Management—Hosts administrative links to web applications, site collections, service applications, and databases. Chapter 3, “Creating Web Applications and Content Databases,” explains this section and associated tasks in depth.
  • System Settings—Contains your server and server service management, email and text messaging, and other farm management settings. Most of the functionality discussed in this chapter can be found in System Settings.
  • Monitoring—This area has been greatly expanded in SharePoint Server 2013 and includes Reporting, Analytics, Timer Jobs, Health Analyzer, and Usage information. Chapter 16, “Configuring Sites and Site Collections,” covers Reporting and the Health Analyzer in detail. Only the server farm timer jobs are discussed in this chapter.
  • Backup and Restore—The location where both farm and granular backups and restores are performed. Chapter 14, “Backing Up and Restoring SharePoint 2013,” provides more information.
  • Security—Includes links to manage the farm administrators group, configure farm accounts, manage passwords for those accounts, define blocked file types, configure antivirus settings, manage Web Part security, and control Information Management Policies global settings.
  • Upgrade and Migration—Upgrade-specific information can be found in Chapter 17, “Upgrading from SharePoint Server 2010.”
  • General Application Settings—Includes external service connections, document conversions, InfoPath forms services, site directory, SharePoint Designer, farm-scoped search settings, and content deployment.
  • Apps—Includes links to specific configuration and functionality options for the Apps store.
  • Configuration Wizards—Contains configuration wizards for your installation. Depending on additionally installed products, this screen can present multiple options for the automated configuration of your farm.

As you manage a SharePoint Server 2013 farm, you will perform administrative tasks on a regular basis. Remember that Central Administration is a web-based interface, so you can create favorites in your web browser to save time. Additionally, you will see multiple locations to manage the same item, such as web application general settings, within Central Administration.

Working with the Central Administration Web Application

Although Central Administration is a SharePoint Server web application, it differs from others because you don’t create and deploy the web application. Because the deployment of other web applications is done from Central Administration, the provisioning of Central Administration itself is performed at either the command line or via the SharePoint 2013 Products Configuration Wizard. To deploy Central Administration to a server other than the one on which you first installed SharePoint Server, you must install the SharePoint Server binaries and run the SharePoint 2013 Products Configuration Wizard. You can run this wizard using one of the two following methods, depending on the operating system running on your SharePoint server.

To access the SharePoint 2013 Products Configuration Wizard on a SharePoint server running Windows Server 2008 R2 SP2, navigate through the following path: Start, All Programs, Microsoft SharePoint 2013 Products, SharePoint 2013 Products Configuration Wizard.

To access the Central Administration website on a SharePoint server running Windows Server 2012, take the following steps:

  1. Access the Start page either by using the icon on the right side of the desktop or using the pop-up menu in the lower-left corner.
  2. On the Start page find the SharePoint 2013 Management Shell and right-click it.
  3. In the taskbar, find the icon to Run as Administrator and click it. This runs the management shell with elevated permissions.

Be very careful not to disconnect from the server farm, which can be specified with the option shown in Figure 2.3.

FIGURE 2.3

FIGURE 2.3 If provisioning Central Administration, be sure not to disconnect from the server farm.

After you click Next once, select the Advanced Settings to provision the Central Administration website. Select Use This Machine to Host the Web Site, as shown in Figure 2.4.

FIGURE 2.4

FIGURE 2.4 Select Use This Machine to Host the Web Site, and click OK.

You can also use the SharePoint 2013 Products Configuration Wizard to repair a broken Central Administration, assuming it is an Internet Information Services (IIS) configuration error causing the fault. To deprovision Central Administration, choose Yes, I Want to Remove the Web Site from This Machine. You should wait a few minutes to allow the farm configuration to update and also to allow time for the local IIS configuration to update. When the web application is no longer visible from IIS, you can rerun the SharePoint 2013 Products Configuration Wizard to reprovision the Central Administration on that server.

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