Quick Start Guide to Deploying Microsoft SharePoint Server on the Sun ZFS Storage Appliance

August 2011

By Andrew Ness

This quick start guide describes how to prepare volumes on a Sun ZFS Storage Appliance to be used as common shares by a server running Microsoft SharePoint Server and how to set up the SharePoint Server to access these volumes.

Contents

Overview

This quick start guide provides an introduction to creating and preparing shares and block-protocol iSCSI LUNs on a Sun ZFS Storage Appliance to be published and used by a Microsoft Windows server running Microsoft SharePoint Server 2007 or Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010. A typical configuration is shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1

Figure 1. Typical configuration of a Microsoft SharePoint Server and clients used with a Sun ZFS Storage Appliance

Sun ZFS Storage Appliance uses an open-systems approach to combine general-purpose servers and storage components with an integrated storage software suite to offer effective, manageable, and scalable data storage while providing a simple and powerful browser-based interface (BUI) for administrators.

Microsoft SharePoint Server is a collaborative software product included in the Microsoft Office suite. An organization can use the Microsoft SharePoint Server to facilitate collaboration, provide content management features, implement business processes, and supply access to information that is essential to organizational goals and processes.

This document assumes the reader is familiar with the general purpose and functionality of the Sun ZFS Storage Appliance and Microsoft SharePoint Server. When appropriate, Microsoft SharePoint Server 2007 and Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 are referred to collectively as Microsoft SharePoint Server, or SharePoint Server, in this document. The procedures in this document are illustrated with the Sun ZFS Storage Appliance Release 2010.Q3.

Configuring the Network

Microsoft SharePoint Server does not require a special network configuration. However, although the Microsoft SharePoint clients and the Sun ZFS Storage system do not need to be in the same domain or on the same subnet as the Microsoft SharePoint Server, they must all be able to reach the Microsoft SharePoint Server over the network.

You may prefer to configure a private network to handle the storage traffic between the server running Microsoft SharePoint Server and the Sun ZFS Storage Appliance. Depending on the model and configuration of the Sun ZFS Storage Appliance, additional network interfaces are provided that can be used for network aggregation or configuring IP multipathing. Figure 2 shows the Network Interface configuration dialog box in the Sun ZFS Storage Appliance. To display this dialog, select Configuration > Network and either edit an existing network interface by clicking the Edit (pencil) icon next to the network interface entry, or click the + icon next to the Interfaces heading to create a new network interface.

Figure 2

Figure 2. Configuring a network interface in the Sun ZFS Storage Appliance

Configuring the Storage Pool

Configuring the pool storage RAID layout requires balancing availability, capacity, and performance. The Sun ZFS Storage Appliance BUI provides information about the relative trade-offs between availability, capacity, and performance. You must weigh all three factors when deciding on a data profile. This section describes some considerations.

When the Microsoft SharePoint Server communicates with storage, the write I/O pattern is highly sequential while the read I/O pattern is highly random. Therefore, the best performance is usually achieved using the mirrored profile. Figure 3 shows the storage pool configuration options offered in the Sun ZFS Storage Appliance.

Figure 3

Figure 3. Configuring the storage pool in the Sun ZFS Storage Appliance

Sun ZFS Storage Appliance Analytics show the I/O request size of the SharePoint Server is usually around 32 KB due to the underlying Microsoft JET Database Engine. It is therefore advisable to select a volume block size of 64 KB to minimize the number of multi-block reads required to satisfy a single logical read. For more information about selecting a block size, see the blog entry “Stripe Sizing for Performance” at http://blogs.oracle.com/andrewness/entry/stripe_sizing_for_performance.

Depending on the model of the Sun ZFS Storage Appliance you are using, you may need to select a data profile for solid state devices (SSDs) used for logs in the configuration. Striping the log devices typically provides the best performance. However, mirroring the log devices provides an extra degree of log availability. If a log device is lost, log entries are written to a disk. Write performance may be degraded but the pool itself remains available.

Configuring Projects and Shares on the Sun ZFS Storage Appliance

If the Microsoft SharePoint Server (and Microsoft SQL Server) is to be newly installed, projects and shares must first be configured on the Sun ZFS Storage Appliance to present iSCSI volumes to the SharePoint Server. (See the Appendix: Recommendations for Using CIFS Shares for information about using CIFS shares for SharePoint Server storage.

The number of iSCSI volumes to be configured depends on business factors such as the granularity of required snapshots and clones. If replication is to be implemented, the layout of projects is also a consideration. The Sun ZFS Storage Appliance System replicates at the project level, so if different types of shared data are to be replicated on different schedules, you should configure the volumes into several projects, so that each project can be replicated according to its own schedule.

If you are creating multiple volumes (LUNs) under the same project, you can change the properties at the project level and those properties will be inherited by all LUNs in the project. Individual properties can be overridden at the LUN level as needed. The dialog box displayed when creating a new project is shown in Figure 4. To display this dialog box, go to Shares > Projects and select the + icon at the top of the Project table.

Figure 4

Figure 4. Creating a project in the Sun ZFS Storage Appliance

Creating iSCSI Targets and Initiators

The iSCSI protocol allows clients (called initiators) to send SCSI commands to SCSI storage devices (targets) on remote servers.Targets are created on the Sun ZFS Storage Appliance. After a target has been defined, it can be published to or discovered by the host running Microsoft SharePoint Server. An initiator is then defined on the host and a connection established between the initiator and the target.

Defining a Target on the Sun ZFS Storage Appliance

To create an iSCSI target on the Sun ZFS Storage appliance, complete the steps below:

  1. Go to Configuration > SAN and select iSCSI Targets. Click the + icon to display the dialog box shown in Figure 5.
Figure 5

Figure 5. Creating a new iSCSI target

  1. Specify the network interface options and type of authentication to be used when accessing the target.
  2. Click Apply.

Targets with the same target definition (such as iSCSI or Fibre Channel) can be logically combined into target groups. When a LUN is assigned to a target group, it will be presented to potential initiators using the protocol specified for the target group members.
Initiators can also be collected into groups. When the LUNs in an iSCSI target group are assigned to an initiator group, they will be accessible only to the initiators in that initiator group using iSCSI protocol.
To create a target group or add a target to an existing target group, complete these steps:

  1. Select a target entry in the left column, as shown in Figure 6.
  2. Drag the entry to the table on the right and drop it into the new target group area or into an existing target group.
Figure 6

Figure 6. Creating an iSCSI target group

  1. To rename the new target group, move the cursor over the new entry to display a set of icons to the right of the entry as shown in Figure 7.
Figure 7

Figure 7. Editing the iSCSI target group

  1. Click the Edit (pencil) icon to display the dialog box shown in Figure 8.
  2. Enter a new group name and add iSCSI targets to the group by clicking the checkbox next to each target to be added.
  3. Click OK. Then click Apply.
Figure 8

Figure 8. Rename the iSCSI Target Group

Defining an iSCSI Initiator on the Microsoft SharePoint Server Host

The iSCSI target must either be published to or discovered by the host running the SharePoint Server. Complete the following steps on the host:

  1. Go to Programs > Microsoft iSCSI Initiator > Microsoft iSCSI Initiator and select the Discover tab as shown in Figure 9.

    For more detailed information, see the following resources:

    Microsoft iSCSI Software Target information on Microsoft TechNet: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd573326(WS.10).aspx
    Figure 9

Figure 9. Discovering the iSCSI target

  1. Log on to the target to activate the connection between the initiator and the target as shown in Figure 10 and Figure 11.
Figure 10

Figure 10. iSCSI Target shown as inactive

Figure 11

Figure 11. Logging on to the iSCSI target

It is a good practice to create an iSCSI Initiator Group containing all the iSCSI initiators that require access to a LUN or LUNs. In the example below, an iSCSI Initiator Group is configured with a single initiator called SharePoint. However, if the SharePoint Server runs under a cluster is run as a service in a cluster at some point in the future, you can add other nodes to the group without affecting access to the LUN by current group members.

To create an iSCSI Initiator Group, complete these steps on the Sun ZFS Storage Appliance:

  1. Go to Configuration > SAN > Initiators and select iSCSI Initiators.
  2. Place the cursor over the entry for the iSCSI Initiator called SharePoint. Acrossicon (four-point arrow) appears to the left of the entry.
  3. Use the cross icon to drag the entry to the iSCSI Initiator Groups table on the right and drop it into either the new initiator group area (as shown in Figure 12) or into an existing initiator group.
  4. Click Apply.
Figure 12

Figure 12. Creating an iSCSI Initiator Group

Creating and Preparing an iSCSI LUN

To prepare a volume to be used as a common share by a host running Microsoft SharePoint Server, you first need to create and configure an iSCSI LUN on a Sun ZFS Storage Appliance and then initialize it on the SharePoint Server host.

Creating the iSCSI LUN

To create an iSCSI LUN, complete the steps below:

  1. Go to "Shares > Projects > project name > LUNs and click the + icon to display the Create LUN dialog shown in Figure 13.
  2. Provide the requested information and click Apply to create the LUN.
Figure 13

Figure 13. Creating an iSCSI LUN

Editing LUN Security Properties

Typically, all initiators are assigned to a default group that allows general access, unless a specific authentication mechanism has been put in place. However, you can modify the properties of a LUN to restrict access to a particular group of initiators by completing these steps:

  1. Go to Shares > Shares > LUNs. Move the cursor over the LUN for which the properties are to be edited and click the Edit (pencil) icon as shown in Figure 14 to open the properties dialog box.

Figure 14
Figure 14. Selecting a LUN to edit properties

  1. Select the Protocols tab to display the dialog box shown in Figure 15. Assign the LUN to a Target Group and then select the Initiator Group to which access to the LUN is to be restricted.

Figure 15
Figure 15. Setting Share Options to restrict access to a LUN

Preparing the iSCSI LUN for Use by the Microsoft SharePoint Server

To prepare an iSCSI LUN for use by the SharePoint Server, complete the steps below:

  1. To make the LUN available to the operating system of the SharePoint Server host, in the Computer Management Console snap-in, select Action > Rescan Disks. The new LUN will be listed as shown in Figure 16.
Figure 16

Figure 16. Rescanning disks to make the iSCSI LUN available to SharePoint Server host

  1. Initialize, partition, format, and assign a drive letter as appropriate for any non-removable hard disk to make the volume accessible for any application. After initialization, the properties of the disk will appear similar to those shown in Figure 17.

Figure 17

Figure 17. Disk properties after initialization

  1. Use the New Partition Wizard to make the disk usable. The final step is shown in Figure 18.

Figure 18
Figure 18. Final step using New Partition Wizard

Installing Microsoft SharePoint Server 2007

To install Microsoft SharePoint Server 2007, complete the steps below:

  1. To initiate the installation procedure, execute setup.cmd on the installation media. When the license key is requested, provide a valid license key.
  2. When installation options are presented, select the Advanced installation procedure.
  3. On the File Location tab, specify in the first field the location where SharePoint Server 2007 is to be installed. You can either specify the default local disk C: drive or entering the location of the iSCSI LUN prepared for use by the SharePoint Server for data files in the section Creating and Preparing an iSCSI LUN. In the example, this location is the SharePoint disk S: as shown in Figure 19.
  4. In the second field, specify where the SharePoint Server is to store its search index files. For this example, a second drive on the Sun ZFS Storage Appliance is used and mapped as drive I: (see Figure 19).

Figure 19
Figure 19. Selecting Sharepoint Server 2007 file locations

  1. When a dialog box appears with an option to run the SharePoint configuration wizard, select the option and click Close to complete the base SharePoint Server 2007 installation and start the configuration wizard
  2. Run the Microsoft SharePoint Server 2007 Configuration Wizard to set up the SharePoint Server environment and configure the database.
  3. When the “Configuration Successful” message is displayed, click Finish. The “Welcome to Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007” window is displayed.

Installing Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010

Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 is installed using the Microsoft Windows Installer. When the auto-run feature is enabled, the installation process is initiated using the setup utility that starts automatically when the installation medium (usually a DVD) is inserted. You can also start the installation process by manually executing the setup utility
To install Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010, complete these steps

  1. Run the installation procedure contained in the Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 Distribution Media (CDROM or downloaded executable archive). The dialog shown in Figure 20 is displayed.

Figure 20
Figure 20. SharePoint Server 2010 installation dialog

  1. Under Install, click the option Install software prerequisites. A list of prerequisites is displayed.
  2. Click Next to display the Microsoft Software License Terms. Check the box to accept the terms of agreement and click Next.

    A window showing progress of the installation is displayed. When needed, additional software packages are downloaded from Microsoft’s servers. When the installation is complete, a window titled “Installation Complete” is displayed showing a list of the required prerequisites that have been installed or enabled.
  3. If prompted to do so, reboot the server. After rebooting, continue to the next step.
  4. Click Finish to return to the SharePoint Server 2010 installation dialog shown in Figure 20.
  5. Under Install, click the option Install SharePoint Server.
  6. When the request for a Product Key is displayed, enter your product key and click Continue.
  7. When the File Location dialog box shown in Figure 21 is displayed, specify the location for the SharePoint Server search index files in the second field.

    The index files are typically located in a subdirectory on the iSCSI LUN that was prepared for use by the Microsoft SharePoint server in the section Creating and Preparing an iSCSI LUN. For example, I:\SharePoint-Data.

Figure 21
Figure 21. Specifying the SharePoint Server 2010 search index file location

  1. Click Install Now. A window displaying the installation progress is displayed.
  2. When the Run Configuration Wizard window appears, select the option to run the wizard and click Close.
  3. Complete the steps presented by the configuration wizard as appropriate.

Note. A decision about whether to use a Standalone Server or implement a Server Farm is outside the scope of this article. Refer to the Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 Release Notes and Installation Guide for further configuration information.

When the installation process is complete, the Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 home page is displayed.

Using Analytics

The Sun ZFS Storage Appliance offers an Analytics feature which includes analytics useful for observing the system workload. For example, network activity can be observed as interface bytes per second broken down by interface. iSCSI activity can be observed as operations broken down by initiator, LUN, latency, or client; bytes broken down by client or LUN, disk I/O, or operations per second broken down by latency.
Objects to be analyzed can be combined into a worksheet and saved for later reuse. A worksheet example is shown in Figure 22. Many more options are available through the appliance BUI under the topic Analytics.

Figure 22
Figure 22. Worksheet showing a selection of iSCSI operations analytics

Using Advanced Data Services

The Sun ZFS Storage Appliance offers a variety of features to protect archived data, including the following:

  • Snapshot and cloning capability at the project or share level
  • Asynchronous replication of the file systems or iSCSI LUNs in a project
  • Network Data Management Protocol (NDMP) support
  • Support for clustering

For more information about creating snapshots and replicating data, see the procedures in the Shares topic in the documentation wiki that is embedded in the Sun ZFS Storage Appliance. You can view the documentation wiki by clicking on Help in the Sun ZFS Storage Appliance BUI or by going to:

https://<IP address for your installation>:215/wiki.

Conclusion

Sun ZFS Storage Appliance allows administrators to take advantage of a simple, powerful BUI to manage scalable, high performance data storage for use by a Microsoft SharePoint Server. This article has described how to configure iSCSI LUNs in the Sun ZFS Storage Appliance and how to configure the Microsoft SharePoint Server host to enable a SharePoint Server to use shared volumes on the Sun SFS Storage Appliance for storing data.

References

For more information, visit the Web resources listed in Table 1.

Table 1. Web resources for further information
Web Resource Description Web Resource URL
Oracle Sun Unified Storage web page http://www.oracle.com/us/products/servers-storage/storage/unified-storage/index.html
Sun Storage Appliance documentation: http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/documentation/oracle-unified-ss-193371.html
Sun ZFS Storage Appliance web page http://www.oracle.com/us/products/servers-storage/storage/unified-storage/sun-storage-7000-uss-103104.html
Oracle and Sun web page http://www.oracle.com/us/sun/index.htm
Oracle Technology Network (OTN) web page http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/index.html
Oracle OTN: System Admins and Developers web page http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/systems/index.html
Oracle OTN Discussion Forum: Storage http://forums.oracle.com/forums/category.jspa?categoryID=302
Oracle OTN Discussion Forum: Servers http://forums.oracle.com/forums/forum.jspa?forumID=1009
Storage Stop Blog http://blogs.oracle.com/storage
Oracle Software Downloads site http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/indexes/downloads/index.html
Oracle training courses http://education.oracle.com
 
Microsoft SharePoint Server resources:
Microsoft SharePoint Server 2007 site http://sharepoint.microsoft.com/en-us/product/2007/Pages/default.aspx
Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 site http://sharepoint.microsoft.com
Microsoft knowledge base article: Description of Support for Network Database Files in SQL Server http://support.microsoft.com/kb/304261

Appendix: Recommendations for Using CIFS Shares

Sun ZFS Storage Appliance Systems provides storage resources that are published using either CIFS or iSCSI protocol and can be used as CIFS shares or iSCSI targets respectively to hold SQL Server database files. When used by Microsoft SQL Server to store data files and logs, an iSCSI target volume is seen as a standard (local) hard disk by the Microsoft Windows operating system. It is typically addressed by SQL Server using a drive letter.

On the other hand, a CIFS shared folder located on a remote system is addressed by SQL Server using its Microsoft universal naming convention (UNC) path. When a CIFS share is used, these recommendations should be followed:

  • A CIFS share cannot be used for an initial full installation of the Microsoft SharePoint Server 2007 because the SQL Server (Express Edition) is installed at the same time as the Microsoft SharePoint Server and the database used by the Microsoft SharePoint Server is created automatically during the installation. A dialog box provides the option to choose a file location, but all entries are checked for the default behavior rules as shown in Figure 23.

    Since no parameter file exists that can be modified before the installation; the installation will fail if a UNC path is provided for the location where the database is to be created. To change startup options for the SQL server, you must wait until the server is installed, and then set the appropriate flags to support a modified environment.

Figure 23
Figure 23. Error message displayed when a non-supported installation file location is selected.

  • When a CIFS share on a remote system specified by a UNC path is used, a create database statement will fail unless the Microsoft SQL Server trace flag 1807 is set (see Figure 24). Additional precautions and recommendations for the use of network-attached storage for Microsoft SQL Server databases are provided in the Microsoft Knowledge Base article 304261 (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/304261).

Figure 24
Figure 24. Error message displayed when creating a database without Trace Flag 1807 set

Revision 1, 08/01/2011