MIM 2016: SP 2013 Foundation or SP Server 2016

I have had many customers ask me this question in the last few months so i would like to address it. Everyone wants to be on the latest and greatest. The driving forces behind this question are

  1. The SQL version. Almost everyone is going to SQL 2016 as their base standard. SQL 2014 is now regarded as old news.
  2. SP 2013 Foundation is the last free SP product from the SP team. After that you’ve got to shell out the money to get a SP license.

Okay so lets discuss the situation surrounding these two requirements, cheap and the latest.

SP 2013 Foundation can work on SQL 2016 but is not supported by Msft. The last supported SQL version for SP 2013 is SQL 2014. SP 2016 license is a considerable bump up from previous SP versions, so I have been told by customers so unless you have a sizeable SP application farm, its a cost to think about. Most SQL Admins I have spoken with do not want to manage SQL 2014, their SQL farms are on SQL 2016, so unless they provision separate SQL servers for MIM, you are asking them to build and maintain a SQL 2014 cluster just for MIM. There are some places where SQL servers for MIM are managed by MIM Admins, not the best from a cost perspective.

Also there is no longer any light weight SP like SP 2013 Foundation, now you get the full SP Server versions with its unnecessary (relative to MIM) bells and whistles. Make sure you turn off the noise.

So what is my recommendation?

Go with windows 2016, SQL 2016 and SP 2016 server. I agree that MIM is really not a true SP application, it uses minimal SP features, but the operational overhead for the SQL Admins wrt managing different versions outweighs the ease of SP management for MIM Admins. Besides sometime in the near future you will be forced to upgrade either the SQL or the SP  and then you have to deal with the upgrade work – again.

Tips for SP 2016 install and SQL 2016

SQL 2016 has changed a bit. The SQL studio is now a separate tool which is a free download from Msft, its not on the SQL 2016 iso. Well, that tool is now SQL 2017. Just take note of this when you are looking for SQL Studio of SQL 2016.

SP 2016 server install can be interesting compared to SP Foundation install, I really had SP install down to a science, now I have to make some adjustments to my method. It is generally the same method, here are the differences I have noticed

There are now 4 new pre-reqs (compared with SP 2013 Server/Foundation) and the list keeps growing or changing.  I always install my pre-reqs offline so that was a bit of a surprise.

WcfDataServices56 is best installed using the pre-req tool on the iso. I would advise that after you have installed your offline pre-reqs, run the pre-req tool from the iso. The SP setup will start  if you just install the pre-reqs which used to be a sure thing in SP 2013 that you were on track. SP 2013 setup will not setup unless all pre-reqs are done. But my SP 2016 started and error-ed down the line. I ran the pre-req tool and it installed a number of new items and configured IIS! I was surprised but it seems it connects to Msft to check the req list, which is why i say it changes. Installing the offline pre-reqs is still good, saves you time, but use the pre-req install tool afterwards to cover all bases.

Perhaps the most common setup error is the “failed to create config database” which is from a whole variety of reasons. From pre-reqs not well setup, to setup account is not in local Admin group to KB is needed. Just hope you cross that step and if you don’t then be ready to troubleshoot via the internet or a PSS ticket.

One nice difference between SP 2013 server and SP 2016 server is there is no longer the installation of the SP sync connector which is like a mini-FIM sync and it was a nuisance on the FIM/MIM server. Especially when you have your MIM Sync and Portal on the same app server. Glad we don’t have to deal with that.

Follow the SP 2016 installation instructions on the MIM website. Its very good. One item I would like to add to that, before you run

New-SPManagedAccount ##Will prompt for new account enter contoso\mimpool
$dbManagedAccount = Get-SPManagedAccount -Identity contoso\mimpool
New-SpWebApplication -Name “MIM Portal” -ApplicationPool “MIMAppPool” -ApplicationPoolAccount $dbManagedAccount -AuthenticationMethod “Kerberos” -Port 80 -URL http://mim.contoso.com

Run this to delete the default Sharepoint website that is created else the New-SPWebApplication command will fail saying that there is an already existing site on that port.

Remove-SPWebApplication http://tlkw2k12mim2 -Confirm –DeleteIISSite