Reverse Engineer an Existing SharePoint Farm using PowerShell DSC

PowerShell Desired State Configuration (DSC) is a technology that allows you to define a configuration for an environment, and ensure it automatically gets configured tat way. It can also help you monitor the delta between the current state of the environment and what the defined configuration (a.k.a. Desired State) is. So as an example in the case of SharePoint, if you were to specify that you needed to register a Managed Account for user sp_services, and that someone was to delete that account, PowerShell DSC would automatically report the discrepancy in the logs or attempt to automatically recreated it based on how you configured your environment (Configuration Mode).

The SharePoint module for DSC is great to build new environments from the ground up. Simply specify what the Desired State should be (Web Applications, Site Collections, Service Applications, etc.) and let DSC do its job and automatically configure it. It acts as some kind of abstraction layer for the user, where they only need to define resources and their various settings for DSC to create and configure everything for them in the background. They don’t need to know the cmdlets to use, know what the objects’ properties are, and even less understand the object model behind it all. They only need to know what the DSC resource accepts.

Existing Environments

In many cases however, clients who want to get into DSC already have investments in SharePoint, where they have an existing SharePoint 2013 or 2016 farm that they would like to replicate somewhere else with DSC. Writing a DSC configuration script from scratch that represents their exact environment is a complex job and often results in the customer writing tens of thousands of lines of code. This is where the ReverseDSC orchestrator for SharePoint, called SharePointDSC.Reverse comes into play. SharePointDSC.Reverse is a PowerShell script (.ps1) that you execute against an existing SharePoint 2013 or 2016 farm to extract its PowerShell Desired State Configuration. The script will scan every component of the farm, down to the SPWeb level. This means that everything that can be defined in Central Administration, with the addition of Sites can be extracted with the SharePointDSC.Reverse. The output will be another .ps1 script that will contain the DSC configuration of your farm. That script can then be executed to compile a .MOF file that can be used to replicate your SharePoint environment elsewhere.

Other Scenarios

The ReverseDSC Orchestrator for SharePoint can also be used for several scenarios other than replicating a farm. It can be used to:

  • Extract a SharePoint 2013 Farm Configuration and replicate it as a SharePoint 2016 one;
  • Compare deltas between two extractions to see what changed between two point in time;
  • Create standalone copies of a Farm for developers;
  • Move an on-premises SharePoint Farm into Azure Infrastructure-as-a-Service;
  • On-board an existing farm onto PowerShell DSC to monitor it and ensure it remains in its desired state.

How to Use

The ReverseDSC Orchestrator for SharePoint is now officially available in the PowerShell Gallery. It can be installed, alongside all of its dependencies, by executing the following PowerShell one-liner from a machine that has internet connectivity:

Install-Script SharePointDSC.Reverse -Force 

Note that this has to be done on only one server in the farm; you don’t need to install it on all servers. If your SharePoint server doesn’t have internet connectivity, simply run the above line of PowerShell from a machine that does have internet connectivity, and manually copy the ReverseDSC, SharePointDSC from the PowerShell modules folder (C:\Program Files\WindowsPowerShell\Modules), and the SharePointDSC.Reverse.ps1 script from the PowerShell script folder (C:\Program Files\WindowsPowerShell\Scripts) onto the destination server.

Additional Resources

To learn more about the ReverseDSC Orchestrator for SharePoint, you can watch my Microsoft Virtual Academy session on the topic at the following URL: https://mva.microsoft.com/en-US/training-courses/sharepoint-automation-with-dsc-17843

SharePointDSC and ReverseDSC Microsoft Virtual Academy Session

In June of 2017, my colleague Brian Farnhill and I recorded a Full Day Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA) session on Automating SharePoint with PowerShell Desired State Configuration. The recording is now available for free on the MVA site and covers the following topics:

  • Introduction to PowerShell Desired State Configuration
  • Advanced PowerShell DSC on-premises
  • Introduction to SharePointDSC
  • Azure Automation DSC with SharePoint
  • ReverseDSC for SharePoint
  • SharePointDSC Best Practices and Guidance

Click on the following link to watch the Full Session.

How to Get Started with SharePointDSC

The goal of this article is to help people interested in learning how to use PowerShell Desired State Configuration (DSC) to configure their SharePoint environment get started. While it is totally possible for you to configure a SharePoint Farm on an environment that has PowerShell 4.0 installed on, it is our recommendation that you try to use PowerShell 5+ as much as possible, as it offers a lot of improvements on the DSC side. The example covered in this article will be a Single Server SharePoint 2016 farm deployed with SQL Server 2016, on Windows Server 2016. We will be using DSC in push mode, meaning that we will manually execute the Start-DSCConfiguration cmdlet on the environment, and will ensure all dependent DSC Modules are put on the server prior to attempting to configure it.

The end-goal for this article, is to have a brand new Windows Server 2016 virtual machine with nothing on it to begin with, and then let DSC do the following automatically:

  • Install and configure Active Directory Domain Services;
  • Create all required SharePoint accounts;
  • Install SQL Server 2016;
  • Install the SharePoint 2016 Prerequisites;
  • Install SharePoint 2016;
  • Install the SharePoint 2016 French Language Pack;
  • Install the SharePoint 2016 Security Update (KB3115299); This update needs to be extracted in the updates folder of the SharePoint installation (slipstreamed).
  • Configure the SharePoint Farm;

The binaries to install SharePoint and SQL Server will be put on a Shared location, to which our Virtual Machine will have access to. Also, the Security Update (KB3115299) is required for the farm to get properly configured. Without it, you will get the following error thrown when calling the SPFarm DSC Block (at the New-SPConfigurationDatabase step): An error occurred while getting information about the user sp_farm at server contoso.com: The RPC server is unavailable. This installation will be slipstreamed within the SharePoint 2016 installation binaries.

Prerequisites

In this section we will cover the various prerequisites that have to be in place before initiating the DSC configuration.

Shared Location

In the current example, I will create a first Virtual Machine that will act as a file server. The SharePoint 2016 binaries, the SQL Server 2016 binaries, the Windows SXS folder, and the SharePoint 2016 language packs will be put on it. The Virtual Machine will be named DSC-Share, and will expose the following Shared Folders:

  • \\DSC-Share\Media\SP2016Binaries
  • \\DSC-Share\Media\SP2016LanguagePack
  • \\DSC-Share\Media\SQL2016Binaries
  • \\DSC-Share\Media\SXS (Needs to contain the SXS content of the Windows Server 2012 R2 installation Media)
SharePoint 2016 and SQL 2016 Binaries on Shared Drive

SharePoint 2016 and SQL 2016 Binaries on Shared Drive

The SXS folder contains the /Sources/SXS content from the Windows Server 2012 R2 installation media. It contains files that are required by the Prerequisites installer to install the .NET 3.5 components. During the DSC process, the SXS folder will be copied from the Remote Network Share onto the local disk. This is required for the Windows Feature to be properly installed on the local server.

Also, it is important for you to extract the Language pack in the specified folder. By default, when you download a SharePoint language pack, you get a file called serverlanguagepack.exe, however that won’t work with SharePointDSC. In order to properly extract its content you need to run the following command: .\serverlanguagepack.exe /extract:path. This will generate the folder structure expected by SharePointDSC.

SharePoint Virtual Machine

When I said earlier that the goal of this article was to start with a plain vanilla Virtual Machine with nothing installed on it….I lied. Just a tiny bit. Because we will be using DSC in Push mode for our example, the destination server (in my case named DSC-SP) needs to have all the required DSC modules installed on it first. The modules required for our example are the following:

  • xActiveDirectory
  • xNetworking
  • xSQLServer
  • SharePointDSC

The steps to get these properly installed on your server will differ depending on whether or not your Virtual Machine has internet connectivity or not.

Virtual Machine has Internet Connectivity

If your SharePoint server Virtual Machine has internet connectivity, then you are in luck. With the help of the Package Management component of PowerShell 5+, you can simply run the following cmdlets to have PowerShell automatically download the modules from the PowerShell Gallery:

Install-Module xActiveDirectory -Force
Install-Module xNetworking -Force
Install-Module xSQLServer -Force
Install-Module SharePointDSC -Force

Virtual Machine without Internet Connectivity

If your Virtual Machine doesn’t have internet connectivity, then you will have to manually copy the required modules inside the PowerShell modules repository. The easiest way to do that, is to download all the required module from a machine that has internet connectivity (see section just above), and then copy the downloaded modules manually onto the server. When you call the Install-Module cmdlet, PowerShell actually installs the specified module in C:\Program Files\WindowsPowerShell\Modules. Simply make sure you copy all the folders from that machine that has internet connectivity and from where you executed the Install-Module cmdlets, over to your SharePoint Virtual Machine, under the same path.

PowerShell DSC Modules

PowerShell DSC Modules

Set Network Share as being Part of the Intranet Zone

By default, the network share won’t be recognized as a trusted location. If you were to navigate to it from your SharePoint server and try to execute a program from it, you will get prompted with a Security Warning prompt that allows you to trust the file. PowerShell DSC is faced with the same issue in the background and this actually causes the process to hang. In order for PowerShell Desired State Configuration to be able to properly execute remote executable such as the SharePoint Prerequisite Installer, you need to add your network share to the Intranet zone in Internet Explorer. Simply launch the IE options, switch to the security tab, select Intranet, click on Sites and add the path to your network share (in my case file://dsc-share).

The Script

The following DSC script will be used to configure our environment. Its variables will be passed as Configuration data (defined in the next section below). The script itself is very self-explanatory and I will not go over each section in details. Note that for an offline installation, the script expects to see the following files in the prerequisiteinstallerfile folder in the root of your SharePoint 2016 binary installation folder:

  • AppFabric-KB3092423-x64-ENU.exe
  • dotNetFx45_Full_setup.exe
  • MicrosoftIdentityExtensions-64.msi
  • NDP453-KB2969351-x86-x64-AllOS-ENU.exe
  • setup_msipc_x64.exe
  • sqlncli.msi
  • Synchronization.msi
  • vc_redist.x64.exe
  • vcredist_x64.exe
  • WcfDataServices.exe
  • WindowsServerAppFabricSetup_x64.exe
SharePoint 2016 Prerequisites

SharePoint 2016 Prerequisites

You will also notice that at the bottom of the screen there is a section that will automatically compile a Meta-Mof file to configure the Local Configuration Manager (LCM) process on that machine so that it will automatically reboot the server when needed (prerequisites, domain-join, etc.) and automatically pickup the configuration where it left it upon being restarted.

SPStandAlone.ps1

Configuration SPStandAlone
{
    Import-DscResource -ModuleName PSDesiredStateConfiguration
    Import-DscResource -ModuleName xActiveDirectory
    Import-DSCResource -ModuleName xNetworking
    Import-DSCResource -ModuleName xSQLServer
    Import-DscResource -ModuleName SharePointDSC
 
    #region Credentials
    $Script:FarmAdmin = Get-Credential -Username "contoso\sp_farm" -Message "Farm Admin"
    $Script:FarmDomainAdmin = Get-Credential -Username "contoso\administrator" -Message "Domain Administrator"   
    #endregion
 
    node $AllNodes.NodeName
    {
        xFireWall SQLFirewallRule
        {
            Name = "AllowSQLConnection"
            DisplayName = 'Allow SQL Connection'
            Group = 'DSC Configuration Rules'
            Ensure = 'Present'
            Enabled = 'True'
            Profile = ('Domain') 
            Direction = 'InBound'
            LocalPort = ('1433') 
            Protocol = 'TCP'
            Description = 'Firewall Rule to allow SQL communication'
            DependsOn = @("[xADDomain]Domain","[xADUser]FarmAdmin")
        }
 
        WindowsFeature ADDS
        {
            Name = "AD-Domain-Services"
            IncludeAllSubFeature = $true
            Ensure = "Present"
        }
 
        WindowsFeature ADDSTools
        {
            Name = 'RSAT-AD-Tools'
            IncludeAllSubFeature = $true
            Ensure = "Present"
        }
 
        xADDomain Domain
        {
            DomainName = $AllNodes.DomainName
            DomainAdministratorCredential = $Script:FarmDomainAdmin
            SafemodeAdministratorPassword = $Script:FarmDomainAdmin
            DependsOn = "[WindowsFeature]ADDS"
        }
 
        xADUser FarmAdmin
        {
            DomainName = $AllNodes.DomainName
            Username = $Script:FarmAdmin.UserName.Replace(($AllNodes.DomainNetBIOS + "\"),"")
            Password = $Script:FarmAdmin
            PasswordNeverExpires = $true
            DependsOn = "[xADDomain]Domain"
        }
         
        xSQLServerSetup SQLSetup
        {
            InstanceName = "MSSQLServer"
            SourcePath = $AllNodes.SQLBinaryPath
            Features = "SQLENGINE"
            InstallSharedDir = "C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server"
            SQLSysAdminAccounts = $Script:FarmAdmin.UserName
            SQLSvcAccount = $Script:FarmDomainAdmin
            AgtSvcAccount = $Script:FarmDomainAdmin
            PSDscRunAsCredential = $Script:FarmDomainAdmin
            DependsOn = @("[xADDomain]Domain","[xADUser]FarmAdmin","[xFirewall]SQLFirewallRule")
        }

	File SXSFolder
	{
	    SourcePath = $AllNodes.SXSRemotePath
	    Type = "Directory"
	    DestinationPath = $AllNodes.SxsLocalPath
	    Recurse = $true;
	    Credential = $Script:FarmDomainAdmin
	    Force = $true
	    PSDSCRunAsCredential = $Script:FarmDomainAdmin
	}
 
        SPInstallPrereqs SPPrereqs
        {
            InstallerPath = $AllNodes.SharePointBinaryPath + "\prerequisiteinstaller.exe"
            OnlineMode = $false
            SQLNCli = $AllNodes.SharePointBinaryPath + "\prerequisiteinstallerfiles\sqlncli.msi"
            DOTNETFX = $AllNodes.SharePointBinaryPath + "\prerequisiteinstallerfiles\dotNetfx45_Full_setup.exe"
            NETFX = $AllNodes.SharePointBinaryPath + "\prerequisiteinstallerfiles\NDP453-KB2969351-x86-x64-AllOS-ENU.exe"
            Sync = $AllNodes.SharePointBinaryPath + "\prerequisiteinstallerfiles\Synchronization.msi"
            AppFabric = $AllNodes.SharePointBinaryPath + "\prerequisiteinstallerfiles\WindowsServerAppFabricSetup_x64.exe"
            IDFX11 = $AllNodes.SharePointBinaryPath + "\prerequisiteinstallerfiles\MicrosoftIdentityExtensions-64.msi"
            MSIPCClient = $AllNodes.SharePointBinaryPath + "\prerequisiteinstallerfiles\setup_msipc_x64.exe"
            WCFDataServices56 = $AllNodes.SharePointBinaryPath + "\prerequisiteinstallerfiles\WcfDataServices.exe"
            KB3092423 = $AllNodes.SharePointBinaryPath + "\prerequisiteinstallerfiles\AppFabric-KB3092423-x64-ENU.exe"
            MSVCRT11 = $AllNodes.SharePointBinaryPath + "\prerequisiteinstallerfiles\vcredist_x64.exe"
            MSVCRT14 = $AllNodes.SharePointBinaryPath + "\prerequisiteinstallerfiles\vc_redist.x64.exe"
            ODBC = $AllNodes.SharePointBinaryPath + "\prerequisiteinstallerfiles\msodbcsql.msi"
            DependsOn = @("[xSQLServerSetup]SQLSetup","[File]SXSFolder")
	    SXSPath = $AllNodes.SXSLocalPath
            PSDSCRunAsCredential = $Script:FarmDomainAdmin
        }
 
        SPInstall InstallSharePoint 
        { 
             Ensure = "Present" 
             BinaryDir = $AllNodes.SharePointBinaryPath 
             ProductKey = $AllNodes.ProductKey
             DependsOn = @("[SPInstallPrereqs]SPPrereqs", "[xFirewall]SQLFirewallRule")
 	     PSDSCRunasCredential = $Script:FarmDomainAdmin
        }
         
        SPInstallLanguagePack InstallLPBinaries
        {
            BinaryDir = $AllNodes.LanguagePackPath
            Ensure = "Present"
            DependsOn = "[SPInstall]InstallSharePoint"
            PsDscRunAsCredential = $Script:FarmDomainAdmin
        }
         
        SPFarm SharePointFarm
        {
            Passphrase = New-Object System.Management.Automation.PSCredential ('Passphrase', (ConvertTo-SecureString $AllNodes.Passphrase -AsPlainText -Force));
            AdminContentDatabaseName = "SP2016_CENTRAL_ADMIN";
            FarmAccount = $Script:FarmAdmin;
            FarmConfigDatabaseName = "SP2016_Config";
            CentralAdministrationPort = 7777;
            PsDSCRunAsCredential = $Script:FarmDomainAdmin;
            CentralAdministrationAuth = "NTLM";
            RunCentralAdmin = $True;
	    ServerRole = "SingleServerFarm"
            Ensure = "Present";
            DatabaseServer = $AllNodes.NodeName;
            DependsOn = @("[SPInstallLanguagePack]InstallLPBinaries");
        }
        SPManagedAccount b3c4904a-3e85-4ddd-896b-1359901667e7
        {
            Account = $Script:FarmAdmin;
            AccountName = $Script:FarmAdmin.Username;
            PsDSCRunAsCredential = $Script:FarmDomainAdmin;
            Ensure = "Present";
            EmailNotification = 5;
            PreExpireDays = 2;
        }
	
        SPServiceAppPool SearchServiceAppPool
        {
            Name = "SP2016-Search";
            ServiceAccount = $Script:FarmAdmin.Username;
            PsDSCRunAsCredential = $Script:FarmDomainAdmin;
            Ensure = "Present";
        }  
        SPWebApplication SP2016
        {
            DatabaseName = "SP2016-Content";
            Url = "http://" + $AllNodes.NodeName + "/";
            ApplicationPool = "SP2016-AppPool";
            Path = "C:\inetpub\wwwroot\wss\VirtualDirectories\80";
            UseSSL = $False;
            AllowAnonymous = $False;
            Name = "SP2016";
            AuthenticationMethod = "NTLM";
            PsDSCRunAsCredential = $Script:FarmDomainAdmin;
            ApplicationPoolAccount = $Script:FarmAdmin.Username;
            Ensure = "Present";
            Port = "80";
            DatabaseServer = $AllNodes.NodeName;
            AuthenticationProvider = "Windows Authentication";
        }
        SPServiceAppPool MMS        
        {
            Name = "MMS";
            ServiceAccount = $Script:FarmAdmin.Username;
            PsDSCRunAsCredential = $Script:FarmDomainAdmin;
            Ensure = "Present";
        }  
        SPContentDatabase SP2016-Content
        {
            Enabled = $True;
            MaximumSiteCount = 5000;
            Name = "SP2016-Content";
            Ensure = "Present";
            PsDSCRunAsCredential = $Script:FarmDomainAdmin;
            WarningSiteCount = 2000;
            DatabaseServer = $AllNodes.NodeName;
            WebAppUrl = "http://" + $AllNodes.NodeName;
        }                    
        SPQuotaTemplate 10bac15d-d097-471a-b09c-82a63d1818bb
        {
            Name = "10GB";
            MaximumUsagePointsSolutions = 300;
            Ensure = "Present";
            PsDSCRunAsCredential = $Script:FarmDomainAdmin;
            StorageMaxInMB = 10240;
            WarningUsagePointsSolutions = 275;
            StorageWarningInMB = 8192;
        }   
        SPSite 50721b23-6892-4353-a104-814a4295ea42
        {
            OwnerAlias = $Script:FarmAdmin.Username;
            PsDSCRunAsCredential = $Script:FarmDomainAdmin;
            Url = "http://" + $AllNodes.NodeName
            Language = 1033;
            QuotaTemplate = "10GB";
            CompatibilityLevel = 15;
            Template = "STS#0";
            ContentDatabase = "SP2016-Content";
            DependsOn =  @("[SPWebApplication]SP2016");
        }
        SPSite 50721b23-6892-4353-a104-814a2395ea42
        {
            OwnerAlias = $Script:FarmAdmin.Username;
            PsDSCRunAsCredential = $Script:FarmDomainAdmin;
            Url = "http://" + $AllNodes.NodeName + "/sites/searchcenter"
            Language = 1033;
            QuotaTemplate = "10GB";
            CompatibilityLevel = 15;
            Template = "SRCHCEN#0";
            ContentDatabase = "SP2016-Content";
            DependsOn =  @("[SPWebApplication]SP2016");
        }
        SPServiceInstance CentralAdministrationInstance
        {
            Name = "Central Administration";
            Ensure = "Present";
            PsDSCRunAsCredential = $Script:FarmDomainAdmin;
        }
        SPServiceInstance ManagedMetadataWebServiceInstance
        {
            Name = "Managed Metadata Web Service";
            Ensure = "Present";
            PsDSCRunAsCredential = $Script:FarmDomainAdmin;
        }
        SPServiceInstance MicrosoftSharePointFoundationIncomingE-MailInstance
        {
            Name = "Microsoft SharePoint Foundation Incoming E-Mail";
            Ensure = "Present";
            PsDSCRunAsCredential = $Script:FarmDomainAdmin;
        }
        SPServiceInstance MicrosoftSharePointFoundationWebApplicationInstance
        {
            Name = "Microsoft SharePoint Foundation Web Application";
            Ensure = "Present";
            PsDSCRunAsCredential = $Script:FarmDomainAdmin;
        }
        SPServiceInstance MicrosoftSharePointFoundationWorkflowTimerServiceInstance
        {
            Name = "Microsoft SharePoint Foundation Workflow Timer Service";
            Ensure = "Present";
            PsDSCRunAsCredential = $Script:FarmDomainAdmin;
        }
        SPServiceInstance SearchHostControllerServiceInstance
        {
            Name = "Search Host Controller Service";
            Ensure = "Present";
            PsDSCRunAsCredential = $Script:FarmDomainAdmin;
        }
        SPServiceInstance SearchQueryandSiteSettingsServiceInstance
        {
            Name = "Search Query and Site Settings Service";
            Ensure = "Present";
            PsDSCRunAsCredential = $Script:FarmDomainAdmin;
        }
        SPServiceInstance SharePointServerSearchInstance
        {
            Name = "SharePoint Server Search";
            Ensure = "Present";
            PsDSCRunAsCredential = $Script:FarmDomainAdmin;
        }
        SPServiceInstance UserProfileServiceInstance
        {
            Name = "User Profile Service";
            Ensure = "Present";
            PsDSCRunAsCredential = $Script:FarmDomainAdmin;
        }
    }
}
 
#region LCM Config
[DSCLocalConfigurationManager()]
Configuration LCMConfig
{
    Node $env:ComputerName
    {
        Settings
        {
            ActionAfterReboot = 'ContinueConfiguration';
            RebootNodeIfNeeded = $true;
        }
    }
}
LCMConfig
Set-DscLocalConfigurationManager LCMConfig -Force -Verbose
#endregion
 
SPStandAlone -ConfigurationData .\SPStandAlone-ConfigData.psd1

The Configuration Data

If you pay close attention to the last line of the script above, you’ll notice that upon calling our DSC Configuration’s name (in our case SPStandAlone), that we are passing it a path to a .psd1 file for the -ConfigurationData parameter. This basically tells PowerShell Desired State Configuration that it needs to read the variables contained in that .psd1 file in order to properly compile itself.

That PowerShell Data File (.psd1) is where we will specify all of the variables for our environment. This allows us to keep the .ps1 script generic so that it can be used to generate 100’s of Virtual Machines having the same configuration without having to modify it for each one. We simply need to modify the .psd1 file in order for the changes to be picked up upon the MOF compilation job. In our example, we will be specifying the following content in our .psd1 file. Note how the script above is accessing each of these variables by using $AllNodes.<Variable>. This $AllNodes is a reserved keyword that allows us to access values in the ConfigurationData of any given DSC configuration script. You could also expand the .psd1 to include variables unique for a specific node, if your DSC script node ever defined more than one node (like it should be the case for most SharePoint farms).

SPStandAlone-ConfigData.psd1

@{
    AllNodes = @(    
    @{
        NodeName = $env:COMPUTERNAME;
        PSDscAllowPlainTextPassword = $true;
        PSDscAllowDomainUser = $true;

        #region Parameters
        Passphrase = "pass@word1"
        DomainName = "contoso.com"
        DomainNetBIOS = "contoso"
        ProductKey = "XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX"  
        LanguagePackPath = "\\DSC-Share\Media\SP2016LanguagePack"
        SharePointBinaryPath = "\\DSC-Share\Media\SP2016Binaries"   
        SQLBinaryPath = "\\DSC-Share\Media\SQL2016Binaries"
        SXSLocalPath = "c:\SXS" # The content from the Network Share will be copied locally at that location; 
        SXSRemotePath = "\\DSC-Share\Media\SXS\" 
        #endregion  
    }
)}

Executing the DSC Script

This section describes the steps you need to take in order to initiate the deployment and configuration of your SharePoint 2016 Farm using the PowerShell Desired State Configuration scripts above.

  1. Copy both the SPStandAlone.ps1 and SPStandAlone-ConfigData.psd1 file onto the SharePoint server. In my case, I put hem both under C:\temp\.
    DSC Script and its associated Configuration data

    DSC Script and its associated Configuration data

  2. Open a new PowerShell console as an administrator and browse to the directory where you’ve copied the 2 files.
  3. Execute the SPStandAlone.ps1 script and provide both the SharePoint Farm Admin and Domain Admin credentials when prompted. Even though this user doesn’t yet exist, the credentials you provide here will be used to create the account in Active Directory.
    Compiling your SharePoint DSC MOF file

    Compiling your SharePoint DSC MOF file


    SharePoint DSC MOF File Generated

    SharePoint DSC MOF File Generated

  4. Your .MOF file has now been generated in a new folder named by our Configuration (SPStandAlone).
    SPStandAlone Compiled MOF File

    SPStandAlone Compiled MOF File


    All that is now left to do is to call the following PowerShell cmdlet to initiate the deployment process:

    Start-DSCConfiguration SPStandAlone -Force -Wait -Verbose
    

    The server will automatically reboot several times, and upon rebooting, you will loose the verbose PowerShell console, but don’t worry DSC is still being executed in the background. If you need to check the DSC execution logs, simply open Event Receiver and navigate to Applications and Services Logs > Microsoft > Windows > Desired State Configuration > Operational. After about an hour or so depending on the performance of your environment, you will have a fully working SharePoint 2016 Standalone machine.

How to Write your Own ReverseDSC Orchestrator

ReverseDSC is a module that allows you to extract the PowerShell Desired State Configuration out of an existing environment, in order for you to analyze it, onboard it onto DSC, or replicate it somewhere else. ReverseDSC as it stands is a technology Agnostic PowerShell Module. It only provides methods to allow you to properly convert extracted values into a DSC notation. In order to obtain these values, you need to dynamically call into the Get-TargetResource function of a given DSC Resource.

Every DSC Resource needs to include 3 core functions in order for it to be valid: Get-TargetResource, Set-TargetResource, and Test-TargetResource. For more information on the role of each of these function, you can consult the readme content on the SharePointDSC.Reverse repository. As explained in my How to use the ReverseDSC Core article, in order for you to obtain the values of a Resource instance, you need to call the Get-TargetResource for it, passing in the mandatory parameters that will allow the function to retrieve the instance (e.g. Primary Key of the instance).

An Orchestrator script, is responsible for determining these mandatory parameters and for calling the Get-TargetResource function for each instance, to obtain the complete set of key/value pairs for that instance. It then calls the ReverseDSC Core for each of these key/value pair to obtain the DSC notation, collects them all, and saves them into a resulting .ps1 file. The Orchestrator script is technology Specific, meaning that it requires the person writing the script to be familiar to some level with the technology stack it is for. As an example, when writing the Orchestrator script for SharePoint, when trying to retrieve information about all the Web Applications, you need to be able to know how to call the Get-SPWebApplication cmdlet in order to retrieve the URL (Primary key) of a Web Application instance.

ReverseDSC is all about community effort, and to help contributors get started I published a new Orchestrator Script Template to allow people to quickly get their script up and running. In the script, you will find several instances of placeholders starting with “[**“. Simply replace these with the values specified to begin with. The next thing for you to do is to start writing the set of Read- (Read-Dash) methods in the Reverse Functions section of the template. For every DSC Resource you wish to reverse, you should define a unique Read-Dash function. The template provides a very generic example on how to write that method, but you may wish to refer to existing Orchestrator scripts for more complex scenarios and see how they are done.

The last thing left for you to do once all your Read-Dash functions have been written, is to make sure that you are actually calling them from within the Orchestrator function. Try to proceed each of these calls with a Verbose output line that will help the users identify where we are at with the script’s execution. Once you script is completed, you should be able to execute it by simply executing the .ps1 file within a PowerShell session. In order to properly test your script, make sure that you don’t get any errors running it, but also try to execute the resulting output .ps1 file, which will attempt to compile the .MOF file, and make sure you don’t get errors at compilation time either.

Should you have any questions or comments regarding the Orchestrator templates or on how to get started, please use the issue section on the GitHub repository for the templates.

Add Site Title in the Search Filters

In this article I will be covering the process of adding Sites’ Title in the Search Filter of a SharePoint 2013/2016 site. A client I am currently working with has a dozen of what they call “legacy” sites. They went ahead and created a dedicated Result Source to allow people in their organization to search only for content stored in these sites. What they want, is for a new “Site Title” section to show up under this ResultSource to allow people to filter their search result based on a specific site.

Scenario

The SharePoint site has a wildcard managed path named “Legacy” and has 3 site collections created:

  • /legacy/HR
  • /legacy/Finances
  • /legacy/Communications

I have a Search Center created at /sites/Search, and a Result Source defined within it that only search content of sites located under the Legacy managed path

Process

Create a New Managed Property

By default, searching for documents inside the Legacy Result Source will only provide me with the Time Range slider and Author list as Filters (see Figure below).

In order for us to add sites’ title as a filter, we first need to ensure it has an associated Search Managed Property. To do so, navigate to your Search Service Application in Central Administration and select Search Sources from the left navigation.

SharePoint Search Schema

SharePoint Search Schema

Once in there, search for a RefinableString property that is not yet mapped to any crawled properties. In my case, I will select RefinableString00.

On the managed property edit page, scroll to the bottom of the page, to the Mappings to crawled properties section. Click on Add a mapping.

On the Crawled property selection, search for and select the ows_SiteName property.

Back on the managed property screen, click OK to save the mapping. go back to the Search Administration page and initiate a Full Crawl of you content.

Configure the Filter Panel

Now that the information about our sites’ titles is available as a managed property within Search, we can go ahead and update the refinement (filter) webpart on our Legacy search page to include it as a refiner. To do so, navigate to your search page and edit the page. Click on the Refinement web part and select Edit Web Part.

In the Refinement properties panel on the right hand side, click on Choose Refiners….

In the Available refiners section, find the Refinablestring00 property we just modified, and click on Add > to add it to the Selected refiners section on the right. Once that is done, Change its Display name to Site Title and click OK.

Click OK in the web part properties panel on the right, and save (or check-in) your page. You should now be able to use your new refiner as shown in the Figure below.