SharePoint Tip of the Month
Deploying Your SharePoint Farm to the Cloud Using Azure
These days it is tough to avoid the topic of moving to the cloud, and for good reason. Running your server in the cloud can have many benefits such as eliminating the worry of hardware failure or providing you with simple and quick scalability. Once you decide to take the leap into the cloud for your SharePoint environment, you might be wondering what considerations should be made before installing and configuring SharePoint. This article covers the major considerations you need to keep in mind when moving your SharePoint environment to Azure.
Turning Servers ON/OFF
In Azure, you will be charged for every hour that your server is running. To combat being charged for unnecessary server runtime, you may want to look into occasionally shutting your servers down. When shutting down a server from the Azure portal, the VM will turn off along with the cloud service that runs the VM. This is assuming your cloud service has only 1 VM. It is good to note that if you click shut down from the server side, it will turn off the server but the cloud service will remain running. This will maintain your external IP, but you will still be charged for a total of 1 CPU per hour. To turn off the server as well as the cloud service so you avoid being charged, be sure to shut the server down from the Azure portal.
By default, any time you turn your server’s cloud service off, you will reset your internal and external IP address. This is bad news when running a SharePoint farm so there will be some extra steps involved to prevent your IP addresses from changing.
- DO NOT change network settings within your Azure VM. Before changing any network setting, double check to see if that setting lives within the Azure Portal.
- You can set your internal and external IP addresses to static during server creation in the new Azure portal. The current navigation to these options is Create VM -> Optional config -> Network -> IP addresses.
- If you have already created your VM, do not worry. You can change the internal IP addresses from dynamic to static in the VM settings through the Azure portal. Setting the external IP address to static on an already created VM is slightly trickier and will need to be done through Azure’s PowerShell module.
The current method of configuring outgoing email in Azure can be tricky. You cannot currently set up a mail server in Azure so you will need to use your current on-premise mail server to set up an SMTP relay to your Office 365 email. The other option that you have is to use a 3rd party solution such as SendGrid. The process for setting up these 2 different methods is complicated so please find detailed documentation that can guide you through the process. You can read about how to set up the SendGrid service in Azure HERE.
One of the major advantages of moving your servers to the cloud is having much greater flexibility for your hardware. If you are not getting the performance that you hoped for out of your SharePoint servers, ramping up the hardware can be done in a few mouse clicks. Azure refers to your hardware specs as your VMs “size”. Go into the VM settings, click on “size” and look through the different choices of hardware setups. Be sure to always consult the Microsoft recommended hardware specs before making your final decision on the VM size. It is also good to note the cost involved in upgrading your server’s hardware. The current pricing can go anywhere from $13 per month to $1,100 per month.
In summary, Azure can be a great and reliable resource when moving your SharePoint servers to the cloud. Be very careful and read the description of every setting while creating and configuring your server. Microsoft is constantly rolling out updates and making improvements to the service so be sure to watch out for changes in the settings as well as new functionality being added. For further reading about features and upcoming changes, please visit Microsoft’s official Azure blog located HERE.
This month’s SharePoint Tip contributed by Abel Solutions Associate SharePoint Consultant Gabriel Russ.