Building your SharePoint Server 2016 farm using MinRoles

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SharePoint Server 2016 introduces the MinRole feature, which is used during the deployment of SharePoint Server 2016 to define the role of the server being added to the SharePoint farm.

In previous versions, we would run through a typical installation of SharePoint and then spend time creating and configuring the services on the new server needed in order for that server to perform the actions you wanted it to perform in the farm. Needless to say, this would require a comprehensive plan of how each server needed to be configured and the necessary steps to complete the configuration process for each server.

In SharePoint Server 2016, the services are automatically configured on each server based on the server's MinRole, and the performance of the server in the farm is optimized based on the farm topology.

SharePoint MinRoles work by starting a base set of service instances needed for the specific MinRole, as well as detecting any additional services enabled in the farm and starting those supporting service instances. SharePoint MinRoles also detect the service applications created in the farm and start the appropriate service instances to support those service applications.

These MinRole services aren't just managed when you add a server to the farm -- they also start and stop service instances as you enable or disable services in the farm, or as you create and delete service applications in the farm. This auto-configuration ensures that each server in your SharePoint farm is only running the services it needs.

The use of MinRoles in SharePoint Server 2016 provide the following benefits:

Simplified deployment -- No longer need to worry about managing services on each server in the farm, because the MinRole selection manages the services.

Improved performance and reliability -- Using the performance characteristics gathered from SharePoint Online, the on-premises SharePoint services have been optimized for each MinRole topology, thereby reducing network latency and increasing reliability.

Farm scalability -- Easier to add servers to your farm as demand increases, because SharePoint automatically configures servers as they are added, based on the server's MinRole.

Sounds great, but what if you don't want to use MinRoles? For instance, if you have scripts that you used to build a previous version of a SharePoint farm, you can choose to opt out of using MinRoles by specifying the ServerRoleOptional parameter during the install of SharePoint Server 2016. This parameter can be used when creating a SharePoint farm using the PSConfig command or Windows PowerShell, and the end result is that you have a custom MinRole server in the farm, allowing you to manage and configure the service instances on each server.

Another new parameter introduced with MinRoles is the LocalServerRole, which is used to identify the MinRole for each server as you add them to your SharePoint farm.

SharePoint Server 2016 has six MinRoles to choose from as you performing your server installations:

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Now this last MinRole may be the one that will make you question the use of MinRoles. You may wonder: What if I roll out SharePoint Server 2016 using the single-server farm MinRole and then decide I need to add another server to my farm?

Well, good news for you. You can change any server role to any other server role using either Central Administration (System Settings) or PowerShell (Set-SPServer -Role). So yes, you can convert your single-server farm server to, say, a custom MinRole, and then add an additional server to the farm and choose the appropriate MinRole for that new server. As I mentioned earlier, SharePoint Server 2016 is quite scalable, as well as flexible, including changing MinRoles without having to rip and replace (R&R) the installation.

MinRoles are a very powerful new feature of SharePoint Server 2016 and understanding them and planning your SharePoint farm topology is important. If you want additional information on MinRoles, how you administer MinRoles and other new, improved or deprecated features in SharePoint Server 2016, be sure to check out my recently release CBT Nuggets course "What's New in SharePoint Server 2016."

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