Creating a SharePoint Server Farm in Azure

This morning at the Worldwide Partner Conference, the new SharePoint Server Farm in Azure was announced. As a BI developer with limited experience with administration and configuration, this option to fire up a multi-server SharePoint Farm in Azure piqued my interest.

Below is Part 1 my experience setting up the farm in Azure. (Perhaps this will prove to my husband that I'm not really playing Farmville as he seems to suspect!)  These steps assume you already have an Azure account created - if you don't, start here first.

Part 2 is continued here:  Creating a SharePoint Server Farm in Azure - Part 2.

Finding the Link to Create a SharePoint Farm in Azure

Initially I thought maybe it wasn't available publicly yet because I could not find the correct choice when choosing New > Virtual Machines in Azure. That's because it's available in the new Azure Portal that's in preview mode currently.  Turns out that's because, among other things, the new Azure Portal has new capabilities to manage multi-tier applications using a Resource Group

First, click your ID at the top right of the browser window and choose "Switch to new portal." 

This launches a window for the new Azure Portal which is addressed like this:<YourAccount> and you will be logged out of the old portal.

Now we want to click the New button at the bottom left of the main page.

At this point since it's new, the SharePoint Server Farm is listed right away. However, let's go "the long way" just for fun.  Next click the Everything arrow.

Now we're looking at the gallery of resources that can be created in Azure. (Note that if you have the Gallery pinned to your Startboard, i.e., the home page in the new Azure Portal, you could have gotten to this point that way too.)

Select Virtual machines from the Gallery menu and locate SharePoint Server Farm in the list.

Creating a New SharePoint Farm in Azure

After you've clicked on the link for SharePoint Server Farm, its "blade" slides out to the right. From here you can take a look at the useful links they've posted and when you're ready hit Create.

At this point we get one more blade to slide out to the right which is where all the options are.

Options in Azure When Creating a SharePoint Farm

Resource Group

This creates a new Resource Group which will contain all related resources so they can be managed together. I'll name mine SharePointResourceGroup.

Choose this name carefully especially if you're not going to be using a custom domain name. Because of this choice, the URL address for my default web application is There are, however, options to manage the domain name in Azure.

User Name and Password

This will be your initial domain & local administrator. This is not your Microsoft account or Organizational account; it's just a user ID without the

Domain Controllers

Here you set a Host Name Prefix (default = SharePoint), your Forest Root Domain Name (default =, and choose a Pricing Tier (default = Standard A1) for the domain controllers.

I have left the Host Name Prefix at its default of SharePoint. I've also set a Domain Name and adjusted the pricing tier for the DC down to Basic A1 because this is just a demo for my personal use.  My demo doesn't need redundancy so I left the High Availability checkbox unchecked - normally you want to check this as that's a great built-in feature of Azure. 

SQL Servers

Here you have options for selecting a Host Name Prefix (default = SharePoint), a Pricing Tier for the SQL Servers (default = Standard A5), and the password for the service account.

This Host Name Prefix here defaults to SharePoint, even if you selected a different prefix for the domain controllers in the earlier configuration step. I've kept mine using SharePoint for consistency.

The default pricing tier of A5 includes 4 data disks, 2 cores, 14 GB of memory, and currently costs about $218.74 a month.  (Check here for Azure pricing.) Since mine is a demo, I'll scale it back to a basic plan since I don't need load balancing and auto-scaling. Most companies setting this up for anything other than trivial use like my demo will need beefier SQL Server specs.

The "Use the Administrator password" is asking if you want the service account to use the same password as the User Password that was specified on the first blade "Create a SharePoint Farm." For normal business operations, this would be no but for my demo purposes I've left this option checked.

Lastly, you specify what the name for the SQL Server Service Account will be for running the MSSQLSERVER and SQLSERVERAGENT services. This is in the format of <ServiceAccountName>@<DomainName>.com. The @<DomainName> uses the Forest Root Domain Name that was specified in the Domain Controllers section.

SharePoint Servers

In this blade you set another Host Name Prefix (default = SharePoint), Pricing Tier for the SharePoint Servers (default = A2), and two domain accounts.

As with the previous two sections, I kept the Host Name Prefix as SharePoint for consistency.

The "Use the Administrator password" is asking if you want the two new service account to use the same password as the User Password that was specified on the first blade "Create a SharePoint Farm." For normal business operations, this would be no but for my demo purposes I've left this option checked. If you choose to set individual passwords, you'll also need to set a pass phrase which will be used to join other machines to the farm.

The Setup User Account is the domain account that will be used to execute the SharePoint setup operations. The Server Farm Account is a domain account which will be used to configure and manage the SharePoint server farm, act as the application pool identity for Central Administration, and run the SharePoint timer service.

Optional Configuration:  Virtual Network

Under Virtual Network, the options are a Name (default = the Resource Group name) and Address Space CIDR Block (default =

Optional Configuration:  Storage Account

For the Storage Account, the default is to create a new storage account. Or, you can connect to an existing storage account. The default name for a new storage account is <ResourceGroupName>

You can also set a Pricing Tier for the storage account. Default = G1 which is Geo-Redundant with 3 local replicas and 3 geo-distributed replicas.

Optional Configuration:  Diagnostics

Here is where you set if diagnostics will be sent to the storage account.


The Subscription blade is where to specify which Azure subscription to use for these. I only have one to choose from.



This last option relates to where the farm will be created.


The last option near the bottom is to Add to Startboard. Keeping this box checked (which is the default) will create a live tile on the main dashboard when you log in to the new Azure portal.

And with that, all the options should be configured. You might want verify each is correct, then click the Create button. Now the Startboard will display "Creating SharePoint Farm" until setup is complete.

After about 10 minutes, the deployment is complete. Where to go from this point will be discussed in Part 2.

Update 7/17:  The Azure team looked at the correlation ID for my deployment and determined why the error was being shown on the Startboard (in the screen shot just above). They'll be getting it fixed in their next release. From my end, I can connect to the servers and connect to Central Administration so it looks like I can safely proceed with the next steps to get things set up.

Part 2 is continued here:  Creating a SharePoint Server Farm in Azure - Part 2.

Finding More Information

TechNet Blog:  Step-by-Step: Deploy a Highly Available SharePoint Server Farm in the Cloud in Only 8 Clicks

Azure Documentation:  SharePoint Server Farm