Monday, November 5, 2012

SharePoint Development Server Build - Part 1, The Specs

If you can't tell from the blog, I've thrown my hat fully into the "SharePoint as a career path" ring.  Based on that it's time to build out a "real" development environment.  Up until now, I've been using VMWare Workstation and building single server development environments, on a Windows 7 laptop.  This has worked out quite well, the servers run a little slow but they are well equipped for development and testing.

Now SharePoint 2013 is here, and a single server installation is getting a little much for my VMs.  Thus I plan to build a desktop "server" with plenty of power to run several machines and let me build out some real Farms.

Sahil Malik recently wrote in CODE magazine about the new "Napa" development tools.  In this article he makes the following statement, "Setting up a SharePoint development machine is expensive and cumbersome."  I take a couple of issues with this statement as I think it sends the wrong message.  Yes, a beefy machine to run SharePoint 2013 will cost a reasonable amount of money.  And, yes it takes some time and effort to install SharePoint correctly.  But if you a SharePoint professional this is invaluable experience, and you should be willing to invest some money in your career.  I hope to prove that the dreaded dev machine is quite inexpensive and easy to build.

This is a 3 part series that inlcudes:
In this post I'll detail the specs for my server.  Thanks to Kelly Rusk over at the for letting me run these by him and for some guidance on setting up the environment.  I did some searches on this topic and found the results lacking.  I could not find any detailed blog posts about anyone building a development server.  This led me to write this series.

I had a couple of goals for this build:
  1. Not spend a fortune.
  2. Build a fast and powerful machine capable of running multiple virtual servers at once.
  3. Prove Sahil Malik wrong! ;)
So here are my planned hardware specs for the server:
  • CPU - AMD Zambezi 8-Core Desktop Processor
    • The choice to go AMD was pretty easy.  You can get 8 cores for less than what an Intel i5 4 core CPU costs (at the time of this post, its like a $40 savings).
  • Motherboard - AMD AM3+
    • I will need a board that takes an 8 core processor as well as 32GB of RAM.
  • RAM - 32GB (4 x 8GB) DDR3 1333
    • At the time of this post I can not get 16GB sticks without paying an arm and a leg and going to a specialty shop.  32GB will do just fine.
  • SSD - 120GB
    • This will hold the host operating system, Windows Server 2012, which calls for 32GB of storage.  120GB will leave plenty of room for updates and service packs.
  • HHD - 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache
    • This will hold all data and VMs
  • Video - PCI Express (2.0 or 3.0) Video Card
    • I'd like to remove any graphics processing off the CPU and onto a GPU.  Not looking for anything major here, so price and ratings will drive this.
  • Power - 500+ W
    • Just looking for a good power supply, nothing fancy or major here.
  • Case - Something with plenty of fans and some neon!
    • Its a case....
  • Estimated Cost: Approx $700 (before taxes and shipping)
I didn't list any specifics above (except for the processor) since as I go to buy these parts I may change up what I have targeted so far, based on sales and ratings, etc.  I plan on buying everything from as their selection and pricing is great.

So that is the plan.  In the next post of this series I will detail the actual components I purchased and detail the hardware build.


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