10 Best Practices and Recommendations for SharePoint 2010 SP1 and June 2011 CU

Joel Oleson July 1, 2011 0
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Yeah! Sp1 is live!  Wondering why people are excited other than the fact that there are a lot of fixes?  I posted a while back on 10 Reasons Why SharePoint SP1 will rock your world.

Now that we’ve gotten over the fact that it’s live.  I have a few warnings based on experience and based on reading a few people’s experience thus far….

I don’t want this to be you…

“Crappy SP1. Beware. In our environment Project Server SP1 broke the database connection string in registry and SharePoint Server SP1 stopped all application pools.”

<UPDATE>  Even if you’re an expert, things can go wrong.  Look at Todd Carter’s blog post "User Profile Heats up with June CU regression."  He’s been running with the April CU and has had problems with the user profile service not starting after installing the June CU which really brings up the question…. When should I install SP1 or the June CU.  You don’t have to be the first one.  At the User group meeting I heard many who said they wait for 1 month while others wait for others to find the issues.  I don’t like the idea of you don’t install SP1 till SP2 comes out.  In SharePoint I see that as a bad idea.  Usually within a few days you can tell by the comments on the announcement post what issues there are.  At this point, despite the push for the June CU, I’m going to fall on the side of caution and suggest SP1 as the set of hotfixes that are the most tested and validated and hold off June CU unless you have a hotfix or CU post April or unless you have been instructed to by a Microsoft Engineer ready to support you.  Project Server people who aren’t using profiles, may still go with June CU. 

Let me also point you to Spence Harbar’s blog post.  He has a ton of credibility.  Not only as an MVP and MCM, but as someone that we all trust as someone who has lived in the trenches a long time and gave us the advice we have been living with on installing and managing the User Profile Service.

From Spence Harbar’s blog post: So What’s the Fuss? SharePoint 2010 SP1 and June CU

"Q: A Microsoft blog says to install the CU at the same time or immediately after the SP, should I?

A: The answer is NO. No, no, no!

This is frankly untenable advice. You should only deploy the CU if you are affected by an issue it fixes or are instructed to by a Microsoft engineer."

Spence has a lot more advice around dispelling confusion around the install and considerations.  I do consider his post as part of the required reading for your patching process.

</UPDATE>

1. First make sure you test first!  Did you get the right package or set of packages you’re testing? Do you have the process and order correct?  Have you ensured all your service apps including the User Profile Service has had a chance to run through a cycle and starts properly?

2. Make sure you aren’t just installing SharePoint Server SP1, many make the mistake of trying to install just the server bits without first installing SharePoint Foundation SP1.  A lot of people have different versions of SharePoint.  Are you running Foundation?  Do you have Project Server?  Is TFS or something else on your box?  My recommendation is to ensure that anything you have on top of SharePoint has been tested as well.  Some may have their own requirements for SP1.  Project Server is a classic example.  Have you noticed that both SharePoint and Project Server have been recommending not only applying SP1, but also the June cumulative update?  While I usually recommend the conservative route of wait and see and be one month behind.  You already are.  You’re already jumping through these hoops, you may want to have this June CU as something you’re validating at the same time.

3. PSConfig must be run on every server after the fact… “psconfig –cmd upgrade –inplace b2b -wait” should be run once on every server in the farm following the final update installed. There are some exceptions to this. 

4. Is there a way to do highly available patching? Yes! Remember how you could set your dbs read only?  There are some serious patching features the product team built to allow you to first apply the binaries while your content dbs are read only, then apply the patches to your content dbs.  You can track the whole thing in central admin.

5. With the site recycle bin, I would suggest you learn this new and cool feature.  Learn how it works.  Test it out.  There are some decisions to be made.

6. Browser support matrix (for SP1) – Before you go out and say, Hey we support Chrome now.  Make sure you’ve done some of your own testing, especially on any publishing scenarios.  It’s not tier 1, it’s a tier 2 browser.  So while it may be great for what most users are doing, you still may recommend that your authors for publishing sites use IE or Firefox.

7. If you have any problems at all with SP1, you can find a lot of troubleshooting around patching both in 2007 technet content as well as 2010.  Installing a patch while it may sound easy is not trivial.  I bet you could easily find 10-20 page installation guides.

8.  Looking for info on which server to start with? Many will start with the central admin server.  If you’ve set your content dbs read only, it doesn’t matter which server you start with.  If you’re not planning on setting your content dbs read only, then make sure you don’t have any users connected while you’re upgrading.  I do like the strategy of making sure all servers are installed with the service pack prior to the reboots.  Basically you’ve already run SP1 on all boxes, then they all get rebooted and then you run the psconfig –cmd upgrade –inplace b2b –wait  remember you can use –force if you have any issues with that command.  As well, you can go into central admin and verify the versions on all of your content databases as well you can even see the upgrade progress.  It’s especially handy if you decide to go with the read-only option.

Sustained engineering has laid out these recommendations for which order to go:

Update Foundation first:
SharePoint Foundation 2010 Service Pack 1
Service Pack 1 for SharePoint Foundation 2010 Language Pack
June 2011 CU for SharePoint Foundation 2010

Then SharePoint Server:
SharePoint Server 2010 Service Pack 1
Service Pack 1 for Server Language Pack 2010
June 2011 CU for SharePoint Server 2010

Joel: Then your Project Sp1 or TFS or whatever add-on upgrades.  Some Vendor tools may even have post SP1 updates.

You can then run the Configuration Wizard (PSConfig) one time on all boxes.

9. Never assume that Microsoft has done enough testing, and your environment is clean enough that it should be an easy install.  Service packs are a big deal, and the worst case scenario is that you are cobbled.  At least in 2010 you now have a lot better ways of telling what’s up with your databases and you can even watch which databases are running which versions of which patches in central admin upgrade status.  Look for 14.0.6029.1000 after SharePoint Server 2010 SP1 or 14.0.6106.5000 for June 2011 CU. Service packs aren’t trivial.

10. Language – While most environments are English, there are many others, and some have multiple language packs.  Service packs are the best time to sync up and ensure all language packs are installed and updated at the same time.  As well, you’ll find Microsoft has a staggered approach to releasing updates for the language packs and not all SP1s are available for all languages across the entire stack.  You do definitely want to make sure you’re tracking down the entire SP1 stack for your farm.

11. Service Apps – Most people will have one production farm, but those with multiple where search or profiles is in another farm will question which farm is first.  The simple answer is don’t assume that Microsoft is testing your service app scenario.  They have tried to make it so it doesn’t matter if parent or child is first.  Search is one of those things where once it is patched you should have it go out and update, and not wait for the next scheduled event.  An SP1 farm can obviously index a RTM farm, and the reverse? Yes, it should work, but best case it’s all SP1.

12. The most common mistakes are not running psconfig, not reading the known issues, just installing one, not installing correctly across all servers, NOT testing, assuming your patched, and you’re only binary patched (it does need to do both binaries and the databases) and often the databases don’t update until after psconfig is ran.)  Multi tennant environments with those multi tennant features are most likely to have challenges with this.  Many will only install one SP1 and forget the others, make sure you’ve tracked them ALL down including languages, Project, Office Web Apps, SharePoint Server, TFS.  Anything that was a separate install during your initial install process should have a patch and or recommendations.  Best case is they are all updated around the same time.  In referring to the stack of SharePoint Products and their partners such as Project and Fast and so on here’s the page to track SP1 resources:

The Office and SharePoint Update Center tracks all updates to all supported versions of:

  • Project Server
  • Office Web Apps
  • Search Server
  • SharePoint Foundation and Windows SharePoint Services
  • FAST Search Server for SharePoint

13. Read… Read as much as you can before you install.  The office sustained engineering team which really is the core team that’s doing the SP1 release has released a post explaining why the June CU recommendation.  I think it’s more than a consideration.  It’s coming across as DO IT.

From the SharePoint Team blog:

Prior to installing Service Pack 1 you should carefully read the known issues and release notes at

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2532126

Service Pack 1 includes all fixes released through April 2011 so it can be installed directly to RTM builds of SharePoint 2010 Products, or any prior Cumulative Update.“

From Office Sustained Engineering blog on SP1:

“First, to explain the difference between SP1 and the June CU.

  • SharePoint 2010 SP1 contains all SharePoint updates published through the April 2011 Cumulative Update in addition to other fixes that were applied specifically to SP1 during its development. SP1 is a baseline, and that baseline is tied to our Service Pack Life Cycle Policy. We recommend applying SP1 to your SharePoint environment because it resets the baseline for your entire SharePoint environment, and prepares your environment for future releases such as the June CU.
  • The June Cumulative Update is the first Post-SP1 build released to customers. It contains new fixes to issues raised through various escalation channels and through our support organization. The June CU is based on Service Pack 1, but it adds new updates to some of (not all) the packages that SP1 installs.

The recommended approach is to apply Service Pack 1 and the June CU into an environment together.”

Key References:

Office Sustained Engineering

End to End:

Service Pack 1 (SP1) for Microsoft SharePoint Foundation 2010 and Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 (white paper)

Downloading SP1

1. Service Pack 1 for SharePoint Foundation 2010

2. Service Pack 1 for SharePoint Foundation 2010 Language Pack (if applicable)

3. Service Pack 1 for SharePoint Server 2010

4. Service Pack 1 for SharePoint Server 2010 Language Pack (if applicable)

5. SP1 for Project Server 2010

6. Sp1 for Search Server 2010

7. Sp1 for FAST Search Server 2010 for SharePoint

The June CU rollup page is a good resource for seeing it all in one table

Jie Li – Mystery behind SharePoint 2010 patching – His post goes into that table as a reference.

Bill Baer has a great list of the patches and CUs.

Related Update Centers (This is where you’ll see lots of links to related patches)

TechNet References (Refer to these for steps for installing and patching  related info):

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepoint/ff800847.aspx – Updates for SharePoint Products
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff806326.aspx – SharePoint Foundation Updates
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff806329.aspx – SharePoint Server Updates
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2510766 – List of all SharePoint Server 2010 SP1 Packages
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2532120 – Technical Details about the SharePoint 2010 SP1 and Office Server 2010 releases
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2536599 – Description of the June CU for SharePoint Server 2010
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff806338.aspx – Install a Software Update for SharePoint Server 2010

To learn about what’s new in Service Pack 1 read the Service Pack 1 for SharePoint Foundation 2010 and SharePoint Server 2010 whitepaper.

Learn more about installing updates for SharePoint 2010 at the Updates for SharePoint 2010 Products Resource Center

For a description of new functionality in Service Pack 1 see the Service Pack for SharePoint 2010 Coming Soon… blog post on the SharePoint Team Blog.

The KB articles for June CU can be found at the following locations:

  • KB 2544399 – WSS 3.0
  • KB 2544398 – MOSS 2007
  • KB 2536601 – SharePoint Foundation 2010
  • KB 2536599 – SharePoint Server 2010
  • KB 2536600 – SharePoint Server 2010 with Project Server
    As you see there is a separate Full Server Package for SharePoint Server 2010 with Project Server which simplifies patching of this common installation.  It is great to see the project team working together with the SharePoint team.  Also shows that project is actually testing with SharePoint SP1 bits.

Korean and German SP1 are available, your language may be coming soon!

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