Configure Search Service As A Mini Role In SharePoint Server 2016

In this article, you will learn how to configure Search Service as a Mini Role in SharePoint Server 2016.

SharePoint 2016 general availability was announced in the Future Of SharePoint conference, in May 2016. It is the latest iteration of SharePoint and is said to be the most scalable and stable product in the SharePoint line up.

Lot of improvements have been made over its predecessor, SharePoint 2013. Notable improvements have happened in the Search Department with the introduction of Mini Role Search and Cloud Hybrid Search.

Search as a Mini Role

Mini Role is a feature newly introduced in SharePoint 2016 which offloads the SharePoint load by hosting the features like search as a separate server.Below image shows the available Mini Role options we can configure.

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Thus, we can configure the Search Service in a server that is optimized for handling search and crawl operations.

SharePoint Search Mini Role Server Configuration

This article assumes that you have already created a SharePoint 2016 Farm. If you have created a Single Server Installation, adding of Search Mini Role to the Server will not be possible. You can refer to my Free E-Book that gives a detailed step by step guide to set up a SharePoint 2016 Farm.

In order to set up SharePoint Server Mini Role Server dedicated for search we have to set up SharePoint Server 2016 in that server. You can get the SharePoint 2016 executable from here. Download the exe to the VM/Server. You can also get to know the installation process of SharePoint Server 2016 from here.

Once the installation completes you will get the message to run the Configuration Wizard. Select the checkbox ‘Run the SharePoint Products Configuration Wizard now’ and click on ‘Close’.

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SharePoint Products Configuration Wizard, when run for the first time, will create the Configuration DB and create a new SharePoint farm. However, we have already done this while configuring the SharePoint 2016 Farm. This time, we will be using the same Config DB and will connect to the Server Farm. We will be selecting the Mini Role: ‘Search’ to configure the current server. Since we have the back-end database in a separate VM/Server, make sure that it is up and running. Click on ‘Next’.

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Select the radio button "Connect to an existing server farm".

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Specify the Database server name: VM02-SQL2016, in my case, and click on ‘Retrieve Database Names’ button. This will populate the ‘SharePoint_Config’ database name in the field ‘Database Name’. Click on Next.

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Enter the passphrase which we had configured during the creation of the SharePoint VM. This is essential to add the Mini Role VM to the SharePoint Farm. Click on ‘Next’.

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Now, we have to specify the Mini Role that will be served by this VM. Since we are configuring this VM to take the role of Search Server, we will select the ‘Search’ Mini Role. Click on ‘Next’.

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This page will show the configurations that will be applied to the SharePoint installation in the VM. You can see that the Local Server Role is shown as ‘Search’. You can click on ‘Advanced Settings’ to configure the Central Administration settings.

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By default, it won’t be setting up Central Administration in this VM. But you can select the radio button ‘Use this machine to host Central Administration’ if you want to host CA in one more Server in the farm.

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Click on OK and it will update the Configuration Page about the Central Administration hosting setting. Click on ‘Next’.

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Now the Configuration Wizard has started to configure the Mini Role in the server.

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After some time the configuration is completed and shows a successful configuration message.

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Click on ‘Finish’. If we go to ‘Manage Servers in this farm’ we can see the servers that are in the farm.

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Each server in the SharePoint 2016 farm and the roles associated with it are displayed as shown below.

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Configure Search in Mini Role VM

Now let’s go to the Service Application page and create a new Search Service Application which will configure search in the entire farm. Click on ‘Search Service Application’.

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Specify the name for the Search Service Application and the Search Service Account. As a best practice you can create a new domain account in the AD and Click on Register New Managed account to add the new Domain Account as the Search Service Account. For the time being I am using the Farm Account as the Search Service Account. It is always advisable to have a separate Managed Account configured as the Search Service Account.

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Specify the Search Admin Web Service Application Pool name and the name for the Search Query Application pool. Click on OK.

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This will provision the new Search Service application.

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It will take some time to complete the creation of the Service Application.

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Finally the new Search Service Application has been created.

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If we go to the Service Applications page we can see the Search Service Application listed out.

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Click on the ‘Mini Role Search Service Application’.

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It will list out the Search Settings page. Currently there are no items in the index as crawl has not been run yet. The Search Application topology will list out the databases associated with the Search Service in the back end database.

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Before running the Search Crawl let's head over to the application server and try running a sample search for the below document.

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The search result page does not show up any search results.

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Let’s configure search. Click on Content Sources.

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It will list out the available content sources in the Service Application. Click on ‘Local SharePoint Sites’

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It will show the sites which will be crawled under this content source.

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‘http://vm03-sp2016:51000’ is the site collection where we have the content. It is by default present in the Local sites. Click on ‘Start Full Crawl’ as we are running it for the first time.

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It will show the status as ‘Crawling Full’. Wait for some time. Since the content is much less it should ideally finish soon. Depending on the content search crawl can easily span hours.

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Click on ‘Refresh’.The status has changed to ‘idle’ indicating that the crawl has finished.

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Now let’s head back to the SharePoint Application server and try to search the document once again.

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This time the search has returned back the results and we have successfully set up Search as Mini Role Server.

Summary

Thus, we have configured a Search Mini Role in different VM/Server resulting in a scalable SharePoint 2016 Farm.