CRM 2011 and SharePoint 2013 Development Setup on Virtual Box

Oracle Virtual Box with CRM 2011 and SharePoint 2013

Oracle Virtual Box with CRM 2011 and SharePoint 2013

Setting up a combined development environment on your Laptop/PC for CRM Dynamics 2011 and SharePoint 2013 also requires that you have the following components installed as a pre-requisites:-

1)      A 64-bit Windows R2/Windows 2012

2)      Active Directory

3)      SQL Server 2008 R2 SP1

4)      Setting up a series of domain accounts for both CRM, and SharePoint Installation.

Now if you read the Microsoft specifications – for a development environment to hose CRM 2011 and SharePoint 2013 then you maybe in shock given the hardware memory requirements – you are looking at 16GB of RAM.  Now I don’t know about you but I know very few people (people being fellow developers) who actually have a laptop with 16GB or even a laptop that has the capacity to handle 16GB.  My own laptop has only 6GB of RAM and a 320GB disk with an Intel i5 CPU.   Obviously if you have a PC with a virtual server OS installed then you may be inclined to use that for your development – but then you don’t have that mobile device with the necessary tools and software, which is the main reason why you would want to install these products on your Windows 7/8 laptop.

So anyway – I decided to test the limits of minimum specifications by installing on a Virtual Box OS (from Oracle).  Why Virtual Box? – it’s the only one that seems to be able to take a 64-bit windows OS.  So you will need to download Virtual Box from Oracle, which requires that you need to sign up on their website before you can do the download.  On a side-note I find it amazing that Microsoft do not provide any tools to install these server products either locally on a normal windows OS, or on their virtual PC product.  I think many would agree with me that having the ability to study these products on a local machine for development/testing purposes is a necessary step for any developer but also good for Microsoft to get a strong developer community who specialise in these products.  It is not always a convenience to study such products in-depth in the office.  Now believe it or not my Virtual Box for hosting all the software has the following specifications:-

a)      50GB Disk Space

b)      2.5GB RAM

And yes the products do work on it  – and my host as mentioned earlier has 6GB.

Setting up AD, SQL Server and CRM 2011

After you have downloaded Virtual Box from you will need to install/configure the following for a successful Dynamics CRM 2011 installation:-

1)      Windows Server 2008 R2

2)      Configure AD

3)      Setup the OS Roles required and the IIS settings for a successful CRM 2011 installation.

4)      Setting up of SQL Server 2008 + Report Server

5)      Dynamics CRM 2011

Now to do the above I followed the instructions provided by this brilliant blog:-

http://blog.customereffective.com/blog/2012/01/microsoft-dynamics-crm-2011-standalone-on-virtualbox.html

The only thing I will add to the instructions provided is that after you install SQL Server 2008 R2 – you should proceed to install SP1 from Microsoft at:-

http://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/download/details.aspx?id=26727

You need to have the SP1 for R2 edition because it is required by SharePoint 2013.

After you have installed CRM – test it out by going to the URL (usually by default this would be http://localhost:5555/{orgname} ) – you should be able to access it and give it a run to ensure everything is working.

SharePoint 2013 Installation

The installation of SharePoint that I carried out was the 2013 Foundation edition, which is around 800GB in size.  Now before you start he installation go into SQL Server and change the value for the Max Degree of Parallelism setting (it is under the advanced options of the database instance) to the value of one as shown below:-

Max Degree of Parallelism Setting in SQL Management Studio

Max Degree of Parallelism Setting in SQL Management Studio

You need to do this because it always comes up as an issue when after installing SharePoint you have to run the SharePoint 2013 Product Configuration Wizard.

Also before starting installation – you need to setup some AD accounts, which as a minimum suggestion should be:-

-          Sp2013Farm – this is the account to be used for installation of SharePoint and as such it needs to be a domain account with local administrator permission on the server, and have dbcreator and security admin rights to the SQL Server instance.

-          Sp2013Pool – local domain account, to be used for setting the IIS pool account when creating your site collections.

-          Sp2013Service – local domain account which can be used for services.

-          Sp2013Crawl – local domain account to be used by search service crawler

Once you have setup the accounts in AD, you should log out of the virtual box and log back in as the Sp2013Farm account and start the installation process, which should be:-

1)      Installation of the SharePoint pre-requisites

2)      Installation of SharePoint 2013

3)      Running the SharePoint products and configuration wizard.

Post Installation Performance , and Issues

After I had setup a site collection – I found that the first time you access the site it takes a little time, but subsequent access to the sites are quite quick.  The same was true for CRM, the performance of both products being on the same box along with AD, and SQL Server should be adequate for anyone who wants to study these products in an isolated environment on their laptop or PC.  What was also quite evident – was that accessing SharePoint home page for a site collection was quite quick – faster than CRM, and also the pages seem to render faster than my local Windows 7 installation of SharePoint 2010 Server – I wonder if this is all down to the new metro look which is very 2D and simple as an interface.

I also went ahead and installed the SharePoint 2013 List component for CRM 2011, which was one of the primary reasons for doing this installation. To all intents and purposes – the integration between CRM 2011 and the SharePoint 2013 list component works adequately.  Just remember the following:-

1)      The security is not integrated between SharePoint and CRM.  So the user id under which you access the CRM system must have SharePoint rights to the site collection which the list component will reference from CRM.

2)      To make this easy – just make the CRM Admin account a farm administrator of the SharePoint site collection you will use.

You can find out on how to install the list component from an earlier article on this site at:-

http://mytechbook.info/installing-sharepoint-2013-list-component-for-crm-2011/

The other thing that you may wish to do after creating your Virtual Box environment is to be able to carry out development work from the host against the services exposed by both CRM and SharePoint installations on the virtual box.  To do this you will need to alter some of the network settings of the Virtual Box.  An explanation of what needs to be done is given at:-

http://crmscape.blogspot.co.uk/2010/09/connecting-to-ms-crm-2011-outside-vm.html

I have experienced some issues by following the details in the article, as I was unable to connect to the CRM system from the host, this could be down to firewall issues, and at this stage I am not desperate to solve the underlying issues.

Below is a screenshot showing the specification of the VM, and the two installed server products – CRM and SharePoint 2013 – just in case you don’t believe that all of that officially requires 8GB+ of space can be put into a local Virtual Box with 2.5GB !!!

VM Settings, CRM 2011 and SharePoint 2013

Finally – I wish to say thanks to all the blog writers who have been referenced in this post, all I have done here is try and collate all the required information that developers may need to construct a working VM environment to host both SharePoint 2013 and CRM Dynamics 2011.

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