Continuous Delivery with TFS: Creating an All-in-One TFS Server

Posted by Graham Smith on December 7, 2014No Comments (click here to comment)

In this third instalment of my series about creating a continuous delivery pipeline using TFS it's time to actually install TFS. In a production environment you will more than likely -- but not always -- split the installation of TFS across multiple machines, however for demo purposes it's perfectly possible and actually preferable from a management perspective to install everything on to one machine. Do bear in mind that by installing everything on one server you will likely encounter fewer issues (permissions come to mind) than if you are installing across multiple machines. The message here is that the speed of configuring a demo rig in Azure will bear little resemblance to the time it takes to install an on-premises production environment.

Ben Day maintains a great guide to installing TFS and you can find more details here. My recommendation is that you follow Ben's guide and as such I'm not planning to go through the whole process here. Rather , I will document any aspects that are different. As well as reading Ben's guide I also recommend reading the Microsoft documentation on installing TFS, particularly if you will ultimately perform an on-premises installation. See one of my previous posts for more information. One of the problems of writing installation instructions is that they date quite quickly. I've referred to the latest versions of products at the time of writing below but feel free to use whatever is the latest when you come to do it

  • Start by downloading all the bits of software from MSDN or the free versions if you are going down that (untried by me) route. At this stage you will need TFS2013.4 and VS2013.4. I tend to store all the software I use in Azure on a share on my domain controller for ease of access across multiple machines.
  • If you are following my recommendation and using a domain controller the first step is to create service accounts that you will use in the TFS installation. There is comprehensive guidance here but at a minimum you will need TFSREPORTS, TFSSERVICE and TFSBUILD. These are  sample names and you can choose whatever you like of course.
  • The second step is to create your VM with reference to my Azure foundations post. Mine is called ALMTFSADMIN. This is going to be an all-in-one installation if you are following my recommendation in order to keep things simple, so a basic A4 size is probably about right.
  • Ben's guide refers to Windows Server 2012 because of SharePoint Foundation 2013's lack of support for Windows Server 12 R2. This was fixed with SharePoint 2013 SP1 so you can safely create your VM as Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter. Having said that, you don't actually need SharePoint for what we're doing here so feel free to leave it out. Probably makes sense as SharePoint is a beast and might slow your VM down. Ben's guide is for an on-premises rather than Azure installation of Windows so some parts are not relevant and can obviously be skipped.
  • Early versions of TFS 2013 didn't support SQL Server 2014 and Ben's guide covers installing both SQL Server 2012 and 14. You might as well go for the 2014 version unless you have reason to stick with 2012.
  • The TFS installation part of Ben's guide starts on page 99 and refers to TFS2013.2. The latest version as of this post is TFS2013.4 and you should go for that. As above my recommendation is to skip SharePoint.
  • Go ahead and install the build service. On a production installation you would almost never install the build service on the TFS application tier but it's fine in this case.
  • The build service (or more correctly the build agents) will need to build Visual Studio applications. The easiest way to enable this is to install Visual Studio itself -- VS2013.4 (whatever is the best SKU you are entitled to use) without the Windows 8 Phone components will do very nicely.
  • You can leave the test controller installation for the time being -- we will look at that in detail in a future post.

When the installations are complete and the VM has been restarted you should be able to access the TFS Administration Console and check that all is in order.  Congratulations -- your TFS admin box is up-and-running! Watch out for the next post where we create a Visual Studio development environment.

Cheers -- Graham