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“Unsupported topology” in SharePoint 2003

October 2, 2007

Okay, so we’re reupping our SharePoint 2003 environment to a better environment.  Why not MOSS 2007?  Ehh, quite honestly, because that’s politics and would make kittens cry.  But, that’s not the point of this post.

Our planned setup was:

  • Two web-front end servers, each running the web service.
  • One search server, running the search service.
  • One index server, running the indexing and job services.
  • Two SQL servers, clustered and attached to terabytes of space in the SAN.

Looked good, analyzer balked, but, according to KB887164 on Microsoft’s TechNet article, it’s a working, suggested scenario.

At the bottom of that article, it says:

Note After you follow these steps and then locate Configure Farm Topology (FarmTopologyView.aspx) on the Central Administration Web site, you may receive one or both of the following messages:

The current topology is not supported.
You selected an invalid server farm configuration.

These warnings may be safely ignored.

Yeah, well, that’s a lie. While running in an “unsupported topology,” you can’t add portal sites or do backup/restore operations.  That’s not unsupported, that’s unfunctioning.

I found an old blog post that has a thread regarding layout and that error.  The MVP helping the poster, Shane Young, responds with:

Technically it will let you setup this environment.  But then SharePoint will give you an error message telling you that you have an unsupported config.  Whenever SharePoint is displaying that error message it will not allow you to create new portals and it will not allow you to use its backup utility.  This is just how it works.

That’s just how it works, huh?  No recommendations or ideas?  Searching through Bill English’s SPS 2003 Resource Kit is of no use either.  In fact, the book has an architecutre of EXACTLY what I want in the book with no mention of issues or failures (pp. 116). 

If you keep digging (in the Resource Kit), page 282 lists the “supported” topologies.  For a large farm, it seems that there are three supported topologies:

  • small (1 all-in-one box + 1 sql source)
  • medium (2 all-in-one boxes + 1 sql source)
  • large (2–8 web boxes, 2–4 search boxes, 1–4 index boxes (plus 1 job) + 1+ sql source)

Notice that there are no in-betweens?  The medium can’t break apart the roles and the large requires a minimum of two search boxes. 

So, for now, my solution is to pull the Search box out and fall back to a hybrid of the medium configuration that seems to work.

  • 2 web + search boxes
  • 1 index + job box
  • 1 sql source

That configuration makes Backup and Restore and the portal creation tools happy, but seems like such a waste to put those search engines on the web drives when I have a server sitting here for it.

So, for those interested—unsupported messages may safely ignored as long as you’re not planning on USING your SharePoint Portal.

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