SharePoint Server 2013 and 2010 September Cumulative Updates Released
Microsoft this week released September cumulative updates (CUs) for both SharePoint Server 2013 and SharePoint Server 2010.
Both updates require having the latest service packs installed first before applying the CUs. In the case of SharePoint 2013, that's Service Pack 1. For SharePoint 2010, it's Service Pack 2.
SharePoint 2013 CU
The SharePoint 2013 CU release lacks a "full server package," otherwise known as an "uber package." An uber package contains fixes for all of the SharePoint Server components and has sometimes been referred to by Microsoft as a "mini-service pack." An uber package for SharePoint 2013 may be coming, though, so organizations that can delay applying the September CU may consider waiting for it, according to a blog post by Joerg Sinemus of Microsoft Germany.
"It is still planned to also provide the full-server packages, but we does not have a date," Sinemus wrote. "In case you can wait, it might be easier when full-server packages are available."
SharePoint expert and MVP Todd Klindt has said that SharePoint Server CUs should not be installed unless they fix something broken in a computing environment. One reason to hold off is that CUs can't be uninstalled if they turn out to have problems.
Before applying SharePoint 2013 CU, Microsoft recommends installing the prior August 2015 CU first. However, Microsoft issued a warning this month that the August 2015 CU for SharePoint 2013 may have "failed silently" for some organizations. There's a workaround that requires running the installer three times, Microsoft explained in this blog post. The problem, associated with a "passive switch" used during installation, also affected a popular SharePoint 2013 patching script devised by Microsoft's Russ Maxwell.
SharePoint 2013 is getting its September security fixes through the Microsoft Update service, Microsoft also noted.
SharePoint 2010 CU
This SharePoint 2010 CU release does come with an uber package. Organizations just have to have Service Pack 2 installed, which Microsoft described as a new requirement "since November 2014." The uber package will update all SharePoint components since SP2.
Microsoft also noted that the SharePoint 2010 CU includes all security fixes released since SP2.
SharePoint Configuration Wizard
After applying the CUs, the Configuration Wizard needs to be run. It even needs to be run after applying security fixes, according to a blog post by Stefan Gossner of Microsoft Support.
There are two Configuration Wizards, PSCONFIG.EXE and PSCONFIGUI.EXE. Gossner explained in another blog post that he prefers the latter wizard, which has a user interface. PSCONFIGUI.EXE is a step-by-step kind of tool, whereas PSCONFIG.EXE offers more granular control, but users can run it and miss important operations, he noted.
The Configuration Wizard seems to be at least one area where Microsoft loves the GUI version over the command-line one.
Preparing for Disaster
Microsoft has promised that patching SharePoint Server 2016 will be a lot easier than the current practice. The new server will reduce the 37 MSIs and 37 MSPs that arrive, along with patches for Language Packs, to just one patch each. However, that new server product is expected to arrive sometime in Q2 2016.
In the meantime, organizations using and maintaining SharePoint Server should probably prepare for disaster. In a recent blog post, Microsoft SharePoint Support Engineer Samuel Betts described how to "run two SharePoint farms in parallel." One reason for that architecture is to enable disaster recovery, leveraging SQL Server's AlwaysOn feature for the purpose. Another reason to have such a setup is to facilitate SharePoint patching, he noted.
"This [SharePoint Server patching] is a big one given how complicated the patch process can be, and at some point you'll have to patch SharePoint if only to stay supported," Betts said.
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.