If you’re faced with doing a large SharePoint deployment, you’re probably feeling dizzy and lightheaded at the prospect of prepping, installing, and configuring SharePoint on 40 … 50 … or even more individual servers. It’s a big, complex, and repetitive job that requires a high degree of precision. Fortunately, with the right set of instructions, this is just the sort of job computers can do for themselves.

If you do a lot of SharePoint installations, you probably have discovered already that installation and configuration using the command line is much faster and more efficient than using the UI. And if you’ve performed a command-line installation, you must also know that it’s important to have the installation files, language packs, and option settings all positioned, prepped, and ready ahead of time. From there, creating a scripted SharePoint installation on any number of machines is a relatively straightforward proposition.

The advantages of a scripted vs. manual installation in a large farm deployment should be obvious. The results are consistent and less prone to error. A scripted installation is also less labor intensive and therefore fewer people are needed to perform the job quickly. Best of all, once your scripts have been written and tested, they require only minor modification to be used in a wide variety of installation scenarios.

To help you get your own scripted SharePoint installation efforts off the ground, we’ve published a new white paper that pulls the whole process together and provides lots of examples, sample code, and reference material: Using scripts to automate SharePoint Server 2007 installation. There are sections on planning and preparing for a scripted deployment, scripting the installation of your prerequisites, scripting the creation and joining of the farm, and scripting the set up of various sites and services. To cap it off, there’s also a section on ways to optimize your scripts to make your installations even more autonomous and able to handle a wider range of configurations.

How well does scripting work in the real world? It helps to be compulsively thorough in your planning and machine prep. You also can expect to spend a lot of time testing and revising your scripts before unleashing them on your next deployment. Scripting really shines when you use it to set up large farms, but as you perfect your scripts, you’ll use them even on medium and small deployments. Think of scripting as having a very eager and conscientious intern at your disposal who’ll work quickly and without complaint as long as your instructions are very, very detailed and explicit.

Learn how to script your SharePoint installations here.

As always, we appreciate your feedback.

-- Chris Smith
IT Pro Writer