An obscure “failed to create the configuration database” issue…

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Hi all

You would think that after years of installing SharePoint in various scenarios, that I would be able to get past step 3 in the configuration wizard (the step that creates the configuration database). But today I almost got nailed by an issue that – while in hindsight is dead-set obvious – was rather difficult to diagnose.

Basically it was a straightforward two server farm installation. The installer account had local admin rights on the web front end server and sysadmin rights on the SQL box. SQL was a dedicated named instance using an alias. I was tutoring the install while an engineer did the driving and as soon as we hit step 3, blammo! – the Installation failed claiming that the configuration database could not be created.

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Looking a little deeper into the log, the error message stated:

An error occurred while getting information about the user svc-spfarm at server mydomain.com: Access is denied

Hmm.. After double checking all the obvious things (SQL dbcreator and securityadmin on the farm account, group policy interference, etc) it was clear this was something different. The configuration database was successfully created on the SQL server, although the permissions of the farm account had not been applied. This proved that SQL permissions were appropriate. Clearly this was an issue around authentication and active directory.

There were very few reports of similar symptoms online and the closest I saw was a situation where the person ran the SharePoint configuration wizard using the local machine administrator account by mistake, rather than a domain account. Of course, the local account had no rights to access active directory and the wizard had failed because it had no way to verify the SharePoint farm account in AD to grant it permissions to the configuration database. But in this case we were definitely using a valid domain account.

As part of our troubleshooting, we opted to explicitly give the farm account “Log on as a service” rights (since this is needed for provisioning the user profile service later anyhow). It was then we saw some really bizarre behaviour. We were unable to find the SharePoint farm account in Active Directory. Any attempt to add the farm account to the “log on as a service” right would not resolve and therefore we could not assign that right. We created another service account to test this behaviour and and the same thing happened. This immediately smelt like an issue with Active directory replication – where the domain controller being accessed was not replicating with the others domain controllers. A quick repladmin check and we ascertained that all was fine.

Hmm…

At this point, we started experimenting with various accounts, old and new. We were able to conclude that irrespective of the age of the account, some accounts could be found in Active Directory no problem, whereas others could not be. Yet those that could not be found were valid and working on the domain.

Finally one of the senior guys in the organisation realised the problem. In their AD topology, there was an OU for all service accounts. The permissions of that OU had been modified from the default. The “Domain users” group did not have any access to that OU at all. This prevented service accounts from being enumerated by regular domain accounts (a security design they had adopted some time back). Interestingly, even service accounts that live in this OU cannot enumerate any other accounts in that OU, including themselves.

This caused several problems with SharePoint. First the configuration wizard could not finish because it needed to assign the farm account permissions to the config and central admin databases. Additionally, the farm account would not be able to register managed accounts if those accounts were stored in this OU.

Fortunately, when they created this setup, they made a special group called “Enumerate Service Account OU”. By adding the installer account and the farm account to this group all was well.

I have to say, I thought I had seen most of the ways Active Directory configuration might trip me up – but this was a first. Anyone else seen this before?

Thanks for reading

Paul Culmsee

www.sevensigma.com.au

www.hereticsguidebooks.com

p.s The error log detail is below….


 

Log Name:      Application

Source:        SharePoint 2010 Products Configuration Wizard

Date:          1/02/2012 2:22:52 PM

Event ID:      104

Task Category: None

Level:         Error

Keywords:      Classic

User:          N/A

Computer:      Mycomputer

Description:

Failed to create the configuration database.

An exception of type System.InvalidOperationException was thrown.  Additional exception information: An error occurred while getting information about the user svc-spfarm at server mydomain: Access is denied

System.InvalidOperationException: An error occurred while getting information about the user svc-spfarm at server mydomain

   at Microsoft.SharePoint.Win32.SPNetApi32.NetUserGetInfo1(String server, String name)

   at Microsoft.SharePoint.Administration.SPManagedAccount.GetUserAccountControl(String username)

   at Microsoft.SharePoint.Administration.SPManagedAccount.Update()

   at Microsoft.SharePoint.Administration.SPProcessIdentity.Update()

   at Microsoft.SharePoint.Administration.SPApplicationPool.Update()

   at Microsoft.SharePoint.Administration.SPWebApplication.CreateDefaultInstance(SPWebService service, Guid id, String applicationPoolId, SPProcessAccount processAccount, String iisServerComment, Boolean secureSocketsLayer, String iisHostHeader, Int32 iisPort, Boolean iisAllowAnonymous, DirectoryInfo iisRootDirectory, Uri defaultZoneUri, Boolean iisEnsureNTLM, Boolean createDatabase, String databaseServer, String databaseName, String databaseUsername, String databasePassword, SPSearchServiceInstance searchServiceInstance, Boolean autoActivateFeatures)

   at Microsoft.SharePoint.Administration.SPWebApplication.CreateDefaultInstance(SPWebService service, Guid id, String applicationPoolId, IdentityType identityType, String applicationPoolUsername, SecureString applicationPoolPassword, String iisServerComment, Boolean secureSocketsLayer, String iisHostHeader, Int32 iisPort, Boolean iisAllowAnonymous, DirectoryInfo iisRootDirectory, Uri defaultZoneUri, Boolean iisEnsureNTLM, Boolean createDatabase, String databaseServer, String databaseName, String databaseUsername, String databasePassword, SPSearchServiceInstance searchServiceInstance, Boolean autoActivateFeatures)

   at Microsoft.SharePoint.Administration.SPAdministrationWebApplication.CreateDefaultInstance(SqlConnectionStringBuilder administrationContentDatabase, SPWebService adminService, IdentityType identityType, String farmUser, SecureString farmPassword)

   at Microsoft.SharePoint.Administration.SPFarm.CreateAdministrationWebService(SqlConnectionStringBuilder administrationContentDatabase, IdentityType identityType, String farmUser, SecureString farmPassword)

   at Microsoft.SharePoint.Administration.SPFarm.CreateBasicServices(SqlConnectionStringBuilder administrationContentDatabase, IdentityType identityType, String farmUser, SecureString farmPassword)

   at Microsoft.SharePoint.Administration.SPFarm.Create(SqlConnectionStringBuilder configurationDatabase, SqlConnectionStringBuilder administrationContentDatabase, IdentityType identityType, String farmUser, SecureString farmPassword, SecureString masterPassphrase)

   at Microsoft.SharePoint.Administration.SPFarm.Create(SqlConnectionStringBuilder configurationDatabase, SqlConnectionStringBuilder administrationContentDatabase, String farmUser, SecureString farmPassword, SecureString masterPassphrase)

   at Microsoft.SharePoint.PostSetupConfiguration.ConfigurationDatabaseTask.CreateOrConnectConfigDb()

   at Microsoft.SharePoint.PostSetupConfiguration.ConfigurationDatabaseTask.Run()

   at Microsoft.SharePoint.PostSetupConfiguration.TaskThread.ExecuteTask()

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