One of my customers asked me to join a new server used as a 2nd Front-end server yesterday. It sounds easy as every experienced SharePoint administrator does in the life. Basically, to add a new server to an existing farm, the first thing to do is check patches applied in other servers in the same farm and make sure all including the new server you are going to add are unanimous in patches/hotfixes. Next, retrieve database server and select SharePoint farm configuration database that stores all farm configuration and settings, then type pass-phrase and wait for Farm Configuration Wizard complete. However, what we think may not be what it will come out, and this really happens all the time.
Everything went smoothly till Farm Configuration Wizard told that the new server failed to connect to the configuration database. Something ambiguously happened I didn’t really know what was going on.
“Failed to connect to the configuration database.
An exception of type System.ArgumentNullException was thrown. Additional exception information: Value cannot be null.
Parameter name: service”
There are many reasons that causes such an error above, but the error was pretty ambiguous because other SharePoint servers were well connecting to SQL server so TCP/IP setting didn’t come to my mind. Firewall protection or things like this allowed the new server to connect to SQL Server. Open ULS Viewer to check with the hope that facilitated for me to kick the error out of my life but no luck excepting the following message:
Unknown SQL Exception 53 occurred. Additional error information from SQL Server is included below. A network-related or instance-specific error occurred while establishing a connection to SQL Server. The server was not found or was not accessible. Verify that the instance name is correct and that SQL Server is configured to allow remote connections. (provider: Named Pipes Provider, error: 40 – Could not open a connection to SQL Server).
Even I was using the Farm account, and I successfully retrieved database server and pointed to the SharePoint farm configuration database.
Finally, I noticed that SharePoint team of the customer had created a pointer for SharePoint alias connecting to the SharePoint application server. Figured out that the new server couldn’t connect to database server through the named alias. To solve this problem, on the SharePoint application server, I navigated to C:\Windows\System32\cliconfg.exe and then checked alias configuration at Alias tab on SQL Server Client Network Utility windows.
On the new server that need to be joined to the SharePoint farm, I created a new alias using the same configuration. The error went away immediately.
I’ve experienced a few things and would like to share with you:
- Make sure your key you type on the new server must match the licensed key used on other SharePoint servers before.
- The account used during running Farm Configuration Wizard should be Farm Account.
- If you use alias, make sure every server you are going to join to SharePoint farm must have same alias configuration, unless SharePoint can’t connect to configuration database.
- Check if the new server is blocked to communicate to other servers in SharePoint farm. In case, you must work with security team to address this issue.
Time to remember kissing after then!