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MSFT has been selling "zero down-time patching" in 2016 for a while now, but I'm having trouble finding details at this point on the subject.

I have heard that this requires HA in your farm. This indicates to me that "zero downtime" just means that users will be pushed to an available server while the patching-in-progress server is unavailable. That's something you can do right now in 2013 with HA.

Has anyone performed this in 2016 to see the results of the proposed zero downtime?

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It requires that all services be highly available (FE, Distributed Cache , Search, MMS, and so on). Patches may require a restart of any one particular server, hence the HA requirement. The goal is that there are no schema updates, which is what takes a farm down across the board during Config Wizard. That's what 'zero downtime' means.

EDIT 4/12/06: The first SharePoint Server 2016 patch has been released. Yes, it requires downtime on individual farm members. See SharePoint Server 2016 Zero Downtime – The Real World for additional details, but they're basically the same as what I mentioned here.

  • Thanks. May require a restart? So.. let's say they don't require a restart. Does this mean users can continually hit WFE/servers in an Availability Zone that currently has servers being patched? – ferr Apr 11 '16 at 15:27
  • No, as services must be restarted. – Trevor Seward Apr 11 '16 at 15:31
  • Interesting, I saw this here jeremytaylor.net/2015/08/03/sharepoint-server-2016-promises earlier-- "In the past all the upgraders ran offline which required constant starting and stopping of services, resulting in down time in a SharePoint farm" So.. no more starting/stopping, but a restart is required? – ferr Apr 11 '16 at 15:34
  • It's... difficult to unload and then load new .NET assemblies into a running process, hence the requirement for a restart (of the process/machine). The difference comes in with the schema changes. When one would run the Config Wizard, the entire farm would become unavailable during the schema upgrade of the databases. This is what changed to 2016. – Trevor Seward Apr 11 '16 at 15:37
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    FYI I've updated my answer to include details on the first patch for 2016 that is available today. – Trevor Seward Apr 12 '16 at 16:03
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Yes this has been done and shown start to finish and this was achievable in previous versions of SharePoint. HA is the key to success here as its needed. The difference between previous versions and SharePoint Server 2016 is that we are no able to write back to Databases while upgrade is being performend. Link below gives more details and a demonstration

https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/mt767550(v=office.16).aspx

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