I am not really experienced in SharePoint beyond managing site content. Right now we only have a live SharePoint environment with two servers, one for SQL, and the other server for everything else. We have been told the size of our current environment is pretty small (around 30 gb).

Right now I am the de facto "SharePoint person" and obviously I do not know what I am doing. I have been pushing for us to get a testing environment so I can learn without being on edge every time I am trying to do anything in SharePoint. My boss as finally agreed and asked me to figure out what I need server and application wise in order to create a testing environment. I have done some researching but I still don't have all the answers I need, so if I could get any help on this I would greatly appreciate it.

So far it looks like I will need two servers (it seems like if they were virtual it would be ok). I have NO CLUE what the specs these servers should have. It seems like one server should be for SQL and the other for everything else. From what I have read, it looks like the servers should be a part of our current domain. Also I do not know if we will need any additional licenses for this.

I know that was pretty painful to read, especially to people who actually know this stuff. I am just hoping someone takes pity on me and can see that I am trying to learn what I can about something that currently, I know little to nothing about.


I get the impression that when you say "test" you mean "learn how to use advanced/admin features of SharePoint". For your purposes, it may be sufficient to set up a 2nd web application or even site collection on your existing farm.

For other purposes (e.g. if you want to experiment in central admin) you can install SharePoint and SQL on the same server - many people do this for dev purposes. Microsoft also provides some VMs for evaluation purposes, described more by Eric White here

There are other purposes for which you would want an entirely separate server farm that is as close as possible to production, but while that's often what people mean by "test" I don't think it's what you need.


If you are looking to learn, you can go one of a couple different ways. You can create a replica of your production environment (virtual is fine) or you can put everything on a single server. If you are looking to be able to test solutions, etc in your new environment, then a replica of production is the best way to go.

As far as licensing, check with your Microsoft rep or software vendor. I have always been under the impression that any non-production environments do not require a license (assuming that production is licensed), but I am sure that varies depending on your agreement with Microsoft. Better to be safe than sorry.

Hope that helps!


If you want to start using SharePoint right now I recommend you to create an account at http://www.cloudshare.com/ in less the 15 minutes you have your environment ready with everything installed, this is great for test proposes or if you are satrting and want to start learning by your self.


As you mentioned you need a test farm to increase your expertise.

Big question is what you want, just explore the more features of sharepoint or want to do some development with exploring the Enterprise features.

If you just want to learn advance feature then no need of test web app, simple create another web app and create the site collection and have fun.

But for EE and Development, you need the seprate farm. Please check this link for hardware and software requirement of the farm.

As this will your dev farm, you may use the MSDN license for it. No need to buy extra license.

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