SQL Server Engineering series: Install Product updates during installation

As a part of your responsibility within SQL Server Engineering team (big enterprises) both setup and deployment are the key roles. Until SQL Server 2005 it is one of the biggest concerns to choose and install selected services, when it comes to un-attended installation you need to be more careful to deploy.

However since SQL Server 2008 + SP1 & SQL Server 2008 R2 RTM onwards installation has been made much easier to manage with SlipStream (see archive posts) which is a good option to install all in 1 go, RTM + Service Pack + any hot fixes that you may need.

Moreover, SQL Server 2012 continues the same trend of using SlipStream with a caution that this feature is deprecated (which is a cruel isn’t it) by adding newer functionality during the Installation Center methods!

It includes the usual SlipStream features and in addition to this new feature is added which is called Product Updates in SQL Server installation feature. The SQL2012 BOL clearly mentions that …the Product Update feature replaces the SlipStream functionality that was available in SQL Server 2008 PCU1… See this Slipstream a SQL Server Update page for more information on how-to do it.

So taking from the subject line this Product Updates feature will integrate the latest product updates with the main product installation, which means either an internet connection or copies of those CU packages are necessary to check updates. This uses the Windows Server Update Service (WSUS). The major advantage of using Product Update feature is it can easily incorporate the latest cumulative update, service pack or both. Otherwise as a DBA you need to browse through the SQL Server Release Services blog to see what’s new now.

In case within a controlled zone (DMZ) for the SQL Server 2012 installation it is not possible to obtain internet connection for the WSUS to perform this action. So avoid this issue you can simply download necessary CU packages + service pack in a file share folder (or on the same server temporarily) then launch the SQL Server setup from the command prompt or with a configuration file. For the un-attended installation within the configuration file specify /UPDATESOURCE parameter to override those default setup values.

The general recommendation is that to choose WSUS for the product updates, but for the Corporate policies of not granting any internet access during the installation will have to depend on the local file share to have necessary CU + SP files. During the setup you can either choose to exclude or include the discovered updates.

As mentioned before to override default setup behavior within the configuration file (see Install SQL Server 2012 Using a Configuration File) you can choose following setup parameters:

  • UpdateEnabled
  • UpdateSource

 ….this is how that configuration file looks like:

; Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Configuration file 
; Specifies a Setup work flow, like INSTALL, UNINSTALL, or UPGRADE. This is a required parameter. 

; Specifies whether SQL Server Setup should discover and include product updates. The valid values are True and False or 1 and 0. By default SQL Server Setup will include updates that are found. 

; Specifies the location where SQL Server Setup will obtain product updates. The valid values are "MU" to search Microsoft Update, a valid folder path, a relative path such as .\MyUpdates or a UNC share. By default SQL Server Setup will search Microsoft Update or a Windows Update service through the Window Server Update Services. 


Finally to see how to configure a set of updates that are necessary to download using WSUS see Configure Updates and Synchronization