Upgrading AD FS 2012R2 to 2016

You have a working ADFS farm running version 3 on Windows 2012R2 and want to upgrade to ADFS 2016 delivered in Windows Server 2016.

The problem is that this is, if you ask Microsoft, a very straight forward “next-next-finish” process to do as the only TechNet article I found about it makes it look pretty straight forward. But that article was written for Windows Internal Database (there is now also one for SQL cluster backend. Also you’ll notice at the bottom that it’s written for Technical Preview of Windows Server 2016 and also assumed you have no AD group policies that may break stuff! So there are still alot of things that can, and will, go wrong if you follow that procedure.

There really isn’t one solution since there are so many issues you may run into but I managed to work through them all. But here are my comments to the TechNet article and where things went wrong for me:
2) It’s never showing in a screenshot but it is shown in the next – you have to chose to join an existing farm, the default option is creating a new farm which is a totally different thing!
But even after going through the setup process succesfully after patching and rebooting I got the error 1297 “A privilege that the service requires to function properly does not exist in the service account configuration. You may use the Services Microsoft Management Console (MMC) snap-in (services.msc) and the Local Security Settings MMC snap-in (secpol.msc) to view the service configuration and the account configuration“. As it turns out, this is a policy issue with the Windows Server 2016 baseline that limits who and what can “Log on as a service” and “Generate a security audit”. Creating an override policy for this and adding the service account running the AD FS service solved this issue for me! (thanks to https://blogs.technet.microsoft.com/pie/2015/09/04/adfs-refuses-to-start-error-1297/)
3) This is actually very important later on knowing which server is primary and not!
4) and 5) These are confirmed as not required if you’re running a SQL cluster backend. However, you still need to check later for which server is primary and not.
6) This entire Powershell is just wrong and not accepted at all, atleast in my environment! You’re much better off starting the Remote Access Manager and starting the Wizard from there. This will allow you to chose the certificate in a dropdown without knowing the thumbprint. But this is where I ran into problems and lot’s of them!

The first problem I had when configuring the WAP was connectivity resulting in the error “An error occurred when attempting to establish a trust relationship with the federation service. Error: Unable to connect to the remote server”. This was first due to physical firewall, then the local firewall policy settings and in the end that the service itself was down! So this was basically alot network issues, not the biggest thing in the world.

Now that that was done with I ran into the next problem that caused so much headache for me – “An error occurred when attempting to establish a trust relationship with the federation service. Error: Unauthorized. Verify that the service account has administrative access on the target Federation Server.”! The account that the WAP uses to connect to the internal AD FS server with that has to be a local user and local admin account on the internal AD FS server (since the WAP server shouldn’t be a member of the same domain as the internal AD FS servers). The problem is that there is a group policy baseline for Windows Server 2016 that denies logon from the network for all local users (“Deny access to this computer from the network“)! This resulted in the error since it wasn’t allowed to login with anything but the console! Setting that to only “Guest” should be enough for this.

So after getting that problem solved I got the next error – “An error occurred when attempting to establish a trust relationship with the federation service. Error: Internal Server Error“. Looking at all logs and events and I couldn’t figure out what tha hell was causing this issue. Well, as it turns out it was related to step 4 and 5 which you shouldn’t have done if you’re running SQL backend! When you point to the internal AD FS service address (the web address sts.xxxxxxx.com) you’re supposed to use a host file to control that and point it to the load balanced IP address. Well when I did that I always ended up on a server that was NOT the primary computer and therefor I couldn’t add the WAP! When I changed the host file to point directly to the IP of a server that was Primary computer for the farm it worked! Just remember to change this back since you don’t want the WAP servers point to one specifik AD FS server.

That is as far as I’ve gotten as the rest of the upgrade involves upgrading the forest and domain schema which I’m really not ready to do.

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