This is the next article in a series dedicated to system administrators working with Sitecore.
Assuming you have read the first part of this series dedicated to System Administrators, you should now have some background in Sitecore and know that there are 12 ways for systems admins to contribute before, during and after a implementation.
There are two different options for beginning your Sitecore installation: an executable and a zip file. The final result of either choice is the same but the experience gained during a manual installation makes the extra effort worthwhile!
You can find the downloads here: https://dev.sitecore.net/Downloads/Sitecore_Experience_Platform.aspx -- be sure to choose the appropriate version to find the Download options.
Sitecore web application installer
The Sitecore web application installer and EXE file is in a ZIP file, unzip the file. The EXE file launches a wizard that you need to walk-through in order to install Sitecore. For more details, please refer to Chapter 3 of the Installation guide.
On the other hand, there is the ZIP file that contains the Sitecore site root folder and databases, unzip it to see what is included. For more details, please refer to Chapter 4 of the Installation guide.
I would encourage you to experience both installation methods – especially if you are a beginner to Sitecore – that way you will become familiar with the entire process, its pre-requisites and all other requirements. Whether you’re using the EXE or ZIP method, Sitecore has different roles based in configuration files, which means the installation is just the beginning of an entire process to have Sitecore properly installed.
It’s easy to setup the environment because all roles can be run in a single server, however it won’t be that easy every time in real scenarios. It is important to know that it’s possible to share the Sitecore load to achieve better performance and scalability by setting dedicated servers for different purposes.
Content Management - "enable content editors to create and publish content to a website" 
Content Delivery - "make your web content available to your website visitors" 
Processing - "aggregation or other kinds of processing, and provide better scalability and performance" 
Reporting - "fetches reporting data from various data sources to use in Sitecore reporting applications, such as Experience Analytics" 
Some related reading before you go
 Configure a Content Management server
 Configure a Content Delivery server
 Configure a Processing server
 Configure a Reporting server
Stay tuned, in my next post I will cover some concepts related to scaling and hardening for system admins.