Office Communications Server Best Practice Analyzer

This is part of something that I wrote last year that I never had published… Consider this PART II – Click here for part I

The original Best Practice analyzer came from the Exchange Server team in 2004. It was the brain child of an Exchange team member by the name of Paul Bowden. Paul came up with the Idea while trouble shooting customer issues. He noticed that same issues came up time and time and again with different customers. Paul sent off an email to his manager suggesting a tool to check for common problems, and he got the OK to build one. From that email and the work Paul and his small team, ExBPA was born. Microsoft noticed the power of the tool and soon gave Paul and his team an Engineering Excellence award for their efforts. Based on ExBPAs start in 2004, Microsoft has built BPA tools for a number of server product, such as, SQL, ISA, SBS and OCS.

The BPA tools are all based on the same concepts and execution methods across all products. The BPA tools are comprised of a report generator, a user interface framework, collection and discovery engines, update tool, and XML input files that dictate functionality. The collection and discovery engines take XML instructions and run them through WMI, PowerShell, Perfmon, command line, and other engines to accomplish tasks and or collect information, such as; checking for registry keys, collecting AD information, server performance information, moving files , and executing commands.

in my humble opinion, the most marketable and useful part of the BPA tools is the Product Support Services, Consulting field, Community, and Product Group input that goes into the XML files. As the products are created, and evolve the product group works out areas where issues might come up in daily operations, upgrades, and migrations and they try to mitigate those issues by creating tests for the BPA products. PSS analyzes all of their calls and customer issues for each product. They select a top percentage of those and address them by creating product updates with the product group, by writing BPA tests to reveal and explain the issues, and or by writing knowledge base topics explaining how to fix the issue. The product community and consulting field make suggestions to PSS and the Product group based on their observations and troubleshooting experience. Those suggestions make it onto the list of things to check, and if relevant eventually make it into the BPA products. I consider the BPA tools to be PSS / product experts in a tool; I picture all of PSS trapped in superman II the mirror waiting to help me every time I run the tool.

The OCSBPA start screen at the time that this topic was written

When you start OCSBPA it queries Active Directory to find any OCS and Exchange servers you have installed. It then populates the scope list and allows you to chose which servers you wish to test.

Tool Download link | http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=1B90993C-072A-4C84-B385-B76D23B2F27C&displaylang=en

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