Life Needs a 'Best Practices Analyzer'

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could sit down at your computer, answer a few simple questions, and then be given a set of instructions for fixing/improving your life?  Heck, the only thing better than that would be an ‘undo’ button for those little mistakes we all make.  But alas, we’ll have to wait a few more years for the geniuses at Google to come out with those services (in perpetual beta, I’m sure).

All joking aside, Microsoft has some excellent tools to offer in its growing suite of Best Practices Analyzers (BPAs).  As of today there are 4 separate BPAs:

  • Exchange Server BPA: This is by far the most robust of all Microsoft BPAs.  In fact, other Microsoft product groups are so enamored with the Exchange BPA that they are writing their own rule-sets to tie into the Exchange BPA engine.
  • SQL Server BPA: Unless I’m mistaken (and believe me, you all will let me know if I am) the SQL Server BPA was the first BPA released by Microsoft.  While not as polished or current as the Exchange BPA, the SQL BPA has still come in handy on customer engagements to find config/security issues w/ SQL Server 2000.
  • ISA Server BPA: Microsoft released a new ISA Server BPA build today, which is what prompted me to write this post.  If you’ve ever run the Exchange BPA – this one will look very familiar.  Remember what I said about other product groups using the Exchange BPA engine?  The ISA Server BPA is a perfect example.  Like the SQL and Exchange BPAs, I’ve found this one very helpful in identifying issues, as well as documenting the current state of a customer’s environment before making changes.
  • BizTalk Server 2006 BPA: I’m not a BizTalk guy, so I’ve never needed to use the BizTalk BPA .  However, no post about BPAs would be complete without it… so there you go.

One last thing – if you’re a Microsoft Operations Manager guru, you want to check out the Exchange BPA Management Pack (MP) for MOM 2005.  This MP essentially deploys the Exchange BPA to your Exchange servers and then executes a BPA scan on a pre-defined schedule.  It’s even smart enough to fire MOM alerts if something looks out of the ordinary.

If you have any BPA feedback (good/bad/ugly), please post a comment for the benefit of the community.  And keep your eyes peeled for more BPAs in the near future.