I told you I would be giving your some more tools for the holiday season.

Whilst trawling through the MS site the other day, I came across this tool... http://www.microsoft.com/exchange/downloads/2003/exbpa/default.asp

The EXBPA is a really cool tool that will help you analyse and optimise the configuration of your Exchange Servers and more... such as:

  • Generate a list of issues, such as suboptimal configuration settings or unsupported or nonrecommended options.
  • Judge the general health of a system
  • Help troubleshoot specific problems

You can run the tool against an entire deployment, just a specific server, or a set of servers.

Exchange Server Best Practices Analyzer examines servers running Exchange 2000 Server and Exchange Server 2003 as well as Exchange Server 5.5 servers when they are part of a mixed-mode topology. It cannot examine a pure Exchange Server 5.5 deployment.

Exchange Server Best Practices Analyzer is composed of the following components.

  • Configuration. This is an XML file that contains information about all the:
    • Configuration settings and tests that the tool accesses
    • Rules that determine whether the data retrieved meets Microsoft best practices
    This configuration file is modified on a frequent basis as the data and rules are refined over time. You can set Exchange Server Best Practices Analyzer to automatically look for and download the latest version of the configuration file prior to a run. Or, for closed networks that do not have Internet access, you can use a local copy of the configuration file.
  • Help. The Help file is a standard Help document, but like the configuration file, the tool can be configured to download the latest version prior to a run or to use a local copy.
  • Detailed articles. Several hundred detailed articles have been created to explain the various errors and warnings that this tool generates. You can use Exchange Server Best Practices Analyzer to access the articles on the Web, or you can use local copies.
  • Dispatcher. The dispatcher is the core of Exchange Server Best Practices Analyzer and is responsible for four steps:
    1. Runs through the configuration file
    2. Initializes collectors, which retrieve data or run tests
    3. Starts the analyzer, which executes the rules contained in the configuration file
    4. Generates a list of issues based on the rules
  • Collectors. For each type of data you retrieve, a collector does the retrieval. For example, the Directory collector retrieves properties from Active Directory. A collector can also execute tests rather than retrieve configuration information. An example of this kind of collector is the Protocol collector, which you can use to send verbs over specific ports and to save the response.
  • Analyzer. The analyzer is the rules engine. Using XPath-type references, it can compare retrieved values across several properties and generate messages based on those values. For instance, you might use it to look at the amount of RAM on a server and check to see if the /3GB operating system setting is correct for the hardware configuration.
  • ExBPA core engine. ExBPA is the name of the binary. The core engine consists of the dispatcher, a set of collectors, and the analyzer.
  • UI. You can execute the core engine through one of two UIs:
    • Command line version, which you can use for scripting the execution
    • Graphical user interface (GUI) to execute a run and examine the results
  • Data file. All the data that this tool retrieves and all the messages that it generates based on its analysis are saved in an XML data file. This file can then be viewed immediately or at a later time for historical information. You can use the GUI to view the analysis as well as all the data that led to the analysis, creating a system snapshot for capturing a point-in-time configuration of a deployment.