Have you ever gone to install an application into a customer’s environment, especially a new customer’s environment, only to find that Active Directory, DNS, or even Exchange isn’t properly configured? How do you handle that? How many times has the customer responded to your less than positive news with a comment like “It was working before you touched it!”. So does the customer really think you broke their network? Probably not, but isn’t it hard enough to start a new engagement without issues like this cropping up? While this is frustrating, the next question always follows: who pays to remediate the issues you’ve identified? Even if the customer ends up paying, are they happy about it? Wouldn’t it be nice if you could examine the customers network before you made changes? This way you and your customer can agree on the current state of their network and plan of action? That’s where the Best Practice Analyzers can come into play.
Taken straight from the Best Practice Analyzers site:
What is Best Practices Analyzer?
Best Practices Analyzer (BPA) is a server management tool that is available in Windows Server® 2008 R2. BPA can help administrators reduce best practice violations by scanning one or more roles that are installed on Windows Server 2008 R2, and reporting best practice violations to the administrator. Administrators can filter or exclude results from BPA reports that they don’t need to see. Administrators can also perform BPA tasks by using either the Server Manager GUI, or Windows PowerShell cmdlets.
For more information about Best Practices Analyzer and scans, see Best Practices Analyzer.
While I’m referencing the Windows Server BPA above, we also have BPA’s for our other solutions. Here’s a list of some of the other BPAs we have available:
For SharePoint 2010, the Best Practices Analyzer has been included within the product!
So the BPA’s can review existing implementations to ensure the solution has been deployed in the best possible way. I agree that an ideal deployment isn’t always possible, but these tools do a good job of identifying areas of concerns, and then provides suggested solutions to remediate these concerns. As I mentioned earlier, you can use BPAs to inspect customer environments before work is performed, and you could also leverage the BPAs as a last step in a deployment to confirm your deployment is ready to put into production.
Now that you know about these, do you see how leveraging a few of the BPA’s like the BPA for Active Directory Domain Services, or the BPA for Domain Name System, you might help you (or your customer) avoid a headache or two.
I spent my first 8 years at Microsoft working within the Premier Support organization and these BPAs were being built during my last few years in that role. I have always viewed these BPAs as a way to avoid problems before they happen. If you have a few minutes, give them a look and see if you see the potential to avoid problems in your customers environment. Take note that we don’t have BPAs for every solution we offer, but the BPAs were born out of the need to make it easier to have our customers and partners successfully deploy our solutions. The more fundamental a solution is to the infrastructure, like Windows Server and Exchange, the more likely we’ll have a BPA to help with the implementation.
Until next time,