Lately, I have had a lot of people contacting me because they are interested in bringing Exchange 2007 into an existing Exchange Server organization. The topic has become so popular that I spent last week in Las Vegas speaking on the topic. After my presentations, one of the questions that kept coming up is how an administrator really knows whether or not they have sufficiently completed the planning and preparation work, and are ready to bring Exchange 2007 into the organization. In this article, I want to show you a technique for determining your organization’s Exchange 2007 readiness.
The Microsoft Exchange Best Practices Analyzer Tool
Microsoft offers a free tool that can help organizations to assess their Exchange 2007 readiness. The tool is called the Microsoft Exchange Best Practices Analyzer Tool, or ExBPA. If this tool sounds familiar to you, it’s probably because it has been around for quite a while. The tool was originally designed to help Exchange Administrators to determine whether or not their organizations are configured according to Microsoft’s best practices, and to show them which aspects of their Exchange organizations need attention.
The ExBPA is still capable of doing this, but Microsoft has also added functionality that allows the tool to assess an organization’s Exchange 2007 readiness. Microsoft routinely updates the ExBPA, so even if you already have a copy, you will want to download the latest version. You can get the most recent ExBPA revision from Microsoft’s site.
What ExBPA Won’t Do
When you use the ExBPA to test your organization’s Exchange 2007 readiness, there are certain things that it looks for and other things that it does not check for. For example, one of the most commonly reported issues involves the Active Directory not being prepared for Exchange 2007.
The types of issues that the ExBPA will not report usually involve planning. For example, will your new server be up to the job of running the proposed Exchange 2007 roles? The ExBPA won’t tell you. If you have questions about your organization’s general topology, or as to whether or not your intended hardware will get the job done, then you will need to run the System Center Capacity Planner tool, which you can also download for free from Microsoft’s site. You can use the System Center Capacity Planner to assist with the planning issues, and the ExBPA to test configuration related readiness issues. Once Exchange 2007 has been installed, you can also use ExBPA to make sure that it is configured according to Microsoft’s best practices.
Using the ExBPA to Assess Exchange 2007 Readiness
When you first open the ExBPA, you will see a screen asking you if you want to download the latest updates, or continue without making any updates. Microsoft routinely revises their recommended best practices, so I strongly recommend downloading the latest version every time that you use the ExBPA.
After you have downloaded any available updates, you will see a screen asking you if you want to select the options for a new scan or view the results of a previous best practices scan. Choose the Select Options for a New Scan link.
At this point, you will see a screen informing you that you that the ExBPA must be able to communicate with a global catalog server. If you are not currently logged on with a domain account, then click the Advanced Login link. Otherwise, click the Connect to the Active Directory Server link.
The ExBPA will now display the Start a New Best Practices Scan screen, shown in Figure A. As you can see in the figure, there are several different types of scans that the ExBPA can perform. You will also notice that the last option on the list is an Exchange 2007 Readiness Check. Select this option, and then click the Start Scanning link.
Figure A Choose the Exchange 2007 Readiness Check option, and click the Start Scanning link.
The readiness check typically completes quickly. When the scan finishes, click the View a Report of This Best Practices Scan link. The report will list any issues that prevent your organization from being Exchange 2007 ready.
As you can see, using the ExBPA to perform a migration readiness check is a simple process. Even so, it can save you a lot of frustration if you go ahead and perform this simple check prior to installing Exchange 2007.
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