Server Manager in Windows Server 2008 R2, Part 3

ControlPanel_thumb6What started with the Configure your Server wizard and the introduction of Server Roles in Microsoft Windows 2000 Server, resulted in the tangible value of the Initial Configuration Tasks wizard (oobe.exe) and the Server Manager (servermanager.msc) in Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2.

Part 1 and Part 2 of this series focused on Server Manager Remoting and how to gain complete Remoting functionality with PowerShell Remoting in addition to Server Manager Remoting.

Now, in this part of this series, let’s look at a different (but in my opinion equally big) new feature in Server Manager in combination with several Windows Server Roles: Best Practices Analyzers.

About Best Practices Analyzers

Best Practices Analyzers, or BPAs as TLA-addicts like to call them, are not new to Microsoft products. Not even close, since the first Best Practices Analyzer, the Microsoft Exchange Server Best Practices Analyzer (ExBPA), was released in 2004…

 

Best Practices Analyzers (BPAs)

Part of Server Manager

The first thing that’s new is that Best Practices Analyzers are now part of Server Manager. When you click on a Server Role in the left navigation pane of Server Manager, in the Summary screen (in the main pane) you can scroll down to the Best Practices Analyzer section. Here you can:

  • Start Best Practices Analyzer Scans using Scan This Role
  • Review Best Practices Analyzer results
  • Include and/or exclude specific Best Practices Analyzer results

The screenshot below shows the Best Practices Analyzers for the Active Directory Domain Services Role in Server Manager in Windows Server 2008 R2:

Best Practices Analyzer for Active Directory Domain Services (Click to enlarge)

Extended to TechNet

When you view the properties of a Best Practices Analyzer result, either by double clicking a result in the results pane of by selecting the result and following the Properties link, you find more information on the result. Information per result include what was scanned, why it’s not compliant, what the risks are and how to fix the situation.

Below is an example of the “The PDC emulator master dc1.demo.ogd.nl in this forest should be configured to correctly synchronize time from a valid time source” result:

BPA Result

As you might notice, the information is pretty detailed. However, a link is displayed at the bottom of the screen with a hyperlink, promising even more information.

This hyperlink will make your browser (most likely Internet Explorer) visit a TechNet page. Offering clear formatting a more detailed step-by-step resolution path is offered. Actually, I don’t find the extra information the real punch. It’s the Community Content at the end of these TechNet pages, that might prove useful for many administrators.

Because, after working with the Exchange Best Practices Analyzer (ExBPA) for years, I found out not every BPA result results in a better working environment, in terms of usability, security or stability.

The Community Content feature on the TechNet BPA pages might contain warnings from other administrators, MVPs … well, actually anybody with a Windows Live ID!

Updated through Windows Update

There is no doubt in my mind, Microsoft will take the Best Practices Feedback. Even more, I don’t even doubt Microsoft to improve and expand on their Best Practice Analyzers.

As you might have already notice on your Windows Server 2008 R2 boxes, Microsoft is already actively offering update to the Best Practices Analyzer functionality, offering more Best Practices Analyzer scans and updated guidance.

Also available in PowerShell

One last thing I’m excited about in terms of Best Practices Analyzers is the fact you can use PowerShell cmdlets from the Best Practices Analyzer PowerShell Module and Kick off Best Practices Analyzer Scans , review Best Practices Analyzer results and include and/or exclude specific Best Practices Analyzer results from the command line.

Combining this with PowerShell remoting you can make fun PowerShell scripts to perform Best Practices Analyzer scans and export them to Excel, XML and/or HTML format periodically for an intern to manage.

An example of such a script (without error checking!) would be:

invoke-command -computername RemoteServer -scriptblock{
import-module ServerManager
import-module BestPractices
get-bpamodel | invoke-bpamodel
get-bparesult Microsoft/Windows/FileServices | select Severity, Title,Resolution | ConvertTo-HTML | set-content “C:\filebpa.html”
copy C:\filebpa.html \\
FileServer\data\BPAReports
}

 

Concluding

Best Practices Analyzers in Windows Server 2008 R2 are a part of Server Manager. The Exchange team has done a lot of pioneering in this area. When looking at the Exchange Troubleshooting Assistant (ExTrA), Exchange Pre-Deployment Analyzer (ExPDA) and the Microsoft Exchange Server Remote Connectivity Analyzer work this team has done and how this work has found its way into other Microsoft products and technologies, I think we’re in for some serious guidance to make our lives a whole lot easier. A good thing? Who knows…

Further reading

Updates for Best Practices Analyzer
Best Practices Analyzer Updates for Server 2008 R2
Microsoft releases a Best Practices Analyzer for Hyper-V
Best Practices Analyzer for Hyper-V – First Impressions
Best Practices Analyzer: Run it on your server roles, not your loved ones
MS Announce Best Practices Analyzer update for RDS
PRC08: Best Practices for Deployments and Upgrades – Takeaways
Best Practice Analyzers for Windows Servers / Exchange
Download details: Rules Update for Active Directory Domain Services Best Practice Analyzer for Windows Server 2008 R2 x64 Editions
Best Practice Analyzer for Hyper-V – What does it check?
Microsoft Forefront Threat Management Gateway (TMG) 2010 Best Practices Analyzer Tool
AD: Rules Update for AD DS Best Practice Analyzer

Series Navigation

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