Weekend Reading - April 22, 2016

Blogs / News

Microsoft IT Environment Health Scanner

It's essentially a server for business.
It’s essen­tial­ly a serv­er for busi­ness.
Most peo­ple have a fear of tak­ing their vehi­cle to the mechan­ic for even the sim­plest tasks just to find out they need their trans­func­tion­er adjust­ed because of wear to the dri­ver’s side steer­ing wid­get.  For many in the SMB mar­ket, that same fear can be found in their tech­nol­o­gy invest­ments.  “Did that last IT guy wrap our SQL serv­er in duct tape and tie it to the web serv­er with shoe string?”  The real­i­ty is often not that bad, but it can be unset­tling not know­ing.

The first thing I want to check when prepar­ing any SMB (or large scale Enter­prise) for a project is the over­all health of their envi­ron­ment.  I typ­i­cal­ly use a few cus­tom scripts, the invalu­able tools from Joe­ware and Sys­in­ter­nals, plus a few oth­ers offered by var­i­ous ven­dors to col­lect the data for analy­sis.  The stan­dard ser­vices are checked, like DNS, DHCP, WINS (ugh), Exchange, AD, NTP, Group Pol­i­cy, CAs, etc. for over­all health and mis­con­fig­u­ra­tions.  Even with the rich ecosys­tem of tools, this process can be time con­sum­ing so I am always look­ing for ways to stream­line the process.

It seems a lot of oth­ers were look­ing for a quick method as well; at least one that can get a quick assess­ment of whether you are deal­ing with a dis­as­ter or lim­it­ed pieces to fix.  The Microsoft Essen­tial Busi­ness Serv­er runs a check on the envi­ron­ment to assess its health before instal­la­tion.  From this Microsoft Tech­net blog, “[the EBS team] noticed that Prepa­ra­tion Wiz­ard was wide­ly used, not just by cus­tomers who were deploy­ing EBS, but any­one with Active Direc­to­ry in their net­work who want­ed to ver­i­fy the health of their envi­ron­ment.” This gave birth to the Microsoft IT Envi­ron­ment Health Scan­ner in the sum­mer of 2009.

This free tool does the basic checks I’m going to do any­way but it gives that quick assess­ment that often tells me whether I need to dig fur­ther. Microsoft­’s down­load page states:

When run from a com­put­er with the prop­er net­work access, the tool takes a few min­utes to scan your IT envi­ron­ment, per­form more than 100 sep­a­rate checks, and col­lect and ana­lyze infor­ma­tion about the fol­low­ing:

  • Con­fig­u­ra­tion of sites and sub­nets in Active Direc­to­ry
  • Repli­ca­tion of Active Direc­to­ry, the file sys­tem, and SYSVOL shared fold­ers
  • Name res­o­lu­tion by the Domain Name Sys­tem (DNS)
  • Con­fig­u­ra­tion of the net­work adapters of all domain con­trollers, DNS servers, and e-mail servers run­ning Microsoft Exchange Serv­er
  • Health of the domain con­trollers
  • Con­fig­u­ra­tion of the Net­work Time Pro­to­col (NTP) for all domain con­trollers

Whether you have a small Microsoft IT envi­ron­ment or are Enter­prise large, this tool is great for catch­ing those things often over­looked dur­ing set­up or changes or mis­con­fig­ured. Down­load link: Microsoft IT Envi­ron­ment Health Scan­ner.

All Your VoIP Are Belong To Us

Looks like Microsoft is adding to its VoIP offer­ings. Skype should make a nice addi­tion to their recent push with the com­bined ser­vices of OCS and Live Meet­ing in Lync. Should be an inter­est­ing day to watch the MSFT stock. The price tag keeps going up. First I heard $7 bil­lion. Then $8.5 bil­lion. Yikes! http://goo.gl/bhsn6

Office 365 Deployment Readiness Tool Beta Released

Office365 Migration Readiness Tool
Office365 Migra­tion Readi­ness Tool

On Fri­day (May 6th), Microsoft released the Enter­prise Beta Readi­ness Tool for Office365. As the name implies, this tool is meant to do a quick readi­ness check on your envi­ron­ment.  Upon exe­cu­tion, it will auto­mat­i­cal­ly extract the files to C:office365reskit and launch the app with­in IE. If you sys­tem has IE locked down, this may be prob­lem­at­ic or at least require the acknowl­edge­ment of a few warn­ings. As it’s run­ning, it col­lects infor­ma­tion (be patient) from your orga­ni­za­tion’s net­work into its temp direc­to­ry (c:office365reskittmp). The files with­in this direc­to­ry are plain text and offer an inter­est­ing look into the envi­ron­ment. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, once the test com­pletes, the util­i­ty ana­lyzes and con­sol­i­dates these temp files and deletes the orig­i­nat­ing files, leav­ing a tech­ni­cal per­son with much to be desired.


The report is long and not filled with a whole lot of tech­ni­cal details. It gives basic infor­ma­tion about your orga­ni­za­tion like sip domains, AD func­tion­al­i­ty lev­els, Exchange org, object counts and more. It then com­pares that to known require­ments to mea­sure your readi­ness to migrate to Office365 and gives a pass/fail grade in each cat­e­go­ry. For an orga­ni­za­tion look­ing at Office365, this info will give a good base to start a dis­cov­ery process towards Office365 readi­ness.

My over­all impres­sion is the tool is a bit rough around the edges but a use­ful for quick dis­cov­ery. The infor­ma­tion can even be help­ful for doing quick, lim­it­ed Active Direc­to­ry, Exchange and OCS/Lync dis­cov­ery (although there are bet­ter tools for this job). Microsoft is show­ings its com­mit­ment to what will like­ly become a pret­ty aggres­sive push to busi­ness migra­tion to their cloud offer­ings.

Webcast: Dell, Hyper-V and System Center Goodness

Removing Virtualization Barriers and Simplifying Management with A Frameless Storage Solution and Microsoft System Center

Vir­tu­al­iza­tion is no longer just an IT buzz­word --your cus­tomers are ask­ing for it, and you’re ready to deliv­er. But with the dif­fer­ent types of stor­age hard­ware and pro­to­col choic­es in the mar­ket, are you pre­pared to offer the best stor­age option for your cus­tomer’s vir­tu­al­iza­tion solu­tion? How about keep­ing man­age­ment and main­te­nance sim­ple after deploy­ment?

Date/Time: April 19, 2011 12 PM Pacific/ 2 PM Cen­tral / 3 PM East­ern

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