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.