A. Microsoft has released System Center Capacity Planner 2006, which you can download here. The Capacity Planner provides predeployment sizing and modeling for Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 and Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) 2005 for all deployment scenarios from basic to complex. The tool allows testing of the various configurations and how modifications to the configuration (e.g., adding a branch office or new users) will affect performance.

Capacity Planner is different from existing capacity planning tools, which typically are just spreadsheets and cumbersome to use or so complex that specialized consultants are needed. The tool asks questions about the number of locations, servers, connectivity between the locations, requirements, and hardware (e.g., SAN usage). The tool then creates a topology of the suggested infrastructure with hardware specifications and runs a simulation that gives performance details for the various options, including bandwidth and resource usage.

Should changes be required in the future, you can load and modify the model you created, adding infrastructure changes, such as new locations and additional users, then rerunning simulations to ensure the infrastructure meets requirements and what performance degradation might occur if you remove resources.

Capacity Planner runs on all version of Windows Server 2003 (except Datacenter edition), Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) or later, Windows 2000 SP4 or later (Server and Professional). You also must be running Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0.