IT Books: Caveats and Kudos

Windows 2000 (Win2K) and Exchange 2000 Server contain a lot of new technology that you must master. A good book about computer technology assembles information from many sources and makes sense of complex subjects. A plethora of books are on the market, but the quality of the information varies enormously. The computer publishing trade faces some formidable obstacles, for several reasons.

  1. The speed of change makes updating difficult. Rapid changes in software have shortened technology books' shelf life and accelerated the pace of releasing new versions or updates. Books are valuable, but they can present only a view of what technology was at a specific time.
  2. Too many books are based on beta code. Because the publishing cycle takes many weeks, if publishers time a book's release to appear with a new product's introduction, authors must base the text on beta code. I prefer books that are based on a product that has been available for a while so that the text reflects real-life experience with the product in production.
  3. Too many books only rehash Microsoft material. I don't mind when an author uses important information to make a point, but some books are no more than evidence that people know how to cut and paste.
  4. Writing for the enterprise market is difficult. Global enterprises use the same Microsoft products as small businesses use, but they use radically different design, deployment, and operational techniques, hardware, and network connectivity. You can't emulate a corporate deployment of Win2K by installing Win2K Server on your notebook PC!

These points need not stop you from buying computer books, which remain a prime source of information about technology. But be careful what you buy.

Tony's Booklist
My favorite books are written by authors who demonstrate their knowledge of technology through practical application. Here's a list of the books I have recently read and enjoyed. I recommend them all.

Sean Deuby, Windows 2000 Server: Planning and Migration (Macmillan Technical Publishing, 1999). Although based on beta code, a good overview of the steps you need to take to plan for a Win2K deployment.

Microsoft Consulting Services, Building Enterprise Active Directory Services: Notes from the Field (Microsoft Press, 2000). A lot of interesting information about the Active Directory (AD), including replication workload and sizing. The authors aren't all Microsoft employees, and they present the information in an understandable manner.

Kieran McCorry, Connecting Microsoft Exchange Server (Digital Press, 1999). A practical guide to connecting Exchange Server 5.5 to SMTP and X.400 messaging environments, including a section on directory synchronization, which authors often overlook in discussions of connectivity.

Sue Mosher, Microsoft Outlook 2000 E-mail and Fax Guide (Digital Press, 2000). The best book about Outlook 2000; contains more information about the finer points of using Outlook than most brains care to remember.

Morten Strunge Nielsen, Windows 2000 Server Architecture and Planning (Coriolis Technology Press, 1999). A well-written book from someone who knows his subject. No Win2K book available now can cover aspects such as Windows 2000 Datacenter Server or clustering well, but this book covers most other topics effectively.

Simon Robinson, Professional ADSI Programming (Wrox Press, 1999). A great insight into AD from a programming perspective. You might not want to write any Active Directory Service Interfaces (ADSI) code, but you'll learn some valuable background information.

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