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March 9, 2005

"Learning Windows Server 2003": The Lean and Practical Way to Install, Configure, and Run Microsoft's Newest Server

Sebastopol, CA--In just the last five years, Microsoft's server operating systems have grown immensely in capability, complexity, and number of features. The rapid advance from Windows NT to Server 2003 is a real advantage for system administrators looking to keep pace with the changing needs of their organizations. But it's also a great source of frustration for those who have had to grapple with a constant stream of new concepts--such as directory services, universal groups, and client quarantining.

"Just when you've mastered one set of changes, another comes along and you're scrambling once again to get up to speed," comments Jonathan Hassell, an experienced system administrator, IT consultant, and author of Learning Windows Server 2003 (O'Reilly US $44.95).

The frustration doesn't end there, Hassell notes. The tech book market, once a great source of help for beleaguered system administrators coming to terms with new server concepts and services, has recently produced server tutorials that are as complex and bloated as the operating systems they describe: 1,200-page monstrosities with outdated references to "how things worked" in older versions of Windows NT.

Hassell's new book sets out to explain Windows Server 2003 with just enough theory to help readers grasp how different features and systems work in this particular version. At 600 pages, Learning Windows Server 2003 documents the complexities of this server clearly with a focused, hands-on approach to installing, configuring, securing, and managing the OS, either as a stand-alone server or part of a multi-site, multi-server network. "I want them to come away with a firm understanding of what's happening under the hood without the sense that they're taking a graduate course in OS theory," Hassell explains. "Most of all, I want this to be a practical guide that helps them get their work done: 'here's how it works, here's how to do it.'"

Organizations still running Windows NT need to take a serious look at Server 2003, since Microsoft's support of the older server expired this past January. But what about those who adopted Windows 2000? As Hassell points out in his book, Server 2003 is more of an upgrade than a new product, but it offers many compelling improvements. In independent tests, Server 2003 outperformed Windows 2000 anywhere from 100-200% as a fileserver, a dynamic web application server, and for web page hosting--using the same hardware. Also, Server 2003 is built with more secure code, and offers the ability to work with tools such as Group Policy on Windows XP clients.

With Server 2003, Hassell contends, Microsoft has put together the right server for a world now dominated by enterprise networks and web-based server applications--one that finally offers a competitive solution to Unix in terms of cost, performance, and application development productivity.

Learning Windows Server 2003 gives beginning to intermediate system administrators everything they need to get this server up and running quickly. They'll learn how to create and manage user accounts (with particular attention on Active Directory), manage access to system resources such as printers and files, and configure and manage Server 2003's abundance of major subsystems. The book goes into detail about:

  • Windows file and print services
  • Active Directory and LDAP standards
  • IIS6 web server--why it's the most improved part of Server 2003
  • Group Policy and other security tools
  • Patch management
  • .NET Framework application server
  • Windows Terminal Services (including their use in conjunction with Microsoft Office and the Small Business Edition)
  • Various networking subsystems that ship with Server 2003
  • Hassell also includes an introduction to clustering services, and carefully documents the steps administrators should take to ensure the security of Server 2003 and its resources. For organizations with one or more internal computer networks planning--or at least considering--an upgrade to Microsoft's newest server, Learning Windows Server 2003 is the most direct and reliable way to make the transition.

    Additional Resources:

    Learning Windows Server 2003
    Jonathan Hassell
    ISBN: 0-596-00624-1, 654 pages, $44.95 US, $69.95 CA
    order@oreilly.com
    1-800-998-9938; 1-707-827-7000

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