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January 19, 2006

Active Directory, Third Edition: Design and Deployment of Microsoft's Active Directory

Sebastopol, CA--Since its introduction in Windows 2000, Microsoft's Active Directory has improved the way organizations share network resources such as users, groups, computers, printers, applications, and files. "Having a single source for this information makes it more accessible and easier to manage," notes Robbie Allen, coauthor of the highly acclaimed Active Directory, now available in its third edition (O'Reilly, US $49.99). "To accomplish this, however, requires a significant amount of knowledge on topics such as LDAP, Kerberos, DNS, multi-master replication, group policies, and data partitioning, to name a few."

In other words, Active Directory is still a major headache for network and system administrators who have to design, implement, and support it. Allen's book, co-written with industry experts Joe Richards and Alistair G. Lowe-Norris, offers a clear and detailed introduction that not only guides administrators through the maze of technologies, but also helps them understand the big picture.

"Our book describes Active Directory in depth, but not in the traditional way of going through the graphical user interface screen by screen," Allen explains. "Instead, the book sets out to tell administrators how to design, manage, and maintain a small, medium, or enterprise Active Directory infrastructure that's both scalable and reliable."

Many industry authorities consider this book to be the definitive resource for implementing Active Directory. Allen, Richards, and Lowe-Norris have revised the new edition of Active Directory significantly to describe features that have been updated or added in Windows Server 2003 R2, including coverage of programmatic interfaces available to manage them. Three additional chapters explain new features and concepts such as Active Directory Application Mode (ADAM), and scripting for common user and group tasks for Microsoft Exchange 2000/2003.

"Once information has been added to Active Directory, it can be made available for use throughout the entire network to as many or as few people as an administrator likes," Allen points out. "The structure of the information can match the structure of the organization, and users can query Active Directory to find the location of a printer or the email address of a colleague. Administrators can delegate control and management of the data however they see fit."

While Microsoft's documentation serves as an important reference, any administrator who deals with Active Directory will find this book to be a valuable resource, whether he or she manages a single server or works for a global multinational with thousands of servers. To that end, Active Directory is divided into three sections:

  • Part I introduces in general terms how Active Directory works, giving readers a thorough grounding in its concepts, such as Active Directory replication, the schema, application partitions, group policies, and interaction with DNS.
  • Part II covers the issues around properly designing the directory infrastructure, including designing the namespace, creating a site topology, designing group policies for locking down client settings, auditing, permissions, backup and recovery, and a look at Microsoft's future direction with Directory Services.
  • Part III is all about managing Active Directory via automation with Active Directory Service Interfaces (ADSI), ActiveX Data Objects (ADO), and Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI). Readers learn how to create and manipulate users, groups, printers, and other objects in their everyday management of Active Directory.
  • "Administrators who want a book that lays bare the design and management of an enterprise or departmental Active Directory need look no further," Allen says. "Even if they have a previous edition of the book, they'll find this third edition to be full of updates and corrections and a worthy addition to their 'good' bookshelf: the bookshelf next to their PC with the books they really read that are all dog-eared with soda drink spills and pizza grease on them."

    Additional Resources:

    Active Directory, Third Edition
    Joe Richards, Robbie Allen, and Alistair G. Lowe-Norris
    ISBN: 0-596-10173-2, 800 pages, $49.99 US
    order@oreilly.com
    1-800-998-9938; 1-707-827-7000

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