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January 29, 2002

Understand, Diagnose, and Resolve: O'Reilly Releases the Windows 2000 Performance Guide

Sebastopol, CA--As most systems administrators can attest to, computer performance is often linked closely with human productivity. This provides administrators with a strong economic incentive, if no other, to ensure that their systems are performing optimally. Although the definition of "good" performance is often vague, systems that provide fast, consistent response time are generally more acceptable to the people who use them, explain Mark Friedman and Odysseas Pentakalos, coauthors of the just-released Windows 2000 Performance Guide (O'Reilly, US $44.95). On the other hand, systems with severe performance problems are often rejected outright by their users and fail, leading to costly delays, expensive rewrites, and loss of productivity. For computer performance analysts then, the task is finding out what it takes to turn "bad" performance into "good" performance.

"In survey after survey that I have looked at, systems performance is always a significant concern," says Friedman, "Where performance counts, however, is when Windows 2000 is deployed as a critical part of 'mission-critical' applications--as a web server, for messaging (email), as a database server, etc. And this is happening on a more frequent basis today than ever before."

Windows 2000 Performance Guide explains how Windows 2000 and the various hardware components associated with it work, how to tell when the performance of an application running under Windows 2000 is not optimal, and what can be done about it. Friedman and Pentakalos focus on practical problem solving, with an emphasis on understanding and interpreting performance measurement data. The book includes information on processor performance, application profiling and hardware considerations, multiprocessing, memory and paging, file cache, disk performance, networking, and IIS.

"Most performance tuning books focus on teaching tips and heuristics on how to tune the performance of a system," coauthor Pentakalos says. "Those tips may or may not apply to everyone's situation given the wide variety of configuration options available. One thing that sets our book apart from other performance tuning books is that we focus first on explaining to the reader how each component of the system works. We then lead them through the performance tuning effort with lots of examples that include measurements from real systems."

"I perceived a need for this type of book in my work with Windows NT/2000 performance monitoring," Friedman adds. "Good books on Windows 2000 internals for developers and general books on Windows 2000 performance for system administrators exist. But a good book that starts with what we know about the way Windows 2000 works, but then explores hands-on empirical data showing Windows 2000 systems in operation was not available from any source."

Windows 2000 Performance Guide is aimed at a variety of computer systems professionals, from system administrators who have mastered the basics of installing and maintaining Windows 2000 servers and workstations, to developers who are trying to build high-performance applications for this platform. System administrators will learn what performance data is available that bears on a specific performance problem and understand how to interpret it so that they can resolve that problem. Developers will understand how to build applications for the Windows 2000 platform that perform and scale better.

"Microsoft has done a wonderful job of making a very complex piece of software look very simple, and be simple to get up and running," Friedman says. "Under the covers, however, Windows 2000 is anything but simple. When the inevitable performance problems arise, computer professionals need to have the information in the book to understand, diagnose, and resolve the common problems on these systems."

What critics have said about Windows 2000 Performance Guide:

This book balances the presentation of complex performance issues between clear explanations of the underlying theory and useful insights of practical application. As chief scientist for DevelopNET Corporation, I see this book as an extremely valuable reference for our Windows products development staff. It provides both the overall explanations of why they should care about performance and the detailed explanations of how the implementation of different aspects of the operating system affects performance.

As an adjunct professor of computer science at two local universities, I see this book as an excellent companion text in the operating systems and performance courses I teach. It provides the bridge between the theoretical discussions of operating systems internals and the trade-offs of a practical implementation that is missing for most books. The authors have pulled together many different topics at many different levels and tied them together such that the reader sees the interrelationships without having to become an expert in all of the topics. Recommended!

--Dr. Tim R. Norton, Chief Scientist, DevelopNET Corporation

Online Resources:

Windows 2000 Performance Guide
By Mark Friedman and Odysseas Pentakalos
January 2002
ISBN 0-56592-466-5, 700 pages, $44.95 (US), $67.95 (CAN)
order@oreilly.com
1-800-998-9938

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