The Ultimate Windows Server 2003 System Administrator's Guide
by Zaklina Supica - Thursday, 18 March 2004.
Authors: Robert Williams and Mark Walla
Pages: 1008
Publisher: Addison-Wesley
ISBN: 0201791064


Almost a year with us, Windows Server 2003 is already described and presented in a great number of books. Since Windows Server 2003 is a complex, feature-rich operating system it's completely natural to get several books that cover it. Read on to see what this massive guide brings.

About the authors

G. Robert Williams, Ph.D., is President of Secure Logistix Corporation. Due to his security expertise, he is actively involved in U.S. government antiterrorism activities and has received federal commendations for his efforts. He is in high demand as a speaker for industry conferences such as Windows Decisions Expo, Microsoft Fusion, LinuxWorld, and ASPWorld.

Mark Walla is President of Enterprise Certified Corporation. Walla has written a number of technical articles for Computer World, Platform Decisions, and Windows NT/2000 magazines and was contributor to and technical editor of the book "Windows NT and UNIX: Administration, Coexistence, Integration, and Migration", as well as the co-author of "The Ultimate Windows 2000 System Administrator's Guide".

Inside the book

The story about Windows Server 2003 starts with an emphasis on the role of the administrator that remains central to its successful deployment and maintenance. The first chapter is an overview of the Windows Server 2003 components from an administrative perspective. Shortly, this chapter covers the historical perspective, product family as well as the new features and administrative implications.

If you want to be in the best position to install, configure, optimize, and troubleshoot Windows Server 2003 it's recommended to pay attention to the Windows Server 2003 structure and architecture. The second chapter will help you understand the operating system's structural layers, subsystems, and managers; get some knowledge of process management, and management tools; understand boot process which involves a series of system configuration checks; overview the registry structure; understand application dependencies and software compatibility.

There are a number of common sense tips for implementing Windows Server 2003. The authors describe ten of them which represent good guidelines for planning an upgrade, and some additional issues which must be taken when creating a Windows Server 2003 enterprise from scratch. What you also encounter here are core instructions about a basic installation, automated or unattended installations as well as remote installations.

After you've installed the OS you can start reviewing the items of its interface. The fourth chapter gives you the ability to understand the user and administrator interface, to work with the Microsoft management Console and administrative tools. Some of the covered topics are the dual view monitoring facility, Internet connectivity and Winkey quick keys combinations.

I think there aren't any Windows administrators on this planet who didn't hear abozt Active Directory, the collection of directory services. First introduced in Windows 2000, Active Directory has been refined for Windows Server 2003. The authors manage to give you a working knowledge of some Active Directory concepts such as the function of the Active Directory, logical structure components, how AD schema defines object and its attributes, and open standards support and naming conventions.

In chapter six, story about AD is continued and system administrator interaction and maintenance are explored. The authors explain and perform some of the AD tasks. This chapter covers process of planning the AD, installing the AD (with one example of installation on the first domain controller). You can read about the AD administrative tools and get some knowledge how to use these tools to perform key management tasks. To avoid enumeration of all topics covered here, I will simply put it this way - this chapter provides a framework for AD use.

One of the core administration responsibilities is user accounts and group management and chapter seven explores all related information. You will understand user profile types and you will be brought forth with the full meaning of groups. The complexities of domain local and global security groups are also presented. Moving on you will get an understanding of the concept of group policies. You can also follow a few implementation examples and you can explore concept of one of the widely promoted aspects of Windows Server 2003, IntelliMirror.

The ninth chapter is all about security as the authors' present material related to permission security, folder sharing and distributed file system sharing. You are presented with theoretical examinations of NTFS permissions security and folder sharing following by working examples of settings permissions, transferring ownership, and creating shared folders. A profound attention has been brought over distributed file system sharing (DFS) with topology, and the process of creation and deleting DFS.

To introduce a higher level of security the authors present important technologies for system administrators: Kerberos, version 5 and PKI. You get familiar with Kerberos Policies and its standard options. The Public Key Infrastructure begins with its background. After you get some understanding of certificate components you can review the certification authority architecture.

If security is area of your interest you will find some useful information as we move on. You learn about how to protect your computer system against internal abuses and external intrusion. With a few demonstrations the authors showing the seriousness of the security policy and its template snap-ins. Beside this, a number of possible problem areas are included (user account security, file system lockdown, RAS security, etc.). Because security breaches can compromise your system, it's recommended to read some advice at the end of this chapter - how to reduce vulnerability.

Chapter thirteen brings two sections. The first one covers networking basics, from network architecture, IP addressing, IP routing through the client configuration. The second one examines naming services (DNS and DHCP). This section covers guides for installation, configuration and management of DNS and DHCP. Again, theoretical and practical information is provided. If you are familiar with these services and technologies, this chapter will be a good quick reference; otherwise it is a good start of getting some knowledge about networking.

The popularity of Virtual Private Networks is growing rapidly. More and more organizations use this method for secure communication with remote offices. The authors teach you some basics strategies for authenticating users and computers when establishing VPNs. Two examples of VPN configurations are shown step by step with graphical figures. Another technology presented here is IPSec. In fact, the whole chapter provides a reasonable approach to deploying VPN and IPSec.

What follows is more useful material that covers risk management, the backup and restoration process and disaster recovery. While reading the fourteenth chapter you will pass through some disk related topics: disk management and management tools, storage types, disk fragmentation, disk quotas, disk volume management, and storage libraries. Backup and restore part of this chapter covers some policies and methods with some practical examples.

In the world of thin client technologies, Microsoft has his solution - terminal services. In Windows Server 2003, terminal services present a new mechanism for granting users remote access to a computer. The following chapter starts with the process of installing terminal services, than configuring them. As terminal services offer a number of system administrative tools, some of those tools are explored as well. This is an interesting part for an administrator who does remote management of any server in the network.

Windows Server 2003 comes with the version 6 of Internet Information Services and the good news is related to stricter security features. The authors present and overview where you learn about some of these features, IIS security mechanisms, technologies, and process architecture. To get the whole picture of IIS, the authors are present the web server, SMTP server, NNTP server and FTP server.

The last chapter examines several advanced features in a Windows Server 2003 enterprise. Those are Cluster, Indexing, Message Queuing, SMS, MOM, and WSH. Here the authors provide an introduction to those administrators who will employ these technologies.

At the end of the book the reader will find a reference tool that defines a number of commands with its options. Commands are broken into several categories: command-line features new to Windows Server 2003, backup, batch, comparison, compression, display, file management, file manipulation, miscellaneous, networking, ownership, print, search, system management and resource kit support tools. All commands are described with its description, examples and options. The authors also provide an overview of the most frequently used commands and utilities.

Final thoughts

Well, as the authors said "The Ultimate Windows Server 2003 System Administrator's Guide was written for system administrators and other IT professionals who manage a Windows environment."

This book is a comprehensive guide. It covers fundamentals of Windows Server 2003 which are inherited from Windows 2000 administration. It brings details of planning, deployment, administration, and management of a Windows Server 2003 operating system.

I would like to point out the fact that this book provides both theoretical and practical explanations. It's also an intermediate reference guide for administrators and it's a beginner's reference guide suitable for novices at the same time.


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