Book Reviews

Fundamentals of Networking

A solid reference to networking technologies for the novice.

A lot of books out there try to be the single definitive resource for networking. In all fairness to the field, that's just not possible; but Chris Zacker has done a decent job of writing a volume that encapsulates a lot of the networking world. If you're starting down the MCSE track and want a broad view of a range of Microsoft technologies, you may find this book useful.

Parts 1 through 3 cover networking fundamentals, and it does a great job with the details of different networking technologies. The book opened with a thorough analysis of networking and the OSI model.

My only disappointment regarding the first section is the absence of VPN and VPN technologies. VPN is swiftly becoming a primary service on a great many networks, yet this book never touches the subject. Such an absence doesn't befit a "complete reference."

In Part 4, the book goes over network operating systems. This chapter covers Microsoft material more than Novell and Unix put together (about 90 pages dedicated to Microsoft, 70 to Novell and Unix). I would like to have seen more on Unix, which only grabbed 20 to 25 pages of the entire book. The author focuses on creating domain controllers for Active Directory, but only briefly discusses the different flavors of Unix, and especially the Berkley and DARPA command sets. Not enough balance across all options for my taste. Novell was covered in some detail, but the company that did directory services on a network first is hardly given justice compared to what's covered in the chapter on Active Directory.

This book provides a great starting point for the novice Microsoft administrator to understand AD. The author logically breaks down the concepts of AD pretty well. This chapter would be a good read for someone starting to learn directory services and warms the reader up for more intensive references on the subject.

Parts 5 and 6 discuss network connection services. This was a pretty good read. The author does a great job of explaining DHCP, even taking some time to do some packet analysis shots. He also goes into WINS and DNS in detail, which is good for understanding these important protocols.

Part 7 looks at administration. Again, the Microsoft-centricity of this book shows through. In fact, Chapters 30 and 31 are mostly Microsoft's take on network administration. With the coverage of NetWare and Unix in the earlier chapters, there should have been more about administration in NetWare and Unix environments. The chapter on backup was the best section, with coverage of backup concepts, media and techniques.

This isn't a volume for the seasoned professional. A book that covers this much material can't supply in-depth knowledge in every area. But if you're new to the industry, this reference will teach you a lot.

About the Author

Rick A. Butler, MCSE+I, is the Director of Information Services for the United States Hang Gliding Association.

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