Book Reviews

Getting Certified on Exchange 2000

The book, despite some drawbacks, is still a useful exam-prep tool for experienced Exchange 5.5 administrators.

Looking to pass Microsoft exam 70-224, Installing, Configuring, and Administering Microsoft Exchange 2000 Server? If you’re an experienced Exchange 5.5 administrator, with some Active Directory know-how, this book (and accompanying CD-ROM) should prove helpful, despite a few shortcomings.

The book’s strongest points are its accuracy and thoroughness. Clawson and Luckett demonstrate knowledge of Exchange that comes from both detailed research and experience. For example, they avoid the common pitfall of assuming disaster recovery procedures for Exchange 2000 haven’t changed from Exchange 5.5 (they have—big time). The chapters correspond to the main exam topics, and are divided into “Certification Objectives” which map each section to items in Microsoft’s exam prep guide. And although the book’s main goal is exam preparation, it contains a lot of useful, real-world information as well, such as which version of RAID is best for Exchange and why.

Still, the authors omit a handful of relevant facts and capabilities, such as how to create Administrative Groups before installing your first Exchange server. Still, they can be forgiven a few lapses on such a big topic; the book covers about 95 percent of what you need to know for the exam.

The folks at Osborne get high marks for the features they include in their MCSE prep books, and Clawson and Luckett make great use of them. They emphasize the importance of hands-on experience and reinforce it throughout the book with step-by-step lab exercises. The book also includes “Two-Minute Drills” at the end of each chapter—handy stuff for a quick review the night before the exam. Best of all are the “Self-Test Questions,” which include not only answers but also explanations of them. I found the questions very challenging, too (and no, I’m not telling you how I did on them).

If the book has a weak point, it’s the organization; it’s good, but it could have been better. Chapter 1, in particular, attempts to provide an overview of Exchange 2000’s new features and procedures, but the chapter confuses more than it informs. Skip it and go straight to Chapter 2. The other chapters are much better organized, but still suffer occasional lapses. For example, when the authors cover Address Lists, the “Exam Watch” tips in the section discuss mail-enabled groups: an unrelated feature, but the proximity implies they’re one and the same.

Although it includes several features, the accompanying CD wouldn’t be my main reason for buying the book. The best part of the CD is “ExamSim,” a challenging exam simulation. ExamSim tracks your score each time you use it, helping you zero in on the topics you most need to study. Other parts of the CD are somewhat lackluster. The hypertext version of the book needs a search feature to be really useful, and the “Certcam” multimedia demos, while moderately useful, are no replacement for hands-on practice.

Overall, anyone upgrading his or her Exchange 5.5 certification to Exchange 2000 will find this book useful. Just remember to skip the first chapter, and supplement your reading—as always and as the authors themselves emphasize—by working with the product.

About the Author

Ronald Stewart, MCSE+I, MCT, is an IT consultant in Vancouver, Canada. He has more than 10 years of experience in IT. He’s worked with, consulted on, and taught DNS.

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