Book Reviews

Doing Windows 2003 Right

</i>Windows Server 2003: Best Practices for Deployment</i><i> helps IT plan for the new operating system, lay the network groundwork and keep it all secure.

Microsoft wants all enterprises to move to Windows Server 2003, whether they're running Windows NT, Windows 2000, or, god forbid, Linux or Unix. Of course, in a few years, the company will make the same push for "Longhorn." The upgrade and migration cycle will never end as long as there are new features to build and corporate coffers to line.

But there are compelling advantages to Windows 2003. It's more secure, as many features are turned off by default (sort of like making a car safer by throwing away the key and popping off the distributor) and can allow smart IT pros to dramatically consolidate servers, meaning fewer software licenses, less admin time and vastly reduced hardware TCO.

Windows 2003 migration should be taken very seriously. Every aspect of the Windows network should be carefully scrutinized to see where servers and their network connections can be eliminated, and how the new network can be simplified. All this hard work will pay for itself over and over again as the task of managing becomes less onerous.

But there is one problem: the migration and deployment. That's where Windows Server 2003: Best Practices for Enterprise Deployment by Nelson and Danielle Ruest comes in.

[Full disclosure: The authors are frequent contributors to —Editor.]

This 490-page book has a razor-sharp focus on deployment. If you're looking for 50-page descriptions of new Windows 2003 features, there are plenty of other books. If you want to know how to install, configure and manage the new OS, the Ruests's book can help.

The authors don't waste time getting to the important stuff. After a brief description of the many Windows Server 2003 versions, the couple dives into a discussion of rationalization, "a process focused on decreasing the number of servers and applications in the enterprise."

The Ruest don't advise that IT simply replace older OSs with copies of Windows 2003. Instead they promote "A New Model of Server Construction and Management" that is similar in concept to the standard 7-layer OSI networking model. Here, IT is advised to focus on the physical network, core operating system, networking, storage, security, communications, common productivity tools, presentation, role-based commercial software and/or corporate applications, and ad hoc commercial software and/or corporate applications.

Like with all the Ruests' books, this one proceeds methodically, teaching what you need to know first, then building up as the actual migration process moves along. This means you can read the book while you're migrating. Just don't jump ahead—you might miss out on some great advice.

There is plenty of nitty gritty, hands-on information such as exactly how to handle root forest creation. But there is also the bigger picture of how to architect a simpler, more easily managed Windows network.

The book is ideal for sizeable enterprises, as it walks through automating large-scale installations.

There is detailed advice on:

  • Creating pre-migration/installation inventories
  • Installing and customizing servers
  • Creating an Active Directory blueprint
  • Designing an OU structure
  • Creating the underlying IP infrastructure
  • Creating a network services infrastructure
  • Securing the Windows 2003 network
  • Making Windows 2003 fail-safe
  • And putting the whole thing into production

Another great feature is the checklists that include set tasks in the precise order in which they should be accomplished. Once all the boxes are checked, your job should be done.

Every several pages, the Ruests' toss in a little extra in the form of links to their companion Web site at The Web site has tons of resources on line, including worksheets for planning, and links to key Microsoft sites.

There are dozens of terrific Windows 2003 books, but the Ruests have a done a great service by focusing exclusively on deployment.

About the Author

Doug Barney is editor in chief of Redmond magazine and the VP, editorial director of Redmond Media Group.

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