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Windows 2000 Network Infrastructure Administration Training Kit
by Microsoft Corporation and Microsoft Corporation
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Most of Microsoft's training kits are pretty much the same thing: while they aren't a "one-book stop" for the MCSE candidate, they are well-written introductions to the basic concepts. This strategy worked well several years ago, when the MCSEs first came out.
Unfortunately, Microsoft has been ramping up the complexity of its tests steadily, and the Windows 2000 tests are aimed at professionals who have at least one year of networking W2K under their belts--which means that simple concept-based training methods just won't cut it anymore. You can expect to see elaborate troubleshooting scenarios on the actual test, involving multiple DNS zones and strange WINS interactions--and this book simply will not help you there. If you're starting from scratch and don't know the first thing about DNS or TCP/IP, this book is a good starting point. But, if you're hoping actually to get your certification, you'll require probably two, or possibly three, additional good--and more in-depth--books to pass the exam.
This book is basically an introduction to WINS, TCP/IP, IPX, and DNS, with a light touch on certificates and keys. It does a good job of explaining rudimentary TCP/IP addressing--the basic concepts of host and network portions, the TCP/IP architecture, and the Windows 2000 IP configuration commands are written fairly well. You're given a couple of simple exercises ("Installing the TCP/IP Protocol," for example) to get some hands-on experience. However, the more complex TCP/IP portions aren't explained particularly well (such topics as subnetting Class C networks, or the reasons that an admin would use OSPF over RIP) and might require several rereadings.
The IPX section feels at times like a children's primer, with critical routing concepts being shorted on information. SAPs, for example, get a single paragraph and two bullet points--and that's it. That kiddy feel continues into the Network Analyzer and SNMP sections, which tell you how to gather tremendous amounts of information on your network, but not necessarily what to look for when you find it, or what you should do with it.
The DNS chapters go into quite a bit more detail, and are surprisingly well written, explaining with clean skill the concepts of DNS zones and records. This is, in fact, one of the better reasons to purchase this book; if you're hazy on DNS basics, Windows 2000 Network Infrastructure Administration will refresh your memory and fill in the gaps with ease. Be warned, however, that the section on certificates will require several rereadings to make sense before you get the overall picture.
In general, for what it covers, this is a good book and would work very well for the book-learning candidate trying to get a grasp on the essentials. If you already have a grasp on the essentials, however, it won't propel you into the ranks of the MCSE-certified. --William Steinmetz
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