This free book consolidates descriptions of the inner workings of most of the major components that make up Windows 2000.

The Definitive Deployment Download

The <i>Windows 2000 Deployment Planning Guide</i>, a free book from Microsoft, consolidates descriptions of the inner workings of most of the major components that make up Windows 2000.

There’s a great new Windows 2000 book on the market, chock full of planning and technical advice—a valuable resource you must have on your bookshelf. Don’t even attempt to deploy Win2K before reading it. After all, it’s one book you can definitely afford because it’s absolutely free! Microsoft made the Windows 2000 Deployment Planning Guide available as a free download. Written by the same technical geniuses at Microsoft who brought us Windows 2000, this book is intended to lead you down the road to Win2K deployment success.

Downloading the 3.91M file is an easy task compared to perusing its 1,100 pages on everything from developing a Win2K project plan, to pilot and production rollouts, to detailed Win2K technical gobbledygook. The book’s 25 detailed chapters are broken into three major functional areas: deployment planning, technical design, and automating installation.

Product Information
MCSE Windows 2000 Server Deployment Planning Guide
Microsoft Corp.
1,158 pages
www.mspress.microsoft.
com/prod/books/1394.htm

Learn before Doing

Win2K is far too complex a product to be tackled in the traditional fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants method of product install. With other products you may be able to tear off the shrink-wrap, pop in the CD, and go to town—but that’s not even an option with Win2K. There are too many variables and interdependencies to make the mistake of not properly planning a Win2K rollout. Think of it as the difference between building a doghouse and building the Empire State Building. Four walls, a roof, and a bowl of cold water will do for one, but not the other.

The book was designed to organize, in one volume, all project-planning necessary to deploy Win2K in a large organization. Case studies illustrate the decision-making that four organizations (whether real or fictitious—the book wasn’t clear) went through in choosing which versions of Win2K to deploy and what specific Win2K services to employ. The organizations range in size from a multi-site North American industrial manufacturer to an international software development company with 180 worldwide locations (hmmm… I wonder who this could be). Unfortunately, Mom and Pop shops, along with small to medium businesses, aren’t included in the case studies. Perhaps Microsoft figures that smaller organizations can justify deployment of Win2K based on brand name and staying competitive alone.

Planning Makes Perfect

Deployment Planning gives a detailed description of the major components that make up Win2K and then jumps right into how two of the case study companies created a deployment roadmap as part of their Win2K project management process. This is the 30,000-foot view of deployment planning, including determining goals and objectives, feature design and development, and designing the pilot as well as the Win2K production rollout. If your eyes glaze over like mine do at the thought of organizing and attending countless meetings to develop this high-level plan, don’t fret, you’re only human. No one, except for masochistic professional project planners, enjoys this part of a major deployment—but it’s as necessary an evil as flossing your teeth is to your overall health.

From 30,000 feet we descend to 10,000, and the project takes on a different character: translating the abstract concepts presented so far into detailed nuts-and-bolts plans. This includes personnel allocation, deployment teams, current inventory, standards and guidelines, documentation, communications strategy, education and training, risk assessment and management, and budgeting. My eyelids droop further.

Leveled out at 10,000 feet, the book discusses the need for building a Win2K test lab. Here, the book’s large business bias is apparent, since not all companies can afford the expense of setting up and maintaining a lab environment. Most of us know that in a small or medium company, building a test lab means upgrading the IT staff’s computers first, and, only if there are no hiccups, proceeding to the user departments with Win2K in one hand and a prayer book in the other. If your company can afford the lab, put on your white coat and make the most of it. It’s a great resource to have in any major deployment. [For more information on testing, see Thomas Eck’s article, “White-coat Computer Science,” in the February issue.—Ed.]

As we nosedive to 3,000 feet, the harsh reality of the deployment starts to sink in. It’s going to happen whether you like it or not. To ensure a smooth landing, the book discusses the need for a pilot rollout (no pun intended) before the major deployment begins. Great advice—take it. It’s far better to have a select group of users test how Win2K is going to behave in the real world than it is to go from the controlled lab environment directly to all the hostile desktops.

Finally, as we line up the runway, widespread rollout is imminent. Users rush to the tarmac, cheering our approach. Or are they waving their hands, wildly motioning us away? I really can’t tell from up here.

The Heavy

The second and third parts of the book are strictly technical in nature and make up the bulk of the book’s content. You’ll find chapters on preparing your network infrastructure for Win2K, network connectivity strategies, using SMS to deploy Win2K, designing Active Directory, domain migration strategies, security planning (including a separate chapter on Public Key Infrastructure), deploying Terminal Server, ensuring application and services reliability, synchronizing Active Directory with Exchange, application compatibility, client connectivity and administration, change and configuration management through Group Policy, and automating client installation and upgrade.

Of a number of appendices, probably the most useful will be Appendix A, which contains over 40 pages of sample planning worksheets to use when developing your Win2K project plan. Hey, even if you’re not the best project planner in the world, you can still impress the management team when you hand them the neatly summarized and bound 40-page booklet detailing your deployment plans. They’ll think you slaved for weeks on end to come up with details.

The Skinny

As I mentioned in my last article, if you’re on the Win2K certification path you’ll need to spend some time reading “appropriate technical articles.” Well, this book is definitely one of them. The technical detail found in the Windows 2000 Deployment Planning Guide is sufficient to give you a good understanding of not only how Win2K components work, but also how they integrate with one another and how they differ from Windows NT 4.0. This comprehensive overview can save you countless hours of rummaging through TechNet and other online resources trying to glean the same information. And although it wasn’t designed as a certification prep tool, it covers most of the objectives that you’ll encounter on the certification tests.

I must warn you, however, that this book makes for some really dry reading. With page after page of text and few eye-soothing graphics, this book reads like an old IBM mainframe technical manual. Falling asleep wasn’t a problem the nights I pored over its chapters. Boredom and dryness aside, the book consolidates descriptions of the inner workings of most of the major components that make up Win2K into one resource. So use it for what it is—a technical reference guide for Win2K.

Here’s the final skinny on the Windows 2000 Deployment Planning Guide: The planning chapters are great for getting your organization started on the right track to Windows 2000. Take it literally if you work at a large organization similar to the companies presented in the case studies. If you don’t work for a national or international company with a Lear Jet at your beck and call, you should still read the planning section and downsize it to your needs. Read between the lines and adapt the project plan as you see fit. Treat the rest of the book as a good technical reference manual, always within reach when needed. Finally, place your dinner trays in the upright and locked position, fasten your seat belt, and sit comfortably as we make our final approach into Win2K International.

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