In our second look at the Windows 2000 Server Resource Kit, James examines the kit’s coverage of TCP/IP, IIS, and IE.

Resource Kit Riches, Part 2

In our second look at the Windows 2000 Server Resource Kit, James examines the kit’s coverage of TCP/IP, IIS, and IE.

Many MCPs were disappointed when Microsoft announced that the Windows NT 4.0 TCP/IP and IIS 4.0 exams would be retired at the end of this year. That’s because those exams are two of the most popular electives in the NT 4.0 MCSE track. Many MCPs had hoped to use those same exams to satisfy their elective requirements for the new Windows 2000 track. That is, until Microsoft burst their bubble. Well, not completely. You can still use TCP/IP and IIS 4.0 to satisfy the Win2K electives requirement—as long as you complete your Win2K certification before their retirement date of December 31, 2000. However, even if you choose this route, you’ll have to replace those electives with Win2K equivalents before December 31, 2001 to maintain your Win2K certification. So at best, you’re buying yourself a little breathing room.

Product Information
Microsoft Windows 2000 Server Resource Kit
Microsoft Corp.
ISBN 1-57231-805-8
$299.99

“So what’s the big deal?” you ask. As it turns out, you’ll encounter both TCP/IP and IIS questions throughout the new Win2K exams. In other words, rather then taking a Win2K TCP/IP or IIS-specific exam (there are no such beasts), the old TCP/IP and IIS exam content has been integrated into the existing Win2K exams. Microsoft’s reasoning? Understanding TCP/IP and related concepts (DNS, DHCP) is crucial to understanding how Win2K integrates on a network. Thus, you should already be a TCP/IP expert before you dare to deploy a Win2K network (or for that matter, attempt a Win2K exam).

Which brings me to this month’s review, part 2 of my look at the Microsoft Windows 2000 Server Resource Kit. This month, I delve into the Windows 2000 Server TCP/IP Core Networking Guide, the Internet Information Services 5.0 Resource Guide, and the Internet Explorer 5 Resource Kit. [James reviewed the Distributed Systems Guide, Internetworking Guide, and Server Operations Guide in his August column.—Ed.]

Your TCP/IP Bible

When teaching the NT 4.0 TCP/IP curriculum, I found the TCP/IP technical information in the NT 4.0 Resource Kit’s more generic Networking Guide to be an invaluable reference tool. Since Win2K uses TCP/IP and its related protocols and services almost exclusively for network integration, Microsoft has reworked TCP/IP into the Windows 2000 Server Resource Kit by creating a guide that’s specific to TCP/IP, the TCP/IP Core Networking Guide. Not stingy on technical detail, this is a must-read if you are trying to understand the enhancements to TCP/IP in Win2K. It’s well-written and easy-to-understand, but keep in mind that no part of the Resource Kit was written specifically as an exam preparation guide.

This guide starts off with a chapter on how the TCP/IP protocol generically works, independent of any operating system. Here you’ll find the traditional discussion of IP addressing and subnetting, name resolution, routing, and so forth. The next chapter describes Microsoft’s implementation of TCP/IP in Win2K; that’s followed by a chapter on troubleshooting the protocol using the latest Win2K diagnostic tools.

Subsequent chapters detail Win2K backend TCP/IP services like DHCP, DNS, and WINS. As you would expect, the bulk of this section is spent explaining the nuances of DNS (two whole chapters), a crucial service for implementing Active Directory in a Win2K network. The guide finishes up with chapters on the IP Security (IPSEC) protocol, Quality of Service (QOS), and the Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP).

There’s a wealth of detailed technical information in this guide that you’d be hard-pressed to glean from other technical resources. Since TCP/IP-related protocols and services feature so prominently on the Win2K exam, I highly recommend that you absorb the entire contents of this book.

Inside Guide to IIS 5.0

OK, so maybe your company doesn’t run IIS as its Web server, but instead uses a Netscape product. Unfortunately, Netscape isn’t handing out MCSE certificates, so you’ll have to learn how Microsoft plays the game. Fortunately, most of the Web-based protocols are generic standards (HTTP, FTP, SMTP, and so forth), so the expertise you already have will help you to understand the conceptual basics of IIS 5.0.

On the Win2K exams, you’ll be tested on how to get an IIS 5.0 server up and running. To do this, you’ll need to master the Microsoft Management Console (MMC) IIS snap-in, then be able to configure IIS through a myriad of dialog boxes and options. If your goal is to set up simple static Web content, you can have your Web site up and running in no time. If, however, you need to support dynamic Web content with server-based applications, then you’d better prepare for some long hours of reading. The only problem is that the Internet Information Services 5.0 Resource Guide is positioned as a companion guide to the IIS 5.0 online setup guide, so you won’t find any implementation basics here—like how to install and configure IIS 5.0 from the GUI.

If it’s not a basic setup guide, then you’d expect it to jump right in to technical concepts. Instead, the first few chapters are all about planning. Planning for what? Migration, of course. We’re talking migration of Web content from third-party Web servers onto a Microsoft IIS 5.0 server. Most of this section is high-level planning, such as determining project scope, assessing risk, assembling the right personnel team, figuring out budget, and more. In addition, you’ll find technical references to the various tools that Win2K provides to perform an effective migration. There are even specific technical sections on how to migrate from an Apache or Netscape server.

Now that you’ve chosen Microsoft’s Web solution over a third-party product, you can move on to Chapter 4. Here, you learn all about capacity planning for your retrofitted Web server. You’ll tackle the issues of optimizing performance, load-balancing your servers and the underlying network, providing for reliability, planning for future growth, and on and on. Once your server is functional and can deliver reliable and efficient content, you can learn how to monitor the thousands of hits you begin to receive, and fine-tune IIS 5.0 hardware and software to maintain functional levels of service.

Subsequent chapters tackle developing Web server-based applications using Active Server Pages (ASP), and setting up IIS as a front-end for data access (ODBC, COM, Transaction Processing). There’s even a chapter specifically written for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) on how IIS 5.0 can neatly fit into their network infrastructures. The guide wouldn’t be complete without a chapter addressing IIS security, of course. It comes right before the final chapter, which discusses how to get to that legacy data onto an IBM mainframe through an Internet browser.

Good Prep for the IEAK Exam

Your pure Windows-based network wouldn’t be complete without a Microsoft browser; you can count on IE 5.0 to keep your users at 100 percent productivity (yeah, right). The Internet Explorer 5.0 Resource Kit will help you learn how to deploy, customize, and secure the browser on the desktop. Worried about users surfing inappropriate content? Lock ‘em down. Tired of roaming from desktop to desktop with a CD in hand? Centrally deploy and update IE 5.0 to the desktop.

If the Win2K exam electives have you running scared, you may opt for taking some of the NT 4.0 electives that haven’t yet been retired. This includes exam 70-80, Implementing and Supporting Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.0 Using the Microsoft Internet Explorer Administration Kit. If you pursue this alternative, then the IE 5.0 Resource Kit would be an excellent tool, along with the online help from the Internet Explorer Administration Kit itself, for preparing for the IEAK 5.0 exam. Appendix I of the IE 5.0 Resource Kit lists a number of other technical resources that will help you prepare for IEAK.

The Bottom Line

In summary, don’t give your credit card number to VUE or Sylvan until you’ve read the TCP/IP Resource Guide cover to cover. On the other hand, you’re better served reading the IIS 5.0 online manual rather than the IIS 5.0 Resource Guide, since you need to know IIS configuration basics only.

Finally—and we’re talking exam prep purposes only here—don’t worry about reading the IE 5.0 Resource Kit, since its content isn’t covered on the Win2K exams (except as I noted for preparing for the IEAK exam). As my trusty Dilbert coffee mug states: “Technology [is] no place for wimps.” If you had any doubts, Win2K will make a believer out of you-guaranteed.

Stay tuned for next month’s look at Win2K Resource Kit utilities.

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