A Trio of SMS Resources
Get some help with the most complex of the BackOffice products.
- By Mark Wingard
Microsoft’s System Management Server is arguably the most complex of
all the Microsoft BackOffice products. Considering what SMS can accomplish
across a network, it should be. Understanding how its many components
fit together and how to navigate through the maze of administrative functions
can take months to comprehend. Microsoft provides an excellent SMS Administrator’s
Guide in both paper and online versions with the product. The online version
also is updated when each service pack is applied. As helpful as the SMS
Administrator’s Guide is, however, it still leaves out much of what you
should understand to manage an SMS site or site hierarchy adequately.
Fortunately, there are a few additional sources of guidance for the struggling
Formerly a volume of the Microsoft BackOffice 4.5 Resource Kit, the SMS
2.0 Resource Guide contains hundreds of pages worth of valuable SMS information
that Microsoft couldn’t fit into the SMS Administrator’s Guide. It has
great information on designing SMS site hierarchies, using SMS in multilingual
environments, performance tuning and monitoring and resolving sticky technical
issues when upgrading from SMS 1.2. The Resource Guide also contains a
mind-boggling number of flowcharts and diagrams to illustrate the amazing
inner workings of SMS. More than 300 tables throughout the book illustrate
how SMS keeps track of everything, plus a series of appendices shows all
of the classes and attributes of the SMS database (essential for building
those complicated queries). There are even tables listing every one of
the system status messages.
However, the greatest value of this book is in the Tools and Utilities
section. This is the closest you’re going to get to finding out how powerful
utilities like PREINST, DUMPSEND and MOFMAN are supposed to work. Sound
interesting? How about the provocative APM Spy Tool and the mysterious
Zap Tool? The accompanying CD contains all of these nifty tools (for a
comprehensive review of the utilities themselves, see the excellent article,
“Get Resourceful,” by Cathy Moya in the September 1999 issue of MCP Magazine).
If administering SMS 2.0 is part of your job description, you should
have the SMS 2.0 Resource Guide on your shelf. For insightful, experienced-based
SMS best practices, SMS 2 Administration is definitely a wise investment.
If your dog eats your printed SMS Administrator’s Guide and you don’t
have access to the online version, you can always get Administering SMS
from a bookstore as a stand-in.
Mark Wingard, MCSE, MCT, CTT, works as a desktop management specialist
for a major research laboratory. He’s been a network professional for
more than 14 years, an MCP since 1992 and currently designs AD implementations
and SMS deployments.