A Trio of SMS Resources

Get some help with the most complex of the BackOffice products.

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 SMS administrator.

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.

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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.

About the Author

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.

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