A Study Guide for Directory Services

An excellent study guide and good general reference to boot.

Windows 2000 Directory Services Administration is well organized, covers the test objectives thoroughly, and greatly increased my understanding of Active Directory. My favorite feature of the book is the writing style, which emphasizes clarity without being condescending. I could actually read it cover to cover, which is not the case with most exam prep books. Overall, it's an excellent exam prep tool and fine general reference.

The authors do an excellent job of handling complex topics in a clear, logical manner. (Disclaimer: One of the authors, Anil Desai, is a regular contributor to MCP Magazine, and I generally find his articles very useful. That said, I've never met him personally, and if his book wasn't worthy of a decent review I wouldn't give it one.) For example, look at how the book explains secondary DNS servers. In three concise paragraphs it explains that: a secondary DNS server contains the same information as a primary, it can be used to resolve DNS requests, and is generally used to provide fault tolerance. It can also decrease WAN traffic by preventing queries from going across the WAN. However there's a trade-off due to increased replication traffic. Now, go to the Windows 2000 Server DNS Help files and read the overview of secondary DNS servers there. Go ahead, humor me and look it up now. See the difference? This book offers clarity rather than confusion. The DNS section, by the way, is the best general introduction to Microsoft's implementation of DNS I've ever read.

The book includes an excellent map to Microsoft's objectives for the exam. This is extremely helpful if you like—as I do—to organize your studying by exam objective.

I loved the dictionary of networking terms on the accompanying CD and actually got sidetracked a bit by browsing through the information on it. It's not entirely related to Active Directory but sure is a neat reference to have. For example, most of us know what T1 and T3 lines are, but do you know what a T2 line is? (See the end of this review for the answer.) The CD also includes the entire book in PDF format, test simulation exams, electronic flashcards for PCs and Palm devices, and WinSim 2000 program simulators.

The book includes an appendix, "Planning the Active Directory", which is focused on applying Active Directory in the real world. This is especially helpful if you will not be taking the Migration from NT 4.0 elective exam (70-244), because it touches on some of the planning issues Microsoft covers there.

The only weakness in the book is the exam prep questions. They are too easy. In my experience Microsoft exams never include questions like "What is the name of the GPO that is created when a new domain is created?" Tougher, more ambiguous scenarios would be helpful. However, I've seen plenty of exam preparation books with difficult questions but unreadable content. I'd take this one over them any day.

(PS: A T2 is a 6.3 Mbps point-to-point communications service, used within telephone company networks.)

About the Author

Suzanne Pacheco is the IT Manager for Micro Information Products in Austin, Texas. In her spare time, she and her husband John play golf and try to keep their three labradors entertained.


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