By the time you read this, chances are Microsoft will have released its new family of servers, Microsoft Windows Server 2003. This is going to be the Microsoft server for a long time. Microsoft's revamped road map doesn't call for another generation of server products until 2006, possibly even 2007 (the "Longhorn" refresh originally scheduled for 2005 will now only be a desktop product).
If you're committed to Microsoft server technology, Windows Server is the product you'll have to come to terms with. And, regardless of the immediacy of your deployment plans, now's the best time to start discovering what Server has to offer.
In Introducing Microsoft Windows Server 2003, leading Microsoft technology expert Jerry Honeycutt covers every aspect of Windows Server -- offering a reliable resource for any business and IT planner, evaluator, or implementer.
Honeycutt discuses all four editions, from the stripped-down "Web Edition" (which competes with Apache/Linux as a low-cost platform for building and hosting web sites, applications, and services) all the way up to "Datacenter Edition," with its support for 32-way symmetric multiprocessing and a whopping 64 GB of memory (soon to be 128 GB in 64-bit environments).
Honeycutt begins by outlining each of Microsoft's goals for Server 2003, including dependability, productivity, connectivity, and improved business economics. Next, he offers an in-depth review of Server 2003 improvements targeted at each of these.
For example, one key element of dependability is security. As Honeycutt explains, Server 2003 installs in "locked down" mode out-of-the-box; you have to enable the services your people need rather than worrying about disabling superfluous services that can only cause trouble. This is also true for the new Internet Information Services 6.0 server, which contains selectable cryptographic services, advanced digest authentication, configurable access control for each process, and many additional web security features.
Server even supports software restriction policies, which offer a centralized way to prohibit clients from running any software you don't specifically allow them to run.
Nowadays, IT organizations have been cut to the bone -- and often straight through it. IT decision makers will be especially interested in Honeycutt's discussions of new features designed to simplify management and improve administrator productivity.
For example, for the first time, Microsoft is providing a version of Windows Update that runs inside your corporate firewall, letting you centrally retrieve, control, and distribute all of Microsoft's client and server updates.
Microsoft's new Group Policy Management Console will make it easier to manage workstations, and its new Resultant Set of Policy (RSoP) tool lets administrators preview the impact of proposed group policies on individual users or PCs -- before they inadvertently set restrictions that cause everyone unnecessary grief. Administrators with Unix backgrounds may especially appreciate Server's 60-plus new command-line tools for managing everything from print services to Active Directory.
Speaking of Active Directory, Honeycutt presents detailed coverage of key enhancements to AD configuration and management tools, intended to simplify management of multiple forests, domains, and sites; as well as significant improvements to performance, replication, and synchronization.
You'll find a full chapter on Server networking and network configuration -- including new options for mobile users who need secure access to the network via wireless connections, Ethernet connections, or even infrared-enabled cellular phones. Honeycutt introduces new tools for simplifying network troubleshooting and repairing failed connections; Server's new abilities to detect information about their network environments and configure themselves appropriately; routing, remote access, and VPN improvements; new IPv6 support; and more.
Along the way, Honeycutt demystifies every facet of Server from its improved "Windows Anywhere" Terminal Services to its SharePoint team collaboration tools, to its built-in .NET Common Language Runtime software engine. No matter what your plans are for Server, you owe it to yourself to read this book. Bill Camarda
Bill Camarda is a consultant, writer, and web/multimedia content developer. His 15 books include Special Edition Using Word 2000 and Upgrading & Fixing Networks For Dummies®, Second Edition.