IP Multicasting, by Marcus Goncalves and Kitty Niles, is an overview of the breathtaking complexity of broadcasting content over the Internet Protocol to specific groups of clients at once. It is a textually adequate, or more than adequate, summary, managing to round all the bases before heading home, but the CD-ROM content is of dubious value.
IP Multicasting is a high-time-value book. The authors are dealing with the here-and-now, and thus have snapshotted an ugly duckling, since IPv4 doesn't inherently support the current trends in IP multicasting. Instead, intermediate standards and understandings in the industry allow this sort of traffic to find a route to your home web appliance. Things are going to be much better when either IPv6 or Quinn the Eskimo get here, but that's not this book's main concern. IP Multicasting is about the basic mechanics and present practices that must be grasped by those who want to multicast over the Internet today.
So the authors' bent is practical and tactical, with hacks and intermediate support techniques aplenty. They range far afield in a breadth-first exposition, traversing the dimensions from minima such as bitmasks and packet checksums to maxima, evaluating major industry players such as carrier MCI and the support for IP multicasting on satellite-based networks.
All this breadth has to be paid for somewhere, so don't read this book, for example, solely for the awesomely inadequate introduction to ATM and other cloud protocols, try ATM: Foundation for Broadband Networks, by Uyless Black, instead. And if it's the quality-of-service issues concomitant with IP multicasting or class-of-service issues that are your main concern, you'll want to read Differentiated Services for the Internet, by Kalevi Kilkki.
In regards to the CD-ROM: For my money, the publisher could have lowered the price of the book and omitted the Wintel frisbee. All executables are Windows only, and none come with source. At least some white papers from various organizations on standards for various IP broadcast facilities (voice over IP, for instance) are in PDF form.
One item on the CD-ROM is EMULive Server, billed as an "award-winning [Is there any product that hasn't won some award? Where's the information content here?] full-featured audiovisual broadcast/collaboration server for WindowsNT, Windows98 and Windows95," sports a 30-minute demo license, thus establishing for our industry a new benchmark for corporate paranoia and stinginess. Who has time to install something that runs for 30 minutes? I don't, and didn't.
Another tool, Dr. Watson, The Network Detective's Assistant (no relation to Microsoft's Dr. Watson, nor, for that matter, Conan Doyle's), is quite clever and manages to render your Wintel PC almost as useful for debugging your network segment as if it were a Linux box. Perhaps the authors and editors should just have included Linux with the book.
Of all the things to be missing from the CD-ROM, the last you would expect is that the authors would have omitted the C source code they printed in the text as examples of multicasting programming. Yet it's not there. This glaring omission sort of suggests that I had the wrong take in the paragraph above about dropping the disc and lowering the price. The truth may be the opposite, that this book is partially subsidized by the demos. Stranger things have happened in computer publishing.
Aside from the arguable value of the CD-ROM content, IP Multicasting has high textual value for those needing to pursue IP multicasting right now. It's the quickest read to get your on your feet in IP multicasting that I have encountered so far.
Electronic Review of Computer Books