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Book Review: Exchange Server 2010 Administrator’s Pocket Consultant

Posted by: | July 16, 2010 | No Comment |

Author: William R. Stanek

Publisher: Microsoft Press

ISBN: 978-0-7356-2712-3

I recently reviewed the second edition of Windows Server 2008 R2 book in this series – http://msmvps.com/blogs/richardsiddaway/archive/2010/04/11/book-review-windows-server-2008-administrator-s-pocket-consultant.aspx.

As usual I am applying my three main criteria for judging a book:

· Is it technically accurate?

· Does deliver the material it claims to deliver?

· Is worth the cost of purchase and the time I spend reading it?

Like the Windows book this one comes in at over 600 pages – 664 to be precise. I’m not sure anymore who these books are aimed at but pocket sized they are no longer. I’ll return to the my thoughts on this series later.

The book is divided into 17 chapters:

1. Exchange Server 2010 Administration Overview

2. Deploying Exchange Server 2010

3. Exchange Server 2010 Administration Essentials

4. Using the Exchange Management Shell

5. User and Contact Administration

6. Mailbox Administration

7. Working with Distribution Groups and Address Lists

8. Implementing Exchange Server 2010 Security

9. Managing Data and Database Availability Groups

10. Mailbox and Public Folder Database administration

11. Accessing and Managing Public Folders

12. Managing Hub Transport and Edge Transport Servers

13. Managing Client Access Servers

14. Exchange Server 2010 Maintenance, Monitoring and Queing

15. Backup and Restoring Exchange Server 2010

16. Managing Exchange Server 2010 Clients

17. Managing Mobile Messaging users

The book sets out to “deliver ready answers for the day-to-day administration of Exchange Server 2010.” I want to focus this review on whether the book lives up to that ideal.

The book contains a lot of screen shots that nearly fill the page – due to the page size. There are also a lot of tables that aren’t really necessary. I also didn’t like the repetition when discussing the PowerShell commands – a syntax listing plus an example plus, in many cases, a full results listing seems to be more a way to drive up the page count than something that has actually been thought through.

There doesn’t seem to be any consistency in the way management task solutions are presented – some are GUI only, some are PowerShell and some are mixed. It would have been better to have a consistent method of approach. In some cases the PowerShell is badly written and does not encourage best practice. There is no consistency in the PowerShell presentation for example Format-List and fl are used but the fact the fl is an alias of Format-List is not mentioned. Potentially very confusing.

The content flips through discussing Exchange 2003, 2007 and 2010 without any real pattern. If the differences were presented this approach would be valuable otherwise it is confusing. There is a lot of repetition in the writing – was the editing rushed to meet a deadline?

The chapter order is sometimes strange – it would have made more sense to discuss databases before database availability groups for instance. The managing database copies would seem to fit better in the chapter on availability groups.

Overall the book seems to be unfocussed. The introduction mentions that Exchange Server 2010 Standard supports fewer databases than Enterprise but doesn’t make any further mention of the differences between the two versions.

When reviewing the Windows Server 2008 R2 Pocket Consultant I stated that it wasn’t clear who the book was aimed at. After reading this example of the series I would expand my statement and state that I think the series as a whole has lost sight of its goals. The books are too big to be pocket guides (even laptop bag pockets) but don’t carry enough detailed in depth information to be a real consultants book. The small page size makes them difficult to use on the desk when trying to keep the book open and type especially given the thickness to which these books have grown!

Given the price of these books I would tend to buy from the Administrator’s Companion series as they normally have a CD with an electronic version of the book. Now that’s portability.

If these books are to continue as a viable series I think they need to increase the technical content. At the moment they are hovering around the 100 level they need to be moving up to the 3-400 mark. The books also need to shrink in size to become true pocket consultants.

Judging against my criteria:

· Is it technically accurate? Not completely e.g. the confusion over Windows Server versions and the sloppy PowerShell code. I would give the book 7/10 for technical content. I’m reserving a few points because I think there is material that should be covered in greater depth.

· Does it deliver the material it claims to deliver? No I don’t think it does 5/10. I wouldn’t want my Exchange administrators to rely on this book.

· Is worth the cost of purchase and the time I spend reading it? Again I would say no and only award 5/10. The sloppy organisation and the amount of padding in the book don’t make it a worthwhile purchase in my view.

Overall I’d rate this as 5/10 and wouldn’t recommend it.

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