Automating Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 with Windows PowerShell 2.0, by Matthew Hester and Sarah Dutkiewicz

Score: 2.5/5

Automating Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 with Windows PowerShell 2.0

  • Author: Matthew Hester and Sarah Dutkiewicz
  • 432 pages
  • Publisher: Sybex (May 4, 2011)
  • Buy on Amazon: Paperback, Kindle
  • ITBookworm Score: 2.5/ 5

Score Reason:

I only gave this a 2.5/5 because I feel it missed its core audience.  It states that it’s for real Windows admins to take their admin skills to the next level by using Powershell.  And while it does show how do perform some admin tasks with Powershell, I would say the bulk of the tasks admins perform aren’t covered at all.  Also I feel this book spent too much time on the basics of Powershell itself instead of focusing on making Windows easier to work with.

This is one of those specialized titles that you really look forward to when they come out because you get to see how the other side of IT does things.  And I was looking forward to picking up some of the missing pieces in my Windows administration here.  Since this title is geared towards Windows admins, it should provide some clever insight into automating some cool tasks.  Unfortunately that’s not how it worked out. 

Chapters 1-5

The first five chapters concentrate on Powershell basics.  That’s a huge disappointment because a specialized book like this should assume some basic Powershell knowledge.  Now we’ve wasted five chapters on basics that should already be covered.

Chapter 6

Chapter 6 talks about remoting, and while that relies heavily on the version of Windows you’re on, it’s strictly a Powershell feature.  So here we are fairly late in the book and we still haven’t started on any actual Windows admin tasks yet.

Chapter 7

Chapter 7 finally gets into some real Windows admin tasks.  Here you start by analyzing different aspects of Windows, installing backup tools, load balancing, etc.  It’s actually not a bad intro to working with some basic aspects of Windows.  I’m sorry to say though that I’m a DBA and I already knew pretty much everything in this chapter so I know that Windows admins should already know it.  However, you’ve gotta start somewhere so this will do just fine, and it fits within the confines of the subject.

Chapter 8

Chapter 8  talks about managing AD.  This is the first chapter that taught me something that I was looking forward to.  AD management has always kind of eluded me and this chapter walks through the basic terminology, cmdlets, and even shows how to traverse the AD structure step by step.  I walked away with a pretty decent understanding what how to work with AD in Powershell.

Chapter 9

Chapter 9 gets into managing desktops and in this case that mostly means group policy.  Now, it does go into some great basics on GP by telling you how it works and what it’s all about.  However, this is another one of those topics that I think the intended audience (Windows admin) should already know.  Therefore, this chapter should only have to concentrate on working with GP instead of spending so much time explaining what it is.  The GP topics it gets into though are pretty thorough and it even gets into backing up and restoring GPO.  It finishes off with understanding and managing AppLocker.

Chapter 10

Chapter 10 talks about managing IIS with Powershell.  This is a good chapter too because even Windows admins tend to do all of their IIS tasks in the GUI so this is an excellent primer for learning to script your website admin tasks.  And unlike the other chapters it doesn’t spend a lot of time explaining the basics of what IIS is;  it just gets into the nuts and bolts of scripting tasks.

Chapter 11

Chapter 11 deals with Deployment Services (WDS).  I wasn’t even aware that you could use Powershell with WDS so this entire chapter was good for me.  And I would venture to say that many admins that use WDS use it the same way they use IIS – through the GUI.  So this is a good primer for Windows admins as well.

Chapter 12

Chapter 12 gets you into Hyper-V administration.  I’ve never scripted my Hyper-V tasks either so I liked this chapter as well.  There was nothing earthshattering here and I’m pretty sure I could easily look up the info in blogs, or somewhere else, but it was nice to have it all condensed here.

Appendices

Unfortunately that was the last real chapter of the book.  The rest of the chapters are appendixes that talk about everything from working at a command prompt to building functions.  Don’t get me wrong, they’re perfectly worthwhile topics, but I was really hoping to get into some more actual Windows topics like working with folder preferences, local security settings, program preferences, uninstalling programs, etc.  There are so many untapped Windows admin topics it really left me wanting more.  Overall, this book has some value for absolute beginners, but for real Windows admins who have done anything at all with Powershell, this title is too basic.  I was personally expecting more from this specialized title as I’ve had many questions about how to do certain things in Windows with Powershell and none of them were answered here.  It’s not a bad title at all, I just think it’s possibly oversold as a book for real Windows admins when it’s clearly for beginners. 

-Sean McCown, http://www.ITBookworm.com

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