Windows Server 2003 is more an update of Windows 2000 than a new operating system. This latest version of the base Windows NT technology now expands to support Microsoft's .NET Framework and new security initiatives. This book reflects these changes by expanding our previous book, The Ultimate Windows 2000 System Administrator's Guide. Mindful that Windows 2000 will continue to be deployed, this book not only reflects the new features of Windows Server 2003 but also provides continued support for Windows 2000 administrators.
Windows 2000 and Windows Server 2003 are complex, feature-rich operating systems whose deployment in an enterprise requires highly skilled individuals to support its installation, maintenance, and optimization. These individuals are aided by the abundance of tools and wizards for effective operating-system management that Microsoft has provided. Indeed, many of the enhanced tools should shift the traditional role of administrator to that of proactive manager of computing environments. Thus, the depth of function, flexibility, and granularity of Windows 2000 and Windows Server 2003 ultimately represents both opportunity and challenge for system administration.
This book is written to help you succeed in the administration of the Windows Server 2003 and Windows 2000 Server family. Much of the information it provides is also applicable to the desktop Professional versions of the software. Although the use and management of client software is incorporated, the server side is clearly our primary focus. In this preface we provide a framework for the primary topics covered, define the target audience, and describe how to use this book.
THE ROLE OF THE ADMINISTRATOR
Windows Server 2003 will not eliminate the system administrator. To the contrary, features such as the Active Directory and the Microsoft Management Console (MMC) will vastly broaden this role. Rather than spend time on mundane tasks and the management of dozens of disjointed tools, the consolidated approach provided by Windows Server 2003 will free the administrator to concentrate on more mission-critical activities.
The functions of the Windows Server 2003 system administrator are generally those that support the user population and those that support the system. The following list summarizes the most common responsibilities:
Addition and removal of users
User application support
End-user customer service, education, and communication
Management of basic services such as mail and printing
Booting, shutdown, and everything in between
Backups and restoration
Hardware maintenance, additions, and removal
System accounting and monitoring
System administration logs
System security and password aging
Obviously, this list only scratches the surface of system administration and IT management. However, as a means of setting the reader's expectations, it does underscore the types of activities for which this book can be a guide.
BASIS OF OUR RESEARCH
In preparing this book, we used three primary sources of information. First, we relied heavily on our combined professional experience in application development, system administration, and IT management. Unlike many books written on theory by technical writers, our recommendations did not emerge from a vacuum but are based on reality and experiences. We hope the knowledge and experience we bring to this book will assist our fellow IT professionals to manage an enterprise as effectively as possible.
Second, we used observations from system administrators in the field to provide "reality checks" to our conclusions. Theoretical understanding of Windows Server 2003 is a nice beginning, but it is no substitute for the actual experience of system administrators. Because Windows Server 2003 is a new product, one of our primary sources was Microsoft's Beta Program and the participants' experiences with final beta and final release versions of the operating system.
Finally, we performed numerous tests and simulated real-world environments in an extensive laboratory environment. The tests centered primarily on the Standard Edition and Enterprise Edition server versions; however, Windows Server 2003, Web Edition, and Windows XP Professional were also tested, and we refer to them periodically as client software within the broader enterprise framework. Windows Server 2003, Datacenter Edition, was not available for testing at the time this book was written, so references to it are based on published Microsoft specifications. Where differences exist in the version levels, we call attention to them.
The Ultimate Windows Server 2003 System Administrator's Guide was written for system administrators and other IT professionals who manage a Windows environment. Administrators coming from other operating-system environments, such as UNIX, will find numerous familiar technologies as well as many significant conceptual differences. Seasoned Windows 2000 and NT administrators will find many familiar aspects, but many significant differences as well, that will require a general updating of their technical skills. The addition of the Active Directory, a new domain model, advanced authentication technologies, and the enhanced MMC are just a few examples of entirely new or expanded operating-system features.
Our aim was to produce an intermediate reference guide for administrators, leaving out specialized architectural and programming topics. Thus, this book should be used to gain an understanding of key concepts and for common "how-to" walk-through support. Experienced professionals should find the discussions of operating-system migration and the use of the new enhanced tools valuable. Those with moderate system administration experience can also benefit, but we assume these readers already have hands-on operating-system experience. Novices will need to learn network and operating-system fundamentals.
Attempting to provide useful information to an audience of system administrators was a challenge. Inevitably, some of this book's material may appear either overly basic or too advanced, and depending on a reader's level of experience, some discussions will be more helpful than others. To accommodate this wide variance in knowledge, we cover each major topic first from a conceptual basis and then expand this foundation with discussions on applying specific, advanced Windows Server 2003 functions.
System administrators coming from UNIX might find our sister publication, Windows NT and UNIX: Administration, Coexistence, Integration, and Migration (Addison-Wesley, 1998), very helpful. For Windows 2000 administrators, look at The Ultimate Windows 2000 System Administrator's Guide (Addison-Wesley, 2000).