Sunday, March 28, 2010

Mastering Exchange Server 2010 is now available

Yes, everyone, it is FINALLY here! The Mastering Exchange Server 2010 book is finally on the shelves. Well, actually, given how bookstores are stocking technical books now, it is probably NOT on the shelf, but you can order it.

Writing this book has been a big undertaking and this is the first major book that I have written while also having a full-time job. Over the past 10 years of writing, I have usually been a contractor and thus had more time to write.

Putting together a 1,000 page technical book is a time consuming endeavor. And, often, a huge part of that time is fighting with the software to make it do what you need it to do. Crashed virtual machines, poorly documented beta software, and hardware problems all slow down the over all writing process. Sometimes it takes 2 or 3 hours worth of "lab" work just to write 2 paragraphs and get a screen capture.

Regardless of what authors will tell you, most books do not get written by any one author nor reviewed by any single editor. I'll be the first to admit that MANY people were involved in the writing, reviewing, and editing of this book. Some people wrote a few paragraphs or did a first-pass technical review, while others contributed multiple chapters.

The technical editor for the book was Ross Smith; I'm not sure that Ross is going to speak to me anymore. :-) We had a number of spirited in-person, e-mail and "Word" discussions during the TE review. Ross did an excellent job and I'm sure he did not realize just how much work this was going to be. The book is a far, far better book because of Ross' involvement. If there is to be an "Advanced Administration" book, I hope that Ross will consider being involved from the start.

My co-author, David Elfassy jumped in to the project when it became apparent I would not get finished anytime before the next version of Exchange was released. Even with multiple projects on this plate and a new child on the way, David pushed ahead. Devin Ganger was helpful early on in the project and produced several chapters for me. Ken St. Cyr wrote 2 excellent chapters in the middle of trying to finish his own book. Other authors that contributed full or partial chapters included Doug Fidler, Pat Richard, John Rodriguez, Randy Williams, Michael B. Smith, Martin Tuip, and Ilse Van Criekinge.

Many of my fellow Exchange MVPs, MCT's, MCSEs, and Exchange Team members helped me with technical questions, confirmations of technical facts, or insight in to a product or function including Brian Tirch, David Espinosa, Melissa Travers, William Lefkovics, Paul Robichaux, John Fullbright, Peter O'Dowd, Scott Schnoll, Nino Bilic, Harold Wong, Evan Dodds, Rich Matheisen, Glen Scales, Missy Koslosky, Mark Arnold, and Bharat Suneja.

Some of the feedback I have gotten from the past 2 Mastering books was that they were "too advanced" for some administrators. The feeling was that someone could not just pick up the book and learn how to become an e-mail administrator. Maybe they could learn how to be an Exchange administrator, but not an e-mail administrator. The first few chapters of this new book includes more of the basics of e-mail system administration, but I'm beginning to think that there should be a 200 - 400 page book on that topic (client/server systems, SMTP, MAPI, RPCs, POP/IMAP, DNS, PKI, etc...) [Would you buy this for your junior administrators?]

The book is missing a number of things that we just did not have enough time or page space to include. Notably missing is database availability groups (DAGs) and high availability scenarios. This was a decision partially out of necessity; we just could not include the necessary material in the few remaining pages since we had a "maximum page" limit under which we had to stay. I did not want to write 25 or 30 pages of DAG material only to have it severely lacking. To properly cover DAGs and high availability, I really felt like we needed about 100 - 150 pages. I have also never felt like high availability belonged in a book that was intended to help someone "master the concepts and basic features of the product". However, I suspect for medium sized and large businesses, DAGs are going to become a requirement.

At this point, I don't know if there will be an "Advanced Administration" book or not. I feel there is a need and certainly there is the material for such a book. We will see.

For all of you out there that have bought a previous edition of this book or might buy this one in the future, thanks much for your support!



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