PowerShell for Windows Admins

May 12 2011   12:59PM GMT

Managing Active Directory with Windows PowerShell

Richard Siddaway Richard Siddaway Profile: Richard Siddaway

Author: Jeffery Hicks

Publisher: Sapien Press

ISBN: 978-0-9821314-4-2

I have 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?

Before diving into the review I have to point out a vested interest in the book in that I was involved in the technical review process for the book. I have a lot of experience writing, blogging and using PowerShell against Active Directory so this was one in which I took a very keen interest.

At 383 pages this isn’t a massive book but it is packed with informative chapters:

1. Fundamentals

2. Users

3. Passwords

4. Contacts

5. Groups

6. Computers

7. OUs and Containers

8. Group Policy

9. Security and Permissions

10. Recycle Bin and Recovered Objects

11. AD PSDrive Provider

12. Managed Service Accounts

13. AD Infrastructure

14. Appendix – Local Users and Groups

15. Appendix – AD, PowerShell and ADSI

You will get the most from the book if you are running Windows Server 2008 R2 Active Directory. The usefulness decreases slightly to Windows Server 2008 and again to Windows Server 2003. This isn’t the books issue it is the fact that some functionality just isn’t available in these legacy versions.

The chapters concentrate on using the Microsoft and Quest Active Directory cmdlets. Each chapter covers the topic with examples from both sets of cmdlets. This can seem a bit repetitive if you read the whole book. I suspect that most people concentrate on one or the other and could skip the bits that don’t interest them. This would be a mistake as there are some things that are easier to perform with one set of cmdlets compared to other. I would look at both parts of each section so that you find the methods that best suit your needs.

Is the book technically accurate? Yes it is. This is the second edition of this book and Jeffery definitely knows his subject. I would have preferred to see more on scripting using ADSI because I think knowing how to perform tasks the long way enables you get the most out of the cmdlets. Does that detract from the book? NO! This says that it will concentrate on the cmdlets and it does just that. The comparisons between the two sets of cmdlets are very useful.

Does it deliver the material it claims to deliver? Yes it does. Setting “Protection from Accidental Deletion” for existing objects isn’t covered in an obvious manner and there isn’t anything on using AD snapshots which would have been useful. It covers all of the basics of administering Active Directory to a very good level. After reading this book there is no excuse for not being able to automate your Active Directory administration.

Is it worth the cost and time spent reading it? Yes. The information is presented in a logical manner that makes it easy to follow and work out what is happening. The examples are real and quite easy to adapt to your test environment if you want to work your way through them.

I do have one gripe with the book and that is the fault of the publisher not Jeffery. I have looked at a few Sapien books and I find their typesetting style very hard to read. There isn’t sufficient differentiation between the text, the code and headings to make the book easy to read. Come on Sapien you can do better.

Jeffery and his writing get 5 stars (out of 5) but Sapien only get 3.

If you work with PowerShell and Active Directory (or you want to start doing so) I strongly recommend that you get a copy of this book, read it and start using it. This is one that stays with arms reach of my work area so I can refer to it when I need to check something.

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