Book Review – Microsoft System Center 2012 Configuration Manager: Administration Cookbook

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Also available as an eBook

Over the years, I have read many books about Systems Management Server (SMS), and Configuration Manager (CM).  Most of them have been focussed on preparing readers for the relevant Microsoft certification exam or theoretical explanations of how the system works and how to configure it for basic functionality.  These types of publications are great for new users of products looking to get a basic working knowledge of CM.

This book is different.  It I written by professionals who have years of in depth experience with the technology in some extreme use case scenarios.  This background gives them some rather distinctive perspectives on how to get more out of a CM infrastructure.  Whereas traditional books on the subject focus on the “What” and the “How”, Brian and Greg also include the “Why”.  For example, they include decision making frameworks that help the reader decide what is best for their particular implementation, use case scenarios, and other objectives.  In situations where the best practice might prove impractical, they provide rationale for making trade-offs (E.g. budget vs. performance, Application Catalog vs. Software Center).

CM is a complex product.  Each of its modules could easily be a product in itself.  There are dozens of point solution products aimed specifically at a sub feature of CM.  As such, this book is not targeted at somebody who is new to the technology.  There aren’t a lot of pages spent on how to install the software or the basic functionality.  Rather, the writers assume a basic understanding of the feature set (easily obtained form on of the dozen or so traditional books available on the subject) and provides a series of in depth modules intended to help a generalist administrator get more out of a specific feature as the need arises.

The organization of the book into a series of recipe cards lends itself to be easily consumed.  You don’t need to read it cover to cover.  You can jump right in to the topic that you currently need to learn more about.  Each topic is organized into the following sections:

  1. Getting Ready – What’s you’ll need before you start
  2. How to do it – Step-by-step instructions
  3. How it works – An explanation of the mechanics of the product
  4. There’s more – Additional information should your requirements be a little more complex
  5. See also – Additional resources if relevant

This recipe book firmly establishes Greg and Brian as CM Iron Chefs.  I will be recommending this book to all of my customers.  Buy it directly from Packt Publishing.

Full disclosure:  I have met both Brian Mason and Greg Ramsey multiple times.  They did not approach me to review this book.  I was asked by the publisher to review this book.  As a token of their appreciation once my review is completed, I will receive a free eBook from Packt Publishing.

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