One of my main love for network administration is group policy. Group Policy technology has grown with each new edition of Windows dating back to Windows 2000. With the introduction of Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008, there are now over 6000+ group policy settings for administrators to play with! While Group Policy Fundamentals, Security, and the Managed Desktop by Jeremy Moskowitz doesn’t go over each and every of those group policy settings with you, his book is really about teaching and helping you, as the group policy administrator, how to efficiently manage your organization’s myriad of group policy objects as well as troubleshooting techniques should things go awry. It doesn’t matter if you are new to the group policy game or not because this book has something for everyone.
When you are reading a technical book, one of the most basic things that will put your mind at ease is to know that it was written by a professional. Well, Jeremy (our author) is a professional and this book is very well written and very easy to follow. As long as you have some basic understanding of Microsoft Active Directory networks, you should be able to follow this book from start to finish. You’ll learn what group policy actually is, what it consists of, how to properly administer it, what to do and what not to do in certain circumstances, etc. Group policy is definitely a big subject matter. Therefore, do not expect to become a master of group policy just by reading this book. However, you’ll still walk away with a ton of knowledge and information to help you better your career when it comes to group policy administration. You can easily follow along through the examples in the book by setting up a mini test lab to perform your group policy experiments. The author will then throughout the book use the same setup to show you the effects of group policy. Therefore, if you want to get the most out of this book, it would be best if you can spare 2-3 computers to dedicate as your test lab. If you don’t have that many physical computers to spare, then you can choose to host virtual machines, providing that your host computer can handle the load. At the minimum, you’ll want to have a Windows Server 2008 computer to serve as your domain controller and a Windows 7 machine to serve as both your management station and client computer. If possible, you’ll also want to join a Windows XP client to the mix as well.
Throughout the book, Jeremy will list many other web resources to get more information on the subject matter at hand. One such website is one that he actually maintains himself and is a great source for group policy materials, Group Policy Answers. Once you register on the site, you’ll have access to many awesome group policy related materials including bonus chapters of this book for download. Other great resources listed include The Group Policy Hub where you can download free group policy tools along with watching free training videos, PolicyPak where you can try out the awesome group policy tool (also created by our author) meant to cover some of the main drawbacks and disadvantages of using the default group policy technology in Windows, and Specops where you can also download other free and paid group policy tools to help you and your organization further expand on the group policy technology.
If you are looking to get into group policy or already have and want to just further your knowledge on it, Group Policy Fundamentals, Security, and the Managed Desktop is an excellent pickup and one that no one should miss!