Book review: Active Directory Disaster Recovery, Florian Rommel

Florian Rommel: Active Directory Disaster RecoveryA few months ago, I was asked if I would write a review of a new book about Active Directory (AD) disaster recovery (DR) and I was more than happy to do this – especially as I’d just finished writing an AD design for a DR infrastructure at my organisation. The book in question was Florian Rommel’s Active Directory Disaster Recovery book, which claims to offer expert guidance on planning and implementing Active Directory disaster recovery plans.

AD DR is an important topic. Stop to think for a moment about how many services are reliant on this critical piece of many enterprises’ infrastructure and then consider what would happen if the AD was corrupted and no-one could log on…

…and that’s why this book is potentially useful to so many administrators charged with the correct operation of Active Directory (including troubleshooting and recovering from any issues).

The book starts out by explaining why organisations need a DR plan for AD (rather than just relying on the multi-master replication model), before moving on to look at AD design principles. The trouble is that those principles do not fit with Microsoft’s current advice for domain and forest design and there’s also the question of whether such design concepts even belong in a disaster recovery book (it could be argued that, if you’re reading this book, then you should already know about AD – indeed, the back covers says that the book “expects the reader to be familiar with the basics of Active Directory and Windows servers”).

After two chapters of rather slow introduction the real content starts and subsequent chapters cover: designing and implementing a DR plan; strengthening AD for resilience; acting on the failure of a single DC (and then recovering from that failure); recovery of lost or deleted objects; recovering from a complete AD failure (shouldn’t that come after the single DC failure?); recovering from hardware failure; common recovery tools; and, finally, an example business continuity plan.

Regardless of whether I agree with the advice in this book, the simple fact is that I found it very difficult to read. Not because it’s technical but because English does not appear to be the native tongue of either the author or the editorial and production team. As a result the text doesn’t scan well and is too informal in places – it felt more like the technical documentation I read at work than a professionally published book. That may sound like the pot calling the kettle black but I’m writing this on a blog (where opinion should be expected) and my prose is not subject to the review, proof reading and editing that a book should be (nor do I charge you to read it).

I really want to say good things about this book as Florian Rommel clearly knows a lot about the subject. I have no doubt that he put a lot of work into its production (and I would have done a much better job of the AD design I mentioned at the head of this post had I read this book first) but the author seems to have been let down by the reviewers (James Eaton-Lee and Nathan Yocom) and by his proof reader (Dirk Manuel). I spotted a few errors that should have been picked up before publishing and there is far too much written that appears to be opinion rather than fact backed up with credible examples (in fairness, there is a bibliography but it would be better if there was a clear link between the content and the referenced source). Crucially though, for a book published in June 2008, four months after the release of Windows Server 2008, there’s no mention of any of the Active Directory changes in Microsoft’s latest server operating system.

Sadly, the end result does not justify the cover price of £36.99 or $59.99.

Active Directory Disaster Recovery by Florien Rommel is published by Packt Publishing (ISBN: 978-1-847193-27-8)

4 thoughts on “Book review: Active Directory Disaster Recovery, Florian Rommel


  1. Mark:

    I was depressed to hear that there are errors in this book. I’m pretty thorough with my proofing. Could you do me a favor and send me an example or two of what you found; I want to check them against the markup I submitted to the publisher – I have a sneaking suspicion that maybe not all of the marked up changes were done (I never get to see the updated version), and if that’s the case I need to do something about our review/edit/proof process.

    Thanks,
    Dirk


  2. Dirk,
    There was no offence intended — I simply couldn’t say “hand on heart” that the book was worth the full cover price based on my review of it. I felt bad, because I know how much work goes into writing a book — so the least I can do is to provide some examples for you:

    • p17 “enhanced omain structure”: missing d in domain.
    • p20 “As the principle of an Active Directory domain is global-meaning that it is meant to be the same anywhere-it could present a problem for users […]”: global-meaning reads like a hyphenated word and the hyphens should either be spaced from the words (global – meaning) or ideally should use should use an em dash to make it “global — meaning that it is meant to be the same anywhere — it could present […]”.
    • p20 “[…]use that Sites’ DC to authenticate”: capitalisation of sites could be argued either way but the DC belongs a single site so the apostrophe is misplaced.
    • p33 “You should have clear guidelines of how to name GPO’s”: extraneous apostrophe.

    As I wrote in the review, I also found the writing style “jarring” – but I understand that’s purely a personal preference — every writer has their own style — it’s just that I found this more appropriate to internal documentation than to a published manuscript.

    There were also some technical areas that I would have expected the reviewers to pick up (but not necessarily the proof reader) — for example on p33 the author makes a point about the importance of choosing good names for group policy objects but offers no constructive advice as to characters to avoid when naming GPOs. On the flip side, on page 34 he offers good advice on not taking Microsoft’s domain controller sizing recommendations too literally.

    I hope this is useful to you (and not too depressing). I sincerely do wish you well for future publications.

    Mark


  3. Mark:
    Thanks for responding – and so promptly. Without wanting to justify my position, (1) and (4) weren’t in my submission, and with (2) I added the dashes but neglected to specify “em dashes” (I thought the typesetter would have worked it out). However, (3) is entirely my fault due to my lack of knowledge so I fess up to that one. That said, all of this doesn’t justify the errors in a commercal book that you’ve paid good money for, and you’re right to call us on it. I apologize, and will try harder! (I’ll also be contacting the Production Lead, to see if I can improve the process.) Thanks again for your comments.
    Best wishes, Dirk

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