A 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)