There are quite a few books out there to help people with learning, understanding and Mastering System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager. I was lucky enough (thanks Santos) to get a copy of Mastering System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager.
First glances at the book give you a feeling that it’s loaded with content, and it is – a whopping 910 pages (936 total).
This book was written by a bunch of clever guys that are no stranger to those interested in Configuration Manager, namely Santos Martinez, Peter Daalmans and Brett Bennet, with contributions from Carlos Santiago, Ramon Martinez and Kevin Robinson. 5 of these guys are senior Premier Field Engineers at Microsoft and the other (Peter Daalmans) is an Enterprise Client Management MVP. With those credentials you know that the content in this book is going to be good even before reading it.
The book is laid out in 19 chapters covering the following areas:
- Overview of Service Management
- Planning a Configuration Manager Infrastructure
- Migrating to Configuration Manager 2012
- Installation and Site role Configuration
- Cloud Integration
- Client Installation
- Client Health
- Application Deployment
- Software Updates
- Operating System Deployment
- Inventory and Software Metering
- Asset Intelligence
- Compliance Settings
- System Center Endpoint Protection
- Mobile Device Management
- Role-Based Administration
- Disaster Recovery
That’s a pretty extensive list and should be enough for most people wanting to fine tune their Configuration Manager skill set.
Each chapter contains detailed information about the subject it covers including helpful step by step instructions and screenshots interspersed throughout. You will also see Real World Scenario information which is highlighted and this helps you understand how other people deal with these scenarios in the real world, for example it recommends creating different custom client settings for all servers on page 229.
Each chapter contains examples where relevant to help you do the task in hand for example how to manually install the Configuration Manager client on page 252 which includes the command line needed or Figure 8.19 on Page 319 which shows you info about an application via a screenshot and corresponding text.
In addition there are Troubleshooting sections within each chapter that give helpful advice about which log files to read and how to troubleshoot the feature covered in the respective chapter. This is a very important aspect as more often that not you’ll end up troubleshooting something sooner or later. Finally, each chapter ends with The Bottom Line which summarizes key learning points of the chapter and encourages you to Master It.
From reading through the book I have a few small points to make to the authors (for their next book). I know that book writing is hard work and very demanding but hopefully this feedback is helpful. One thing I’d comment on is to include actual information about what previously referenced problems would be (an example of this is information about Trace32 usage in Configuration Manager 2012 R2 and that it may have problems on page 157). From my experience the problems the user may see with those earlier versions of Trace32 would be missing information from log files or inability to even display log files. This type of information is important and should be included especially when it’s hinted at.
In addition, the site migration chapter didn’t go into enough detail about migration Operating System Deployment scenarios for example what if you’ve integrated MDT with Configuration Manager, what to do then ? This scenario is listed as not supported but doesn’t offer advice for what to do if you are in that situation even though Table 3.1 on Page 79 offers Workarounds for non-migratable objects. As Operating System Deployment is an area that most customers will want to migate, I think it’s worth spending some more time on this. Also UEFI information seemed lacking in Chapter 10 and this area is expanding rapidly due to increased Windows 8 deployments on UEFI only hardware (tablets).
Overall, a really good book written by some hard working professionals who know the product inside out, the attention to detail in each chapter shows that these guys are using the product daily and know what they are dealing with.
I’d have no problem recommending this book to anyone seeking to master System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager.