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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Building Enterprise Information Architecture: Reengineering Information Systems
Publisher: Prentice Hall PTR
Authors: Melissa Cook, Hewlett-Packard Professional Books
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Keeping IT people/projects under management control

Melissa's book, although "ancient" in web-time (1996), is bang up to date, stressing the importance of good management-led architectural design. In the current (summer 2000) snowball of interest in everything surrounding XML, her book deserves to be read by anyone interested in serious XML deployment, as it covers the "upstream" issues notoriously overlooked or sidestepped in the rush to early technology deployment. She rightly laments the lack of central authorities taking a lead hand in IT design and project management but offers a way forward using the Zackman Framework and some clearly mapped out targets and milestones. Having been hooked by the strength of her arguments for "why?", I felt a little shortchanged on the "how?" but sufficiently keyed up to look further afield, largely thanks to a very comprehensive bibliography.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Enterprise Service Bus
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: David Chappell
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Looks promising

Chappell describes a highly promising but still speculative technology for connecting together enterprise-wide computations. It can also potentially be used to span different companies. Some of you may groan. Haven't we heard this already, several times? Remember the toutings of CORBA, Java's RMI, JMX, JMS, and the nascent Web Services?
Well, ESB draws upon often bitter lessons learnt with these earlier endeavours. CORBA was widely found to be too complex. RMI works only for tightly coupled systems, which do not scale well. So that became one reason for JMS, because it enabled loose coupling. But JMS is too low level. Web Services may indeed be promising, but face a danger of overspecifying a standard before enough practical experience is garnered.
ESB tries to subsume the best ideas from the above, and from other efforts. It promises loose coupling and an incremental rollout, amongst other things. The incremental ability may be key to getting a small scale project approved and implemented, due to its minimal investment.
You could think of ESB as taking the ideas of the JMX management console a step further. Plus, ESB can use JMX as a subsidiary technology.
Chappell also offers nice visual component schematics that could be used to represent and perhaps even assemble an ESB network. If this indeed is possible, it would be tremendous. Akin to the 1980s, when MicroSim offered a graphical version of Spice, with electronic parts availabled from a menu.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Practical Unix & Internet Security, 3rd Edition
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Simson Garfinkel, Gene Spafford, Alan Schwartz
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
If you only read one book this year...

If you have anything to do with network administration, security or management, this is a "must read" book.
Common (and not-so-common) security situations are explained clearly, with good background and examples. Even the most basic sysadmin to the haughtiest guru can learn something from this book.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: CCIE Routing and Switching Exam Certification Guide
Publisher: Cisco Press
Authors: A. Anthony Bruno, Anthony Bruno
Rating: 1/5
Customer opinion - 1 stars out of 5
Not Recommended

There are are couple of major issues with this book:- It is riddled with errors. It needs a thorough technical review. As one example, many of the acronyms are expanded wrong (e.g. VTP is expanded to virtual terminal protocol instead of VLAN trunking protocol). Another example is the discussion of IGMP, where the descriptions for the query and report packets are reversed. This book was obviously rushed out the door without careful editing (sadly this is the case for far too many technical books these days).- It does not address the topics in nearly enough depth for the CCIE written exam. Nor do the sample questions require the kind of in-depth reasoning and understanding that the CCIE exam requires.
Preparing for the CCIE written definitely does require multiple books. Unfortunately this book adds little value. You will be better off by going to Cisco's web site, printing out the exam blueprint, and finding the "best in breed" books for each of the subjects listed.