Scott's Weblog The weblog of an IT pro specializing in virtualization, networking, open source, and cloud computing

Thoughts on a Couple of Books

I’ve been remiss in posting some thoughts on books that I’ve recently read, so here is an attempt to catch up a little bit on a couple of titles. I don’t know if I would classify these as true reviews, but here are my thoughts and key take-aways from these titles.

Automating vSphere with VMware vCenter Orchestrator

This title, by Cody Bunch (of ProfessionalVMware.com and vBrownbag fame), is one of the first VMware Press titles to be published (Mike Laverick’s SRM book is another). Although I was familiar with vCenter Orchestrator (vCO) already, Cody’s book was extremely helpful in moving my knowledge past the “overview” stage into the “Hey this isn’t as hard as I thought it was” stage. This is not to say that vCO is necessarily easy, but rather a reflection of Cody’s ability to present the concepts and materials in a very straightforward and easily consumed manner. I especially appreciated the keen focus on real-world applicability, aka the “Amazing Smoothies” section, where Cody really brought vCO down to the rubber-meets-the-road level. Overall, I found this book very useful, and Cody’s writing was clear and entertaining (a difficult mix to master). If you’re looking for a useful vCO reference, be sure to consider this one. You can order it from Amazon.

OpenVPN 2 Cookbook

I had the opportunity to review an electronic version of this book (courtesy of Packt Publishing). As with most other “Cookbook”-style titles, this book is arranged in a series of common tasks around OpenVPN. (More information on the OpenVPN open source project is available here.) I’ve used OpenVPN before, but I don’t consider myself an OpenVPN expert. As a result, some of the “recipes” (i.e., tasks) were a bit simplistic for me personally, while others were much more useful. This is not a negative reflection on the book; I’m quite sure that many people could/would say the same thing for sections of Mastering VMware vSphere 5. It’s simply the nature of a technology book that readers will have differing mastery levels in different areas. That being said, I did find the concept-overview-detail arrangement the authors used—where first they presented the concept or idea, then provided an overview of what was involved, and then dived into detailed step-by-step instructions—to be very useful. I did pick up a few tips and tricks here and there, especially in the more advanced configurations. Overall, I feel that this book is a good reference for beginner to intermediate OpenVPN administrators, but probably not advanced enough for experienced OpenVPN administrators. Since it’s likely that there are more of the former (less experienced administrators) than of the latter (more experienced administrators), that’s OK and perfectly understandable. If you’re getting started with OpenVPN 2 or are an intermediate administrator looking for a reference, this would be a good choice. Not unsurprisingly, this book is also available from Amazon.

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