Eclipse or SUNrise...

Eclipse or SUNrise...
...JAVA for sure

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

WebSphere Application Server 8 Administration Guide by Packt book review

I just finished reading a new book from Packt's Publishing, the WebSphere Application Server 8 Administration Guide. I'm sure there will be many others reviews of this book, but I would like to look at it from perspective of the IBM's official WAS8 RedBook. Both books are about administration so they should contain similar content. Similar but it can't be the same.

To start with, this book is the first one from the Packt series that I had chance to read so I didn't have any clue of what to expect. My first comparison with the redbook was clearly mathematical - the Packts book is about 500 pages, where the redbook is over 1000. I never liked long books, but trust me, when it came to write about WAS it is really hard not to mention about so many things. Steve Robinson, the author of this book, had to sacrifice something to be able to limit its size. So is it worth to pay extra for this publication?

The Packts book consist of 11 chapters where you will learn from the basics: installation process to typical administrative tasks. I won't write about the content of each chapter, you can check it out by your self here. I think that chapters 3, 5, 7 and 8 deserve a special credit. This is because they contain very valuable information and many superb hints. It is clear that the author has worked with the WAS for many years which led him to make his own "best practices" and it is always good idea to learn from others.

From the other hand there are couple of things that could be improved. The biggest gap in my perspective is the chapter 11 - Product Maintenance, which is valid but only for WAS version 7. I think that the author couldn't test the fixpack update functionality with the WAS version 8 since there were no fixpack by the time when he wrote the book, but the way of updating WAS V8 has changed just as the installation of the WAS itself (the Update Installer for example is deprecated for V8 product). For this information you will have to checkout the redbook.

I also didn't like the part about working with the HTTP server in chapter 9. For me it was a little awkward and it also talked about the older IHS V7, not the current V8. I also miss that author didn't present the capabilities of new WebSphere Customization Toolbox which helps when working with IHS V8.

The last thing I miss is that you wont learn about the powerful WebSphere Network Deployment capabilities like clustering, high availability or new cool V8 concept like the improved Centralized Installation Manager (CIM), which is covered in the redbook. This is why the Packt's book is half the size of the redbook.

So then, to sum it up...

The strong sides of the book

  • Easy and fast to read
  • Excellent for people new to WAS
  • great hints from a person who professionally works with WAS from many years
  • Nice examples with sample code and scripts available to download

The book weaknesses

  • Administration of only standalone WAS installations (Network Deployment is not covered)
  • Unfortunately the part about applying fixpacks in chapter 11 is not valid for WAS version 8
  • Part about HTTP server also could be updated to version 8 in chapter 9

The current eBook (PDF only) version price is £25 (The printed version is £42). I think this is a good price, but if you are new to WAS - you will get a great value for the money. It will guide you from the beginning to all important aspects. Because it is well written and quite short you will have a good feel of how to work with WAS. However, after this introduction you will need more information to jump into the advanced ND topology.

My grade is 4/5.

You can download the book from

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