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Reviewed by Major Keary
The cookbook format can be most effective when done well; O'Reilly is a master of the genre, and the VMware Cookbook is an excellent example. It is succinct, uses clear language, is well-organised, and the content is relevant to the intended audience. A detailed table of contents and a well constructed index make information easy to find.
In the preface the intended audience is declared: system managers who have some experience with VMware ESX, ESXi, or vSphere. The authors add that they have "tried to appeal to beginners and also include a generous amount of complex recipes for advanced users".
Before getting down to the 'recipes' there is a chapter, VMware Infrastructure Installation, that describes the various VMware products and installation issues.
The format for each 'recipe' is:
For example, under the topic Adding Hosts to a Cluster the problem is stated:
You wish to add more hosts to your ESX cluster.
That is followed by a solution:
Use the vCenter client to add new hosts to an existing ESX cluster.
Then follows over three pages of discussion that includes step-by-step instructions and explanations. The 'see-also' section contains a cross-reference to a related topic.
The text is well supported with diagrams and screen shots, and there plenty of example code.
This is not an introduction, and there are no excursions into theoretical issues. VMware Cookbook is designed to be a practical reference for working network administrators. It is strictly 'one problem, one solution'. However, along the way there are gems of background information to be picked up.
Back cover blurbs are usually less than reliable, and even prone to hyperbole. I have found the back-cover information of O'Reilly titles presents a fair description of the contents, and this is no exception. What appears to be an innovation at O'Reilly's is an indicator bar that runs from 'introduction' to 'advanced'; this title is rated 'intermediate' and carries the caveat: Knowledge of VMware Infrastructure is recommended. Also there is a bulleted list, which provides a good guide to the content; in this instance:
An ideal desk reference, its small footprint belies the amount of information it contains.
Ryan Troy and Matthew Helm: VMware Cookbook
Published by O'Reilly, 280 pp., RRP AU$ 76.75
The Australian distributor is Woodslane <www.woodslane.com.au>