I often touch on the topic of "drowning in a sea of information." Microsoft does a wonderful job of producing voluminous documentation to answer almost any question you ask. However, the company typically does a poor job of organizing the documentation so that customers can weave its products into useful, business-oriented solutions. The result is that the answer you need is probably out there, but you might have a hard time finding it and applying it to your needs.
Last week, I highlighted two SQL Server-related e-books about OLAP and data mining. While I was researching these books, I stumbled across a Microsoft Web site called ".NET Enterprise Servers Online Books" at http://www.microsoft.com/technet/treeview/default.asp?url=/technet/itsolutions/net/onlinebooks/default.asp . In addition to the data-mining book "Preparing and Mining Data with Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Analysis Services" that I mentioned last week, the site includes links to such titles as "Securing B2B XML Web Services with WSE," "Understanding and Troubleshooting Directory Access," "Disaster Recovery for Microsoft Exchange 2000 Server," and "Best Practices for Deploying Full-Text Indexing."
IT professionals will find the titles on the site interesting and useful. The e-books are a joint effort from Microsoft Consulting Services, the product teams, and customers who use the products in the real world. Microsoft says that the books "offer practical guidance, informed insight that helps you make intelligent decisions, and relevant code examples that you can use as a starting point for creating your own solutions."
Wow! What a wonderful idea. Why are books such as these important? They can help you learn how to apply answers and advice in practical ways. Efforts such as this new e-book site are good for Microsoft customers, and I hope that the company continues to add titles to the site—preferably titles about SQL Server.
Take a few minutes to visit the site, and let me know what you think. Does Microsoft do a good job of giving us the information we need to stitch together multiple technologies and products to build complete business solutions? If not, what could the company do better? Send me your thoughts, and I'll share the most interesting ideas in a future commentary.