Is it just me or are publishers actually putting books out faster than they used to? In years past it seemed like just about the time a publisher actually got the book on the shelves, the technology had changed again. That is still a problem, but my take is that publishers are trying harder to get new material in print sooner. Having worked in the book publishing business for a while I know how hard it is. First you have to find an author, then the author has to write the book (at least six months to over a year), then you have to produce the book. A year is record time for a detailed technology book.
In any case, I am happy to see some really useful books coming out at a faster rate. This one is pretty targeted but it covers a great deal of ground in the process.
Both Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and version 6 of the Internet Protocol have already been adopted and are in use. But neither has penetrated to a majority of the systems out there. Both have a long way to go. If you happen to be involved with either, this book can make things clearer.
What I really liked about this book is that is has excellent complete coverage of VoIP itself and IPv6. You can use the book to learn these from scratch or just get a refresher. These subjects are mind numbingly complex with lots of eye-glazing detail. But the author does a good job of laying them out and explaining them in detail. Unlike some other books I have seen on the subject, he uses lots of diagrams and illustrations. We all love pictures. It is tougher to do graphics than to write more words so authors tend to avoid them. But as you know, you can get a good idea of the concepts faster from the drawings alone then dig into the text for more detail.
Chapter 1 is a big picture overview that gets into the reasons for both technologies. Chapters 2 and 3 are a tutorial on VoIP. The concepts are presented in Chapter 2 while Chapter 3 gets into the details of the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) that has become the defacto standard for most new VoIP these days.
Chapter 4 delves into the subject of "presence," which along with instant messaging have recently emerged as the new medium of communications over enterprise networks, extranets, and the Internet. This is followed up by the fifth chapter’s overview of the current issues with VoIP technology like security, VLANs, and firewalls. It also covers network address translation (NAT), which is the process of mapping IP addresses from one group to another. All these chapters have real depth, even covering the Internet Engineering Task Force's (IETF's) related RFCs (Request for comments) in most cases.
The basics of the IPv6 protocol is covered in Chapter 6. Starting with version 4 (IPv4), which is still the predominant Internet protocol, it shows how version 6 solves some critical problems now and in the future especially with the vastly increased address space. Chapter 7 was unexpected. It covers IPv6 to support 3G (third-generation cell phone) VoIP. Again, lots of detail but good illustrations. The book comes to an end with Chapter 8 that details some issues related to the transition from IPv4 to IPv6.
This book sites lots of references so you can get more detail if you need it. It also points out all the related IETF RFC when applicable.
I have two main complaints about the book. Minoli does assume you already know quite a bit about this subject. He lost me in a few places when he could have easily given a tidbit of background prerequisites to help out. The good news about authors like Minoli is that they really do know their subject. But the bad news is that they often know it so well they expect you to know all the background they do as well. As an author, writing is a delicate balance because the readers’ knowledge varies widely so you have to avoid boring the more advanced readers with details they already know while trying to fill in the gaps in prior knowledge of other readers with less experience. Mostly he does a good job with this.
Second, I wished he had summed up all of the terminology in a big glossary/acronym section at the back of the book for quick reference. The whole subject is acronym hell and this would be a good way to get a quickie reference to something that may not be immediately known. I don't know about you, but it stops my reading dead in the water when I encounter a new word or term. I just wish I could look it up quickly and move on. Nevertheless, he does cover the definitions rather well but in their place.
I wouldn't let either of these personal gripes keep you from getting this book. It is not something you are going to read on the beach this summer but, it is a great tutorial and reference on two topics that will no doubt affect you in some way if you work in networking and communications.
If you're interested in VoIP and IPv6, you might also like these books: