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If you don’t learn PowerShell in the next year or two you won’t have a job…

June 15, 2012

I have heard this said a few times in the last year or so…and I think it is total cobblers.

It’s an interesting profession IT, we live in constant fear that the software and hardware we are paid to install, configure and maintain will one day become so clever it won’t need us any more.  Do lawyers, teachers, doctors and dentists have the same fear as they lay awake at night?

PowerShell plays on those fears.  It’s the latest and greatest technology from Microsoft and it will change the way we do things forever.  Our jobs will become so much easier as we configure hundreds of servers from a few commands…surely that means there will be less of us so some of us will be out of a job?

I don’t think so….

Have you worked with PowerShell at all?  It’s a joy to use.  I thoroughly recommend learning some Exchange server (2007 or 2010) as it is a great way to get to grips with it. Once you can see how easy it is to list all of the mailboxes on a mail store (or DAG or whatever they are called now in 2010) and pipe the output to a command to reconfigure the properties of each mailbox you will think “how did I ever manage without that?”.

An agency guy told me recently that there aren’t many Exchange 2007/2010 administrators around becuase everyone is scared of PowerShell.  Sound like an opportunity to you?  Go and study/take the MCTS exam in Exchange 2007 or 2010 (I have the MCITP Exchange 2007 Enterprise Administrator and plan on upgrading it soon) you won’t regret it.

But wait…that isn’t all PowerShell is for…

Powershell is going to take over the world!  It is going to become the way you configure every component of every server O.S. and every server application!

Well kind of…

Now many years ago I worked with Novell products and a certain Eric Schmidt told all of the Novell programmers that everything must be written in Java.  So of they went and re-wrote all of the management apps and NWAdmin became Console1 and nothing worked properly.  Everybody hated the changes.

Well Microsoft are doing a similar thing with PowerShell.  The difference here is that this is the RIGHT thing to do and it will bring a real strength to Microsoft’s product portfolio (and already is in some cases).

Huh?

Well let me explain..in the bad old days you would install an application with the installer.  Then maybe configure some services in Control Panel, some user accounts in AD users and computers, some registry keys, some permissions on the file system, some settings for IIS in IIS Manager etc.  Sound familiar? Well now Microsoft are opening up ways to configure these components using PowerShell, so you have one way of configuring everything!

So I do have to learn PowerShell then?

Well not really.  Lets look at Exchange 2007 server. All of the management is done in the Exchange Console so you have a nice GUI tool.  What happens when you click on stuff though is that those commands are converted to PowerShell on the fly (it even shows you the commands it is running for you).  So you have a choice, GUI or PowerShell.  Now to be fair some settings (like configuring IMAP support if you feel the need to travel back in time to the 1980’s) are only available with PowerShell (in Exchange 2007 anyway); but Exchange 2010 has even more stuff in the GUI if that is the way you want to do things!

Lets look at some installation examples now.  With Exchange 2007 getting all of the roles/feature and pre-requisites right was a real pain.  The Exchange 2010 install is better.  Did you know for both versions of the product you can run PowerShell commands to configure your roles and features? (the Internet is your freind here..).  I just installed SharePoint 2010 in my test lab and it was like a two button press install, brought to you under the covers by the power of PowerShell.

So the move to PowerShell is a good thing.  Just like the move to VMware means we all spend less time in server rooms fiddling with hardware, the move to PowerShell means we spend less time fiddling with server installs.

In time we will all pick up on PowerShell either by the odd commands we run instead of running the myriad of tools MicroSoft provide, or indirectly by using the new tools that will come our way that will be built on top of it.

So embrace PowerShell and don’t panic.  You will still have a job in a couple of years and you don’t have to learn to write 100 page scripts, not unless you really want to!

Let me know about your PowerShell exploits I would love to hear them!

C

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