The power of PowerShell: An intro for Windows Server admins

In this increasingly devops-minded world, automation is king. Here’s how to get started with PowerShell

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Until recently, a clear delineation existed between Windows system administrators and developers. You’d never catch a system administrator writing a single line of code, and you’d never catch a developer bringing up a server. Neither party dared to cross this line in Windows environments. Nowadays, with the devops movement spreading like wildfire, that line is fading away.

A basic premise of devops is automation, which allows us to maintain consistent, repeatable processes while removing the error-prone ways of our being human. The only way to automate is through the command line. If you’re in a Windows environment, the command line to use is PowerShell. Once considered an inferior command-line experience to Linux, Windows now touts a very powerful and functional command line through PowerShell.

If you’re a Windows system administrator you’ve probably been clicking buttons, dragging windows, and scrolling scroll bars for a long time. Using the GUI -- even on a server -- has been common in the Windows world. We thought nothing of firing up a remote desktop client and logging into a server to do our bidding. This might be OK for very small businesses with only a couple servers, but enterprises soon realized this approach doesn’t scale. Something else had to be done. The solution was to turn to scripts to automate as much of this management as possible. With the introduction of PowerShell, sys admins now had a tool to make it happen.

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