Why should I use PowerShell to Manage my Server?


Powershell
PowerShell has emerged as a powerful and flexible Windows administration tool that provides task automation by using a combination of command line shell and associated scripting language. Administrative tasks are largely performed by cmdlets (Special .NET classes) to implement particular operations. To achieve different administrative functions, these cmdlets are also grouped together in scripts, executable or COM/WMI objects.

Microsoft is adding PowerShell to most of its upcoming products and plans to use it as a standard administrative module to all upcoming business products. PowerShell consist of some essential features that allow you to manage Windows operation system environments effectively and comprehensively.

Windows PowerShell is able to execute four types of commands:

Cmdlets (.NET programs designed to work with PowerShell)
PowerShell scripts (files suffixed by .ps1)
PowerShell functions
Standalone executable programs

Main Administrative Features of PowerShell:

Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7 come standard with PowerShell version 2.0 and is also released for Windows XP (SP3), Windows Server 2003 (SP2) and Windows Vista (SP1).Some features of PowerShell are listed below:

PowerShell Remoting: This PowerShell feature uses WinRM 2.0 (Windows Remote Management) which allows cmdlets and scritps to be executed on a remote machine or a group of remote machines. In PowerShell 2.0, there are thirty five cmdlets which provide integrated remoting capabilities and above all you can run all these cmdlets on remote Windows systems when a remote connection is available.

Background Jobs: This feature is known as PSJob and can execute asynchronous scripts (command sequences) that run in the background without interacting with console on a local or multiple remote stations. You can use get-command *-job to get the list of cmdlets you can use to schedule your jobs.

Cmdlets PowerShell 2.0 includes more than 100 integrated cmdlets that allow you to perform computer management tasks including performance and event log management. You can use the get-commad to view a list of available cmdlets.

PowerShell GUI: Now you can have a GUI interface of PowerShell with Integrated Scripting Environment (ISE) but you must install PowerShell Integrated Scripting Environment feature to enable PowerShell GUI. With this interface you can edit or debug scripts and run interactive commands. Main features of PowerShell GUI are graphical debugging, syntax color code, selective execution and Unicode support.

Some of the major benefits of the PowerShell ISE:

Syntax highlighting in scripts and the console
Several tabs for script editing
Easy copy/paste than the standard console
Multiple console tabs
F1 style help for cmdlets

Script Debugging: For the purpose of debugging you can now set breakpoints on columns, lines, variables and commands. This will let you identify the action that was performed at the point when breakpoint was hit. You can use the Help Set-PSDebug command to get help on debugging your PowerShell scripts.

PowerShell Hosting APIs: With PowerShell 2.0, Microsoft has included scripting support with all its business server products including Windows 2008 Server, SQL Server and Exchange Server. This new PowerShell Hosting API extends PowerShell functionality across other products by providing simple PowerShell hosting in applications.

Transactions: Using this feature, developers can accomplish transactional tasks. PowerShell provides transactional cmdlets to start, commit and roll back any PSTransaction along with features to manage and route the transaction to the contributing cmdlet and provider operations.

Modules: This feature is available to the administrators and developers to organize and partition PowerShell scripts in independent and reusable units. Each module executes the PowerShell code in its own independent context does not interfere the state outside of the module. Modules can designate a dedicated execution environment by using a script and they have a persistent state along with public and private members.

Conclusion:

PowerShell 2.0 offers strong administrative capabilities with its new cmdlets, improvement to existing cmdlets and some new features like remoting, background jobs and graphical interface (ISE). It has become a part of Microsoft Operating systems and hundreds of cmdlets are shipped with products like MS Exchange and SharePoint and a swiftly growing PowerShell toolkit from third party vendors which makes it essential to every systems and network administrator's toolkit.

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Edited by: Rajesh Bihani ( Find me on Google+ )

Disclaimer: The suggestions in the article(wherever applicable) are for informational purposes only. They are not intended as medical or any other type of advice