Organizations around the world are going through rapid digital transformation. This is especially true in the US Market, where we see this phenomena being accelerated by the scale and agility of the Cloud and fueled by the latest innovation in machine learning and artificial intelligence. As they progress through their transformations and examine impacts on employees, partners, customers, and society, new strategies are emerging with socio-environmental factors with sustainability at the center.
We’re just at the beginning of what is possible with AI, endless possibilities not only for companies and partners but for everyone to benefit from improved societal impact, social good and sustainability. All requiring the need for a strong ecosystem and strategic private & public partnerships to build a trusted and secure future with new AI innovations and solutions. I’m delighted to share I’ve taken a new role at Microsoft to address both of these challenges: Vice President, AI Country Strategy & Sustainability Partnership for the US Microsoft Subsidiary. Focused on driving cross-boundary collaboration and transformation at scale, my new team and I will build strategies and partnerships that strengthen Microsoft’s position in the US as the leader in Cloud & AI, and leverage that knowledge into delivering in the US on Microsoft’s sustainability promise to be carbon negative by 2030.
Microsoft is making big, strategic bets on Cloud & AI and I look forward to driving digital transformation the US with a holistic view of the partner ecosystem—from customers and partners to developers and other strategic partnerships. Through the development of private and public partnerships we will drive technology innovation and ecosystem activation and begin to utilize Microsoft’s $1B investment in support of sustainability agendas across the US.
I have always been passionate about building teams that help shape the future of new technologies; and this new role creates the connections and opportunities for expansion of Microsoft’s mission to empower people, and drive growth and economic prosperity at a global level. The chance to leverage AI and sustainability to help us solve the world’s most vexing challenges is an opportunity for us all—and I’m grateful to be at a company that supports this mission.
While this will be a transition from my current charter in leading Go-To-Markets as a strategic advantage for Microsoft’s commercial partners, I’m excited to see the role the Microsoft community and its tens of thousands of partners will play in driving the future of AI and sustainability.
If you’re interested in learning more about how we are partnering with customers, commercial partners, developers, students and startups, follow along!
PowerShell has become one of the most ubiquitous scripting languages in use today. Originally released in 2008, PowerShell has caught on like wildfire with systems admins, software developers and engineers who manage and automate thousands of repetitive tasks.
There are a variety of products designed to help PowerShell developers build better scripts. Tools that complement a PowerShell scripter include advanced editors, products to create scripts with a low-code approach and services more tailored to specific products such Active Directory (AD).
Here, we examine five companies that offer products and services that focus on or heavily depend on PowerShell. We’ll examine each product’s focus, target audience, pricing and how each PowerShell tool integrates into the bigger tech ecosystem. Note that product costs are listed in U.S. dollars.
The Cimitra IT process delegation tool is designed to decrease the resolution time of IT-related events. It enables non-administrative users to perform tasks typically requiring higher privilege escalation. Using Cimitra, an IT specialist can safely create and delegate routine IT tasks for other people to execute who don’t have the skills or access to otherwise perform the task.
Cimitra’s tool can help users:
reset AD passwords;
restart servers; and
update phone numbers in employee databases.
Each of these tasks is connected to an action that’s exposed via a web-based GUI. For any action, Cimitra could be running commands or invoking an API or random PowerShell scripts to accomplish tasks.
To ensure Cimitra admins can manage user activity, the tool provides various role-based access controls and can integrate with authentication providers. The tool supports Lightweight Directory Access Protocol and multifactor authentication as well as various auditing roles.
Cimitra offers three licenses:
A free downloadable version that includes three users, three agents and unlimited actions with no expiration, and a support forum.
A Team version that includes 25 users, unlimited actions and agents, and an auditing panel to control and monitor user activity. This version also includes email support and costs $10,000 per year.
An Enterprise version that includes 100 users and the same features as the Team version. This version also includes phone and email support, and costs $25,000 per year.
Cimitra Server is offered as a Docker container and can be hosted in an organization’s data center or in the cloud.
Ironman Software Universal Automation
Universal Automation (UA) enables users to execute and schedule PowerShell scripts using a product that specifically offers PowerShell automation. This tool is designed to make it easier for users to invoke, control access to and manage a team’s PowerShell scripts.
Users can upload PowerShell scripts to the product, which then reads and parses the scripts to create graphical representations for easy use.
UA natively understands complex tasks in PowerShell scripts, such as the progress bar using the Write-Progress cmdlet or interactivity using the Read-Host cmdlet. UA can also read script parameters automatically, so there’s no need for an organization to adjust its scripts to use the UA platform.
UA automatically integrates with Git to support DevOps best practices and persists job output to a database for auditing and future evaluation. This PowerShell tool can also be configured for role-based access to provide users with the correct amount of privileges.
This product works well for individual PowerShell users and teams that need to schedule scripts in a platform that’s more powerful and PowerShell-centric than task scheduler. It also works well for organizations that want to implement DevOps practices into a PowerShell development environment.
UA offers an optional web-based GUI that enables users to manage the tool without having to drop down to a command line.
UA is currently in beta and offers two pricing models:
The free plan enables users to execute up to two concurrent jobs at once and 25 jobs per day.
The paid plan is licensed per agent at an introductory beta price of $99.99. This includes one year of upgrades and removes any restrictions on job execution.
The tool is built as a cross-platform PowerShell module. UA can be hosted on premises on IIS, Azure, AWS and other clouds.
Sapien Technologies PowerShell Studio
PowerShell Studio is a PowerShell scripting IDE. This product can visually design UIs for PowerShell scripts and use event-driven coding strategies, setting it apart from other PowerShell editors.
PowerShell Studio can code, test and run scripts on a variety of PowerShell versions, package them as executables and deploy them via Windows Installer packages.
This tool also includes an integrated debugger, profiler and support for many other script-based tools. Sapien provides IntelliSense for PowerShell modules that can’t be installed on the development machine. By using different machine profiles, IntelliSense and platform-specific settings can detect incompatibilities at the coding stage.
PowerShell Studio focuses primarily on PowerShell administrators who develop tools for themselves and others. This tool is designed for PowerShell power users who build lots of scripts and tooling.
PowerShell Studio offers a 45-day free trial. After that, the tool costs $399, which includes one year of upgrades and free forum support. The upgrades and support subscription can be extended annually, and the license never expires.
PowerShell Studio integrates out of the box with many common tools, including the PSScriptAnalyzer PowerShell tool, Pester, Git, Sapien’s PowerShell HelpWriter and VersionRecall. Wherever possible, access to these tools is prominently placed on the main user interface and requires only the push of a button.
ScriptRunner Software platform
ScriptRunner is an all-in-one PowerShell product that simplifies the way IT professionals, admin teams and DevOps engineers write and manage PowerShell scripts. Features include:
Centralized script and module management, which helps to ensure a standardized development process and companywide, consistent use of PowerShell scripts.
Secure credential administration, which enables users to run and delegate scripts in a safe environment.
Convenient web interfaces, which enable users to easily manage all PowerShell activities. Help desk teams and end-user work with automatically generated web-based input forms.
Centralized script execution that ensures all manual, scheduled, and event- and process-driven PowerShell activities can be monitored at a glance.
Admins can use ScriptRunner roles to delegate securely to help desk teams and end users. Domain users can perform defined tasks in on-premises, hybrid or cloud systems without administrative back-end permissions.
ScriptRunner offers a free 30-day trial, as well as an Essential Edition for up to five users that’s ideal for small IT and service desk teams. Contact ScriptRunner for a price quote.
System Frontier helps organizations reduce admin rights and simplify IT support by delegating granular admin permissions. IT admins can turn PowerShell and other scripts into secure web-based tools without having to build GUIs by hand.
This privilege access management tool is designed for systems admins who manage Windows and Linux servers, network devices, AD or Office 365 resources, and have PowerShell or other scripting skills.
System Frontier is licensed per managed node and is broken into server and non-server licenses. Server nodes cover Windows and Linux servers, network devices and other devices acting in a server capacity. Non-server nodes cover managing workstations and user accounts such as AD or Office 365 users.
The tool offers four licensing options:
A free Community Edition that’s limited to 5,000 server or endpoint nodes, 50 delegated users, five custom tools and community support.
A free 30-day trial version with features enabled that anyone with a business email address can download.
The Pro version starts at $29 per server node or $5.80 per non-server node. It’s limited to 100 delegated users and 20 custom tools. Priority email support is included.
The Enterprise version starts at $49 per server node or $9.80 per non-server node. It includes unlimited delegated users and unlimited custom tools, as well as priority email and phone support.
System Frontier offers integrations for enterprise applications, including ServiceNow, Remedy, Cisco and Check Point. This tool also has a built-in REST API that enables other applications and services to integrate with it. Due to its script-based nature, users can build PowerShell scripts on their own to connect to a near-endless number of other services.
A PowerShell tool to meet every organization’s needs
Each of the products examined here represents an ecosystem that’s cropped up from PowerShell or other scripting languages. Although each product has a strong foundation with PowerShell, each serves a different purpose.
Some of the tools covered here have both competing and complementary features. When selecting a product, pay close attention to the product’s focus and target audience. Note which tools complement each other and choose a product or products that focus on your organization’s specific needs.
PowerShell can be one of the most effective tools administrators have for managing Windows systems. But it can be difficult to master, especially when time is limited. An online PowerShell course can expedite this process by prioritizing the most important topics and presenting them in logical order.
Admins have plenty of PowerShell courses from which to choose, offered by well-established vendors. But with so many courses available, it isn’t always clear which ones will be the most beneficial. To help make the course selection process easier, here we offer a sampling of popular PowerShell courses that cater to varying levels of experience.
Windows currently ships with PowerShell 5.1, but PowerShell Core 6 is available for download, and PowerShell 7 is in preview. PowerShell Core is a cross-platform version of PowerShell that runs on multiple OS platforms. It isn’t an upgrade to Windows PowerShell, but a separate application that runs on the same system.
Some of the PowerShell courses listed here, as well as other online classes, specify the PowerShell version on which the course is based. But not all classes offer this information, and some courses provide only a range, such as PowerShell 4 or later. So, before signing up for an online course, be sure to verify the PowerShell version.
Learning Windows PowerShell
This popular PowerShell tutorial from Udemy is designed for beginners. This course targets systems admins who have no prior PowerShell experience but want to use PowerShell to manage Windows desktops and servers. This course is based on PowerShell 5. But this shouldn’t be an issue when learning basic concepts, which is the primary focus of this PowerShell tutorial.
The course provides background information about PowerShell and explains how to set up the PowerShell environment, including how to configure the console and work with profiles. The course introduces cmdlets, shows how they’re related to .NET objects and classes, and explains how to build a pipeline using cmdlets and other language elements. With this information, systems admins will have the basics they need to move onto the next topic: PowerShell scripts.
The tutorial on scripting is nearly as extensive as the section on cmdlets. The course examines the details of script elements, such as variables, constants, comparison operators, if statements, looping structures and regular expressions. This is followed by details on PowerShell providers and how to work with files and folders, and then a discussion of administration basics. This course can help provide participants with a solid foundation in PowerShell so they’re ready to take on more advanced topics.
Introduction to Windows PowerShell 5.1
This Udemy tutorial is based on PowerShell 5.1, so it’s more current than the previous course. The training is geared toward both beginner PowerShell users and more experienced admins who want to hone their PowerShell skills. The course covers a wide range of topics, from understanding PowerShell syntax to managing Active Directory (AD). Participants who sign up for this course should already know how to run PowerShell, but they don’t need to be advanced users.
The course covers the basics of how to use both the PowerShell console and the Intelligent Scripting Environment (ISE). It explains what steps to take to get help and find commands. This is followed by an in-depth look at the PowerShell command syntax. The material also covers objects and their properties and methods, as well as an explanation of how to build a PowerShell pipeline.
Participants can move onto the section on scripting, which starts with a discussion on arrays and variables. Users then learn how to build looping structures and conditional statements, and how to use PowerShell functions. This course demonstrates how to use PowerShell to work with AD, covering such tasks as installing and configuring server roles.
PowerShell version 5.1 and 6: Step-by-Step
This tutorial, which is one of Udemy’s highest rated PowerShell courses, is geared toward admins who want to learn how to use PowerShell to perform management tasks. The course is broad in scope and covers both PowerShell 5.1 and PowerShell Core 6. Users who sign up for this course should have a basic understanding of the Windows OS — both desktop and server versions.
Because the course covers so many topics, it’s longer than the previous two training sessions and goes into more detail. It explains the differences between PowerShell and the Windows Command Prompt, how to determine the PowerShell version and how to work with aliases. The course also examines the steps necessary to run unsupported commands and create PowerShell transcripts.
This PowerShell tutorial also examines more advanced topics, such as working with object members, creating hash tables and managing execution policy levels. This is followed by a detailed discussion about the Common Information Model (CIM) and how it can manage hard drives and work with BIOS. In addition, participants will learn how to create profile scripts, functions and modules, as well as how to use script parameters and to pause script execution. Because the course is so comprehensive, admins should come away with a solid understanding of how to use PowerShell to script their daily management tasks.
Udemy course pricing
Udemy distinguishes between personal and business users. For personal users, Udemy charges by the course, with prices for PowerShell courses ranging between $25 and $200. Udemy also offers personal users a 30-day, money-back guarantee.
Udemy also offers two business plans that provide unlimited access to its courses. The Team plan supports between five and 20 users and costs $240 per user, per year. It also comes with a 14-day trial. Contact Udemy for details regarding its Enterprise plan, which supports 21 or more users. Udemy also offers courses to help users prepare for IT certifications, supporting such programs as Cisco CCNA, Oracle Certification and Microsoft Certification.
Windows PowerShell: Essentials
Pluralsight offers a variety of PowerShell courses, as well as learning paths. A path is a series of related courses that provide users with a strategy for learning a specific technology. This path includes six courses ranging from beginner to advanced user. Participants should come away with a strong foundation in how to create PowerShell scripts that automate administrative processes. Before embarking on this path, however, they should have a basic understanding of Windows networking and troubleshooting.
The beginning courses on this path provide users with the information they need to start working with PowerShell, even if they’re first-timers. Users will learn how to use cmdlets, work with objects and get help when they need it. These courses also introduce concepts such as aliases, providers and mapping network drives. The intermediate tutorials build on the beginning courses by explaining how to work with objects and the PowerShell pipeline, and how to format output. The intermediate courses also focus on using PowerShell in a networked environment, covering such topics as CIM and Windows Management Instrumentation.
The advanced courses build on the beginning and intermediate tutorials by focusing on automation scripts. Admins will learn how to use PowerShell scripting to automate their routine processes and tasks. They’ll also learn how to troubleshoot problems in their scripts if PowerShell exhibits unusual behavior. The path approach might not be for everyone, but for those ready to invest their time in a comprehensive program, this path could prove a valuable resource.
Practical Desired State Configuration
Those not suited to a learning path can choose from a variety of other Pluralsight courses that address specific technologies. This highly rated course caters to advanced users and provides real-world examples of how to use PowerShell to write Desired State Configurations (DSCs). Those interested in the course should be familiar with PowerShell and DSC principles.
DSC refers to a new way of managing Windows Server that shifts the focus from point-and-click GUIs to infrastructure as code. To achieve this, admins can use PowerShell to build DSCs. This process is the focus of this course, which covers several advanced topics ranging from writing configurations with custom resources to building dynamic collector configurations.
The tutorial demonstrates how to use custom resources in a configuration and offers an in-depth discussion of securing DSC operations. Participants then learn how to use the DSC model to configure and manage AD, covering such topics as building domains and creating users and groups. The course demonstrates how to set up Windows event forwarding. Although not everyone is looking for such advanced topics, for some users, this course might be just what they need to progress their PowerShell skills.
Pluralsight doesn’t charge by the course, but rather it offers three personal plans and two business plans. The personal plans start at $299 per year, and the business plans start at $579 per user, per year. All plans include access to the entire course library. In addition, Pluralsight offers a 10-day personal free trial and, like Udemy, courses geared toward IT certification.
PowerShell 5 Essential Training
Of the 13 online PowerShell courses offered by LinkedIn Learning — formerly, Lynda.com — this is the most popular. The course targets beginner and intermediate PowerShell users who are Windows systems admins. Although the course is based on PowerShell 5, the basic information is still applicable today, like other courseware written to this version.
The material covers most of the basics one would expect from a course at this level. It explains how to set up and customize PowerShell, and it introduces admins to cmdlets and their syntax and how to find help. This is followed by installing modules and packages. The course also describes how to use the PowerShell pipeline, covering such topics as working with files and printers, as well as storing data as a webpage.
The course moves onto objects and their properties and methods. Participants can learn how to create scripts that incorporate variables and parameters so they can automate administrative tasks. Participants are also introduced to PowerShell ISE and shown how to use PowerShell remoting to manage multiple systems at once, along with practical examples of administrative operations at scale.
PowerShell: Scripting for Advanced Automation
This course, which is also offered by LinkedIn Learning, focuses on automating advanced administrative operations in a Windows network. Those planning to take the course should have a strong foundation in managing Windows environments. As its name suggests, the course is geared toward advanced users.
After a brief introduction, the course jumps into DSC automation, providing an overview of DSC and explaining how to set up DSCs. Users can learn how to work with DSC resources, push DSCs and create pull configurations. The course then moves onto Just Enough Administration, explaining JEA concepts and best practices. In this part of the course, participants learn how to create role capability files and JEA session configurations, as well as how to register JEA endpoints.
The final section of the tutorial describes how to troubleshoot PowerShell scripts. The discussion begins with an overview of PowerShell workflows and examines the specifics of troubleshooting PowerShell in both the console and ISE. The section ends with information about using the PSScriptAnalyzer tool for quality control. As with any advanced course, not all users will benefit from this information. But the tutorial could provide a valuable resource for admins looking to refine their PowerShell skills.
LinkedIn Learning pricing
LinkedIn Learning sells courses individually, offers a one-month free trial and provides both personal and business plans. Individual PowerShell courses cost between $30 and $45, and individual subscription plans start at $20 per month. Contact LinkedIn Learning regarding business plans. LinkedIn Learning also offers courses aimed at IT certifications.