PowerShell Summit NA 2014

I had the opportunity to attend the PowerShell Summit last week and I wanted to share a few thoughts and insights. First and foremost this was a very successful sophomore event for PowerShell.org and the PowerShell Summit. I had the opportunity to attend the inaugural Summit last year and 2014 was bigger and better than 2013 by every measurable criteria. There were 3 tracks of presentations this year and I had far more “tough choices” this year than among last year’s 2 tracks. Even with 3 tracks the content and the presenters were top notch. Every track I went too left me feeling like I had actionable information to go back to work with or a few more bullet points to put on my to-do list.powershell-summit-trophyx_427x889

A big takeaway from the Summit was how committed Microsoft is to PowerShell and the PowerShell community. That may seem like an unnecessary distinction but I want to emphasize why I think those are two different and very powerful movements on Microsoft’s part. It has been said many times by many people over the last 5 or so years that “PowerShell is the future…” that is true and we have largely reached the “future” and it is now. PowerShell is pervasive throughout Windows Server 2012R2 and every other current era Microsoft technology. Technologies that include SQL Server, Exchange, System Center, Azure and all the enumerable services that lie between. This list of technologies should also include PowerShell support from 3rd parties like VMware, NetApp, Cisco, and many others.

Paradoxically the mantra “PowerShell is the future…” persists as a fundamental truth, the future is not here yet. With things like Desired State Configuration (DSC) it was pretty evident throughout the Summit that this will be a massively transformative technology. A transformation definitely for Microsoft services but likely to outside vendors as well. On the Microsoft side DSC will be managed and instrumented with PowerShell. Microsoft is operating under the idea that DSC will extend beyond just the Windows sphere. They have demonstrated a number of times Chef (a common Linux configuration management service) setups that are interoperable with DSC. A last day demo by the Microsoft PowerShell DSC team even showed a proof of concept Windows server DSC setup managing a Linux server in concert with a another Windows server. Desired State Configuration will manage or allow servers to be managed period, irrespective of which proper noun you place in front of ‘server’.

In the last year or so Microsoft has finally come to accept that the technology world is a heterogeneous place and Microsoft technology will grow and adapt to that reality. You can expect PowerShell to be at the forefront of that whether it be Azure or on premises DSC. In the wider heterogeneous technology world systems administration is synonymous with automation and scripting. What Jeffery Snover himself called Windows “Click Next” admins are limiting themselves and their organizations in very profound ways. The days of needing Windows specific admins for Windows servers and Linux specific admins for Linux servers are coming to an end. Do you want to be master of your environments or do you want someone else to be master of your environment? For PowerShell the future is now, but there is still plenty of future in front of us. That is very exciting.

While PowerShell has arrived as a foundational Microsoft technology the Summit demonstrated how committed Microsoft is to the PowerShell community. As with last year’s Summit there were a number of presentations given by Microsoft PowerShell team members. Something that struck me this year was how often I saw PowerShell team members in attendance at presentations. In fact I was in a number of presentations where Jeffery Snover himself was in the audience and active in the Q&A portions. I noticed every time a presenter, or attendee, mentioned some aspect of PowerShell frustration; a quirk, a bug, or just “wish it did this…” Mr. Snover made notes in a notebook. By the end of the 3rd day if I was in a position to see Mr. Snover during a presentation and an issue was raised I would glance over and without fail if the notebook was out notes were going in. If the notebook wasn’t out he’d pull it out and make notes. That is reassuring and effective technology product leadership. Additionally on Tuesday night a large portion of the PowerShell development team gave lightning presentations on functionality or features they were actively working on. Many of which were about or in support of DSC. The team then stayed around for that evening’s festivities. It was quite the PowerShell consortium, PowerShell team members and a diverse attendant PowerShell workforce.

These experiences and observations demonstrate to me not only how invested Microsoft is with PowerShell as a core technology but also with customers in general. With stewards like Jeffery Snover and the PowerShell team at Microsoft cooperative with one of the best technology communities I have participated in, PowerShell will move from being a pervasive technology to a ubiquitous technology.

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