One of the consistent messages heard over the past few years, maybe more, regarding system administration and how things are done in the Microsoft world is that one must learn PowerShell. It’s how things are done and will be done into the future. I’ve never felt it to be that important or that urgent until recently. I find myself in a rut, without purpose. These are not good things. To want to go to work every day one must have purpose or one develops as dislike for the job and that’s just not good. How will I deal with this? PowerShell.
I bought a copy of Learn Windows PowerShell in a Month of Lunches written by a guy named Don Jones. I carried that book around with me for more than a month of lunches and only opened it a couple of times. Then the second edition came out. Ugh. Have I had that book for that long? Apparently so. Time to learn some PowerShell. As an extra motivator I work with a Microsoft PowerShell MVP so maybe I can put a dent in this book.
It’s time to deploy some applications. How should we accomplish this? Well, thanks to Seán Lillis and Dan Cunningham and their PowerShell App Deployment Toolkit you’ve now got a slick, efficient way to deploy your apps and hand some control back to the client. Basically, what this does is provide an interface and PowerShell template to allow a PowerShell noob like me to whip up applications following standardized and consistent procedures that have a common look and feel. The client can be presented with dialog boxes and popup balloons providing information or prompting for interaction to smooth the installation of the apps. Clients are as different as we are, some like to point and click while others just want it installed and will be “confused” if presented with a dialog box asking them what to do. You get to decide how much or how little the client will see with this toolkit. And it works with both SCCM 2007 and Configuration Manager 2012. How cool is that?!
The SCCM 2012 Application Importer is another tool I’ve never seen before. This is cool beans as well. This tool will help you import the .MSI file, create the deployment type, choose the distribution group to deploy to, create the deployment, create a new distribution group if you need/want one, and create a new AD group if you need/want one. Quite nice. The nice thing about these tools is they help you create consistency. It keeps things tidy and understandable in your Configuration Manager environment and that makes things easier to manage.
Who here likes to create documentation? I used to hate it. I’ve grown to enjoy creating documents that are clear and understandable and help the intended audience complete the procedure or receive the message being sent. This tool, created by David O’Brien, is like mana from the gawds. This tool does an inventory of your Configuration Manager environment and presents you with a nicely packaged document ready for some light bedtime reading or for presentation to your manager to show him/her what you’ve been up to all day. I don’t know if I have a favourite tool but this is pretty close.
I think that’s enough for today, soak it in and enjoy the goodness!
I have to say I do work for a good company. I work on a small team that deals primarily with Microsoft solutions. We put in a lot of time learning how to make Microsoft stuff go and part of that effort involves taking in the occasional convention. This year my boss let me pick a convention and the lucky winner was TechEd Europe 2014. Off we went to Barcelona.
If you don’t know what TechEd is think of a gathering of some of the best and brightest presenters in the world speaking on topics specifically in their areas of expertise. Add to that hands-on labs, instructor-led labs and vendors showing off their latest kit. It can be a bit overwhelming at times but the volume and quality of what one learns is substantial. It’s also quite re-energizing.
In the next few posts I’m going to recount some of the highlights of a couple of the sessions I attended. Good stuff. Useful stuff.