PowerBreakfast SG #002 Writeup

It’s actually about a month after the event happening that I am finishing writing this, it’s been extremely busy on the work front as well as having to make some big life changing decisions and better late than never right?

So, our PowerBreakfast series is off to a great start and the format seems to be working really well. After starting with a session from Scripting Guy Ed Wilson and Scripting Wife Teresa Wilson, I wanted to pursue a theme that I feel very strongly about and that is bridging the gap between SysAdmins and Developers. I can evangelize this particular topic day and night and I see no better vehicle for doing this gap-bridging than PowerShell. The fact that SysAdmins can (and absolutely should ) now automate so much of their jobs means that we can spend our day playing with code rather than button clicking. As a result of running more of our jobs on PowerShell code there are some topics that we need to master that bring us closer to our Developer counterparts and much can be learned from our Developer brethren, such as the art of Source Control. When I was thinking about who better to hear about this from, the first name that came into my mind was Jim Christopher.

Jim Christopher is a PowerShell MVP and I was fortunate enough to be able to secure his services to do an introductory session on Source Control for the SysAdmin. Jim is someone I think a lot of, he is a great guy, great speaker and really knows his stuff. If you’re not following him you can reach his Twitter here. Having him present for us was really great.

The Lync session was primarily run by my Co-Lead Milton Goh. I was joining the session from a weekend away in Surabaya. All in all we had 10 people joining us Live, which was a little disappointing because so many more people than that registered. Still, the Chat during the session was really great and Jim spoke about Git and Mercurial as introductory version control systems to get to grips with, both being Distributed rather than Centralized technologies which makes them far easier to deploy and get started with. I won’t talk too much in depth about Jim’s session because you can watch it yourself here, however, I do want to go into why I was disappointed that not many folks showed up for the live show …

The role of the SysAdmin/IT Pro is changing. There is no getting away from this. Some people continue to try to bury their head in the sand and put off the inevitable but sadly, they are only punishing themselves in the long run by doing this. Our roles are changing firstly by the shift to Clouds (Private/Public/Hybrid/Whatever). Putting that one aside for now and the fear that SysAdmin jobs are disappearing (which they are in their current form only and I love explaining this!), the other way our roles are changing is by the Automation technologies that are now available to us … particularly PowerShell. The role of the SysAdmin who primarily uses GUI tools is disappearing. It may have started at your organization already, it may be 5-7 years away, but it will go. No employer wants to pay you to do singular tasks on singular objects, resource or Servers using point-and-click any more. Where once it was a necessity it now no longer is. As a result, there is no value in it. There is much more value in a person that can complete tasks in an automated, repeatable way. Whether this is by writing scripts, using the command line, or implementing Service Management Automation leveraging on both. So when will your job in it’s current form disappear? When someone in your organization starts doing the automation. It’s inevitable they will, it might be the intern you hire this summer, it might be the new guy you employ in 2 years who wonders why you are still doing things the old way, but it will happen. Technology moves and the folks that move with Technology will drag you kicking and screaming at some point 🙂 So with this in mind, my view is that there is no reason this should not be you! Your job in it’s current form is going to disappear but a new job appears in it’s place and that is what you need to be learning how to do now. So how does this ‘new world job’ differ from the one you have presently? Well, the chances are that all of the time you spend using GUI’s before will be spent in a PowerShell console or Scripting tool of some kind. This automatically sets of a reaction in many SysAdmins; “But I don’t want to learn how to write code, that’s not why I got into IT”. (I was the same before. I used to hate Scripting. I hated VBScript, I didn’t do anything like that and never really wanted to. I’ll more than happily share some examples if you ever speak to me but to avoid digressing too much I’ll try to stay on topic …). The point is if you or whoever is coming into your organization is doing things with Script and Code, there are some practices that you just have to adopt. Developers are using these already and primarily they are Source Control and Testing. So, this is why Jim’s session is so important for you to watch 🙂

When most SysAdmins hear Source Control, it sounds complicated and, well, like a hold up to what they are trying to do. I used to be the same. I was thinking “ok so as well as writing scripts I need to remember to do ‘check ins’; how do I know when to check something in? What Source Control should I even use? What if I choose one and its not the best choice? Why can’t I just copy the script, rename it and take a backup? …”. I have since come to realize though that using proper source control, even if it seems like a pain to you, it’s not really about you though. It’s about you being a responsible professional within the organization in which you work. Since Jim’s session I have fully adopted Git for everything I am doing that will be used in Production, particularly where it is on shares accessible and writeable by others. I encourage you to check out Jim’s session and see just how easy it is.

While we are on the subject of Source Control with Mercurial, Trevor Sullivan has a project on CodePlex to integrate Mercurial with the PowerShell ISE. This is really worth checking out. On the subject of the ISE it’s really fantastic to see how far it is coming now that Add-Ons are being developed. I primarily use SAPIEN PowerShell Studio 2014 but also I have the ISE which I have beefed up with a number of plugins. The ISE is becoming a really useful Power Tool thanks to so many people working on different add-ons. Really great. I’ll be doing a PowerBreakfast session on this in October actually.

So, apologies this took so long to write up, we have actually just finished Adam Driscoll‘s session on Unit Testing with Pester, I’ll try not to take quite as long to write that one up!

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Categories: PowerBreakfast, Powershell, Powershell User Group Singapore

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