Stories from the PowerShell Trenches: Day 2

british_working_party_500pxContinuing on with our PowerShell stories series next up we have a story from Josh Duffney about automating System Center Orchestrator!

Be careful, when automating development work.

I immediately realized that one person running System Center Configuration Manager wasn’t going to work for an enterprise of 16,000 Full time staff, over 25,000 devices and 1000+ applications. Since asking for more bodies wasn’t an option, I looked towards automation. My experience with Windows PowerShell was limited at this point, but I saw this as an opportunity to learn.

After watching many Pluralsight courses on the matter and reading two books; Learn PowerShell 3 in a Month of Lunches and Learn PowerShell Toolmaking in a Month of Lunches, I felt ready to attempt this task. I started by breaking down the task in to sections; write silent installer, create configuration manager application, distribute, test deployment, configure detection method etc… In the beginning each of these were a PowerShell script, I’d execute manually. It worked great for me, but I quickly became a bottle neck or constraint.

I had the bright idea of putting all my PowerShell scripts into a runbook that could be executed from System Center Orchestrator. (If anyone has done this, they know it’s painful) After about 20 hours I had it somewhat working, minus the double hop issues. A problem occurred to me when I was developing a front end to the runbook. There is no way I could present a user with the necessary fields without there being 30+ boxes to fill out and who would use that? On top of that every application is different and how could I account for things I hadn’t even run into yet.

The lesson I learned here was to automate the routine work only and leave the pure development work to the humans. I ended up still using most of my code and automation, except for the part that automates the installer script. I trained several people at the service desk on the process I had created and empowered them to start writing the installer code and use the automation to test and deploy in production.

Adam Bertram

Chief Automator at Adam the Automator, LLC
Adam Bertram is an independent consultant, technical writer, trainer and presenter. Adam specializes in consulting and evangelizing all things IT automation mainly focused around Windows PowerShell. Adam is a Microsoft Windows PowerShell MVP, 2015 PowerShell hero and has numerous Microsoft IT pro certifications. He authors IT pro course content for Pluralsight, is a regular contributor to numerous print and online publications and presents at various user groups and conferences.You can find Adam here on the blog or on Twitter at @adbertram.

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