Monday, June 01, 2015

PowerShell Direct - Simplified SharePoint Management Shell?


One particular feature of Server 2016 that is announced is PowerShell Direct.  Take a look at this article from the Microsoft Virtualization blog.  The short version is that it will allow the Hyper-V host to PowerShell directly to the guest operating systems. This could lead to some very interesting scenarios.


The first possible use, given by Microsoft themselves, is to use the shell to configure guest servers from the host using scripts. This should allow you to have a fairly standard set of features or roles defined in a PowerShell script.  The script can do a lot of the heavy lifting for you rather than having to copy scripts over or run them from mapped drives.  I could potentially see this as scripting an entire build for custom server environments.  Admittedly, most smaller IT shops won't have a need for it. But for anyone that has had to build multiple similar servers (like say for classes?) then this will be invaluable.

A second scenario would be to automate admin tasks. I'm investigating the possibility but if you were to have a web front end that could possibly kick off a PowerShell as one action of a standardized process, then suddenly a lot of tasks could be automated through a web front end rather than manually setting off a script.  Depending on the scenario, users could even initiate these scripts; with a pause for admin approval of course.

Lastly, how much SharePoint Management Shell do you work with as a SharePoint administrator?  Rather than having to jump from server to server, in large implementations, you could conceivably work with any guest management shell from the host OS.  The session will be interpreted on the guest so any modules available on the guest OS will be available through Direct PowerShell. With the connections to different guests handled by PowerShell, you could coordinate action on multiple servers through one script.

Some things from the Microsoft article that make this not quite an all-in-one solution are that right now this only works on server 2016 and Win 10 hosts/guests. There is a call to action in the Microsoft article asking for suggestions on OS and scenarios that admins would like to see. The author of that article, I believe, is one of the presenters at the Microsoft Ignite conference. If it's who I think it is, then she's on the team for the project and any suggestions will (hopefully) be validly considered.
Another issue is whether a guest system can "talk" to the host PowerShell.  While making configuration changes to the host is not my primary consideration, being able to talk guest OS to guest OS would go a long way to making my web interface for PowerShell tasks a reality. We'll see how that turns out.  For now, I'm installing the Technical Preview 2 and looking forward to this next generation of OS.
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