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Ask 3: Why you should learn Windows PowerShell

By Don Jones    |    January 10, 2018

If you’re ready to master a new technology, it pays to hear from someone who knows. In our Ask 3 series, we interview an expert from our worldwide network of authors to help you learn about the most important technologies today. In our first post of the series, Windows PowerShell expert, Don Jones answers 3 questions about this critical technology.

Automation is clearly the way forward for IT operations. Teams need to move away from 20-year-old IT management procedures and adopt practices that lend themselves to the new reality: more servers, more services and more compute models. PowerShell has become an increasingly important technology in the automation space—and not just for Windows.


What's the most important thing happening in PowerShell right now?

Open source and cross platform. Anyone a little afraid to adopt a proprietary technology can now check that off their list. And it’s crucial for non-Windows people to not underestimate what PowerShell is and does. For example, on Linux, the main command-line skill administrators have is text manipulation, because that’s what Linux demands of you. PowerShell structures data more efficiently, which means you can focus less on parsing text files and more on actually administering. Everyone isn’t willing to make this mental shift, but it’s a profound one that I think will play out well over the next few years.


What's an adjacent skill or technology that complements PowerShell?

Cloud computing patterns. And I don’t mean ‘host your stuff in Azure or AWS.’ I mean building data centers that follow cloud operator patterns. When you spin up a new VM in AWS, nobody is logging into some console and making that happen. It’s all automatic. That’s how our own data centers should be: all automatic. Once someone with authority approves a new deployment (a VM, a container, or whatever) it “just happens.” So understanding the adjacent technologies that enable automation in your environment—things like CI pipeline stacks and so on—is important.


What's the future of PowerShell?

It is the future. Sure, small companies may not need a lot of automation, because that will increasingly be done for them through services like Office 365. Old, stodgy companies might simply refuse to go that way, but their IT overhead is going to become a competitive disadvantage before long. Automation is a business reality, not just a convenience for IT people. It’s taking business leaders some time to understand and appreciate that, but now the momentum is there and they’re all going to start demanding it.

I can imagine two reasons why someone might not learn PowerShell and other automation technologies. First, you may already have related skills, so you think you can ignore this one. Second, you could be afraid of change because the tech seems hard and you don’t want to risk failing. These reasons lead to a dead-end street for your career. PowerShell could be your key to a better job, a massively better salary and a better place in life. So, set those excuses aside, get your PowerShell IQ and start growing your skillset.

About the author

Don Jones' broad IT experience comes from 20 years in the business, with a strong focus on Microsoft server technologies. He's the author of more than 45 technology books, including titles on administration and software development, and writes monthly columns for the industry's leading periodicals. He's an in-demand speaker at technical conferences and symposia worldwide, and is widely recognized as one of the top trainers in the Microsoft sector.