Review: Learning PowerCLI

0167EN_Learning PowerCLI_CoverUnless you’re new to vSphere, you’ll probably have heard about PowerCLI. You may already be using it regularly or perhaps you’ve found the occasional use for it and used one or more of the many excellent scripts that can be found on the internet. Either way, unless you’re an advanced user (or even a guru) of PowerCLI, there’s a book that’s been released recently that could be worth a look.

Learning PowerCLI”, by Robert van den Nieuwendijk, was released just a few weeks ago from publishers Packt Publishing. The author has posted many times on his blog with useful scripts, one-liners and tips for using PowerCLI in the past. Several times an issue that I’ve had has lead me to his blog so I was very interested to see if his knowledge and experience had translated well into book form.

Although I did read through the book from cover to cover, it’s not really that sort of book. PowerCLI and Powershell are technologies that you can easily dip into when a specific need arises and I found that trying to absorb the entire contents of the book was hard-going. That shouldn’t be taken as any sort of slight against the author’s writing style, it’s just the subject matter doesn’t lend itself to being the kind of book that you can’t put down. It is, though, the kind of book that you want to pick up and learn from. I’ve been using Powershell and PowerCLI for many years and I was surprised at the number of things that I learned!

The book starts simply enough by covering the installation and instantiation of PowerCLI as well as proving a few common examples of PowerCLI’s most commonly used cmdlets so that a reader new to the technology can see some immediate benefit. Before things get too heavy, Robert covers some of the most useful Powershell commands available: Get-Help, Get-Command and Get-Member. He also covers a number of useful Powershell tips and best practices whilst simultaneously keeping the reader’s mind on PowerCLI before delving into some more focussed topics, such as:

  • Working with vSphere hosts
  • Working with Virtual Machines
  • Working with Virtual Networks and Storage
  • Managing core vSphere / vCenter functionality

As I’ve already stated, I found the book very useful as it taught me a number of things I didn’t already know, allowing me to correct some bad scripting habits and improve a number of areas of scripts that I’m producing for a current project. People with a very strong grasp of Powershell and PowerCLI already might find that there’s a limit to what they gain from the book but beginners and intermediates alike should find that there’s plenty to take away and use.

Fusion HR Link: Process Workflows & Automation

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It’s not often that we here at vSpecialist write-up specific vendor technologies, or blog about our workplaces. This is, after all, a generic virtualization blog where we discuss all aspects of IT. However, once in a while, interesting pieces of technological integration comes along that transcends the specific target audience and appeals to the wider IT audience as a whole due to the way the different elements fit together or a new approach.

HR Link is one of those occasions.

Before I start, in the interests of transparency, I need to point out that I work for Fusion Business Solutions, the developers of the HR Link integration application.

HR Link is built on the BMC RemedyAR workflow platform. AR is short for the Action Request system, an under-pinning platform on which other applications like ITSM and other BMC products run.

The technology – whilst interesting in it’s own right – is not the most interesting aspect of this application to a wider IT audience. What is most interesting is the workflow approach taken as an overlay for process management plus the ability to aggregate information from multiple external data sources. Much like VMware Orchestrator, the AR System can take a decision tree and map it to business processes, which themselves map to IT process workflows as part of an IT operational context. This ability is becoming increasingly vital to Infrastructure Architects and Designers who need to balance the requirements of new systems and their integration with existing infrastructure.

HR Link is another example of a kind of enterprise messaging bus for Service Delivery – sitting between other shared services to aggregate and action self-service or fully automated workflows.

I am planning another few posts on this topic with a deeper look into how messaging bus operations impact service delivery – especially in Corporate and Cloud infrastructures. But, in the meantime, if interested in how HR Link works from a technology perspective, there is an up-coming webinar about HR Link, delivered by Fusion Business Solutions.

Diagnosing and Troubleshooting PowerShell Remoting

hicks_cover150I was having a little difficulty with PowerShell remoting the other day and a colleague of mine dug up a link to a forthcoming book entitled “PowerShell Deep Dives” by Jeffery Hicks, Richard Siddaway, Oisin Grehan, and Aleksandar Nikolic.

Chapter 1 of the book, “Diagnosing and troubleshooting PowerShell remoting“, is available via the publisher’s website as a preview chapter and was very useful in solving my issue. The rest of the book looks like it will be interesting too if the chapter headings are anything to go by. Apparently it should be released this Spring.