PowerShell v4 Desired State Configuration

Microsoft TechEd is a great conference to attend to learn about the latest technologies and this year was no exception. The announcement of the upcoming release (Dates not specified) of PowerShell v4 in Windows Server 2012 R2 caused quite a stir.

Yes, most of us were expecting PowerShell to get its usual incremental updates and bug fixes when the server OS releases, but the addition of a very special new feature was a surprise. Jeffrey Snover and Kenneth Hansen held a special session (one that was unnamed until TechEd opened) to discuss Desired State Configuration (DSC).

In a nutshell, DSC let’s administrators write a simple script that describes what a computer should look like. That doesn’t sound like much, but once you describe what you want, PowerShell will take those “declarative” instructions and make the computer look just as described without the Admin needing to write all the plumbing (how to) scripts. Almost everything can be configured such as roles, features, registry settings and more. Imagine creating a description once, then start adding computers – physical or virtual – they will automatically become exactly what you wanted. Pretty damn cool if you ask me and will make rapid scaling fully automated.

Why do this? Simple, – Scaling up without adding human error and management overhead. You can rapidly respond to the changing business needs without increasing failure.

Now, is this something totally new? – well, no. This could be accomplished before by manually scripting all the parts and kicking of the scripts when you needed them, but it required a lot of work creating controlling scripts and testing the results. Now Microsoft has made the scripting easier and included the infrastructure to make it work without you manually scheduling jobs and re-running scripts. For a great example, go watch the video of Jeffrey and Kenneth describe DSC.

One of the many reasons to attend a conference like TechEd is because of the social networking. Don Jones and I discussed the implications of DSC and how it might affect the industry and product teams going forward. With this built into the core OS, other product teams could in fact utilize this – I wonder if this could affect a future release of SCCM? Also, many questions swam around my head about how this works under the covers – Why not ask Jeffrey and Kenneth? It’s the ability to talk to Team members and get their views that makes conferences worth the money. You get to speak to the people that are making the technology, gain a deeper understanding, even have input into the new technologies. Over the next several days I got my questions answered (as best as can be done without violating NDA) and learned much more.

Until next time,

Knowledge is PowerShell
Jason Helmick
Systems Instructor
Interface Technical Training

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