Book review: Windows PowerShell Desired State Configuration Revealed

I recently finished reading Windows PowerShell Desired State Configuration Revealed by Windows PowerShell MVP Ravikanth Chaganti:

The book starts out with an introduction to Windows PowerShell, covering technologies relevant to DSC, such as PowerShell Remoting and CIM.
In the second part the fundamentals is introduced, before advanced DSC concepts and tricks is covered in the last part.

I have worked with DSC and held presentations on the subject since DSC was released in PowerShell 4.0, and I have learned a lot from the book which I haven`t seen or read about before (even in the product documentation).
For example, the details of how to configure a Web Pull Server was very useful. I`ve used the DSC Resource available in the DSC Resource Kit for configuring a Web Pull Server, and not looked at the details covered in the book.

A lot of other useful information is covered, such as how the DSC download managers uses the Get-DscAction, Get-DscDocument and Get-DscModule cmdlets (nice to know for troubleshooting purposes).

The CIM implementation for DSC is also described in details, for example how to use the available CIM methods to perform actions and apply configurations. This knowledge makes it easier to understand how the technology works under the hood.

The first version of DSC was released in PowerShell (Windows Management Framework) 4.0, and there is also some information about the next version, including bugs which has been fixed.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to learn about PowerShell Desired State Configuration.

PowerShell DSC presentation for the Philadelphia PowerShell User Group

On September 4th 2014 I was invited to do a presentation for the Philadelphia PowerShell User Group.

The topic for my session was “Get Started with Windows PowerShell Desired State Configuration”, where I covered the following topics:

  • The background and goal of DSC
  • Configuration models
  • Configuring the Local Configuration Manager (demo)
  • Configuring a Pull Server using File Download Manager(demo)
  • Configuring a Pull Server using Web Download Manager(demo)
  • DSC Resources
  • DSC in Microsoft Azure(demo)
  • PowerShell DSC “V2” (demo featuring what is new in Windows Management Framework 5 based on the 2014 September Preview)
  • Related 3rd party products (Chef, Puppet and CFEngine)

A few hours before the meeting the Windows Management Framework 5.0 Preview September 2014 became available, so I prepared a virtual machine with the latest preview in order to give a quick tour of some of the enhancements in the upcoming version.

Resources available from the presentation:

Status update

As you might have noticed there have been few updates on my blog in the last months. On March 4th 2014 I was honored to  join PowerShell Magazine, and due to this my PowerShell related articles will be published there going forward.

I am also writing Microsoft infrastructure related articles,  published on my employer`s blog (Crayon Norway).

This blog will still be used for publishing articles such as conference slides from my sessions, book reviews and so on.

 

Resources

My contributions on PowerShell Magazine

My contributions on Crayon`s blog

Exchange Server 2013 PowerShell Command Logging

A great feature for learning the underlying PowerShell commands when performing an administrative action in Exchange Server 2007/2010, was the Exchange Management Console which showed the PowerShell commands. In Exchange Server 2013 the MMC-based Exchange Management Console was replaced by the web-based Exchange Management Console, which unfortunately did not show PowerShell commands. With the release of Service Pack 1 for Exchange Server 2013, the Exchange team brought the PowerShell Command Logging feature for providing similar capabilities.

In Exchange Server 2010, we could see the PowerShell commands at the end of the wizard when creating a new object:

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We also had the “Show Exchange Management Shell command” button available when performing changes to an existing object:

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Pressing the button would show us the PowerShell commands:

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In Exchange Server 2013 SP1, the “Show Command Logging” option is available in the help menu in the upper right corner in the Exchange Admin Center:

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This will open a new window where all commands from actions made in the Exchange Admin Center will be logged:

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As an example, we are creating a new mailbox:

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After pressing the Save-button, the PowerShell command for creating the mailbox is shown in the Command Logging window:

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As we can see from the above screenshot, the Get- cmdlets is also logged when navigating around in the user interface.

In summary, the new Show Command Logging feature in Exchange Server 2013 Service Pack 1 provides a great way for Exchange administrators to learn how to perform an administrative task in PowerShell by first doing it in the graphical web based GUI, and then looking in the Command Logging window.

Windows PowerShell DSC Resource Kit Community Edition

During the Christmas holiday the Windows PowerShell team published a holiday gift to the community: The Windows PowerShell Desired State Configuration Resource Kit.

The resource kit contains a module with 8 DSC Resources for managing domain membership, websites, Hyper-V VMs, VHDs, switches and so on. The resources is prefixed with “x” – where the “x” stands for experimental, meaning these resources are provided “as is” and are not supported through any Microsoft support program or service. It is also stated that anyone can adapt the resources, but it is suggested to rename them with your own naming convention like Contoso_cWebsite.

The DSC Resource Kit is now published on PowerShell.org`s DSC Repository on GitHub, where the “x” has been renamed to “c” (short for “community”):

Resource

Description

cComputer

Name a computer and add it to a domain/workgroup

cVHD

Create and managed VHDs

cVMHyperV

Create and manage a Hyper-V Virtual Machine

cVMSwitch

Create and manage a Hyper-V Virtual Switch

cDNSServerAddress

Bind a DNS Server address to one or more NIC

cIPAddress

Configure IPAddress (v4 and v6)

cDSCWebService

Configure DSC Service (aka Pull Server)

cWebsite

Deploy and configure a website on IIS

This means anyone in the community now can contribute with bug fixes or additional functionality.

 

Thanks to the PowerShell Team for shipping the DSC Resource Kit! Since the Resource Kit is named “DSC Resource Kit – Wave 1” it`s also likely to see more releases coming out.

Book recommendation: The Phoenix Project

I just finished reading The Phoenix Project: A Novel About IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win:

 

The story is about Bill Palmer, an IT Manager at a company called Parts Unlimited. The company is considering outsourcing IT or splitting up the company, due to many failures in operations and projects. The competitors has launched new and innovative services, while Parts Unlimited stays behind and loses customers. The company initiates a new IT project code named The Phoenix Project in order to catch up with the market and save the company. During the book common scenarios in many IT departments` everyday life is observed such as much firefighting and not being able to keep up with projects. As often before, internal IT projects which would have mitigated many of the problems is not prioritized. Getting more people is not an option according to the CEO, and would unlikely resolve the issues as we learn during the story. We learn how to think about IT, how cloud computing can be leveraged, as well as the importance of practices like ITIL and interdepartmental communications such as between developers and operations. Many times during the book I thought of how this relates to Windows PowerShell in terms of being able to automate manual repetitive work, as well as having consistent procedures for operations such as deployments. Specifically, technologies such as PowerShell Workflow and Desired State Configuration is coming to mind when I`m thinking about how to solve many of the challenges.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who will be working with IT in the coming years, it really is an eye-opener. No matter what your role in IT is, I think you will learn something which can help you and your business going forward.

 

Related links

2014 Winter Scripting Games

The 2014 Winter Scripting Games, beginning in the middle of January, gives you the opportunity to test your Windows PowerShell skills and get feedback from Subject Matter Experts. New this time is the ability to form teams and collaborate on the given challenges, which in practice will simulate a real world scenario where you collaborate with your colleagues.  Each team will need to have at least 2 persons. There will be judges for scoring the events as well as coaches offering comments and advice to the teams. Personally I will be contributing to the games as a coach, which I`m really looking forward to. I will also write articles on my blog giving advice on my observations during the games. If you want to participate, be sure to read the 2014 Winter SG Players Guide.

You can find more information in the following articles over at powershell.org:

 

Also be sure to check the 2014 Scripting Games category every day during the games in order to stay updated on the latest announcements. Alternatively you can subscribe to the RSS feed.

Of course, you could also fetch the RSS feed using Invoke-WebRequest:

$result = Invoke-WebRequest -Uri http://powershell.org/wp/category/announcements/scripting-games/feed
$result.rss.channel.item | Format-Table title,pubdate,link -AutoSize

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For those of you based in Norway I would also be very happy if you would like to join our local MTUG Script Club team for the games, you can find for information here. There will also be a practice event available starting to accept entries on January 6th.

Good luck to everyone and have fun!

2014 Microsoft MVP Award

On January 1st I got an e-mail from Microsoft stating that I am renewed as a PowerShell MVP for another year:

Dear Jan Egil Ring,
Congratulations! We are pleased to present you with the 2014 Microsoft® MVP Award! This award is given to exceptional technical community leaders who actively share their high quality, real world expertise with others. We appreciate your outstanding contributions in PowerShell technical communities during the past year.

This is the 4th time I receive this award, and I am very honored and privileged to be part of this amazing community. Windows PowerShell 4.0 was released last year as part of Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2, with a very broad PowerShell coverage. New features such as Desired State Configuration opens up for even more possibilities. I`m looking forward to contribute and interact with the PowerShell community in 2014, as we see that PowerShell and automation in general is becoming more and more important.

Resources

About the MVP Award Program

Windows PowerShell MVP Awardees

Jan Egil Ring`s MVP Profile

Using the CIM Cmdlets in Windows PowerShell to solve a challenge

Introduced in PowerShell 3.0 and further enhanced in PowerShell 4.0, the CIM (Common Information Model) Cmdlets makes it easier to work with WMI (Windows Management Instrumentation). You can find an introduction to the new CIM Cmdlets in this article on the Windows PowerShell Team`s blog.

In this article we will look at a usage scenario for the new CIM Cmdlets.

The Challenge

When adding a disk to a Windows Failover Cluster, the clustered disk is added to the cluster as a resource. The resource is automatically named “Cluster Disk N”, where N is the first available number. The challenge we are going to solve is renaming the newly added cluster disk based on the name (File System Label) of the underlying disk volume. This is typically an NTFS volume which is initialized and formatted before the disk is added to the cluster:

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Using the Failover Cluster Manager in Windows Server we can view the name of the underlying volume:

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Based on this observation we can manually rename the cluster resource. However, in a large cluster with many disks this task is a good candidate for automation.

Solving the challenge using CIM Cmdlets

By using the Get-ClusterResource cmdlet in the FailoverClusters PowerShell module we can view information about the disk, but there isn`t an easy way to view the name of the underlying volume.

Due to that, we can rather leverage the Get-CimInstance cmdlet to list all cluster resources in the MSCluster_Resource class:

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We use the –Filter parameter to specify that we only want cluster resources of the type “Physical Disk”, if not we would also get cluster resources such as cluster IP addresses, cluster names and so on.

Based on the information available on the object produced by Get-CimInstance, we can see many cluster related properties. However, no information about the underlying volume is available.

There is one cmdlet in the CIMCmdlets module which can get all the associated instances for a particular instance – the Get-CimAssociatedInstance cmdlet. In this scenario, we want to find all related volumes for the cluster disks. We start by finding all related instances:

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This produced a large list of different kind of objects. We can use Get-Member to view information about the objects, and Select-Object to view the unique object types:

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Based on the above output, the MSCluster_DiskPartition looks like a good candidate. We can use the –ResultClass parameter of Get-CimAssociatedInstance in order to narrow down the results to the class we want:

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This is excactly what we want, as we can see the VolumeLabel property on the above output.

Now that we have the information we want – the VolumeLabel property – we need to find a way to rename the cluster resource (“Cluster Disk 1”). We can start by looking for a Rename method on the MSCluster_DiskPartition object. Normally, we would use Get-Member to view the available methods:

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Since the CIM cmdlets is using the Ws-Man (WS-Management) protocol, the objects we get returned is serialized/deserialized. Thus the object`s methods is remove since we aren`t working with a “live” object. The Get-CimClass cmdlet can be used to get the class schema of a CIM class, which includes the methods.
Instead let`s try the Get-CimClass cmdlet to view the methods available on the mscluster_resource class:

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As we can see, there is a Rename method which takes one parameter: newName.

In order to invoke the method, we can use the Invoke-CimMethod cmdlet where we specify Rename as the MethodName and provide the value we want to configure as a hash table on the Arguments parameter:

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We provided the VolumeLabel property returned by the Get-CimAssociatedInstance cmdlet as the value for the newName parameter, effectively solving the challenge.

After invoking the method, we can see the name of the cluster disk is immediately updated in Failover Cluster Manager:

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When working with multiple cluster disks, we can use a foreach loop in order to invoke the rename method for all disks  if the name of the cluster resource does not match the name of the underlying disk volume:

Resources

How to install Windows PowerShell 4.0

Windows PowerShell 4.0 is part of the Windows Management Framework 4.0, which includes the following:

  • Windows PowerShell
  • Windows PowerShell Integrated Scripting Environment (ISE)
  • Windows PowerShell Web Services (Management OData IIS Extension)
  • Windows Remote Management (WinRM)
  • Windows Management Infrastructure (WMI)
  • Server Manager WMI provider
  • Windows PowerShell Desired State Configuration (DSC)

 

Windows Management Framework 4.0 supportability matrix

Operating system

Windows PowerShell 4.0 available

Prerequisites

Installation file

Windows Server 2012 R2

Built-in

N/A

N/A

Windows 8.1

Built-in

N/A

N/A

Windows Server 2012

Yes, part of WMF 4.0

.NET 4.5 (built-in)

x64: Windows8-RT-KB2799888-x64.msu

Windows 8

No, user must upgrade to Windows 8.1

N/A

N/A

Windows Server 2008 R2

Yes, part of WMF 4.0

Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1

.NET 4.5

x64: Windows6.1-KB2819745-x64-MultiPkg.msu

Windows 7

Yes, part of WMF 4.0

Windows 7 SP1

.NET 4.5

x64: Windows6.1-KB2819745-x64-MultiPkg.msu

x86: Windows6.1-KB2819745-x86.msu

 

Installation

  • Verify that all prerequisites is installed according to the Windows Management Framework 4.0 supportability matrix above. To verify the presence of .NET 4.5, you may use the Test-Net45 function available in this article on the Hey Scripting Guy! Blog
  • Run the installation file applicable to the operating system
  • Reboot the computer, start Windows PowerShell and verify that the output of $PSVersionTable shows 4.0 as the value of the PSVersion property

 

Known issues

 

1 – Installation succeeds even if .NET 4.5 is not installed

Scenario: Installing WMF 4.0 on a computer that is not running .NET Framework 4.5 will report that the installation is successful, but the components of WMF 4.0 (such as Windows PowerShell, WMI, etc.) will not be updated.

Solution: Install .NET Framework 4.5, and then run the WMF 4.0 installer again.

More information:
http://blogs.msdn.com/b/powershell/archive/2013/10/29/wmf-4-0-known-issue-partial-installation-without-net-framework-4-5.aspx

 

2 – Compatibility issues

There are known compatibility issues with several Microsoft server-class applications:

· System Center 2012 Configuration Manager (not including SP1)

· System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2 (including SP1)

· Microsoft Exchange Server 2013, Microsoft Exchange Server 2010, and Microsoft Exchange Server 2007

· Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013 and Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010

· Windows Small Business Server 2011 Standard

Read the WMF 4.0 Release Notes for more information.

 

Related KB articles

 

This article is also posted on the Microsoft TechNet Wiki. If you have corrections or additional information, please update the Wiki-article.