Book Review: PowerShell 3.0 Advanced Administration Handbook

A fast-paced PowerShell guide with real-world scenarios and detailed solutions

The Book

Title(and site link): Powershell 3.0 Advanced Administration Handbook: A fast-paced PowerShell guide with real-world scenarios and detailed solutions

Publisher: Packt Publishing

Author(s): Sherif Talaat, Haijun Fu

Introduction

Powershell has proven to be wildly popular among a wide variety of users within the information technology arena. Experts use it for automation, deployment, information gathering, integration, and countless other tasks in their daily routines. Powershell is already up to its third version and Microsoft has exhibited a proven dedication for integrating the popular scripting language into all of its product lines. If you already have dabbled in powershell 1.0/2.0 and are looking to vamp up your skills or to simply better understand what 3.0 has to offer then this book may be for you.

Evaluation

Weighing in at approximately 330 pages this book is not encyclopedic in its breadth of powershell coverage. And that is exactly why I like about it. Content is presented in a right to the point manner with concise examples and tips.

The book starts out on the fast track but with very important base knowledge. The usual suspects are covered such as redirecting and formatting output, but very quickly more advanced topics are presented (like the new CIM cmdlets and displaying object member types). By page 20 the authors are already jumping into creating .NET and COM object variables from existing object types.

As expected, this book covers some of the cooler aspects of powershell 3.0 such as the web access gateway (PSWA), ISE enhancements and tips, and workflows (PSW), and enhanced remoting/session capabilities. What wasn’t expected was the number of application specific chapters which were covered as well. Of course on-premise sharepoint and exchange were adequately represented but so were a slew of other technologies including (but not limited to) Windows 2012 Core Infrastructures such as, Active Directory Domain Services (ADDS), DNS, DHCP, Firewall, and the Best Practice Analyzer (BPA). Also covered were Windows 2012 application specific sub-topics such as IIS, Hyper-V, and AppLocker.

Understandably, with Microsoft’s strong push towards its expanding cloud platform, there was very solid coverage of it within the book. But this certainly did not overshadow other topic areas. Whole chapters were dedicated to worthy technical arenas such as;

  • Unified Communication (Exchange, Lync, Office 365)
  • Collaboration and Data Platforms (Sharepoint, Sharepoint Online, SQL Server)
  • Desktop Virtualization (RDS)
  • The Microsoft Cloud Platform (Windows Azure!)
  • Integrating with System Center Orchestrator

(System Center Orchestrator never seems to get enough love, I’m glad that it had a noteworthy presence in this handbook!)

The book felt a bit fractured to me in how topics were presented early on. As an example, functions were covered in the early chapters of the book but defining parameters/parameter sets was not touched upon until far later within the powershell modules chapter. But this did not detract from the value of this handbook as it is a handbook, not a compendium of all things powershell.

I was also a bit surprised at a complete lack of representation for Microsoft’s trademark operation platforms, SCCM and SCOM. This may be partially due to the large nature of these product though though so I can easily forgive these omissions.

Conclusion

This book covers a large amount of technologies in a small package. The sub-title printed on the cover for the book includes “fast-paced” for a reason, it jumps right into powershell 3.0 and does not let up on pertinent examples and tips for the entire ride. While many powershell fundamentals are covered in this book, they are covered lightly.

If you learn well by example and have a bit of prior experience with powershell 2.0 then this book should help you to pick up powershell 3.0 pretty quickly. If you are looking for real-world examples for current cutting edge Microsoft infrastructure technologies there are plenty of materials within this book to easily justify having it on your bookshelf.

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