Monthly Archives: April 2016

PowerShell Fluency Worth the Learning Curve

Sometimes to get where you are going you have to avoid the easy road.

Such is the case for those questioning whether they need training for Microsoft’s latest version of its configuration management framework PowerShell, says David Cobb. A noted development expert, systems architect and technology consultant, Cobb says the expanding capabilities of PowerShell coupled with its increasingly centralized position in the Microsoft technology stack make learning it a must for developers.

“Whether you are working with SQL, SharePoint or Exchange, anything and everything we do as IT professionals within the Microsoft world is going to involve PowerShell,” Cobb says.

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PowerShell 5.0

In a recent Webinar, Cobb delves deep into the new wrinkles present in PowerShell 5.0, which was released in February. Still featuring a split-screen command-line shell and scripting environment, PowerShell 5.0 has made it easier for developers to import and share code from existing, predefined module repositories as well as from code repositories available on their own machines. Cobb says tighter integration with open-source package manager NuGet is a particularly welcome advance in the new version. “If you need to add more modules, a really great feature in PS5 is the integration with NuGet,” he says, noting that applications that are easily configured and managed using PowerShell are also amenable to automation, making them a good fit for cloud deployment.

In addition to developers, IT and server administrators may also benefit from a deeper understanding of PowerShell as Microsoft continues to nudge users to install Windows Server without a graphical interface. It is this underlying versatility of PowerShell and its increasing ubiquity in a broad range of technology platforms that makes proper training essential, Cobb says, adding that a growing library of PowerShell tools and modules are now available on the web.

“You are going to find that if you invest the time in learning PowerShell, you are going to be able to take advantage of tools that are freely available to maximize your productivity,” he says. “You can script and automate tasks that are tedious, repetitive or error prone.”

 

About the Author

Kenealy resizedBill Kenealy is a copywriter and blogger specializing in enterprise technologies. A graduate of the University of Kansas with a degree in journalism, Bill has 15 years of experience reporting on business and IT. Bill recently relocated to the Twin Cities and enjoys travel and exploring his new home state with his wife. He enjoys reading, PC gaming and watching football by himself.

Agile Development Training Unlocks Many Doors

Since its arrival on the scene more than a decade ago, agile development has revolutionized the way software is created. Now many feel the methodology is primed to unlock efficiencies in business processes elsewhere in the enterprise.

Conceived to address the shortcoming of the dominant software development methodology of the day, the waterfall methodology, agile development quickly gained a foothold in IT departments as they scrambled to keep up with a rapidly expanding need for fast deliverables. Whereas waterfall development necessitates that teams works diligently to construct initial requirements before launching into the long, strictly-defined stages of a project, the incremental nature of agile development makes it inherently more flexible. Indeed, the daily communication between stakeholders required by agile development enables developers to course correct as needed and molds the final product to the shifting needs of the business.

Agile development expert Kevin McManus says that while agile development first flourished in software, it is useful as a broader project management philosophy. “Agile is really a way to take very complex project environments and break them down into elemental components in order to simplify management,” he says.

Kevin McManus

To be sure, while some of team-building aspects of agile development will be familiar to those accustomed to waterfall development, much of the terminology and concepts won’t. For example, sprints are defined amounts of time, usually from a week to month, in which teams have to complete a defined piece of work. One popular agile framework, known as Scrum, is named after the rugby formation and is exemplified by the cross-functional team meetings held every day to assess progress. “Agile is not a technical topic, it’s an exercise in group psychology,” McManus says.

The benefits to this regimented, collaborative framework are many, McManus says, noting that having a diverse team of people reviewing progress consistently helps you identify potential blind spots and eliminate communications silos that persist in organizations. “Agile improves communication by increasing the feedback loops,” he says. “When people are working together they have a sounding board to bounce ideas off, so that you are not solving problems in a vacuum.”

Much as scrums help keep software developers on task, McManus says that you are now seeing the agile framework being applied in a variety of places where companies wish to improve the quality and timeliness of their deliverables. For example, large logistics companies use scrums to help them gain the operational flexibility needed to deal with random events such as snowstorms.

What’s more, the training necessary to understand agile development concepts and principles can prove helpful outside the enterprise in undertakings that are complex and have a high degree of variability.  McManus says he used scrum-inspired meetings to help ensure that his four children kept up with their housekeeping chores as they looked to sell their home.  “Once you see how it is applicable in software, you will also see how applicable it is to everyday life,” he says.

McManus is currently producing several courses for LearnNowOnline, including a course which will help learners prepare for the SCRUM Master certification.  Those looking for a logical starting point to learn more about Scrum can check out his free, upcoming webinar on April 20.

About the Author

Kenealy resizedBill Kenealy is a copywriter and blogger specializing in enterprise technologies. A graduate of the University of Kansas with a degree in journalism, Bill has 15 years of experience reporting on business and IT. Bill recently relocated to the Twin Cities and enjoys travel and exploring his new home state with his wife. He enjoys reading, PC gaming and watching football by himself.