In this poll, I would like to know whether you prefer PowerShell or a graphical user interface (GUI) for managing computers in your corporate network—that is, if you prefer to be an Admin or a DevOp (explained below).
Latest posts by Michael Pietroforte (see all)

There is no longer any doubt that important changes are happening in the Windows administration world. Microsoft has been pushing PowerShell for quite a while, not only as a scripting language but also as a configuration interface for system administrators. In Windows Server 2012, this shift has become more than obvious. Windows Server 2008 R2 has about 230 cmdlets, whereas Windows Server 2012 comes with ~2,430 cmdlets. The fact that Jeffrey Snover, the inventor of PowerShell, is now Windows Server lead technical architect is a clear sign in which direction Microsoft is heading with regard to system administration.

I’d like to quote a statement that Jeff Alexander, IT Pro evangelist at Microsoft, made in an interview with Paul Schnackenburg on 4sysops:

So I think the forward thinking IT professional has to look at having a broader set skill set across both operations and dev. I don’t think we can limit ourselves anymore. I think there’s going to be quite a crossover or hybrid. I guess we could call it DevOps.

A while back, I was joking about “developmins,” not knowing that Microsoft (probably Jeffrey Snover) has already coined another term and that they are quite serious about it. But can this really be true? Does the system administrator belong to an endangered species? Will it be extinct, or will sysops mingle with the developer species and become DevOps? You think Jeff Alexander is exaggerating? If you are an Exchange 2013 admin/developer/DevOp, you know what I am talking about. If you want to get serious about Exchange, PowerShell skills are a must.

You think you can avoid learning PowerShell by moving your Exchange server to the cloud? I can assure you that this would only get you out of the frying pan and right into the fire. The administration web interface of Office 365 is extremely limited; for the simplest configuration tasks, such as changing the password expiration policy of a single user, you need—guess what? —right, PowerShell!

For many administrators working in the Microsoft ecosystem, this will mean that in the future they no longer have the choice of whether to work with PowerShell or not. Most admins have acknowledged this fundamental shift and began studying PowerShell diligently.

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However, another question is whether admins really like this change, and this is what this poll is about. I would like to know if you prefer PowerShell or a GUI for system administration. Or, in other words:

Do you prefer to be an Admin or a DevOp?

View Results

  1. I just started a discussion in the 4sysops forum about the question mentioned above. Why do admins have to become PowerShell devops?. Come over and join the debate.

  2. Jason 10 years ago


    You keep repeating that you can automate in the GUI, I suppose I’d have to understand that to really get at the heart of your argument. That being said, you ask in one of your responses if the move to powershell is a new requirement or if the old strategy was incorrect. Moving towards a system that empowers admins by directly exposing Windows APIs is the correct strategy, limiting admins to GUIs is ineffective and inappropriate.

    I imagine that I fall into the devops category as you define it. I am an admin and I occasionally use a GUI, the bulk of the time I perform my tasks through the commandline. Additionally when our lower tier admins require a tool to perform their job functions I build it for them, whether the tool has a GUI or just uses the powershell console.

    Microsoft is putting less effort into GUIs and more effort into an extremely versatile command shell that provides a flat surface for learning all of their products. In addition to their own products, Microsoft, and the PowerShell community, puts pressure on third party vendors to generate their own PowerShell extensions. VMWare, NetApp and Cisco are just a few vendors with extensive powershell libraries and vibrant PowerShell communities.

    As you develop PowerShell expertise you aren’t silo’d into a particular product or technology. I’m a PowerShell admin regardless of whether I’m working with a SAN, My virtual Infrastructure, my IaaS provider or any of my Microsoft products. All the effort you put into learning a GUI is wasted when that GUI changes or when you move to a new GUI. I started working with my Cisco UCS for the first time a few weeks ago and within minutes I was able to perform, and automate any task the UCS admin could think of. The question isn’t should you be devops or an admin, the question is should you learn PowerShell or get pushed into another field, there will be less and less room for admins without PowerShell expertise going forward.

    – Jason

  3. Jason, I replied in the forum.

  4. Andrew 10 years ago

    SysAdmins are pretty much just junior DevOps engineers anyway. DevOps is a natural career progression from SysAdmin for those who want to continue to challenge themselves instead of just collecting a paycheck for clicking pretty buttons.

  5. Andrew, I sense some strong negative emotions in your comment. Where do you think do they come from? I wonder what the source is of this hostility between development and operations .

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