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So You’re Thinking About Learning PowerShell…

This year has been a wild ride for me. Earlier this year, I offered to do a couple community sessions based on automation with PowerShell. Unbelievably, every session was accepted and, even more so, every session was well attended. It really seemed like the attendees took something away from the session regardless of their experience level.

More recently, I was allowed the chance to present a session at VMworld about some fundamentals of getting started with PowerShell and PowerCLI. The session, which was co-presented with fellow PowerShell enthusiast Chris Wahl, ended up having three separate sessions that week and the rooms were full for all three sessions. The response was incredible. We even earned one of the Top Ten Sessions of the day that week!

I’m not the only one seeing this trend, there’s been a couple other community members also seeing the popularity of the topic. It’s exciting to have all these people new to PowerShell and see them have that “lightbulb moment” where all the possibilities click.

Getting Started

Getting back to the purpose of this post, why and how should you get started with PowerShell. I’ve collected a couple resources to help people do just that. One side note, you’ll notice I talk about PowerCLI a bit. Personally, I learned PowerShell in order to use PowerCLI. It was really the gateway into the much larger PowerShell ecosystem.

At the last UK Northwest VMUG meeting, David Hocking presented a community session on PowerShell for Beginners. Unfortunately, I couldn’t be there but he did post the deck on Twitter and I’ve embedded a link to below. It covers some of the reasons why he started with PowerShell, what his background was, and some great ways to get started. If you go to the last slide, there’s a link to download his example scripts and checkout some of the demo videos.

I mentioned the VMworld session earlier, it was posted to YouTube so you can access that directly. Chris and I will walk you through some of the lingo involved in getting started, then help get you started on writing code and some logic statements.

If you’re ready to get some hands-on time without impacting your own environment, there’s resources such as the VMware Hands-On Labs. It’s worth mentioning that there is an enrollment process, but it’s completely free. Couple lab examples:

  • HOL-SDC-1607 From Beginner to Advanced Features with PowerCLI – This lab will provide you with an environment and a lab guide to walk you through performing some tasks with PowerShell and PowerCLI.
  • HOL-1710-USE-4 – vSphere with Operations Management: Advanced Use Cases – This lab, again, provides you with an environment but the lab guide is targeted to be using the PowerCLI module with vRealize Operations Manager (vR Ops). As a beginner I wouldn’t advise following the lab guide, but instead using the lab to explore some of the cmdlets in an updated environment.
  • HOL-1721-SDC-6 – Introduction to VMware PowerCLI – If you happen to be at VMworld Europe, this is a huge recommendation. When this lab is posted to the public Hands-On Lab page, this will be my recommended go-to lab. The lab walks users through some of the basic configuration tasks a vSphere Administrator would do and how to automate those tasks. The lab captain, Vinith Menon, did a fantastic job on it.

Other Resources

Some other resources out there that have helped me:

  • Book: Learn Windows PowerShell in a Month of Lunches – Great resource that helps readers step through the fundamentals. Even after finishing it, you keep it as a reference. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone back to it as a refresher to something I forgot.
  • Book: Learning PowerCLI – Another great book, this one more focused on the vSphere Administrator. There’s a good overview of PowerShell in general and then it dives right into automating normal vSphere tasks.

If you’re a more visual learner, Pluralsight have a giant section of PowerShell and PowerCLI based videos. Here’s just a couple of them that helped me get started:

Lastly, and I can’t stress this enough, get involved in the community. Connect and network with people that you can bounce ideas off of and learn from. There’s a wide variety of ways to do so. User groups are a fantastic way to get started. There are PowerShell User Groups, VMware User Groups, and most any other technology based user group as well. If there isn’t one local to you, join a slack team. There’s a PowerShell Slack team, VMware Code Slack team, and so forth.

If you’ve found something else to be a great resource to help learn PowerShell, or PowerCLI, please let me know in the comments.

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