Windows-based policy management automation provider FullArmor on July 23 will unveil a new tool designed to unlock the power in Microsofts PowerShell scripting technology.
FullArmors new Workflow Studio brings drag-and-drop simplicity to creating PowerShell scripts that automate tasks associated with user provisioning or administration.
"Any task an IT administrator needs to do, we can automate so they can push a button and have those tasks streamed," said Rich Farrell, CEO of the privately-held Boston company.
Various tasks associated with a specific workflow, such as provisioning Active Directory, Microsoft Exchange or Virtual Machines, can be scripted in the graphical Workflow Studio Console interface without having to write any code.
"The Workflow Studio Console has bubbles that represent tasks an administrator can do. For example, to add a new employee, you need to create an account for the user in Active Directory, make sure certain software is deployed to the machine [and so on]. With the push of a button, those tasks can be streamed so [the administrator] can visually see these tasks as they take place," Farrell said.
Forrester Research analyst Chris Voce sees value for both the scripting savvy as well as less savvy administrators.
"Theyre making PowerShell more accessible to the average administrator who may not have any scripting expertise," Voce said. "For those that are hardcore scripting folks, this makes their life a lot easier. They can tie tasks together a lot quicker, because it takes the repetitive nature of administrative tasks out of the equation."
Although PowerShell was designed to make it easier to control and manage applications that use it, it still presents a "large learning curve administrators will have to get over to use," said Scott Bleasdell, senior product manager at FullArmor.
The graphical Workflow Console is built on top of PowerShell, allowing users to exploit it without having to learn to write PowerShell scripts. It includes sample workflow templates that can be customized or used out of the box.
It can also be used with other scripting technologies, such as Windows Command batch scripts, Visual Basic Script or Java Script. Still, it is not the first graphical overlap for PowerShell, and its an open question about how much of this type of functionality will be included in a forthcoming version of Microsofts Visual Studio.
Workflow Studio competes with Quest Softwares PowerGUI project, which is a graphical interface tool for PowerShell scripting. It is not as rich as Workflow Studio and doesnt deliver the same level of automation as Workflow Studio, Voce said.
FullArmor plans this year to add specific application modules for Group Policy scripting, as well as provisioning for Active Directory, Exchange 2007, Virtual Machine, Web Server, SharePoint, Windows Vista, Longhorn Server and VMware ESX servers. Also planned is integration with Systems Center Operations Manager.
FullArmor Workflow Studio is due Aug. 1 for $295 per administrator.