How to automate your server environment with PowerShell management

Last week, Silvio and Frane held a webinar on the subject of PowerShell usage in server management, and in this blog post we bring you a recap of all the things you can do with a new SysKit feature—PowerShell administration.

So for those of you who aren’t familiar with our server monitoring and administration tool, SysKit is an enterprise solution for monitoring servers, user activity, application usage, and system performance. It collects all the data from your entire server monitoring environment and gives you a detailed overview of what’s going on with your servers, in real time and historically.

SysKit is in charge of monitoring environments such as Citrix, Windows Servers, Remote Desktop Services, and Remote Desktop Gateway, as well as SharePoint and SQL Servers.

Introducing PowerShell management to SysKit

As you may already know, PowerShell is a task automation and configuration management shell. It closely resembles the command prompt but is, in fact, much, much more complex and powerful, enabling you to accomplish all sorts of different tasks on your remote and local servers. (However, keep in mind that you need to have the PowerShell remoting enabled before you can manage remote servers.) Because of its vast reach and usability, we decided to offer our users a feature that unites SysKit’s capabilities with PowerShell.

The point of this webinar, and the demo later on, is that you can use PowerShell to perform system administration tasks and extract any information that has PowerShell exposure. For example, important information in Active Directory, Group Policies, IIS, Network, Virtual Machines, and so on.

Why would you use SysKit to run PowerShell scripts?

Because you can administer your entire environment remotely and automate system administration tasks by executing different PowerShell scripts on multiple servers. Once a script is done running, SysKit provides you with the execution log that you can audit for additional information.

Have you ever struggled with server patching? Fortunately, that no longer has to be a source of headaches. Use SysKit to manually patch your servers by copying all the binaries, executing the update, then finishing off with a report on whether your update (or any other PowerShell task) was successful.

This can be useful, for example, if you have a Citrix environment and need to restart multiple Citrix servers at predefined time intervals, or if you have multiple SharePoint farms with multiple SharePoint roles and need to make sure that your Web Front End servers are available at all times.

How to use PowerShell with SysKit (demo)

Frane Borozan, SysKit product owner, held a demo on how to perform server management with the help of PowerShell scripts, which you can check out in the video below.

Frane prepared a few PowerShell scripts with which you can automate your system administration tasks. He starts by explaining the SysKit interface and what options are at your disposal. Then he shows you what you can gather with the reporting scripts and what tasks you can achieve with the management scripts. As Frane goes through the application, he discusses some use cases that might be of interest to you.

Once the scripts are executed, Frane analyzes the results and gives you a few tips on how to successfully accomplish complex tasks in your server environment.

Here’s a video recording of our PowerShell management webinar; in case you missed some of our previously held sessions, you can find them on our Youtube channel. If you have suggestions for our next webinar topic or would like for us to cover a specific section of our tool, let us know, and we can even arrange a personal demo for you.

Q: I have a security question; can anyone run SysKit?
A: SysKit is a central location from which you can manage all your tasks. We recommend our users to install SysKit on a dedicated server and then you can share the access to that server. However, within the application, you can manage different roles and appoint an administrator or restrict certain user with the view only option.
Q: Do we have a SysKit Web Interface or we just have the GUI available in the server where we installed SysKit?
A: SysKit has a web interface but unlike the desktop application, it’s missing this PowerShell administration. It’s on our roadmap, and we plan to develop everything we have in the desktop version, to be available in the web version.
Q: Can SysKit be used throughout different domains? If so, I understand we need to set different credentials to connect to each domain, right?
A: Yes. If you have trusted domains, you can use it that way, and if not, you can define credentials for that particular domain in the AD Integration section under Options.

Q: Can I have a monitoring board display with this tool?
A: If we understood your question correctly, SysKit has a dashboard from which you can monitor your server performance, health of you servers, and check how many servers you have in your environment.

Q: Regarding SharePoint scripts. How can we connect to different farms to use PowerShell scripts if each farm has different Farm Administrators?
A: At this moment, you can’t add multiple farm administrators in the same domain to work on different farms. For example, the same domain user will be able to access both farms and only then will you be able to execute scripts on both farms. If you have a SharePoint management task, then you need to add a user to the SPShellAdmin and add that same user to SysKit.

Try PowerShell management with a 30-day free trial

The latest version of SysKit brings you the PowerShell Administration feature and two types of predefined scripts: reporting and management. Of course, you can import your own custom-written PowerShell scripts as well.

SysKit offers a fully-featured 30-day trial, which makes it a perfect testing ground for whatever data you set your mind to gather.

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