Powershell and Devops Summit 2018

Last week was the big Powershell/Devops Summit in Bellevue, WA. I say “big” not as in ginormous 15,000 attendee extravaganzas like Ignite or VMWorld. No, this 365 attendee Summit was big as in the stature of the people there. All the Powershell superstars were there, sharing their knowledge and enthusiastically pushing the rest of us to excel.

This was my first Summit, and although I have waded into the Powershell Community pool, this was a dive into the deep end! Happily, I managed to keep up and learn quite a few things that I can immediately apply. I also brought back copious notes on things to try out in the old Lab.

It would be a novella to describe all the things I learned, but here are a few highlights and key takeaways.

  • Powershell 6.x is the way forward. Cross-platform and lightweight, it will run on almost anything. There was a demo of a Raspberry Pi with Powershell 6 installed and sending sensor information ( heat – humidity sensor) and controlling an attached light. Pretty nifty. Also Cloud Shell (Azure Powershell in a browser) either runs now or will soon run v6.
  • To utilize old modules, soon to be released: Windows Powershell Compatibility Pack. This is a clever solution. It allows you to essentially remote into your own PC’s Windows Powershell (5.1) session. It’s a little confusing until you remember that Powershell 6 and Powershell 5.1 are different executables and can and do run side by side.
  • Powershell Classes + REST API’s = Super functions. In a nutshell, use  classes to build objects out of data returned from Get-RestMethod. Once it’s a fully fleshed out PSObject, you have many more options on how to interact with that data. Powershell is all about objects afterall. For more info: Tweet to: Jeremy Murrah or check out his presentation on GitHub
  • Desired State Configuration Pull Server is becoming more of a community/open source project. It appears (and maybe I misunderstood) that Microsoft isn’t doing much development on the Pull Server portion of DSC. They are focusing on the Local Configuration Manager (LCM). This makes a lot of sense, it’s easy and not expensive to use Azure Automation as your pull server. There are also a few other Open Source Pull servers like TUG
  • Lean Coffee! For a completely not  Powershell side session, Glenn Sarti introduced a few of us to ‘Lean Coffee’. It’s not a skinny half-caf soy latte, it’s a way to organize small informal meetings. Briefly, everyone gets Post-Notes ( or other slips of paper) and writes down 2-3 things they want the group to discuss at this meeting. Everyone votes on what they want to discuss and that determines the order of conversation. Someone acts as ‘timekeeper’, and every 2 minutes polls the group for a simple “thumbs up/down” vote. If the majority votes UP , the conversation stays on that topic, otherwise, you move on to the next highest voted topic. Repeat until time or topics runs out. I am definitely going to try this in our next team meeting! For more info – check out : http://agilecoffee.com/leancoffee/
  • I learned a LOT about CI/CD pipelines for Powershell using VSTS and a few other tools from both and in separate sessions. This topic needs a blog post or 6 all it’s own. Two things to remember – 1. it can start simple and build from there  and 2. Plaster frameworks make the dream work.
  • Thomas Rayner showed us how to make custom rules for PSScriptAnalyzer. Time to make some “house rules”!

There was a LOT more that I have noted to study up on and try out, those will be later posts I’m sure.

Of course, Jeffrey Snover  continues to amaze me with his enthusiasm and optimism. Some great ‘Snover-isms” heard: “Line noise should not compile!” and “Like cockroaches in a kitchen full of cowboys”.

Aside from actual sessions, there were several interesting conversations not only with superstars like Don Jones™ and Mark Minasi, but also with the “next-gen” stars like Michael Bender and James Petty and with regular Powershell guys like me.

As for the actual event, the folks that put this together are top-notch. They care about the experience we have and it shows. Very good food, opportunities to socialize, and a refreshing lack of hard sell vendors. One of the few conferences I go to that doesn’t result in an email flood in the week following.

Bellevue was great – it only rained 4 of the 5 days I was there! Seriously though, the rain wasn’t an issue – even though I walked everywhere except to and from the airport. A light misting drizzly rain wasn’t horrible, and the temperatures were great. Cool enough so that you could vigorously walk up hills without getting sweat soaked and warm enough that only a light jacket was needed.