[Video] Webinar – Advanced features for PowerShell users

The goal of this webinar was to help our users get the maximum out of using PowerShell for system administration tasks. Combining PowerShell with SysKit is somewhat of a new feature, and knowing its potential, we practically dedicated the latest application version to the advanced capabilities that SysKit offers for PowerShell users. In webinar demo we discuss how to detect system problems using PowerShell alerts, why CredSSP is important, and what system administration scripts you can get your hands on in our brand-new PowerShell script repository.

Table of contents

00:00 Webinar intro / about Acceleratio
03:20 Introduction to SysKit
04:51 Advanced PowerShell features overview
11:03 Demo: How to monitor application usage
25:58 Q&A

The webinar was led by Silvio Rahle, product marketing manager, and questions were answered by Frane Borozan, SysKit product owner.

Webinar Summary

PowerShell scripts repository

We have provided our users with access to the PowerShell repository through the SysKit interface, making it easy to import, manage, and use multiple PowerShell scripts. The repository consists of scripts created to help system admins with daily administration tasks, and some more complex problems. The scripts are sorted into specific groups (modules) such as Active Directory, IIS, VMs, etc.

There are over 50 PowerShell scripts in the SysKit repository, and we plan on updating it, adding scripts that we believe are going to make a system admin’s life easier. All scripts are free to download and you can easily modify them to fit your specific needs.

Our PowerShell script repository can be reached in three ways:

  • From our website, where you can download groups of scripts and import them locally to SysKit.
  • From our GitHub page, where all the scripts are in .ps1 format and easy to modify per your n
  • Through the SysKit interface, where you can download scripts from online repository hosted on Microsoft Azure.

Upon clicking the “Download Scripts” button, the dialogue offers you three tabs:

  • The first tab lists the entire online repository. You can select multiple scripts, and quickly install them. For each script, you are provided with information such as its description, script version, date published, etc…
  • The second tab lists all the scripts you have already installed in SysKit.
  • The third tab shows all the updates available for the installed scripts. For example, if a script version 1.0 is updated to 1.1, it will be available here.

Just to mention, the identical download system works for our performance monitoring templates and custom reports.

It is important to point out that we can create specific scripts for our customers. You just need to contact us with your problem and specific task requirements.

PowerShell alerts

SysKit supports real-time alerts for various events on your servers. For example, if the SQL Server disk space reaches its limit, SysKit will alert you before the database stop working. Or, if any critical service stops, SysKit will send you an alert and try to restart that service.

However, those alerts are not as specific as PowerShell reporting may sometimes require. So, we have created the PowerShell alerts. For each PowerShell command you intend to execute on your servers, you can configure alerts to be sent if any specified output is returned after execution of the PowerShell script. This can be a status code, a URL, or any other returned data string.

The PowerShell alerts were demonstrated on two simple examples. In the first, you have a few active websites, and you need to make sure they are available 24/7. That requires a way to constantly monitor those pages and warn you when there’s something wrong with their response time or availability. The second and very similar example is monitoring of SharePoint sites, including their full load time and availability. This later example script starts Internet Explorer in the background and measures the time it takes for the site to respond and to load fully (images, java…).

CredSSP for PowerShell

PowerShell allows you to execute commands remotely on remote devices and servers, but the problem is, that for some tasks on remote servers, you need remote authentication. CredSSP enables you to pass credentials to the target device and have that device use them for double-hop remote authentication. Process made simple – server A connects to server B and server B then performs actions against server C using the given credentials. CredSSP is necessary, for example, if the SharePoint server needs to get specific data from the content database or you need to read data from the domain controller.

We used the SharePoint environment to demonstrate what CredSSP is needed for. The example is a script that measures the total crawl time for the SharePoint search index, the number of recorded indexes, and errors that might show up during the crawl. To successfully execute this script, SharePoint requires the double-hop authentication, since it needs to pass credentials to SQL, for which we need to use CredSSP.

Q: Which parts of the SharePoint environment require a SysKit license for the tasks in the demo?
A: You need to have a license only for the server on which SysKit is installed. So, if you have a SharePoint farm with multiple server roles, such as a web front-end server (WFE), application server, SQL server, and search server, you need a license for your WFE only, since all IPA-s are available from it. If you have multiple SharePoint farms, you can license only one WFE server per farm.

Q: Can these SharePoint tasks be performed with SPDocKit, or is SysKit required?
A: Although SPDocKit is a tool used to document and maintain SharePoint environments, at the moment it does not support this feature. We’re looking into the possibility of adding that feature to SPDocKit sometime in the future, but a SysKit license is required for now.

Q: Can SQL Server settings be reported on through PowerShell?
A: Yes. SQL, Citrix, and everything else that has PowerShell exposure can be reported on and managed through SysKit. All reports can be compared to detect any changes over time and different servers. All you need is a PowerShell script, which we can write for you if you ask.

If you’re interested in finding out more about SysKit, contact us and schedule a personalized demo. We’d be happy to provide more details about how easily your server environment can be monitored and audited with SysKit.