Our June release included a new feature that simplifies using the Skytap RESTful API from Windows Powershell. I sat down with our own Mike Measel to find out how this new Powershell module helps our customers automate environment and VM visibility, reporting, and management.
Noel: Skytap is all about making everything from environment provisioning to application modernization to cloud migration less painful; how does this new feature fit into that same goal?
Mike: We’ve made cloud environment, VM, and network management easy for the Windows community by utilizing a familiar scripting language that they have readily available.
Noel: How did this feature come to be? Was this a customer request?
Mike: I’d done a previous integration project for a customer in another language, but it was difficult for them to understand. So, I wrote this with the intention of making it familiar to Powershell users, but also for people that weren’t programmers, but wanted to run automation against their Skytap environments. The way it handles requests in JSON is really nice. For instance, you can use commands as simple as “get users” or “get environments” to bring back images in Powershell.
Noel: What problems does the feature solve, and what are some of the ways it’s being used by our customers?
Mike: Our customers can do anything that they could do through the GUI, but also, iterating through environments, VMs or other components and reporting or adjusting values. One user wanted to reset suspend-time for all his users around the world based on their local time zone. About 12 lines of script did the trick. They run this small script every night to set their machines to auto-suspend. This eliminates machines left running which adds additional expense when they’re not in use.
Noel: We’ve heard that people are increasingly looking for ways to “treat their VMs or environments like data.” What sorts of advantages does that provide?
Mike: That approach is great for automating maintenance and reporting. But the real power comes into play when it’s used in development builds and testing. Our TFS 2015 integration makes use of this module to provide native plugins to create build environments, save them to a new gold standard if they are successful, or save a failed build machine for review. By integrating with TFS 2015, Powershell is used under the covers. It looks like you’re just using TFS.
Noel: That’s really cool. Before we go, who all deserves the credit for the build of this Powershell module?
Mike: Here at Skytap, I was primarily involved, and J.R.Duree also contributed some modules. One of our customers, after getting familiar with the feature, requested additional functionality that was awesome to be able to provide. Lastly, one of my daughter’s cats helped with the initial design.
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