5 PowerShell tools to help simplify admin tasks and support
Learn how systems admins, software developers and engineers can use tools, such as Cimitra Software, to build better PowerShell scripts to manage and automate repetitive tasks.
Editor's note: Adam Bertram originally wrote the article and Stephen J. Bigelow updated it.
PowerShell has become one of the most ubiquitous scripting languages in use today. Originally released in 2006, PowerShell has caught on like wildfire with systems admins, software developers and engineers who manage and automate thousands of repetitive tasks.
There are a variety of products designed to help PowerShell developers build better scripts. Tools that complement a PowerShell scripter include advanced editors, products to create scripts with a low-code approach and services more tailored to specific products such as Active Directory (AD).
Here, we examine five companies that offer products and services that focus on or heavily depend on PowerShell. We'll examine each product's focus, target audience, pricing and how each PowerShell tool integrates into the bigger tech ecosystem. Note that product costs are listed in U.S. dollars.
The Cimitra IT process delegation tool is designed to decrease the resolution time of IT-related events. It enables non-administrative users to perform tasks typically requiring higher privilege escalation. Using Cimitra, an IT specialist can safely create and delegate routine IT tasks for other people to execute who don't have the skills or access to otherwise perform the task.
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Cimitra's tool can help users do the following:
- reset AD passwords
- restart servers
- update phone numbers in employee databases
Each task is connected to an action that's exposed via a web-based GUI. For any action, Cimitra could be running commands or invoking an API or random PowerShell scripts to accomplish tasks.
To ensure Cimitra admins can manage user activity, the tool provides various role-based access controls and can integrate with authentication providers. The tool supports Lightweight Directory Access Protocol and multifactor authentication as well as various auditing roles.
Cimitra uses a flat annual pricing scheme of $1,000 per license per year. Licensing starts at $3,000 per year for three admin/technician licenses, and each additional license is $1,000 per year. Contact Cimitra for volume license information.
Cimitra Server is offered as a Docker container and can be hosted in an organization's data center or in the cloud.
Ironman Software PowerShell Universal
PowerShell Universal lets users execute and schedule PowerShell scripts using a product that specifically offers PowerShell automation. This tool is designed to make it easier for users to invoke, control access to and manage a team's PowerShell scripts.
Users can upload PowerShell scripts to the product, which then reads and parses the scripts to create graphical representations for easy use.
PowerShell Universal natively understands complex tasks in PowerShell scripts, such as the progress bar using the Write-Progress cmdlet or interactivity using the Read-Host cmdlet. UA can also read script parameters automatically, so there's no need for an organization to adjust its scripts to use the UA platform.
PowerShell Universal automatically integrates with Git to support DevOps best practices and persists job output to a database for auditing and future evaluation. This PowerShell tool can also be configured for role-based access to provide users with the correct amount of privileges.
This product works well for individual PowerShell users and teams that need to schedule scripts in a platform that's more powerful and PowerShell-centric than task scheduler. It also works well for organizations that want to implement DevOps practices into a PowerShell development environment.
PowerShell Universal offers an optional web-based GUI that lets users manage the tool without having to drop down to a command line.
PowerShell Universal offers both individual and organizational licenses. There are three types of annual licenses for organizations:
- a free license with core features and community support but no enterprise features;
- a $499.00-per-server license with a full feature set; and
- an enterprise license for the entire organization including the full feature set (ask for a quote).
The tool is built as a cross-platform PowerShell module. UA can be hosted on premises on IIS, Azure, AWS and other clouds.
Sapien Technologies PowerShell Studio 2023
PowerShell Studio 2023 is a PowerShell scripting IDE. This product can visually design UIs for PowerShell scripts and use event-driven coding strategies, setting it apart from other PowerShell editors.
PowerShell Studio 2023 can code, test and run scripts on a variety of PowerShell versions; package them as executables; and deploy them via Windows Installer packages.
This tool also includes an integrated debugger, profiler and support for many other script-based tools. Sapien provides IntelliSense for PowerShell modules that can't be installed on the development machine. By using different machine profiles, IntelliSense and platform-specific settings can detect incompatibilities at the coding stage.
PowerShell Studio 2023 focuses primarily on PowerShell administrators who develop tools for themselves and others. This tool is designed for PowerShell power users who build lots of scripts and tooling.
PowerShell Studio 2023 offers a 45-day free trial. Annual subscriptions can be purchased for $250 per year or billed at $25 per month, and a perpetual license can be purchased for $499.
PowerShell Studio 2023 integrates out of the box with many common tools, including the PSScriptAnalyzer PowerShell tool, Pester, Git, Sapien's PowerShell HelpWriter and VersionRecall. Wherever possible, access to these tools is prominently placed on the main user interface and requires only the push of a button.
ScriptRunner Software platform
ScriptRunner is an all-in-one PowerShell product that simplifies the way IT professionals, admin teams and DevOps engineers write and manage PowerShell scripts. Features include the following:
- centralized script and module management, which helps ensure a standardized development process and consistent companywide use of PowerShell scripts;
- secure credential administration, which lets users run and delegate scripts in a safe environment;
- convenient web interfaces, which let users easily manage all PowerShell activities. Help desk teams and end-user work with automatically generated web-based input forms; and
- centralized script execution that ensures all manual, scheduled, and event- and process-driven PowerShell activities can be monitored at a glance.
Admins can use ScriptRunner roles to delegate securely to help desk teams and end users. Domain users can perform defined tasks in on-premises, hybrid or cloud systems without administrative back-end permissions.
ScriptRunner offers a free 30-day trial. However, ScriptRunner is assembled and licensed in a modular fashion, so it's best to contact ScriptRunner to discuss specific requirements and obtain a specific price quote.
System Frontier helps organizations reduce admin rights and simplify IT support by delegating granular admin permissions. IT admins can turn PowerShell and other scripts into secure web-based tools without having to build GUIs by hand.
This privilege access management tool is designed for systems admins who manage Windows and Linux servers, network devices, and AD or Office 365 resources and have PowerShell or other scripting skills.
System Frontier is licensed per managed node and is broken into server and non-server licenses. Server nodes cover Windows and Linux servers, network devices and other devices acting in a server capacity. Non-server nodes cover managing workstations and user accounts such as AD or Office 365 users.
The tool offers four licensing options:
- a free Community Edition that's limited to 1,000 server or endpoint nodes, 50 delegated users, five custom tools and community support;
- a free 30-day trial version with features enabled that anyone with a business email address can download;
- the Pro version, which starts at $2,900 per year for 100 server nodes and 500 non-server nodes. It's limited to 100 delegated users and 20 custom tools. Priority email support is included; and
- the Enterprise version, which starts at $4,900 per year for 100 server nodes and 500 non-server nodes. It includes unlimited delegated users and unlimited custom tools as well as priority email and phone support.
System Frontier offers integrations for enterprise applications, including ServiceNow, Remedy, Cisco and Check Point. This tool also has a built-in REST API that lets other applications and services integrate with it. Due to its script-based nature, users can build PowerShell scripts on their own to connect to a near-endless number of other services.
A PowerShell tool to meet every organization's needs
Each of the products examined here represents an ecosystem that's cropped up from PowerShell or other scripting languages. Although each product has a strong foundation with PowerShell, each serves a different purpose.
Some of the tools covered here have both competing and complementary features. When selecting a product, pay close attention to the product's focus and target audience. Note which tools complement each other and choose a product or products that focus on your organization's specific needs.
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