In a 2009 issue of TechNet Magazine, Microsoft wrote, “It’s safe to say that the single most important skill a Windows administrator will need in the coming years is proficiency with Windows PowerShell.” Almost a decade later, PowerShell is still an essential part of the system administrator’s toolkit.
PowerShell is an automated task framework with a command line shell and a scripting language integrated into the .NET framework. It’s versatile, powerful, and, like all automation solutions, can save you a lot of time if you’ve been handling too much of your workload manually. But the automation landscape is changing rapidly, and today many organizations are turning to robotic process automation (RPA) solutions that orchestrate automated workflows across all systems and applications.
Should you replace your PowerShell automation scripts with RPA software? Read on to find out.
PRO: PowerShell is Everywhere
PowerShell includes more than 130 standard command line tools for functions and enables administrators to perform tasks on both local and remote Windows systems. It now comes installed by default in every version of Windows, starting with Windows 7 SP1 and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1. Basically, if you’re an IT professional working with Windows Servers, you need to know PowerShell. Luckily, due to its widespread usage, it’s easy to find PowerShell support and resources.
PowerShell can also be used on other systems—as of 2016, it is cross-platform and open-source.
PRO: Using What You Know is Easy
Maybe you’ve been automating with PowerShell for years, or maybe your team is full of scripting experts. We get it—you’re busy and learning a new automation solution takes time. RPA is still a bit of a newcomer to the scene, and even with an easy-to-use RPA solution, it takes some time to get up to speed.
You can assume you’ll use PowerShell at your next gig. On the other hand, don’t discount the fact that 53 percent of the Global 2000 planned significant RPA investments in 2018.
CON: Not Everyone Knows PowerShell
Even if you are happy to keep using PowerShell for all your Microsoft automation needs, what happens when you have to grow your team? When your organization relies on PowerShell, you’re locked into hiring employees with PowerShell expertise. If you only have one scripting expert and he or she quits, do you have someone who can manage your existing PowerShell automation scripts?
Robotic process automation is designed with the business user in mind. Your RPA platform will still be able to run scripts when needed or preferred, but Joe from accounting can also drag and drop his way to a streamlined, automated workflow. Team members who do have scripting expertise don’t have to waste it on the simplest tasks.
CON: Adding Enterprise Features is Impractical
Audit logs, error handling, event-based triggers, security features—these things can be accomplished with PowerShell scripts, but realistically they often aren’t. It takes a lot of time and a whole mess of scripts to create the robust feature set that robotic process automation comes with right out of the box.
If your team is strapped for time (and who isn’t?) robotic process automation is a better way to ensure your automation is enterprise-class.
BONUS: You Can Use PowerShell and an RPA Solution
Good news! You don’t have to choose between robotic process automation and scripting. RPA software can run your existing PowerShell scripts, seamlessly integrating them into your automated workflows enterprise-wide.