In case you haven’t heard, a little company called Devfarm Software has been working on a product called PowerWF (pictured, right). They had a great demo at VMworld 2009, and I was so impressed that I gave them five minutes at the end of my own breakout session to do a demo for my audience.
I’m a big PowerShell and PowerCLI nut, so why do I care about some graphical user interface (GUI) application? Well, there are two answers to that. One, PowerShell is an automation engine, not just the command-line shell. There are plenty of tools out there which use PowerShell behind the scenes to enable the user to automate tasks. Exchange 2007’s admin console and VESI (which I need to spend some time talking about soon) are just two examples. Just because I like to write scripts doesn’t mean I don’t respect the GUI.
The second answer is that PowerWF is sort of like scripting with Visio diagrams. At its heart is the concept of a workflow. A workflow is a graphical representation of a series of steps which belong to a task which you want to automate. There’s hundreds, maybe thousands of these steps available. They arranged on the left of the window in a palette with several collapsible headings such as FlowControl, Visualization, and of course, VMware PowerCLI.
Yeah, now you can see where I’m going. The Devfarm guys have been doing VMware solutions for a while, so it is natural that their workflow tool integrates very heavily with VMware’s products. In fact, you can do stuff with VIX, not just PowerCLI, so that opens some possibilities for you guys using that API to automate VMs and guests.
Anyway, I’ve been really vague so far, so I feel the need to give some concrete examples of what the heck PowerWF can do. I have to admit that I’m still a newbie with it, so I’m going to cheat here and point you to some videos that the Devfarm guys made:
PowerWF is really, really big. I mean, it can do a lot of stuff. It can cover most any task that you would do with PowerCLI. It can run PowerShell scripts. It can output information in a variety of ways, such as console, text file, RSS feed, HTML, or datagrid. It can also do some really interesting things I haven’t even fully grokked yet such as create WMI classes and Web services.
In order to help you get started working with PowerWF you may want to check out these blog posts that the team is working on:
As I said, I’m just getting started with the application myself, so I’ll try to report back to the blog with my findings as I get deeper into the product.