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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.

PowerShell has become one of the most ubiquitous scripting languages in use today. Originally released in 2008, 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 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.

Cimitra Software

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.

Cimitra's tool can help users:

  • reset AD passwords;
  • restart servers; and
  • update phone numbers in employee databases.

Each of these tasks 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.

Some of the tools covered here have both competing and complementary features. When selecting a PowerShell product, pay close attention to the product's focus and target audience.

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 offers three licenses:

  • A free downloadable version that includes three users, three agents and unlimited actions with no expiration, and a support forum.
  • A Team version that includes 25 users, unlimited actions and agents, and an auditing panel to control and monitor user activity. This version also includes email support and costs $10,000 per year.
  • An Enterprise version that includes 100 users and the same features as the Team version. This version also includes phone and email support, and costs $25,000 per year.

Cimitra Server is offered as a Docker container and can be hosted in an organization's data center or in the cloud.

Ironman Software Universal Automation

Universal Automation (UA) enables users to 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.

UA 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.

UA 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.

UA offers an optional web-based GUI that enables users to manage the tool without having to drop down to a command line.

UA is currently in beta and offers two pricing models:

  • The free plan enables users to execute up to two concurrent jobs at once and 25 jobs per day.
  • The paid plan is licensed per agent at an introductory beta price of $99.99. This includes one year of upgrades and removes any restrictions on job execution.

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

PowerShell Studio 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 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 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 offers a 45-day free trial. After that, the tool  costs $399, which includes one year of upgrades and free forum support. The upgrades and support subscription can be extended annually, and the license never expires.

PowerShell Studio 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:

  • Centralized script and module management, which helps to ensure a standardized development process and companywide, consistent use of PowerShell scripts.
  • Secure credential administration, which enables users to run and delegate scripts in a safe environment.
  • Convenient web interfaces, which enable users to easily manage all PowerShell activities. Help desk teams and end-user work with automatically generated web-based input forms.
  • 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, as well as an Essential Edition for up to five users that's ideal for small IT and service desk teams. Contact ScriptRunner for a price quote.

System Frontier

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, 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 5,000 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 starts at $29 per server node or $5.80 per non-server node. It's limited to 100 delegated users and 20 custom tools. Priority email support is included.
  • The Enterprise version starts at $49 per server node or $9.80 per non-server node. 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 enables other applications and services to 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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