First published on TECHNET on Dec 07, 2010
One of our partners, PowerWF, has developed a really powerful workflow authoring tool for automating IT processes. The way I describe PowerWF is that it helps break down the walls of interoperability between PowerShell and Windows Workflow Foundation workflows. You can use PowerShell cmdlets in a Windows Workflow Foundation workflow as workflow activities. You can publish a Windows Workflow Foundation workflow as a PowerShell cmdlet. It allows people who aren’t really that familiar with PowerShell scripting (yet!) to be able to harness all the power of all those PowerShell snapins and modules out there to automate processes using a drag, drop, and configure workflow designer. For people who are experienced with PowerShell the tool allows you to seamlessly go back and forth between editing PowerShell and configuring workflow activities.
This is one of the most exciting innovations I’ve seen recently. As businesses are trying to reduce costs in these tough economic times, IT process automation using Windows Workflow Foundation, PowerShell, and Service Manager can really help! Not only will you reduce costs through automation but you will decrease time to service request fulfillment and increase the quality of the service being delivered by reducing human error. Just imagine the possibilities of automating things – anything that Microsoft, the community or other companies have released PowerShell cmdlets for – SharePoint, SQL Server, Exchange, Hyper-V, Windows Server, AD, Group Policy, SCSM, SCVMM, SCOM, VMWare, etc…. I have 2,100+ activities in my PowerWF toolbox on my demo system. Automating them is only a drag, drop, configure, publish exercise. Oh yeah – and test! PowerWF makes that pretty easy too with the ability to set breakpoints, step through the workflow, inspection tools that you can use at any point in the workflow, etc.
While we haven’t tested this specifically yet, you should be able to use the output of a PowerWF-authored workflow assembly or PowerShell cmdlet in an Opalis workflow which really opens up the possibilities even further.
PowerWF released their current version 2.3 with Service Manager a few weeks ago. That version allows you to publish workflows directly to SCSM via MP import and workflow binary distribution or you can produce a Windows Workflow Foundation activity that can be used in the SCSM Authoring Tool workflow designer. As I was on the road for a few weeks recently, I showed this solution to a few different audiences to rave reviews. You can find out more and get a trial version of PowerWF from their site:
We’ll have some more interesting demo videos for PowerWF in the coming weeks, but here are some hello world and simple scenarios to get you started on the concept:
(Note: If you only have time to watch one video, check out the last one)