IT Admin using PowerShell vs. Python – Pros and Cons

PowerShell and Python are both powerful scripting languages and interfaces. Each has its advocates and its detractors.

The PowerShell and Python Basics

Python has historically been mostly used by Linux IT administrators, as the system came about through open source programming. It allows for detailed, extensive programming and administration with a full spread of capabilities and features beyond what one might expect from a system that is free of charge.

PowerShell is more focused on Windows users, as it is part of the operating system’s central interface. That being said, it is also available for use on Mac OS and Linux platforms, and is fairly stable when used on these systems, so there is cross-platform availability for both languages.

Pros and Cons of PowerShell

For a Windows user, PowerShell may be the best option simply because it is built to be used within Windows. The commands and scripts available through PowerShell have been designed around Windows systems, making it easy to automate administration of these systems. PowerShell is built right into the Windows platform and allows for remote administration of servers and workstations without any added software or workarounds. A lot of third-party programs and providers offer PowerShell modules and scripts to help with automation, which is very appealing when working in a Windows interface and desiring integration with Windows APIs. As the saying goes, with PowerShell there is no reason to re-invent the wheel. As a Windows-oriented language, PowerShell is unified across the board with other Windows-related systems and structures, putting all of the power at your fingertips without having to worry about installing, deploying, or learning another system like Python. PowerShell is also known for its interactivity, which Python lacks in comparison.

On the disadvantage side, PowerShell is limited in that it is object-based, which can be a challenge for users who are used to text-based commands. It also has the potential for some security risks when used remotely, so administrators need to be aware of this and have a plan to quickly manage breaches and other issues. When running PowerShell remotely, administrators will also need to run a Web server which can use up resources.

Pros and Cons of Python

Python is often the language of choice for Linux based users. It is also more of a programming language, specifically, over PowerShell, which operates more as a shell scripting environment. For many, the choice of Python or PowerShell comes down to what, exactly, you are trying to accomplish, and a lot of administrators may end up using both, for different purposes.

For Windows administrators, Python is an added layer of work, because it does not come native to the system. It is a third-party application and brings with it the extra effort and risk of bringing another installation on board.

However, for new administrators or other users new to programming languages, Python may be more accessible, with a community behind it supporting this widely available system. Troubleshooting is fairly simple for a user who is able to self-direct their learning, as many other users have been through the same issues and have documented solutions online.

Python’s coding is also very readable so it can be recycled across different sets of code without having to change much.

Making Your Choice

IT administrators may feel compelled to choose one system over another, and in fact, one may work better than the other based on the company’s needs, the experience of the IT professional, and what other programs and systems are being used within the network. To simplify the differences between the two programs, Python may be best suited for doing the work of writing code and creating software, while PowerShell is made for systems administration, particularly when administrating Windows systems and workstations.

However, there is no reason that IT administrators cannot explore both options and potentially use both PowerShell and Python, each for different tasks or purposes. Perhaps you are administrating a system while working to create software for your organization.

When it comes to scripting languages, there may not be a simple answer about what choice to make. At GroupLink we are here to help you navigate these decisions and make the choices that work best to meet your goals and to integrate with software like our own. As with any technology decision, the best choice is the one that works well for IT experts and end users alike, offering more benefits than it does drawbacks.

If you have any questions about Python, PowerShell, and how these systems interact with our own software offerings (such as PowerShare™), we are happy to work with you. Contact us today to learn more about GroupLink and how we can serve your needs.

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