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PowerShell Creator Snover Stepping Down from Microsoft

The "father of PowerShell," Jeffrey Snover, announced this week that he'll be leaving Microsoft on July 1.

Snover currently serves as the chief technology officer for workplace transformation at Microsoft. He's also a Microsoft Technical Fellow, a top title at Microsoft, having earlier achieved the status of Microsoft Distinguished Engineer. He's been at Microsoft for more than 22 years, and had earlier worked at IBM's Tivoli division as an architect, according to his LinkedIn page.

The PowerShell scripting language, devised by Snover, came about to address automation and management scaling issues on .NET systems. Snover formulated his ideas in a 2002 "Monad Manifesto" document (PDF), which didn't specifically outline PowerShell at that time, but was a way to think out solutions to various automation management conundrums.

"The Monad Manifesto forced me to be clear about what problem I was addressing, what my principles were, how I intended to address the problem and then who would benefit and why," Snover wrote in a 2011 blog post.

It helped center the teams' efforts on delivering a solution for Microsoft's customers, rather than veer off on a technology focus, he explained.

The text-based PowerShell gets executed through a command-line interface, bucking the trend at Microsoft of adding a graphical user interface (GUI) for administrative tasks. However, a GUI can get in the way when organizations have multiple servers to manage, with a need for automating processes.

Snover, who later championed DevOps and a headless Nano Server deployment option for remotely managing Windows Server, later said that "admin GUIs on servers are poison" because they just get in the way of automation.

The GUI also limited the sort of business value that IT pros could bring to organizations, Snover suggested, in a 2015 Redmond interview:

Look, if you're not adding value through differentiated IT -- if you're just using a GUI and doing click-next, click-next, click-next -- you're probably in trouble. Those standardized values are going to be offered through the cloud at dramatically lower prices and higher service-level agreements. In that scenario, you're just not needed.

Going to a command-line interface management solution with PowerShell was a hard sell at Microsoft. Years ago, I met Snover at a Microsoft-sponsored dinner event in Redmond, Wash., not knowing who he was, and asking stupid questions. He was incredibly patient, but did tell me of his initial problems in convincing Microsoft's management to embrace a GUI-less management solution.

Microsoft has since fully embraced PowerShell, which is now at version 7. It's the tool for management, as well as development, plus interdisciplinary DevOps tasks. While PowerShell was initially devised on the .NET platform, and later released as an open source solution on that platform, its support was also extended to other platforms, such as Linux and macOS back in 2016.

Snover, in addition to being the force to change how automation and management were seen at Microsoft, was also distinguished by wearing artistic colorful ties and saying concise and humorous adages that were once compiled as "Snoverisms." Sadly, the Snoverism Web site that had compiled his sayings seems to have been taken down.

Snover, an abiding influence at Microsoft, didn't describe his reasons for leaving the company in his Twitter announcement.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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