Powershell Remoting with SQL Server

One of the best things to come out with Powershell V2 is remoting and asynchronous calls. Between the two of these, you can basically send commands simultaneously to a number of SQL Server instances. BUT… and there always seems to be one of those, there is a lot of work required to get this running right. I’m going to outline what I did recently to test the ability of PowerShell to begin administering my servers remotely. Hopefully this provide the basis for a checklist and a how-to. I’ll update this post over time so that I get things right.

Enable remoting on the machines you wish to call

This requires admin privileges, but it’s pretty simple unless you need to modify which ports are available, etc. But to get it going the easiest way:


You’ll get a warning outlining what this will do to the system and asking if you want to continue:

Running command “Set-WSManQuickConfig” to enable this machine for remote management through WinRM service.
 This includes:
    1. Starting or restarting (if already started) the WinRM service
    2. Setting the WinRM service type to auto start
    3. Creating a listener to accept requests on any IP address
    4. Enabling firewall exception for WS-Management traffic (for http only).

Do you want to continue?
[Y] Yes  [A] Yes to All  [N] No  [L] No to All  [S] Suspend  [?] Help (default is “Y”):

There may be other prompts about the operations that are listed above (in fact, “will be” is a better way to phrase it). In general, work through the help files to understand what all that means.

Configure Sessions

We’re talking about working with SQL Server here, so you know that you need to load the snapin. Easy right. In fact, you probably already have it loading by default through your configuration. Ah, but here’s the issue. When you’re running remotely, the session on that other machine is not running under your context. So it’s not going to use your configuration at all. Instead you need to define a session. There are several ways you could do this. Steven Muraski (blog|twitter) has a mechanism for forcing configurations to the remote machines. I haven’t tried this yet. I did the brute force approach.

First you create a script that holds the session information you want on each of the machines, in this case:

[sourcecode language=”powershell”]add-pssnapin SqlServerCmdletSnapin100

add-pssnapin SqlServerProviderSnapin100

That loads the necessary snapins for SQL Server. Once that’s done, you have to register this as a named configuration on the system:

[sourcode language=”powershell”]Register-PSSessionConfiguration -Name SQLShell -StartupScript C:\scripts\sql.ps1

Again, this is run on each machine that you wish to remote to. You can do this through remote sessions, funny enough. Once you’ve enabled remoting and set up the sessions, they’ll stay in place, as is, even after rebooting the system. This means you only have to do this once.

Remoting to SQL Server

You can create multiple sessions and then call them asynchronously, but instead, I tried a different tack. This is my full script:

[sourcecode language=”powershell”]

$instances = @{"Server1"="Server1\InstanceA"; "Server2"="Server2\InstanceB"}

$job = Invoke-Command -ComputerName (Get-Content "c:\scripts\serverlist.txt") -ScriptBlock {param($rinstances) Invoke-Sqlcmd -ServerInstance $rinstances.$env:computername -Query "SELECT * FROM sys.dm_exec_requests WHERE session_id > 50"} -JobName tsql -ConfigurationName SqlShell -ArgumentList $instances

Wait-Job tsql

$results = Receive-Job -Name tsql

Stop-Job -Name tsql
Remove-Job -Name tsql

I created a list of servers and put it in a file, serverlist.txt. Because I’m dealing with instances, I need a way to match the list of servers to the instances. I did this with the associative array (aka hash table), $instances. I’m calling Invoke-Command and passing it a list of computer names through the serverlist.txt file. I pass that a script block, more about that in a minute, and I set a JobName as tsql. This makes the Invoke-Command into a remote job, but in my case, a set of remote jobs. I pass it the the configuration we created earlier with -ConfigurationName.

The ScriptBlock is pretty straight forward from there. The one extra wrinkle that I had to get right, and thanks to Steven Muraski, who got me through this little roadblock as well as several others (all through Twitter by the way), is that you have to get your local parameter into the script block through the use of param and -ArgumentList. Then I just called it based on the server name I was running on (yes, what if I had more than one instance, I didn’t, OK?).

Then, because I wanted to see it and didn’t want to go through a process of collecting information as it finished, I just told it to wait on the job, by name. Then I collected the results, displayed them through the default and shut down the job and removed it.

So this is one, admittedly less than perfect, approach to getting remoting working with SQL Server in PowerShell. I’m going to spend more time on this to refine the process.

For a completely different view of the exact same problem, go check out what Aaron Nelson (blog|twitter) did. We were working on this at roughly the same time and exchanging notes. He helped me, I hope I helped him a bit.

4 thoughts on “Powershell Remoting with SQL Server

  • Chris Walker

    I’ve started using this for automated remote app deployments. Initially I was using the Win32_Product WMI class to do installs of a couple of communication applications and I was replacing web server files via sftp, but now I just launch everything as remote Powershell jobs and wait for them to finish. It’s a whole lot nicer as it basically eliminates most of the requirements for running the script, and you don’t have to mess with Kerberos delegation stuff.

    The only thing I’ve thought was confusing was that making a batch of commands to execute isn’t done in an array or anything, but at least that’s documented.

  • […] Right, I said I wouldn’t compete, but I can’t help pointing out that I’m pretty proud of this particular blog post that is in the Management and Automation category.  I thinki the number one tool for automation of administration of SQL Server, and pretty much all of Microsoft’s server technologies, is PowerShell. Knowing how to execute scripts on multiple servers, asynchronously, is extremely important to a successful administration automation effort. So, please, despite what I said before, consider voting for PowerShell Remoting with SQL Server. […]

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