What Is Desired State Configuration (DSC)? Using PowerShell to Automate Microsoft 365 Configurations

What Is Desired State Configuration (DSC)? Using PowerShell to Automate Microsoft 365 Configurations

January 5, 2023

What is Desired State Configuration? If you’ve been in a Microsoft administration role for any amount of time, this buzzword is likely to have appeared at least a few times in your workflow.

Simply put, Desired State Configuration (DSC) is a powerful feature that integrates a fully-featured IT management platform directly into PowerShell 4.0. DSC helps you define the requisite criteria for running a PowerShell script to ensure that your IT environment is always configured in a consistent manner.

But did you know that DSC extends not just to Windows and Azure, but also Microsoft 365? Moreover, did you know that there’s a specific no-code platform to help you use DSC to configure your Microsoft 365 environment without ever being inside PowerShell?

Learn about all of that, and much more, in this article.

PowerShell and Its Limitations

Let’s start at the beginning. 

What is Windows PowerShell? It’s kind of like Command Prompt for IT professionals. It’s an automation engine, a configuration platform, and a command line interface all rolled into one — created for the sole purpose of helping tech admins manage their infrastructure.

Engineers and administrators have been writing PowerShell scripts to automate configuration management tasks for years, but they soon discovered a limitation.

Generally, PowerShell scripts all follow the same pattern. There’s a start state, followed by a list of tasks to complete in order to reach an end state.

But what if the start state you specified in your script doesn’t match the configuration of the environment you’re deploying it to? An example of this would be when an important prerequisite or dependency is missing from the server environment.

Then, the script just fails to run. It returns an error and that’s it. That’s why Microsoft invented Desired State Configuration.

What Is Desired State Configuration (DSC)?

PowerShell Desired State Configuration is a management platform that uses cmdlets, language extensions, and declarative scripting to help system administrators maintain a consistent configuration across all their production environments across various devices and workstations.

PowerShell DSC lets you describe your ideal configuration with a declarative syntax, so that the platform can check for configuration drifts to either report or remediate them.

DSC is a very useful tool for DevOps teams following the CI/CD principle, because it allows for large-scale automation for managing your entire infrastructure without having to manually reconfigure every single environment each time you need to make a change. A few specific advantages include idempotency, version control, and consistency between development and production environments.

Configuring M365 Tenants with Microsoft365DSC

Microsoft365DSC is a DSC resource and PowerShell module that provides a do-it-yourself solution for IT professionals to configure and manage Microsoft 365 environments. 

It’s an automated solution for deployment, configuration, and monitoring of Microsoft 365 using PowerShell DSC. That is useful both for managed service providers controlling multiple tenants across different clients and enterprise teams trying to achieve consistency between development and production.

But, there’s a catch.

Microsoft365DSC is a free-to-use and open-source solution for do-it-yourself users. It has everything you need to create an automated configuration management workflow for M365, but requires a fair bit of initial setup and engineering knowledge to get started. 

If you’re unfamiliar with the programming languages used for PowerShell scripting, you won’t be able to take advantage of this platform.

Simeon Cloud: A No-Code Alternative to Microsoft365DSC

Simeon Cloud offers the most important unfair advantage to managed service providers and enterprise engineering teams using Microsoft 365. It automates configuration management without forcing you to resort to complex scripting or unreliable code.

How does it work?

Simeon is a configuration-as-code solution that lets you view, alter, and monitor changes to your Microsoft 365 environment with the click of a few buttons. It provides a sleek no-code interface that makes desired state configuration more accessible to end users, whether or not they come from a software engineering background.

Apart from stand-apart features like end-to-end lifecycle management, automated backup and restore, ongoing configuration drift detection, as well as a lot more, Simeon also offers premium one-on-one support to all its customers in case of a roadblock.

Right now, Simeon Cloud is the best (and only) premium configuration management solution available for Microsoft 365. Want to find out how Simeon can help your IT team? Sign up for a free demo to learn more!