Windows commands and PowerShell scripts as API microservices

This post goes through the steps of exposing Windows commands and PowerShell scripts as remote Zato API services that can be invoked by REST clients.

This lets one access a fleet of Windows systems from a single place and makes it possible for Zato services to participate in Windows management processes.

Note that Zato servers always run on Linux and no installation of any kind of software under Windows is necessary for Zato to connect to remote systems.


Start by installing a library that implements the remote Windows connectivity:

$ cd /opt/zato/current
$ ./bin/pip install pywinrm

Next, stop and start again any servers running, e.g.:

$ zato stop /path/to/server
$ zato start /path/to/server

Python code

Deploy the following service to your Zato cluster - note its name,

# -*- coding: utf-8 -*-

from __future__ import absolute_import, division, print_function, unicode_literals

# stdlib
from traceback import format_exc

# pywinrm
import winrm

# Zato
from zato.server.service import Service

class MyService(Service):
    name = ''

    class SimpleIO:
        input_required = 'type', 'data'
        output_required = 'exec_code'
        output_optional = 'status_code', 'stdout', 'stderr', 'details'
        response_elem = None
        skip_empty_keys = True

    def handle(self):

        # Local aliases
        input_type = self.request.input.type
        input_data =

        # Validate input - we support either regular commands
        # or PowerShell scripts on input.
        if input_type not in ('cmd', 'ps'):
            self.response.payload.exec_code = 'error'
            self.response.payload.details = 'Invalid type'

        # Input was valid, we can try to execute the command now


                # Remote server details
                host = ''

                # Credentials
                username = 'myuser'
                password = 'NZaIhMezvK00Y'

                # Establish a connection to the remote host
                session = winrm.Session(host, (username, password))

                # Dynamically select a function to run,
                # either for commands or PowerShell
                func = session.run_cmd if input_type == 'cmd' else session.run_ps

                # Run the function with input data given
                result = func(input_data)

                # Status code is always available
                self.response.payload.status_code = result.status_code
                self.response.payload.stdout = result.std_out
                self.response.payload.stderr = result.std_err

            except Exception:
                self.response.payload.exec_code = 'error'
                self.response.payload.details = format_exc()

            # Everything went fine
                self.response.payload.exec_code = 'ok'

REST channel

Create a new REST channel in web-admin and mount service on it. Make sure to set data format to JSON.


Let us invoke the service from command line, using curl. For clarity, the output of commands below is limited to a few lines.

First, we will run a regular command to get a directory listing of drive C:

$ curl http://api:password@localhost:11223/windows -d '{"type":"cmd", "data":"dir c:"}'
{"status_code": 0,
 "exec_code": "ok",
 "stdout": " Volume in drive C has no label.\r\n
 Volume Serial Number is 1F76-3AB6\r\n\r\n
 Directory of C:\\Users\\Administrator\r\n\r\n07/22/2019  11:53 PM    <DIR>"}

What if we provide an invalid drive name?

$ curl http://api:password@localhost:11223/windows -d '{"type":"cmd", "data":"dir z:"}'
{"status_code": 1,
 "exec_code": "ok",
 "stderr": "The system cannot find the path specified.\r\n"}

Now, invoke a PowerShell script, which in this case is a single-line one to check connection from the remote Windows system to, but it could be much more complex, there are no limitations:

$ curl http://api:password@localhost:11223/windows -d \
  '{"type":"ps", "data":"Test-Connection"}'

This time, both stdout and stderr are returned but because the overall status_code is 0, we know that the invocation was successful.

{"status_code": 0,
 "exec_code": "ok",
  "stdout": "WIN-A3I92B...",
  "stderr": "#< CLIXML\r\n<Objs Version=\"\" ...",

The service is just a starting point and there are a couple ways to extend it:

  • Details of remote servers, including credentials, should be kept separately
  • Permissions, including ACLs, can be added to allow or disallow access to particular commands to selected REST users only

Yet, even in this simple form, it already shows how easy it is to connect to Windows servers and turn remote commands into REST APIs microservices.

On top of it, REST is but one of many formats that Zato supports - one could just as well design workflows around AMQP, ZeroMQ, IBM MQ, FTP or other protocols in addition to REST with no changes to Python code required.