Office 365 and PowerShell
August 29, 2013 Leave a comment
I’ve been getting back into the weeds of Office 365 of late, building out training materials and preparing for certification. It’s been a bit on the geeky-fun side, but not all the time .. there are a lot of moving parts, and not a lot of time to debug (I do have a real job).
That said, Office 365 Wave 15 (released back in February) has added massive functionality to the web-based administration user interface, bits and pieces that make user, group, security and application administration a (relative) breeze. Of course, there are times when a UI isn’t practical:
- Lots of Users
- Lots of Groups
- Lots of Security settings
.. who needs to lather, rinse, repeat (and repeat, and repeat) when dealing in volumes? Well, no one. Of course, there are several customized administrative tasks you perform that you’ll perform multiple times .. suggesting an automated methodology that befits your organization. For that, there’s PowerShell. Windows PowerShell provides:
- “Cmdlets” for performing common tasks, including access to system-level resources, the Registry, the file system the Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) interfaces (and more!).
- Task-based scripting language support for command-line tools.
- Common syntax and naming conventions, allowing easy flow control between cmdlets: the output from one cmdlet can be used as the input to another cmdlet.
- An extensible interface allowing for custom tools and utilities.
While someone could devote an entire series of articles on PowerShell (or a career!), I’m focusing more on getting PowerShell to streamline Office 365 administrative tasks. The good news: there are lots of cmdlets to perform common on- and off-premises Office 365 tasks from your IT Administrator workstation, but a bit of setup is required. For starts:
- Download and install the Office 365 Sign-in Assistant. Select the 32- or 64-bit version for your workstation.
- Then, you need the Office 365 cmdlets. Select the 32-bit or 64-bit version for your workstation.
- Managing Windows Azure Active Directory for your Office 365 installation? PowerShell can help there with the Windows Azure AD PowerShell Module. The best part? The commands therein are included with the Office 365 cmdlets, above.
From there, it’s time to do some learning .. here’s where I started:
- Windows PowerShell User’s Guide, loaded with real scripts and usage scenarios.
- Getting Started with Windows PowerShell. A solid introduction and tutorial.
Some cool recent releases to extend, and make you more productive:
- Microsoft Virtual Academy: Getting Started with PowerShell 3.0 Jump Start. This course is targeted at IT Professionals to help them use Windows PowerShell for management, automate tasks and manage systems. Jeffrey Snover himself (Microsoft Distinguished Engineer and the inventor of Windows PowerShell) appears in this course.
- Microsoft Virtual Academy: Advanced Tools & Scripting with PowerShell 3.0 Jump Start. This is an advanced Windows PowerShell that helps you learn best patterns and practices for building and maintaining management and automation scripts into reusable tools.
Okay .. all these thoughts captured, it’s back to work for me. Enjoy your foray into PowerShell .. please drop me a note if you see / learn something interesting, or if I may assist.