Office 365 and PowerShell

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:

Some cool recent releases to extend, and make you more productive:

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.

About Michael Coates
I am a pragmatic evangelist. The products, services and solutions I write about fulfill real-world expectations and use cases. I stay up-to-date on real products I use and review, and share my thoughts here. I apply the same lens when designing an architecture, product or when writing papers. I am always looking for ways that technology can create or enhance a business opportunity .. not just technology for technology's sake. My CV says: Seasoned technology executive, leveraging years of experience with enterprise and integration architectural patterns, executed with healthy doses of business acumen and pragmatism. That's me. My web site says: Technology innovations provide a myriad of opportunities for businesses. That said, having the "latest and greatest" for its own sake isn't always a recipe for success. Business successes gained through exploiting innovation relies on analysis of how the new features will enhance your business followed by effective implementation. Goals vary far and wide: streamlining operations, improving customer experience, extending brand, and many more. In all cases, you must identify and collect the metrics you can apply to measure your success. Analysis must be holistic and balanced: business and operational needs must be considered when capitalizing on a new technology asset or opportunity.

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