April 20, 2014

Taking control of Office 365 with PowerShell

 

You can’t get under the hood but you can take control.

 

A common objection by some IT people when businesses look to solutions like Microsoft Office 365 is that they will lose control of their systems which is true… to an extent. The question is: why do you need so much control?

As IT people we like to fully understand and control the systems we use. IT professionals are a certain type of human who look at things in a logical order and can work with it. We are generally not fans of the unknown.

As such we like to protect the access we have to IT systems and environments – but this is more to appease ourselves than it is for the benefit of the system we are using. It is common practice for IT people to regularly check server event logs, perform maintenance on systems, kick off procedures and act upon issues when they arise.

When you migrate Microsoft Exchange to Exchange Online under Office 365, IT people are no longer able to “get under the hood”, so to speak. As such it is fairly reasonable that this concept would not be warmly welcomed as the less control an IT person has the more hampered they are in doing their jobs.

One of the misconceptions of Office 365 is that IT professionals no longer have control over the systems, which is largely incorrect. Office 365 customers have no control of any of the underlying infrastructure or operation of the systems. This is true.

However, customers have a great amount of control over their individual Office 365 environments using either the web interface or specifically PowerShell. Both the Office 365 base system (eg. user, group, domain, licence management) and Exchange Online can be controlled on a granular basis thanks to PowerShell.

Some customers actually choose to do all of their Office 365 administration via PowerShell due to its powerful scripting capabilities. I’ve even seen some savvy IT people set up regular scripts to run in PowerShell that provide them with usage reporting and mailbox sizes.

While SharePoint Online and Lync Online don’t have PowerShell access today, this will change.

If you as a business owner have never heard about PowerShell or are not comfortable learning or using it – that’s fine, this is what your IT person and Office 365 partners are for.

Most Microsoft server products now provide greater functionality via PowerShell than via web interfaces or control panels. The control is definitely there. IT people just need to take it.

 

Loryan Strant is a Microsoft Office 365 MVP (Most Valuable Professional). Follow him on Twitter @TheCloudMouth.

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