A command-line and scripting tool for system administration, PowerShell is both a powerful and potentially dangerous utility. Through PowerShell, an administrator is able to control and automate administrative processes across almost any Microsoft product, including cloud-based services and server-side applications. Using PowerShell with Office 365 requires a privileged user account with the appropriate permissions in addition to membership into the Global Admins group. As the Global Admins group adds administrative control to all features in Office 365, your PowerShell team should be restricted to those individuals who have the technological knowledge to use it safely.
Microsoft Online (MSOL) PowerShell for Office 365
Intended for use by an Office 365 admins or power users, the MSOL PowerShell Module (also known as the MSOL PowerShell cmdlets) can be used for the purposes of administration, management, and reporting. However, because they are unique to Office 365, a user will need to review the available cmdlets to learn more about the capabilities available in the module. Other Office 365 Services like Exchange Online, have different PowerShell commands, so multiple modules may need to be downloaded and installed. It should also be noted that many tasks simply cannot be done with PowerShell and so 3rd party tools often become necessary.
What is Microsoft Graph API for Programmers?
Microsoft also provides a web services API for Azure and Office 365 products called Micrsoft Graph. In those cases where PowerShell cannot be used to accomplish a task that capability may be exposed through the Micrsoft Graph Service. A big benefit to Microsoft Graph is that can be used by programmers to perform administrative tasks across many Microsoft Platforms simultaneously. The drawback is that there is no PowerShell Interface for it so it isn’t be used by administrators who only know PowerShell. Cayosoft provides a Free PowerShell Module for performing tasks through the Microsoft Graph API. The module can be downloaded here: Cayosoft cGraph Module for PowerShell.
5 Reasons IT Professionals Use PowserShell for Office 365
The MSOL PowerShell Module or Office 365 offers an extraordinary amount of administrative control through cmdlets and PowerShell modules. While some of this control can be accessed differently, PowerShell is the most efficient and effective method. With this administrative control, you get:
- Additional ways to get and filter information for an Office 365 tenant. PowerShell is great at filtering data. By using the right cmdlets with the proper modifiers, you can get information just like querying a database. As an example, you might request a list of the users in your system who are of a certain type and who live in a specific city.
- Data exporting for simple custom reports. In the Admin Center, it can be difficult to create and then print a list. With Office 365 PowerShell, it’s possible to export the results of any PowerShell list or query on a Windows server as a CSV file. Once the CSV file has been exported, it can be printed. It can also be imported into another database or otherwise formatted or analyzed. The ability to create custom reports on-the-fly can make it easier to manage a system as a whole.
- Manage Microsoft 365 services with one scripting tool. You can use PowerShell to consolidate information among multiple products. As an example, when you create a new user in Office 365, you can have the information automatically imported into Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, and Skype for business Online. This will not work for all Office 365 applications, but it will work for many, simplifying the amount of administration that needs to be completed. You can also use the PowerShell scripting tool to automate more complex tasks, such as running specific utilities at intervals.
- Bulk operations. Rather than having to manually perform bulk operations, an administrator can instead use the Office 365 PowerShell. With the right commands, the Office 365 PowerShell will queue up complete bulk operations as directed. Without the cmdlet, it may be necessary to manually change accounts through the Office 365 Admin center. This is especially useful for bulk actions that need to take place repeatedly or at a given time; the administrator can save these bulk operations within a script and then run these operations as needed.
- Additional features and configurations. Some settings that may need to be changed may not be available in the Office 365 Teams Admin Center. Through Office 365 PowerShell, you can configure nearly all settings with cmdlets. An administrator can customize their installation of Office 365 with PowerShell cmdlets, or use PowerShell configurations to store PowerShell scripts which both define and configure instances of resources. Administrators can further use solutions like the Microsoft Online Services Sign-In Assistant to extend the utility of their infrastructure.
These are only a few of the advanced benefits to using PowerShell for Office 365. PowerShell provides robust command line control over the Office 365 utilities, in addition to a large subset of commands and modules that can be leveraged for more efficient administration.
When you use PowerShell to connect to Office 365, you can extend your ability to manage your organization’s IT services with a command line. This does come with risks that could become career altering if you are not extremely careful. Of course, it’s important to understand both the benefits and the potential dangers of PowerShell before using it to manage Office 365. When properly used, PowerShell can help with quick-simple tasks and thereby reduce the workload on Sr. Administrators. When improperly used, it could cause system instability and worse – potential outages and data corruption.