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Office 365 Administration Portals and PowerShell Connections

Office 365 is a cloud service that is made up of many different underlying services that are integrated together, such as Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, and Skype for Business Online. With so many different services in place, unifying administration into a single portal doesn’t make much sense. Such a portal would be complex, confusing to use, and would limit the ability of the product groups that develop each individual service to optimize and improve their own admin experiences.

As such, there’s a variety of admin portals that we need to use for administering Office 365 services, and several different PowerShell connections that are used as well.

Office 365 Administration Portals

Office 365 has multiple web-based administration portals that you can access using any modern web browser such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Microsoft Edge.

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  • Office 365 Admin Portal – this is the main portal for managing an Office 365 tenant, providing admin controls for a variety of common tasks such as managing users, groups, and billing, as well as other features such as the Service Health Dashboard. The URL is https://portal.office.com/adminportal
  • Exchange Admin Center – the EAC for Exchange Online delivers a similar administration experience as the on-premises Exchange Admin Center, and provides more detailed administration for Exchange Online configuration and recipients. The URL is https://outlook.office365.com/ecp
  • Skype for Business Online Admin Center – the SfBO Admin Center lets you manage your Skype users, external communications settings, voice services, and online meetings. The URL for the SfB Admin Center will vary depending on your tenant location, but you can locate it in the Office 365 Admin Portal. An example URL is https://adminau1.online.lync.com
  • SharePoint Online Admin Center – the SPO Admin Center lets you manage SharePoint online site and site collections, permissions, and apps. The URL for the SPO Admin Center will vary depending on your tenant name, and you can locate it in the Office 365 Admin Portal. An example URL is https://exchangeserverpro-admin.sharepoint.com
  • Security and Compliance Center – the S&C Center provides a portal for managing compliance features in Office 365 that span multiple services, such as data loss prevention (DLP), eDiscovery and mobile device management (MDM). The URL is https://protection.office.com
  • Yammer – the Yammer admin portal can be used to activate your Yammer network, customize the appearance, manage users and policies, and perform community management tasks. The URL for the Yammer admin portal will vary based on your tenant domain. An example URL is https://www.yammer.com/practical365.com/admin/
  • Azure – the Azure management portal is used to administrator Azure Active Directory and other Azure services for your tenant, or for separate Azure subscriptions that your organization also has. If you access the Azure portal from the Office 365 Admin Center it currently sends you to the URL https://manage.windowsazure.com, however the Azure portal is moving to a new experience at https://portal.azure.com which you can begin using today.
  • Intune – the Intune portal allows you to manage your Intune mobile device and application policies. The current Intune portal can be found at the URL https://manage.microsoft.com/, which also requires Silverlight be installed for your browser, but in future Intune management will be performed using the Azure portal instead.
  • OneDrive for Business – the ODfB Admin Portal allows you to manage and control OneDrive sync, sharing and device access settings. The URL is https://admin.onedrive.com.
  • StaffHub – the StaffHub portal allows team managers to create and publish schedules, and invite team members to StaffHub. The URL is https://staffhub.office.com/admin.

Office 365 PowerShell Connections

Although the web-based administration portals for Office 365 and various services provide most of the functionality you need for day to day admin tasks, some tasks require you to use PowerShell instead. In addition, PowerShell is a more efficient means of performing bulk administration tasks, or for performing tasks that require changes in multiple Office 365 services.

Office 365/Azure AD

Many Office 365 tasks such as user and licensing management, adding and removing domain names, and managing company information in PowerShell are performed using the Azure Active Directory Module for Windows PowerShell, which is supported on Windows 7 and later client operating systems and Windows Server 2008 R2 and later. Using the Azure Active Directory module depends on the Microsoft Online Service Sign-in Assistant for IT Professionals being installed on the same computer.

To connect to Azure Active Directory run the following PowerShell commands:

The PowerShell commands for the Azure AD are prefixed with Msol, for example Get-MsolUser. You can see the full list of commands by running the following command:

Microsoft has released a new Azure AD PowerShell module which is currently in preview, available in the PowerShell Gallery. This module will eventually replace the current Azure AD module, but is still in rapid development. So while you can begin using it, you might not have the most reliable experience with it just yet. However, if you are developing scripts based on the current module, you’ll need to get ready to update your scripts with the different cmdlet names of the new module, which are prefixed with AzureAD, but aren’t a direct 1:1 match in terms of functionality.

Exchange Online

Exchange Online can be managed using PowerShell without installing any additional modules, as long as you have at least PowerShell version 3.0 installed. Windows 10 and Windows Server 2012 or later already meet the minimum requirements for connecting to Exchange Online with PowerShell. If you’re still using Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2 for administration, you’ll need to update to at least .NET Framework 4.5.1 and then install the Windows Management Framework (WMF) 3.0 or later.

To connect to Exchange Online run the following PowerShell commands:

Skype for Business Online

Skype for Business Online can be managed using PowerShell by installing the Skype for Business Online PowerShell Module. To connect to Skype for Business Online, run the following PowerShell commands:

Skype for Business Online cmdlets are prefixed with CsOnline, for example Get-CsOnlineUser. You can see the full list of available cmdlets by running the following command:

SharePoint Online

SharePoint Online can be managed using PowerShell by installing the SharePoint Online Management Shell. To connect to SharePoint Online, run the following PowerShell commands:

You’ll need to subsitute your own admin URL in the command above.

Sharepoint Online cmdlets are prefixed with SPO, for example Get-SPOSite. You can see the full list of available cmdlets by running the following command:

Security and Compliance Center

The Security and Compliance Center can be managed using PowerShell without installing any additional modules. You can connect to the Security and Compliance Center by running the following PowerShell commands:

The Security and Compliance Center has a range of cmdlets for different tasks such as managing DLP, preservation policies, and eDiscovery cases. You can see the full list of cmdlets on TechNet.

PowerShell Scripts and Tools

For PowerShell administration of Office 365 services there are some additional scripts and tools that are a useful addition to your toolbox.

  • Managing Stored Credentials – this set of functions can be added to your PowerShell profile, or to scripts that you write, and allows you to securely manage different sets of administrator credentials for Office 365.
  • Connect to Office 365 Services – this script by MVP Michel de Rooij contains a set of PowerShell functions to make it simpler to connect to individual Office 365 services.
Paul is a Microsoft MVP for Office Servers and Services. He works as a consultant, writer, and trainer specializing in Office 365 and Exchange Server. Paul is a co-author of Office 365 for IT Pros and several other books, and is also a Pluralsight author.
Category: Blog

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