Microsoft Office 365 Group Based Licensing

In February Microsoft announced the public preview of Azure AD group based licenses. The caveat it was only available for tenants with Azure AD basic and above not only that the dynamic group feature was available for tenants with Azure AD Premium subscriptions.  That being said once it goes GA it will be available to E3 and equivalent licensed tenants. I am a half full kinda guy!

While working on a large Exchange Migration I decided to test it out. The issue, well I did not have any AD groups that I could honestly rely on for the several type of Office 365 licenses that I was issuing.

Prior to this feature I was populating a custom attribute in AD, cutting over mailboxes and then licensing based on the custom attribute via Power Shell. This method worked but wasn’t as efficient as I would have liked it to be.

The solution was to create the unique groups and add the appropriate users in these groups. I did some searching on the web and came up line below thanks to TechNet.

Get-ADUser -SearchBase ‘OU=Sales,OU=EasternUS,DC=TechKrag,DC=com’ -Filter * | ForEach-Object {Add-ADGroupMember -Identity ‘O365-SalesLicenses’ -Members $_ }

I did this for each license type included the proper restrictions on the O365 License side such as removed Yammer, etc., following the Azure instructions here.

Once AD synced to Azure AD the users were now licensed! Group based licensing not only saved time it makes the future management of licenses and features simple and easy.  If you need to add or remove a product from a group simply make a change in one location and all members of the group will update with the change, etc..

This was a long time coming and some may say perhaps overdue! Either way I am glad its here and we can take advantage of it.

If you are passionate about O365 let your voice be heard by Microsoft visit the user voice page and get to voting or adding suggestions. 

 

Skype for Business Organization

Many of us have multiple computers, a laptop and desktop or multiples of each. When maintaining the Skype for Business list his can present a problem. On premises Skype for Business will not automatically sync your contacts list and groups across computers. This did not seem to be an issue I worried about. Then I spent some time organizing my list into logical groups on my laptop. When I logged into my desktop, it did not match! Perhaps there is another administrative way to correct this issue. Full disclaimer I am not a Skype Administrator. I approached my solution from a users perspective.

The solution was to find a way to replicate the changes. Trying to sort out where the list was stored proved not as straight forward as I thought. It wasn’t easily accessible via the application itself in the options area, etc.

I decided to find a way to solve my issue. What I ended up with seems like a simple solution that anyone can perform. In fact it can be taken to the next level in combination with One Drive for Business  or your cloud storage solution of choice in order to automatically sync the folders. That being said I will share my findings.

In my case I am using Microsoft Office 2016 and I navigated to the following path.

c:\users\username\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Office\16.0\Lync

Notice below how the final folder reads Lync and not Skype.

Skype for Business Path

Once there, I simply copied the sip_ folders in to my target computer. I copied the folder to the same path and name. I allowed an override and that is all there is to it. Now both my Skype for Business clients have the same list.

I hope this helps resolve a small but pestering issue with Skype for Business on premises. I am have not ventured to confirm if this issues also exist in Skype for Business online but if it does I am pretty sure the solution will be the same. Please share any similar solutions you may have. I am looking forward to hearing them.

Exchange Migrations with Power BI Help

When migrated users in Exchange it is imperative to ensure that shared mailboxes are migrated along with its assigned users or the permissions will not work. When migrating, it is always good to get a grasp on how many Shared mailboxes are in the organization. What a better way than by using Power BI Visualization to help in understanding the magnitude of the task at hand. The results are simple and intuitive.

I like to use the Bubble Visualization created by Dharminder Kumar Dhanda located here. This visualization encodes data in circles. In this application the bigger the bubble the more users have access to the shared mailbox. Thank you Mr. Dhanda for sharing your custom visualization with the Power BI Community.

Now to the guide!

First we need the CSV, from the exchange management shell we run the following command.

Get-Mailbox -resultsize unlimited | Get-MailboxPermission | where {$_.user.tostring() -ne "NT AUTHORITY\SELF" -and $_.IsInherited -eq $false} | Select Identity,User,@{Name='Access Rights';Expression={[string]::join(', ', $_.AccessRights)}} | Export-Csv mailboxpermissions.csv -NoTypeInformation

Next, we need to load the CSV as a data set.

Get Source Data

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Once you have chosen the file you will notice that the column names do not match. We will fix this issue on the next step.

Select Edit.  3

Now we will need to select Transform and select Use First Row As Headers.

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Below the headers have been corrected but our Access Rights column has unwanted data. In this case its not much but in some cases its messy.

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We will cleanse our data by using the Split Column feature.

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We will use the Comma as the delimiter and split using the “At the left most delimiter” option.

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After the split occurs you will notice two things.

  • There is an additional column that contains the additional data.
  • The original Access Rights column has been renamed.

We do not need the new column thus it can be removed. Ensure you review the column carefully, sometimes the first feature is not “FullAccess” but “DeleteItem”, this seems to happen randomly and it not immediate noticeable. This can be corrected by filtering and using the “Does not Equal” filter on the “DeleteItem”.

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The next step is to close and apply the changes.

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The data is now fit for our reporting. The Query window will close and the Reporting window becomes the active window. While in the reporting window please import the visualization we downloaded at the beginning of this guide.

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Once the new visualization has been imported, select it and it will appear on the reporting window.

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From the reporting window chose the Mailbox column as the first feature then the users as the values feature.

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Lets change the Title!

Change Title

We should see some progress now! At this point we can see the mailbox name and if we select it the number of users will access is displayed.

That is pretty exciting but we want to know who these users with access are. We can accomplish this by using the built in Matrix Visualization.

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For the Matrix Visualization we must ensure that Mailbox feature is first then the User feature 2nd in the Rows section.

 

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Now we can see the users that pertain to the Mailbox select or we can view them all at once.

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Another option is to add a slicer which would allow the selection of more than one Mailbox at once for those who like to select multiple mailboxes at once.

This guide can be adapted for Public Folders, etc.

I hope this guide is useful and aid in communicating to peers, layman and of course the corporate folks.

 

For Microsoft Partners Only

Information Technology departments across the globe have started are in the initial stages of moving any one part of their infrastructure services to the cloud. Microsoft has taken the world by storm with Office 365. I must admit at first, like many IT professionals, I was hesitant to move to Office 365.  After learning more about I decided to get O365 certified. This brought a set of challenges, I realized I do not have a test environment! At first it wasn’t much of an issue. I would test things out with trial accounts, not a bad idea 25 users, etc. Not a bad idea but it was getting old quickly!

The solution

My employer was a Microsoft Partner and as a partner there are benefits. One of these not so well known benefits is the Office 365 Demo Site! This site allows the creation of up to 6 tenants. It has changes over time, they use to allow the license category selections and the term for a tenant was 6 months before it was automatically removed. The new terms is 3 months for automatic deletion of tenants and one license scheme. Either way it is a great place to for testing.

Below is a quick guide on how to get started.

Step 1 – Sign In

Visit the Demo Site and sign in.

Microsoft Demos

Microsoft Demo

Step 2 – Create Tenant

Once signed in you will be taken to the dashboard, in Home and under My Demo Environments you will have the option to “Create a New Demo Environment”, click on the + sign.

Microsoft Partner Demo

Step 3 – Chose Tenant type and/or Industry

You will see the options for tenant creations, sometimes there are many options. I think it depends on what Microsoft is pushing for the year. Not long ago it they had all Enterprise Tiers even the E5.

When I took this screen shot I only had the one shown below.

Microsoft Partner Demo

Select the tenant type.

Microsoft Partner Demo

Under Industry you have more options.

Microsoft Partner Demo

Once you select one select finish at this prompt.

Microsoft Partner Demo

Step 4 Take note of you tenant name

After it completes you will be taken to the Dashboard were you will be provided with the tenant domain name, administrator account and password. The tenant domain name is where the green dot is located in the screen shot below.

Microsoft Partner Demo

That is all there is to it. Now you can test, demo, etc with a real live Office 365 Tenant without the need of 30 trials.