Managing tenants using Powershell

Whereas Powershell’s implicit security complicates connectivity to remote servers, authentication provides network administrators with utilities that extend far beyond GUI driven interfaces like Exchange Administration Console (EAC). This article explains how to initiate and terminate remote sessions to third party tenants.

When Powershell is properly configured, network administrators need three commands to open a session, and one command to close a session. Once connected, administrators assign a variable to call tenant ID which in turn enables connectivity to client servers.

Opening a Powershell Session

Import-Module MSOnline
$tenID=(get-msolpartnercontract -domain

To terminate a session:

Remove-PSSession $Session

Connection script

An unsigned script which automates the commands above and additionally calls the snap-in module for Exchange is available at ComStat’s Script page. If loaded to local drive c:\script, the Powershell command looks like:


To test the snap-ins are loaded on sign in, run this command:


Remember to sign out of sessions using

Remove-PSSession $Session.

Explanation & Concepts

Administrators can handle common management function with Office 365 and Exchange control panels. Occasionally, delegated network administrators need to configure client side processes that Office 365 and EAC does not provide for. Also, Powershell can run one command across several servers simultaneously.

For guidance on Microsoft’s current provisions for advanced management of client tenancies, check here.

Windows PowerShell cmdlets for Office 365

Before using Powershell with Office 365 for the first time, Powershell needs some utilities.  Users need to install “MS Online Service Sign-in Assistant for IT Professionals”. Also, the commands that Powershell relies on for Office 365 management are housed in “Azure Active Directory Module for Windows Powershell”. Follow the guidance here to install these services. Another useful download is “Windows PowerShell Module for Lync Online” here.

Cmdlt modules do not install directly into Powershell. Instead, these “snap-ins” sit in a separate directory and called when they are needed for sessions. Modules are managed this way to enable users to rapidly update Powershell’s main cmdlt library, which is updated frequently and is available for download by running this update command:

update-help -force

Using Powershell as a tenant’s global administrator

Delegated administrators can login to client tenants with a tenant’s global administrator credentials if they are available. From a security standpoint, this is not good practice. However, to test Powershell is adequately equipped and session execution policy permissions (more about this below) are properly set, it is worth running a simple script to test the Powershell. For instance, the following script can be used to view basic tenant information on either or The script, together with other scripts listed in this article, are available at ComStat’s Sharepoint script site.


– more information about this script is available here. At time of writing, this script is unsigned. Depending on your Powershell environment, you may need to run this command:

Set-ExecutionPolicy Unrestricted

Powershell imposes a strict security policy. The policy requires scripts to be “trusted”, and by default Powershell will not execute unsigned scripts. Signing scripts can be done within Powershell. This prevents scripts being tampered with, for example with additional commands that may be malicious. Since the scripts used here are short and can be quickly previewed, another approach when opening Powershell is to run the following command:

Set-ExecutionPolicy Unrestricted

For access to a client’s tenant, follow the guidance below.

Establishing a remote Session

Open Powershell and run the following commands:

Import-Module MSOnline

When prompted, enter the credentials that you use to log into Office 365 portal (MOP) and that allow you to manage Office 365 on behalf of your customers.

Once logged in to Caistar or Comstation, the session will provide for connectivity to other servers to which delegated administration is granted. Commands are run as if executing on the administrator’s server, however each command is programmed to call a variable which points to the target server.

$tenID=(get-msolpartnercontract -domain

In this case, we establish a variable called “tenantID”. The variable is assigned using the command $tenID= and then a sub routine is executed to call the client’s tenant ID by reference to the domain name associated with the account. Office 365 tenant IDs are longer than credit card numbers, so by calling the tenant ID from client’s domain name and then calling the output “tenantID”, this saves a lot of keystrokes. Here is an example, using (tenant ID = acc617f5-9d4a-4ea9-8823-2385e7d5271a)

$tenID=(get-msolpartnercontract -domain

Succesful command execution returns the user to the command prompt. From now, on, commands executed with -tenantID $tenID will execute functions on client servers. To test connectivity, try running this command after assigning a client to a variable to find users on a client server:

get-msoluser -tenantID $tenID

The important point to understand is that Powershell executes commands on a tenant ID, not a domain name. Also, the variable that references the client’s tenant ID must be called with each command, or commands will be executed on the host server. Lastly, by assigning multiple tenant IDs to one variable, administrators can simultaneously run one command across multiple servers and compile output in either formatted tables or even .html. In this way, tasks that might take hours or days can be run in seconds.

Exchange Commands

List Office 365 users:

get-msoluser -tenantID $tenID

Change a user password which never expires:

Set-MsolUser -UserPrincipalName -PasswordNeverExpires $true -tenantID $tenID

Test password change:

Get-MSolUser -UserPrincipalName -tenantID $tenID |

Office 365 Message Encryption – configuration

This article explains how to configure Exchange Online for Office 365 Message Encryption. Office 365 Message Encryption is an encryption system delivered via Microsoft’s Information Rights Management (IRM) framework using “transport rules”. When emails meeting criteria, for instance subject headers, are met, the encryption service is run on outgoing email. This means users do not have to deploy services on individual hosts to use encryption services. As long as one or more metrics meet established criteria, email sent from any device will be encrypted when it is processed by the server.

Please read the whole article before beginning work. Configured hosts can be used to manage customers’ servers provided the network administrator has a customer’s global administrator rights.

Powershell users may like to approach this manually, however using the automated approach set out here, users avoid the problem of having to configure a “Trusted Publishing Domain“. Without a Trusted Publishing Domain, IRM services cannot be enabled manually.

Office 365 Message Encryption relies on IRM services which in turn depend on Azure Directory Services (ADS) which is available with E* subscriptions, and possibly with Business Premium. ADS must still be manually activated by going to: Admin – Office 365 – Service Settings – Rights Management.

Once Azure Directory Services are active, IRM can be enabled on Exchange Online Server in a one-off modification, and then users can establish “rules” for Microsoft Office 365 Message Encryption in Admin – Exchange – Mail Flow – Rules.

Workstation Prerequisites:

Office 365 Message Encryption requires IRM services to be enabled on Exchange Online. Although ADS is enabled using the portal, IRM is enabledd via a Powershell remote session to invoke a script provided by Microsoft called EnableIRMforEXO. The remote session requires the four applications to be installed on the local host:

Install the applications in the order listed. Note also that Powershell (PS) mus run in Administrator mode.

PS runs in a restricted mode by default that prohibits the execution of unsigned scripts. If PS has not been modified, users will typically get a PS error message like:

File C:\Common\Scripts\hello.ps1 cannot be loaded because the execution of scripts is disabled on this system. Please see “get-help about_signing” for more details.
At line:1 char:13
+ .\hello.ps1 <<<<
+ CategoryInfo : NotSpecified: (:) [], PSSecurityException
+ FullyQualifiedErrorId : RuntimeException

To enable scripting, open PS and run the following command. This is a one time command, and can be disabled.

set-executionpolicy remotesigned

Enabling IRM on Exchange Online

Using the unzipped script – EnableIRMforEXO – Powershell establishes a remote session with Exchange Online Server, and on confirmation of location and user credentials, executes the necessary server modifications. The command can be fully executed with strings for “location” and “get-credentials”, however the cmdlet works more reliably if it is left to call for location and credentials itself. These instructions assume the script is installed in c:\scripts\

  • open Powershell
  • enter c:\scripts\EnableIRMforEXO
  • when prompted for location, input European Union
  • complete when prompted for user name etc.

The process will execute and return results. This should be adequate for enabling Office 365 Message Encryption.

Exchange Online Protection – EOP

Microsoft Exchange Online Protection (EOP) is a cloud-based email filtering service that helps protect Exchange users against spam and malware. EOP includes tools to safeguard organizations from messaging-policy violations. EOP runs within Microsoft data centres as a bundled provision for licensed Office 365 and Exchange users reducing problematic customer bandwidth risks, protecting email before delivery to all user devices, and simplifying the management of on-premise messaging environments and alleviating inherent costs that come with maintaining conventional on-premises hardware and software.

Microsoft Exchange EOP Features:

  • Eliminates threats before they reach your business firewall with multi-layered, real-time anti-spam and multi-engine anti-malware protection.
  • No extra hardware or software installation – EOP is a bundled service and runs from data centre, managing email before it is delivered to user devices.
  • Protects your company’s IP reputation by using separate outbound delivery pools for high-risk email.
  • Provides 5 financially backed SLAs, including protection from 100% of known viruses and 99% of spam.
  • Active content, connection, and flexible policy-based filtering enables compliance with corporate policies and public sector/IT departmental governance.
  • Leverages a globally load-balanced network of data centres helps to ensure a 99.999% network uptime.
  • Managed and administered from the Exchange Administration Centre with a single web-based interface.
  • Near real-time reporting and message trace capabilities provide insight into email environments by retrieving the status of any message that Exchange Online Protection processes.
  • Available to non-Exchange users.




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