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The new SharePoint Online Administration Center—more customer control

Hi, I’m Kate Everitt, a Program Manager in SharePoint Online. I’m going to share insight about how to manage the new SharePoint Online environment while highlighting key features of the new SharePoint Online Administration Center. I’ll then ask Phil Newman, a Program Manager on my team, to discuss how to automate SharePoint Online management tasks using remote Windows PowerShell.

The SharePoint Online Admin Center is evolving, and in the upcoming release we will introduce significant improvements in management, including configuration of Search, Apps, Project Online (if purchased), IRM, External Sharing, Start a Site, and more. We will touch on a few new scenarios below.

SharePoint Online Admin is embedded within the Office 365 management capabilities

The SharePoint Online Administration Center, included in the Office 365 Midmarket and Enterprise plans, is one part of the overall administration experience for Office 365, alongside the Exchange Online and Lync Online Administration Centers. You also perform certain tasks, like creating new users and assigning licenses, from within the global level of the Office 365 Administration Center.

What’s new?

The first thing you’ll notice about the new SharePoint Online Administration Center is its new look and feel—consistent across all of Office 365. We’ve also added a navigation bar across the top, which makes SharePoint sites and content more accessible as well as access to the other admin centers you have permissions to.

Access to various workloads and administration centers 

Figure 1. Access to various workloads and administration centers

Sharing

We’ve added more control over how sites are used and shared. The sharing setting allows administrators to choose whether site collections are for internal access only, or enabled for external sharing—this is called External Access. It is now possible to share individual documents via the new feature referred to as Guest Links, which enable both authenticated and anonymous methods of sharing Office documents. The new sharing features make it easier for teams to work with people and groups outside their company, while site administrators can make sure access to data remains secure.

To read more, please see the previous “Sharing – simplified” blog post by our colleague, Gaurav Doshi.  

Three levels of external sharing 

Figure 2. Notice the three levels of external sharing: all off, External Access of sites only, and enabled anonymous Guest Links

Search

A series of new search options make an appearance in SharePoint Online for the first time, which previously could be used only from inside the search service in Central Admin. You can manage search schema, dictionaries, and result sources, and remove search results you don’t want. The new features give you control over how search queries act in your SharePoint Online environment and also enable you to import search configurations.

To read more, see the article What’s new in search in SharePoint Server 2013.

Apps

One of the big investments this release is our new Cloud app model. Here, you can set up a corporate catalog to provide internal apps for your company, buy new apps, and manage and monitor how apps are to be consumed by your company and employees. To read more about the new Cloud app model, visit http://dev.office.com.  

Site collection management

The easiest way to manage site collections is through the site collections list in the SharePoint Administration Center. This will allow you to create, delete, and manage quota and upgrade for site collections.

The main site collection management page 

Figure 3. The main site collection management page

 

For those customers who have a lot of sites and are looking for a more powerful way to control them, I’m now going to turn this article over to Phil Newman, who will tell you about the new, faster way to handle your SharePoint Online tenancy.

Introducing the SharePoint Online Management Shell

The new SharePoint Online has an all-new Windows PowerShell module for admins to manage their sites and users! Windows PowerShell unlocks a lot of new scenarios, including bulk site creation and upgrade, and better quota management and reporting.

The basics

To get started, download the SharePoint Online Management Shell. After you’ve installed the shell, you’re ready to start.

Given that you are running the SharePoint Online Management Shell on a computer that is not in SharePoint Online, you have to start each session by connecting to your SharePoint Online environment. To do that, use the Connect-SPOService cmdlet.  You always connect to the SharePoint Online Administration Center URL.

To connect, run this script in the SharePoint Online Management Shell:

Connect-SPOService –url https://mytenant-admin.sharepoint.com

If you want to get fancy, you can also put credentials into the script. Be sure you protect files that have passwords in them.

$username = ‘admin@contoso.onmicrosoft.com’
$password = ‘MyPassword123′
$cred = New-Object -TypeName System.Management.Automation.PSCredential -argumentlist
$userName, $(convertto-securestring $Password -asplaintext -force)
Connect-SPOService –url https://contoso-admin.sharepoint.com –credential $cred

What can you do in Windows PowerShell?

We found that most of the activity in the SharePoint Online Administration center was around site management. As a result, we focused the new Windows PowerShell functionality on those scenarios. In Windows PowerShell, you can:

  • Create sites
  • Manage quotas
  • Upgrade sites
  • Manage site owners and admins
  • Manage permissions and groups

For detailed documentation, see the article Introduction to the SharePoint Online Management Shell.

Here are some details about a few handy scenarios:

Getting a list of all your sites

One of the common requests we get from large customers is for a way to get a list of all their sites and the characteristics of their sites.  Using Windows PowerShell, it’s easy:

  1. Make sure you’re connected.
  2. Run “Get-SPOSite”

Windows PowerShell can actually create a CSV you can open in Excel in just one line. In one line, just run this:

Get-SPOSite | Export-CSV –path MyReport.csv

Results returned with Windows PowerShell showing all site collections using the Get - SPOSite command 

Figure 4. Results returned within Windows PowerShell showing all site collections using the Get-SPOSite command

Bulk site upgrade

Current Office 365 customers get full control over when their sites get upgraded to the new experience. Site owners will be able to upgrade individual site collections from within the SharePoint Online user interface (UI), but SharePoint Online Administrators will have the additional choice of upgrading site collections through Windows PowerShell—one at a time or in bulk.

To upgrade all of your sites from the SharePoint 2010 (14) UI and features to SharePoint 2013 UI (15), simply iterate through all “14” mode sites using a script like this one:

$14ModeSites = Get-SPOSite -limit all –detailed | Where-Object {$_.CompatibilityLevel – eq 14}
$14ModeSites | % {Upgrade-SPOSite -identity $_.url -VersionUpgrade}

Reporting

As you deploy hundreds of sites, Windows PowerShell can help you get a good picture of what’s in your Office 365 environment. A slight variation on the script you used to get a list of all your sites can be used to get usage data.

Here is the new line that will give you more information. It can work with hundreds or thousands of sites.

Get-SPOSite –limit all –detailed | Export-CSV –path MyReport.csv

You’ll notice two changes:

  • The use of “-limit all”. By default, Get-SPOSite returns up to only 200 sites. Using “-limit all” gets you all of them.
  • The use of “–detailed”. We’ve optimized Get-SPOSite for speed by retrieving only properties that we can get quickly by default. There are a few properties that won’t come back unless you run in “-detailed” mode.  Those properties are:
    • CompatabilityLevel
    • ResourceUsageCurrent
    • ResourceUsageAverage
    • StorageUsageCurrent
    • WebCount
    • Title

Now that you have a CSV of all of the properties, you can see how your usage quota is being consumed in your office 365 environment and make adjustments as necessary.

Windows PowerShell for SharePoint Command Builder

To make it easier to build out a variety of Windows PowerShell commands for SharePoint Online, we’ve designed a web-based tool named the Windows PowerShell for SharePoint Command Builder. (Note: To see all relevant SharePoint Online commands, select SharePoint Online from the Products drop-down list.) This tool can help you visualize what actions you want to take and dynamically build a Windows PowerShell command that you can copy into your management session.

Main screen of the Windows PowerShell for SharePoint Command Builder when you select SharePoint Online from the Products drop-down menu 

Figure 5. Main screen of the Windows PowerShell for SharePoint Command Builder when you select SharePoint Online from the Products drop-down menu

SharePoint Online Admin and the Cloud app model

All of the functionality we have in Windows PowerShell is available in the Cloud app model too!  I’m not going to go into too much detail in this blog post, but we’ve made sure that you already have everything you need to use the SharePoint Online Administration APIs when you have SharePoint developer tools. In any SharePoint client object model (CSOM) project, just add a reference to Microsoft.Online.SharePoint.client.dll and you’re all set.  The only caveat is that your app has to request and be granted tenant permissions.

Wrapping up

We’re excited to present the new features and improvements in the SharePoint Online Administration Center. We’ve focused heavily on consistency across all of Office 365, invested in the features you requested, and made it possible to automate common tasks by using Windows PowerShell. Try it all out and keep the feedback coming!