Garage Series for Office 365: PowerShell basics and the space race

On this week’s show Jeremy Chapman is joined by scripting guy, Greg Stemp, to introduce PowerShell for managing Office 365. Jeremy and Greg explain when PowerShell makes sense compared to the user interface and describe the basics of how PowerShell works. Then Jeremy puts PowerShell to the test at NASA in Houston by attempting to add 150 users into Office 365 within the 8 minutes it took the space shuttle to reach orbit.

Today we kick off a two-part series to introduce PowerShell for Office 365 management. When we were developing show ideas for the Garage Series, the number one requested topic in the Office 365 technical community in Yammer and among our Microsoft MVPs was PowerShell. That wasn’t a huge surprise for us because as we’ve been talking to IT pros who have migrated to Office 365 and even those running huge Exchange and SharePoint infrastructures themselves, in many cases people either want to spend more time learning or are already using PowerShell as a primary management tool.

Why PowerShell? It’s ultimately about saving time and doing things you often can’t do easily or at all in the user interface. So if you have been putting off learning PowerShell, today is a great day to start!

For this show, we brought in an original member of the Hey, Scripting Guy team, Greg Stemp. He’s a master of many scripting languages and helped us break down the best cases for using PowerShell.

HeyScriptingGuy

While the graphical user interface (GUI) in Office 365 is powerful itself, there are several practical uses for PowerShell even in day-to-day management of Office 365, including:

  1. Bulk task automation
  2. Getting information you need with multiple filters or pre-defined reports
  3. Saving queried list or reporting data to a file
  4. Controls not present in the GUI, such as Office Message 365 Encryption

PowerShell is really the foundation for the browser-based experiences in Office 365 and these controls extend to private Exchange, SharePoint, Lync, Active Directory environments and beyond. We explain the basics for PowerShell syntax, how the verbs and nouns used are more consistent than other command line tools and how multiple commands (aka “cmdlets”) can be strung together do powerful tasks. We also explain the modular approach of PowerShell and which modules you would download to manage Office 365 services.

After getting the basics out of the way, we then put PowerShell to the test while in Houston, Texas, to see if we could get 150 users into an Office 365 environment with access to email, Office 365 ProPlus and other services within the 8 and half minutes it would take the Space Shuttle to reach orbit.

spaceshuttle

You’ll want to check out the show to see how that turned out and if we were able to do what would have otherwise taken around 5-6 hours to manually enter the information via the browser in the Office 365 admin center. On our next show we dive a bit deeper into the topic and demonstrate how PowerShell is used with daily management and reporting tasks.

See you next week!

Jeremy Chapman

More resources

Manage Office 365 with Windows PowerShell (TechNet)

Garage Series Video Channel

Garage Series Season 1 Blog Archive

Follow @OfficeGarage on Twitter

Office 365 Garage Series Apps for Windows Phone and Windows 8

About the Garage Series hosts

By day, Jeremy Chapman works at Microsoft, responsible for optimizing the future of Office client and service delivery as the senior deployment lead. Jeremy’s background in application compatibility, building deployment automation tools and infrastructure reference architectures has been fundamental to the prioritization of new Office enterprise features such as the latest Click-to-Run install. By night, he is a car modding fanatic and serial linguist. Greg Stemp is a Pacific Northwest native and long-time scripting expert who helped establish the Script Center on TechNet. He’s written many of the PowerShell articles and technical documentation on TechNet and is an active speaker and trainer at major technical events and conferences.