The Microsoft Exchange product group, recently announced that you can now manage your Exchange Online, via the Azure Cloud Shell.
If you’re not familiar with the Azure Cloud Shell, it’s basically a browser-based Shell experience in the cloud, fully maintained by Microsoft and that you can leverage to manage your Azure and now also Exchange Online subscriptions.
It’s a step towards running automation from anywhere, with minimal to no effort, which to me is one of the next big things coming to us as IT Consultants.
I wrote a blog article recently, on how to use a multi factor authentication account to connect to Exchange Online, and what Microsoft just did was to provide, by default, the Exchange Online Remote PowerShell module, in the Azure Shell. Smart idea and I bet an awesome quick win for them.
So is there any gotchas?
The quick answer is not any major one, but I still want to point a few things. The first one is that you need an Azure Subscription, otherwise you’ll see the below.
Although many Organizations embracing the Microsoft cloud are already using Office 365 AND Azure, some are not. Some just use Office 365 and it’s good to point out that if you want to leverage this new feature, it’s time for you to create that Azure subscription. The only cost you’ll have with using Azure Cloud Shell, is Azure Storage (also mandatory) cost, which is almost insignificant.
Another smaller thing but also worth pointing out, is MFA (Multi Factor Authentication), as Microsoft expects that you have MFA enabled across all accounts. I guess that’s directly related to the fact that this module you’re leveraging is for login with MFA enabled admin accounts.
Finally Microsoft also points out that they will claim sessions that are inactive for more than 20 minutes. Have that in mind when you build your automation, or just when you have your session open for daily work. This is an expected behavior for this type of cloud and container based Shell.
What else should you know?
I am not going to transcribe the article I pointed you to, in the top of this article, but I just want to highlight the main takeaways:
- You can access the Azure Cloud Shell in several different ways, but via the Azure portal (portal.azure.com) or directly via the Shell portal (shell.azure.com), are the two main ones.
- All Exchange Online cmdlets should be available.
- RBAC fidelity is intact
- This does not mean there’s plans to decommission the current Exchange PowerShell module (yet?) 🙂
- You’ll use the Connect-EXOPSSession cmdlet to start the session
- Microsoft provides SSO (Single Sign-On) just so you don’t have to login twice (i.e Azure Portal and Exchange Online) Yay!!!
And that’s it, enjoy!!!