Office 365 Management Tools

Office 365 Management Tools

Most organizations using Office 365 “enjoy” a hybrid environment. This means resources are spread across a local installation and the cloud. The consequence is an inconvenient need to manage both on-premise and cloud resources.

Without third party management tools the day-to-day management of users and mailboxes involves multiple tools making daily operations confusing and cumbersome.

To this date, only one tool exists which will allow you to perform all daily tasks inside the native admin tool, AD Users & Computers. Skip to the final section to see how this can save your team hours of work on a daily basis.

This article lists the five mandatory Office 365 Management Tools needed to perform the daily management of users and mailboxes.

Office 365 Management – Active Directory Users & Computers

The Active Directory Users & Computers snap-in has been around since Active Directory was introduced with Windows Server 2000 (to get the full history of AD read this article). Two decades later, AD Users & Computers is still the most essential user management tool for most Windows admins.

AD Users & Computers is needed to manage all the user attributes that are authoritative in your local AD. This includes most attributes like naming, contact and location info. As this information is synchronized in one direction from your local AD to the Azure AD/Office 365 you must manage these properties in your local AD.

The user (and group and contact) properties are synchronized using the Azure AD Connect synchronization tool on an ongoing basis. Information replicates to the connected Azure AD and from there can be utilized by various Azure resources like Exchange Online.

For a deep dive in the replication of attributes from your on-premises AD to the Azure AD refer to this article.

Some of the more exotic user attributes are used for mailbox configurations, e.g. proxyAddresses and targetAddress. By default, these particular attributes can’t be modified using Active Directory Users & Computers. This leads us to the next Office 365 administration tool.

Active Directory Users & Computers

Office 365 Management – Exchange Admin Center

Even if you have migrated all your mailboxes to Office 365 and your local Exchange no longer has any mailboxes you still need EAC – the Exchange Admin Center – running on a local Exchange Server.

Attributes like proxyAddresses and targetAddress are not exposed in the regular user properties of user objects. Microsoft therefore promotes that you always keep a Windows Server running Exchange in your on-premises environment for administrative usage.

You’ll see a lot of admins complain in forums about the need for a local EAC and with good reason. Although the Exchange license for pure administration is free of charge, you still need a license for the operating system. Not to mention costs and work associated with backup, antivirus, monitoring, patching and what not.

To remove your on-premise hybrid Exchange server once and for all read this article.

To configure actual mailbox properties we move on to the next Office 365 management tool:

Exchange Admin Center (EAC)

Office 365 Management – Exchange Online Admin Center

Some properties are tied directly to the Exchange online mailbox and they are therefore not known in the local on-premises AD. They only exist as part of the Exchange Online mailbox configuration.

These properties include regular mailbox properties such as mailbox forwarding, mailbox delegation, message delivery restrictions and more.

To configure any of these mailbox attributes you must use the version of Exchange Admin Center that’s running against the cloud/Exchange Online.

You can configure most of these mailbox attributes using both the Exchange Online Admin Console or PowerShell (understand how to connect to Exchange Online with PowerShell in this article).

However, a few of the mailbox attributes can only be configured using PowerShell and are not available in EAC for Exchange Online.

This leads us to the next Office 365 Management tool in the line.

Exchange Admin Center Online

Office 365 Management – PowerShell

The Exchange module for PowerShell is not only a nice-to-have admin tool. It’s a requirement to manage some of the Exchange Online mailbox properties. One example of this is mailbox quotas. To configure quotas and warning limits on user mailboxes you need to use the Set-Mailbox command after connecting to Exchange Online. The command would look something like this:
Easy365Manager Powershell Scripting Automation
  1. Set-Mailbox < UserID > -ProhibitSendQuota < Value > -ProhibitSendReceiveQuota < Value > -IssueWarningQuota <Value>

So even for quite basic tasks like setting mailbox quotas there’s absolutely no way around PowerShell.

And now for the final necessary tool in the list of mandatory Office 365 management tools.

Office 365 Management – Azure AD Admin Center

The Azure AD Admin Center is your view into the user configuration in the cloud/Azure.

Most of the user properties you see here are being synchronized from your local on-premise AD via the Azure AD Connect synchronization tool. This means the properties are read only and you need to go to your local AD Users & Computers tool to configure most of them.

But there are some of the user attributes you see in Azure AD Admin Center that must be configured using this tool. Most of them relate to Azure AD roles, login restrictions (to Azure) and similar.

An attribute most relevant to daily user administration is the one related to licensing: Behold, Azure AD Admin Center is the place to go if you want to create an Exchange Online mailbox for your user account.

To create an Exchange Online mailbox for a user you must assign a license plan that includes an Exchange Online license.


Easy Office 365 Management

Wouldn’t it be convenient if you could do your daily user and mailbox administration inside one unified tool instead of five? Driven by a huge customer demand that’s what we thought!

To ensure a familiar and intuitive GUI we put all the Office 365 functionality into the Active Directory Users & Computers tool: The favorite user administration tool of the majority of Windows admin anywhere in the world and still going strong after two decades.

In the below screenshot you’ll see the two new user tabs exposed by Easy365Manager. They give you direct access to properties you otherwise need to manage through the Azure AD portal, the Exchange Admin Center or PowerShell.

Easy365Manager user properties
Easy365Manager user properties

With Easy365Manager you can perform all the tasks listed in the previous sections inside AD Users & Computers:

  • Assign Office 365 licenses/mailboxes
  • Configure proxyAddresses, targetAddress and other mailbox attributes
  • Configure mailbox warning and quota limits
  • Configure mailbox forwarding, delivery restrictions and more

Easy365Manager will save you and your team from going mad jumping from tool to tool dozens of times throughout the day.

Additionally Easy365Manager will allow you to get rid of your on-premise Exchange server, so it should be an easy decission.

New staff will understand user and mailbox management instantly.

Old staff will be able to save lots and lots of time for more productive work.

Download the fully functional 30 day trial version and experience how Windows user and mailbox administration should be. We guarantee you’ll never want to look back!

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