Office 365 Management Tools

Office 365 Administration tools

Without third-party management tools, the day-to-day administration of users and Office 365 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.

Easy Office 365 Management = Easy365Manager

Standard Office 365 administration tools face a lot of drawbacks:

  • You need AD Users & Computers to manage local users, including email properties used by Office 365
  • You need web consoles like the Microsoft 365 Admin Center or the Azure AD Portal to manage Office 365 licenses
  • You need an on-premises Exchange Admin Center to manage AD mail attributes
  • You need the Office 365 Exchange Admin Center to manage mailbox delegation
  • You need PowerShell to manage Office 365 mailbox quotas

With Easy365Manager, you can manage everything from AD Users & Computers.

Easy365Manager is a snap-in to Active Directory that allows you to manage email attributes and Office 365 mailboxes and licenses as part of your standard Active Directory administration.

It does so by adding two new tabs (“Office 365” and “Mailbox”) to user properties:

Easy365Manager user properties
Easy365Manager user properties

Additionally, Easy365Manager adds one new tab to group properties:

easy365manager marketing

The new tabs blend seamlessly with the existing user and group properties. This provides you with a familiar interface that you can easily pick up and start to use.

With Easy365Manager, you can perform all the daily management of AD users, Office 365 licenses, and Office 365 mailboxes from a single, unified tool – the AD Users & Computers management console:

  • 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

For a complete list of features, refer to this page.

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

Additionally,

  • Easy365Manager will allow you to get rid of your on-premises Exchange server
  • Existing staff will save lots of work hours that can be redirected into more productive work
  • New staff will understand user and Office 365 mailbox management instantly

Download the fully functional 30-day trial and experience an easy and intuitive way to manage your AD users and Office 365 licenses and mailboxes.

Office 365 Administration Using Standard Tools

Without Easy365Manager, you’re stuck with a mixed bag of standard tools. Microsoft does not offer an integrated AD user and Office 365 mailbox tool.

To manage your hybrid environment without Easy365Manager, you’ll find yourself constantly switching between the following tools:

  • AD Users & Computers
  • On-premises Exchange Admin Center
  • Exchange Online Admin Center
  • PowerShell
  • Azure AD Portal
  • Microsoft 365 Admin Center

The following sections elaborate on why and when to use these tools.

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 complete history of Active Directory, read this article). AD Users & Computers is still the most essential user management tool for most Windows admins two decades later.

The AD Users & Computers management console 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.

Refer to this article for a deep dive into the replication of attributes from your on-premises AD to the Azure AD.

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 the Active Directory Users & Computers tool.

This leads us to the following 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 find many of your fellow admins complain in forums about the need for a local EAC, and with good reason.

Although the Exchange license needed for pure administration is free of charge, you still need a license for the operating system and any third-party monitoring and AV tools. Add to this the cost and work associated with backup, antivirus, monitoring, patching, and whatnot.

Additionally, on-premises Exchange servers are targeted by zero-day exploits like Hafnium.

Suppose you’re among the hundreds of thousands of organizations affected in 2021. In that case, you know first-hand the impact ranges from many hours of cleanup to the obliteration of your entire company.

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

To configure actual mailbox properties, we move on to the following 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, some 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
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.

(With Easy365Manager the mailbox quota becomes an integrated part of user properties in AD Users & Computers)

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 synchronized from your local on-premises AD via the Azure AD Connect synchronization tool. Unfortunately, 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 some of the settings you find in the Azure AD Admin Center 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:

Azure AD Admin Center is the place to go 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.

The Azure Portal has a lot of overlap with the Microsoft 365 Admin Center, covered in the next section.

Office 365 Management – Microsoft 365 Admin Center

The Microsoft 365 AD Admin Center allows you to view and configure user and mailbox properties much like the Azure AD Admin Center.

Attributes replicated from your local Active Directory can’t be edited here, and some mailbox settings are only available via PowerShell.

But similar to the Azure AD Portal, you can manage Office 365 licenses and other settings.

If you prefer to use the Azure AD Portal or the Microsoft 365 Admin Center is up to you. However, most admins find it easier to work with the Microsoft 365 Admin Center as it also links to the Office 365 Exchange Admin Center.

Microsoft 365 Admin Center user and mailbox management

Summary

As you see, without Easy365Manager, you’ll be navigating a lot of diverse admin tools in your daily user and mailbox management.

Working with Easy365Manager will save you time and confusion and even allow you to remove your on-premises Exchange Server entirely.

Download your free 30-day trial now and start easy Office 365 management in a just few minutes.

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