Easier Office365 License Management Coming to Azure AD

One of the challenges that schools can sometimes face is bulk assigning / revoking licenses in Office365 as this often requires some PowerShell skills to do this easily. In schools, this is most commonly needed in situations where students are arriving/leaving at the start/end of school years and the same for the arrival/departure of staff. Another scenario is when Microsoft roll out new features and the licenses are sometimes assigned automatically e.g. Yammer licenses applied to all students when a school may not actually want this to be the case.

Yesterday, a solution was announce as coming to public preview, using Azure AD Security Groups to easily manage these licenses.

Read the full announcement here.

From the announcement itself:

Today, we’re happy to be able to fulfill this request by announcing the public preview of a much-anticipated new capability in Azure AD: group-based license management! With this new feature you can define a “license template” and assign it to a security group in Azure AD. Azure AD will automatically assign and remove licenses as users join and leave the group.

Some key points to note:

  • Licenses can be assigned using any “security group” in Azure AD, whether synced from on-premises or created directly in Azure AD.
  • All Microsoft Online Services that require user-level licensing are supported.
  • The administrator can disable one or more service components when assigning a license to a group. This allows staged deployments of rich products like Office 365 Enterprise E5 at scale.
  • The feature is only available in the Azure portal.
  • Licenses are typically added or removed within minutes of a user joining or leaving a group.

If you have Azure AD Premium (as schools in NZ do via the Ministry of Education Schools Agreement with Microsoft) then you can even use a self-service portal where your end users can request access to a specific group to gain a license as they need it.

This is a great announcement and one that schools should keep a close eye on for easier management of O365 licenses.