Be more in control of your Microsoft Office 365 licenses with group-based license management

Microsoft introduced a group-based license management feature within Azure Active Directory. Azure Active Director (AD) is a technology which supports the identity management for all cloud services in Microsoft’s cloud offerings. This was announced on February 22, 2017 by Alex Simons from Microsoft. At this point in time, the license management feature is just a public preview of what’s promised to come soon. With this new feature, admins will be more in control of which users get a product license and which services are enabled.

The group-based license management feature allows system administrators and SAM Managers to define and assign a license template (as Microsoft calls it) to a security group in Azure AD. Once this is configured, Azure AD will automatically assign licenses for the users who join the group and remove licenses for the users who leave the group. The feature is flexible and allows the assignment of one or more product licenses per AD group.

Additionally, it is now possible to stage deployment of large service suites (e.g. Office 365 Enterprise E5) by allowing the administrator to disable the service components which are not used.

The highlights of the group-based license management feature include:

Licenses can be assigned to any security group in Azure AD.

When a product license is assigned to a group, the administrator can disable one or more service plans in the product.

All Microsoft cloud services that require user-level licensing are supported.

Group-based licensing is currently available only through the Azure portal.

Azure AD automatically manages license modifications that result from group membership changes.

A user can be a member of multiple groups with license policies specified.

In some cases, licenses cannot be assigned to a user.

The official detailed documentation can be found here.

Before Microsoft introduced the new feature, cloud licenses could be assigned only at individual user level. For big organizations, this limitation implied a lot of manual work and the risk of human error when doing the assignments. Every time a user moved to a different AD group or left the company, the system administrators had to write a complex PowerShell script to adjust the settings.

It is nice to see that Microsoft empathizes with the crowd’s pain and builds features which enable control and cost savings. Since this is just a preview, additional features and improvements are expected in the near future.

If you have any questions related to Microsoft licensing, feel free to contact us and one of our specialists will help you.


This article was published on 15-03-2017