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Microsoft Graph PowerShell SDK is the Future
For anyone who’s ever used the Azure AD or Microsoft Online Services (MSOL) PowerShell modules to write PowerShell code to automate some aspect of tenant administration, Microsoft’s June 2 announcement about their future direction for Azure AD PowerShell was big news. In a nutshell, Microsoft is focusing on the Graph APIs for identity management. As a consequence, any software which leverages the Azure AD Graph API, like the Azure AD module, is on the runway to deprecation.
Important Points for the Next Year
Last year, Microsoft announced that they would no longer support or provide security updates for the Azure AD Graph API after 30 June 2022. Now they are being more specific about what this end of support decision means for customers. The following points are important:
- Microsoft’s future investments for identity management are focused on the Microsoft Graph SDK for PowerShell. This is a wrapper around the Graph APIs and is already in use for purposes like setting tenant privacy options for the Insights API.
- The Azure AD and MSOL modules will not be supported for PowerShell 7.
- New identity APIs will be available through the Microsoft Graph PowerShell SDK (Figure 1).
- Microsoft’s investments will center on user, group, and application management, plus role-based access control (RBAC), which is important in terms of making sure that administrators don’t need all-powerful permissions to get work done. Microsoft 365 uses an increasing number of role groups to assign administrative work to different accounts.
- Microsoft also says that they will invest in usability for the Microsoft Graph PowerShell SDK, which is a good thing because the SDK cmdlets aren’t quite as approachable as those in other modules. The documentation is not in good shape either. See my articles covering basic Azure AD user account management and group management for details.
Microsoft says that their goal is that “every Azure AD feature has an API in Microsoft Graph so you can administer Azure AD through the Microsoft Graph API or Microsoft Graph SDK for PowerShell.” They don’t say that every feature will be accessible through the Microsoft Graph PowerShell SDK. In some cases, you’ll need to run pure Graph API calls, but that’s easily done using PowerShell (for an example, see this article on accessing Azure AD access reviews from PowerShell.
Update August 1, 2022: Microsoft has pushed out the previously announced retirement date for the license management cmdlets in the Azure AD and MSOL modules (August 26, 2022) to March 31, 2023. They have delayed the retirement of the Azure AD Graph API until the end of 2022 to give customers extra time to adjust.
It’s Different With the Graph
The net takeaway is that tenants need to review any PowerShell scripts which use the Azure AD or MSOL modules to prepare plans to upgrade scripts to use the Microsoft Graph PowerShell SDK or Graph API calls in the future. Given the number of Office 365 tenants, the pervasive use of PowerShell to automate operations, and the core position of Azure AD in those operations, it’s likely that millions of scripts will need upgrades. I know that I have a bunch of scripts to review and will discuss how the upgrade process proceeds in future articles. Already, I know it won’t be simply a case of replacing all occurrences of Azure AD cmdlets with equivalent Graph SDK calls, like replacing Get-AzureADUser with Get-MgUser. Parameters and output are likely to be different and code will need to be adjusted to cope.
While upgrading scripts is a big job, each script is a one-time activity. Interactive access is another issue. Today, it’s easy to run Connect-AzureAD to connect to Azure AD and then run whatever cmdlets you need to interrogate the directory. The equivalent actions with the SDK are:
First, you connect to the Graph and set the scope (permissions) needed to interact with Azure AD. Unless a suitable access token is available, this starts a device authentication sequence.
Connect-MgGraph -Scopes "User.Read.All","Group.ReadWrite.All" To sign in, use a web browser to open the page https://microsoft.com/devicelogin and enter the code D7DPGD3WL to authenticate.
Opening a web page and inputting the code causes another dialog to appear to confirm consent for the operation (Figure 2).
After consent is granted, you can then go ahead and issue commands. For example, here’s how to fetch a list of guest accounts:
$Guests = Get-MgUser -Filter "UserType eq 'Guest'"
Like most Graph commands, the amount of data returned is constrained to 100 items, so if you want more, you need to specify the All parameter.
The bottom line is that some more up-front thought is needed (to set permissions) before connecting to the Graph SDK and that the authentication flow is not as seamless as it is when running Connect-AzureAD. No doubt this is an area where Microsoft might look at to remove some rough edges.
Time to Prepare Upgrades
Losing support for the Azure AD and MSOL modules sometime in 2022 is a concern, but we’ve seen other instances when Microsoft has extended support to allow customers extra time to get work done, and anyway, losing support doesn’t mean that code will suddenly stop working. Scripts will continue to run. You just won’t be able to ask Microsoft to fix bugs.
One thing you can guarantee in the cloud is that change happens. This is just another example of how that change occurs.
The Office 365 for IT Pros team will document our learning with upgrading PowerShell scripts from the Azure AD module to use the Microsoft Graph PowerShell SDK in the months ago. It should be fun… Subscribe now to make sure that you stay abreast of developments.