Microsoft Removes Remote PowerShell for Compliance Sessions

No Remote PowerShell Connections for Compliance Endpoint

Following the December 15, 2022 announcement to deprecate Remote PowerShell connections to Exchange Online, the news in MC541649 (April 14) that the connection to the compliance endpoint with Connect-IPPSSession cmdlet will follow suit is no surprise. The only surprise is that the text of the announcement is quite so confusing.

Connect-IPPSSession establishes a PowerShell connection to what used to be called the Security and Compliance endpoint (SCC). Microsoft also refers to EOP in the announcement because some cmdlets loaded (like Get-PhishSimOverridePolicy) are associated with Exchange Online Protection.

Today, the endpoint might be called the Microsoft Purview endpoint or compliance endpoint because the cmdlets loaded after establishing the connection allow access to objects like retention labels, sensitivity labels, and their respective publishing policies.

REST Rather than Remote PowerShell

Microsoft says that “in line with our vision to enhance the security of our cloud,” the compliance cmdlets will now use a REST API instead of the traditional (established in Exchange 2010) Remote PowerShell approach. Once you install V3.2 of the Exchange Online management module (apparently available on May 1, 2023), the REST-base cmdlets are available and Remote PowerShell is no longer required. You won’t see this kind of message when connecting to the endpoint:

WARNING: Your connection has been redirected to the following URI:

Existing scripts don’t need to be updated. As Microsoft says “Simply using the new module will ensure REST is used rather than RPS.”

Part of the confusion in this announcement is the need to use a version of the Exchange Online management module that is currently unavailable. The current version doesn’t support the UseRPSSession parameter mentioned by Microsoft in their text:

Connect-IPPSSsession -UseRPSSession:$false

Microsoft says that Remote PowerShell connections to the compliance endpoint will not be available after July 15, 2023. This is a tad ahead of the announced schedule for the depreciation of Remote PowerShell for the main Exchange module (due on October 1, 2023).

Using a REST API instead of Remote PowerShell should make cmdlets more reliable and better performing. Remote PowerShell is very much a mechanism rooted in a period when Microsoft needed to support management of Exchange servers from workstations without the need to log into the servers. It worked well for Exchange 2010 and 2013 but its deficiencies are obvious with cloud services when connecting to a service is more important than connecting to a server.

More to Do

Welcome as it is to see the compliance cmdlets transition to a REST-based endpoint, there’s still more to do to fully modernize these cmdlets. Adding support for Azure managed identifies is a big step that needs to happen. It can be argued that the compliance cmdlets are less heavily accessed than those in the main Exchange module, but this ignores the fact that many of the tasks that you might want to run on a scheduled basis using an Azure Automation runbook might need to access compliance elements, like the list of sensitivity labels defined in a tenant (Figure 1).

 Listing sensitivity labels after connecting to the compliance endpoint
Figure 1: Listing sensitivity labels after connecting to the compliance endpoint

Good Change

There’s no doubt that moving the compliance endpoint away from a dependency on Remote PowerShell is a good thing. Throwing away the baggage of on-premises implementations to make things work smoother in the cloud is always positive for those who need to automate Microsoft 365 operations. This is especially so when discussing compliance because the range of compliance functionality available in Microsoft 365 is so much wider and deeper than in the on-premises servers.

At this point, we don’t have the V3.2 release of the Exchange Online management module available so it’s hard to verify Microsoft’s assertion that nothing needs to be done to move the compliance cmdlets from Remote PowerShell to REST-based APIs. However, given the progress seen in the main Exchange Online management module, Microsoft is progressing down a well-known path and the change should be smooth. At least. I hope it will be.

2 Replies to “Microsoft Removes Remote PowerShell for Compliance Sessions”

  1. only the preview3 is release today. you can establish a connection after waiting for a long time like 5 minutes, and most of the scc cmdlet are not ready for use.

    1. Looks like Microsoft is a tad late in delivering V3.2 of the Exchange Online Management module… How strange. Microsoft schedules are never delayed, are they?

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