The Emergence of the Non-IT M365 Admin

September 1, 2023
4 min read

This is the first in a series of articles aimed at next-gen administrators: cloud admins and those without any IT experience. Have you never installed an Exchange Server or performed binary code conversions for super subnetting in TCP/IP? No? Great—this series is for you! It's a new age and while you don't have to revisit legacy methods and technologies you might benefit from those of us who have that experience. 

There was a time when Cat-5 (or lower) cabling ran underneath raised flooring within a company and plugged directly into the back of each employee workstation. There was a time when the administrator of your communication, collaboration and cooperation solutions could physically touch the servers that handled those tasks. There was a time when major new feature releases came to fruition every 3 years and when they did, you had to install them yourself and upgrade or migrate to the latest flavors of desktop or server operating systems. And there was a list of certifications—and acronyms to go along with those certifications—that network/IT admins would chase. Those times have passed, and many of the network administrators or IT admins that remember those times have either evolved or retired.

Over time, with progress, we have the emergence of next-gen admins. Some are quite advanced as cloud admins or architects. They may specialize in virtualized technologies and a variety of cloud computing platforms through Microsoft, Google, Amazon, etc. But there is another kind of admin that has emerged: a non-IT admin. In other words, an admin with little to no knowledge of IT, past or present. These are the power users within an organization that, by accident or by design, have a global M365 admin account for their company. They’ve learned how to add users, purchase licenses for features needed, assign those licenses, and manage the basic features.

“The more you can learn about the underlying technology and the admin tools that will give you a greater degree of control over your M365 world, the better you’ll be as a modern-day Non-IT M365 Admin.”

Perhaps you are one of these admins, or perhaps you know one. Without ever crawling under a desk to plug in a cable, without ever installing or upgrading a server, without ever even seeing a server, without ever taking a certification exam, you hold within the power of your hands the most impressive suite of tools and technology Microsoft has to offer.

Now what?

Imagine you own a car that can convert into a plane and fly. But you only use it as a car. It’s functional. It gets you where you need to go. But there is so much more to it if you learned how to fly. And that’s where learning some of the legacy IT admin knowledge could really benefit you. No, not how to perform a server install… we don’t have to go back that far into the “ways of old”… but learning pieces of IT administration that you can apply to your role as an M365 admin.

Here is a perfect example of learning to spread those wings. Thilak Kumar Singh wrote an article recently entitled “How to Connect to Microsoft 365 Exchange Online with PowerShell.” Now, if your first thought is “what’s PowerShell?” that’s ok! We will cover it soon enough in this series. But for the purpose of this illustration, PowerShell is a command-line tool that you can use to perform administrative tasks without going through the GUI admin consoles online. Why would you do this? Well, in some cases it may be the only way to access that level of data. Microsoft doesn’t surface everything within your M365 portal through the GUI. But with the command-line you can find, and possibly change, what you need. Another reason would be to effect a change in bulk, which is more easily accomplished through PowerShell. But I digress. If you review the article you’ll learn how to install the PowerShell module you need to connect to Exchange Online. This article is a perfect start to learning something truly new as a non-IT admin. And if you want to really benefit from it, follow it up with Thilak’s next article entitled “How to Get Microsoft 365 Exchange Mailbox Reports Using PowerShell”.

The more you can learn about the underlying technology and the admin tools that will give you a greater degree of control over your M365 world, the better you’ll be as a modern-day Non-IT M365 Admin.

So—keep learning. And keep coming back to TekkiGurus, where we’ll help you through it.

J. Peter Bruzzese

J. Peter Bruzzese

J. Peter Bruzzese (Co-Founder of ClipTraining) is an 8x awarded Microsoft MVP, journalist, internationally published tech author, global tech speaker and cyber security advisor. Follow on Twitter @JPBruzzese or email direct at jpb@cliptraining.com