License management and migration in Microsoft 365

This article discusses license management and migration in Microsoft 365. There are basically three ways to manage licenses for Office 365.

  • The first is by manually changing licenses assignments in the Office 365 admin portal. This is fine for one-time tasks, but quickly becomes slow and tedious for larger environments.
  • The second, is to use PowerShell. The Azure AD PowerShell module has cmdlets for managing license assignments. But as you’ll see, as good as PowerShell is for automation and scale, it is still quite complex to manage licenses this way. See how to manage licenses with PowerShell here.
  • Fortunately, you can simply license management by using Azure Active Directory group-based license assignments. This requires an Azure subscription, but will save you a lot of time by allowing you to assign licenses by simply adding users to groups in Active Directory. See how Azure AD group-based licensing makes life easier.

During a recent migration project, there was a case where an Microsoft 365 tenant wanted to migrate all existing Microsoft 365 services over to a new Microsoft 365 tenant. In this case there were two challenges:

  1. Existing Office 365 tenant was using Action Pack licenses as part of Microsoft Partner Internal Use Rights (IUR). In order to carry these licenses over to the new tenant the first Office 365 had to first be cancelled via Microsoft support call and immediately afterwards new Action Pack license keys (tokens) were activated over the phone. The same Microsoft IUR activation form was used to activate the new Action Pack keys and re-configuration was carried out in order to prepare the new tenant with the Office 365 services. A separate article in this blog will describe all provisionings which must be made for exporting and backing up all Office 365 services in order to import and restore the service configurations to a target tenant.
  2. The tenant was a Microsoft Partner and Microsoft CSP indirect reseller as well. The existing services were running on the original Office 365 tenant which corresponded to the CSP indirect reseller entity in Microsoft CSP Partner Center portal. Currently (as of June 2018) there is internal technical limitation in Microsoft in that the CSP indirect resellers cannot delegate themselves as customers by using the same tenant entity. Therefore in order for the CSP indirect reseller to be able to provision CSP services to themselves via their CSP distributor provisioning portal, they needed to create a separate Office 365 tenant to be used as the “customer” tenant underneath the indirect reseller tenant.


  1. Microsoft Office 365 support community