Virtual Machine Core Count – Azure

Today is not the first time I have come across this issue, but I’m going to make sure it’s the last time I google how to find out the limits applied to an Azure subscription!

By default, different VM soft limits apply to different types of subscriptions. If you come across this issue, your error will look something like this:

New-AzureRmVM : Operation results in exceeding quota limits of Core. Maximum allowed: 10, Current in use: 10

From memory (this may not be correct), the limits are as follows for different subscription types:

  • Pay as you go – 10 cores per VM type / region
  • CSP – 30 cores per VM type / region
  • VL – 20 cores per VM type / region
  • EA – I’m not sure!

If you want to see how many cores you are allowed by default, you need to login to Azure Powershell and run the following command, substituting your region.

Get-AzureRMVMUsage -Location "West Europe"

This will give you an output similar to below:

PS C:\WINDOWS\system32> Get-AzureRmVMUsage -Location "West Europe"

Name                         Current Value Limit  Unit
----                         ------------- -----  ----
Availability Sets                        3  2000 Count
Total Regional Cores                    10    10 Count
Virtual Machines                         8 10000 Count
Virtual Machine Scale Sets               0  2000 Count
Standard Av2 Family Cores               10    10 Count
Basic A Family Cores                     0    10 Count
Standard A0-A7 Family Cores              0    10 Count
Standard A8-A11 Family Cores             0    10 Count
Standard D Family Cores                  0    10 Count
Standard Dv2 Family Cores                0    10 Count
Standard G Family Cores                  0    10 Count
Standard DS Family Cores                 0    10 Count
Standard DSv2 Family Cores               0    10 Count
Standard GS Family Cores                 0    10 Count
Standard F Family Cores                  0    10 Count
Standard FS Family Cores                 0    10 Count
Standard NV Family Cores                 0    12 Count
Standard NC Family Cores                 0    12 Count
Standard H Family Cores                  0     8 Count
Standard LS Family Cores                 0    10 Count
As you can see, for each region there is a subset of machine types. If you need to raise a core limit, you need to raise an Azure support ticket and request an increase for the required region and VM type. This does not cost anything and from my experience is usually done within 24 hours.
Hopefully this helps some folk out there who come across this issue. If you haven’t seen this yet and are planning an Azure rollout, it would be worth requesting this increase prior to starting your project!

Azure AD Powershell – Token Lifetime Configuration for MFA

The default token expiry in Azure AD for ADAL clients (using Modern Authentication) is 14 days for single factor and multi factor authentication users. This can stretch up to 90 days as long as the user does not change their password, and they do not go offline for longer than 14 days.

This means that clients using Outlook or Skype for Business can perform MFA once and then remain signed in using their access token for up to 90 days before being required to authenticate using MFA. As you can imagine, this is not an ideal situation for multi-factor authentication as a compromised account could be accessed through a rich client application with no MFA for up to 90 days.

Until recently, this could not be modified. However Microsoft released Configurable Token Lifetime as a Preview feature quite recently. This allows for various properties to be controlled, giving administrators more granular control over token refresh and enforcing a more secure MFA policy.

The Azure team have provided a solid guide here:

To do this, you need the Azure AD Preview PowerShell module. Install this by running the following from a PowerShell prompt:

Install-Module -Name AzureADPreview 

Here is a sample policy I’ve configured which will change the MFA token lifetime to 12 hours. I’ve combined this with ADFS Claim Rules which only enforce MFA if the user is on the extranet and using particular applications:

New-AzureADPolicy -Definition @("{`"TokenLifetimePolicy`":{`"Version`":1, `"MaxAgeMultiFactor`":`"12:00:00`",`"AccessTokenLifetime`":`"04:00:00`"}}") -DisplayName OrganizationDefaultPolicyScenario -IsOrganizationDefault $true -Type TokenLifetimePolicy

This is  a much needed feature from the point of view of security controls, although keep in mind it is still in Preview!



Script – control Client Access features using set-mailbox

I put together a short script recently which will enumerate all users in an Office 365 Group (Security/Distribution/O365Group) and disable certain Client Access features. In my case, I wanted to disabled IMAP, POP and MAPI connectivity. This leaves a user only able to perform Kiosk style connectivity through either OWA, EWS or ActiveSync. The users in question had E1 licenses, but the customer wanted to limit connectivity so that rich mail clients such as Outlook could not be used.

The script looks like this:

$group=Get-MsolGroup | Where {$_.DisplayName -eq "uk-dg-kiosk"}
$groupmembers=Get-MSOLGroupMember -GroupObjectId $groupid
ForEach ($member in $groupmembers.emailaddress)
{Set-CASMailbox $member -ImapEnabled $false -MAPIEnabled $false -PopEnabled $false}
ForEach ($member in $groupmembers.emailaddress)
{Get-CASMailbox $member}

I have also created a similar script which will apply to any user which has a particular license SKU:

$licensepack=Get-MsolUser -All | Where {$_.Licenses.AccountSKUId -ccontains "MISSTECH:ENTERPRISEPACK"}
ForEach ($user in $licensepack.userprincipalname)
{Set-CASMailbox $user -ImapEnabled $false -MAPIEnabled $false -PopEnabled $false}
ForEach ($user in $licensepack.userprincipalname)
{Get-CASMailbox $user}

This could be run on demand, or using a scheduled task. Using a scheduled task involves supplying credentials so be careful when you do this!

Have a look at my guide for setting up scheduled tasks with Office 365 to learn how to avoid using plain text passwords in your tasks:

Till next time x


How many users are in my AD group?

Nice simple three liner here. I often want to check how many users are in a particular group, and find it a bit annoying that ADUC doesn’t show this in the Group Properties. So to find out, run this from a Powershell window on a DC:

Import-Module ActiveDirectory
$group = Get-ADGroupMember "group name" -recursive | Select-Object name

The second line puts all the members into a variable called $group, and if you didn’t already know, putting .count after any variable will enumerate the objects in that variable 🙂

Happy days!

Add X500/X400/SMTP address for a list of users

This process can be reused to add (not overwrite, just append) any type of email address to a list of users. All you need is a simple CSV file with 2 rows, SamAccountName and the new email address. The example I’ve used is an X500 address, but this could be X400: or SMTP. Remember when adding an SMTP address, case sensitivity matters! = secondary email alias = primary email address

brucewa X500:/O=WAYNE ENTERPRISES/OU=First Administrative Group/cn=Recipients/cn=brucewa
harleyqu X500:/O=WAYNE ENTERPRISES/OU=First Administrative Group/cn=Recipients/cn=harleyqu
poisoniv X500:/O=WAYNE ENTERPRISES/OU=First Administrative Group/cn=Recipients/cn=poisoniv

Once you have your lovely CSV file in a location on the Exchange server, crack open the Exchange Management Shell and run this command:

Import-Csv C:\migration\x500.csv | ForEach-Object{
  $name = $_.SAM
  $proxy = $
  Set-Mailbox -Identity $name -EmailAddresses @{add= $proxy}


Office 365 PowerShell and Scheduled Tasks

There are many reasons why you might want to run PowerShell scripts against Office 365/Exchange Online on a schedule, so I won’t fuss with any examples. Here is how it is done.

First you must create an encoded script file which contains the password for the Exchange Online/Office 365 admin which you want to use to login. It is important that you create the .key file

a) on the computer which will be running the scheduled task
b) using the account which will run the Scheduled Task

This is because as only the creator can decrypt the .key file, and this can only be done on the computer which generated the key file. To create your encrypted password file, open Powershell and run the following command:

Read-Host "Enter Password" -AsSecureString |  ConvertFrom-SecureString | Out-File "C:\scripts\Password.txt"

This will ask you to enter the password and then give you a file full of rubbish. Now let’s do something with that rubbish! Your script to connect to Exchange Online and Office 365 should look like the following:

$TenantUname = ""
$TenantPass = cat "c:\scripts\password.key" | ConvertTo-SecureString
$TenantCredentials = New-Object -TypeName System.Management.Automation.PSCredential -ArgumentList $TenantUname, $TenantPass
$msoExchangeURL = “”
$session = New-PSSession -ConfigurationName Microsoft.Exchange -ConnectionUri $msoExchangeURL -Credential $TenantCredentials -Authentication Basic -AllowRedirection 
Import-PSSession $session
Connect-MSOLService -Credential $TenantCredentials

After these lines, add in the Powershell commands you wish to run, or a reference to a script. Save this as a .ps1 file.

For example, Clutter can’t be disabled for the whole tenancy, so to get around this I might want to disable clutter for all my users every night by adding this line to the end of my script:

Get-Mailbox -ResultSize Unlimited | Set-Clutter -Enable $false

Once you are all done with your script, open Task Scheduler and create a new task.

On the general tab, ensure that the user account being used to run the task is the same account which created the password file, and make sure the ‘Run whether user is logged on or not’ is ticked. Add whichever time based triggers you need, and on the Actions page choose to ‘Start a Program’ with the following settings:

Program/script: C:\Windows\System32\WindowsPowerShell\v1.0\powershell.exe
Add arguments: C:\Scripts\TestScript.ps1

Voila! You now have a script which uses an AES encrypted text file to connect to Exchange Online and Office 365 so that you can run your daily maintenance tasks from a single management server. Yay!

Append Description to a list of users

Today I needed to append, not overwrite, the description variable for a list of users. To do this, I created a simple .txt file containing the usernames I wanted to change.


I then ran this very simple command which takes the existing Description and adds the phrase “User Enabled 07/06/2016” to the end of the Description.

Get-Content "c:\migration\userstest.txt" | get-aduser -Properties Description | ForEach-Object { Set-ADUser $_ -Description "$($_.Description) User Enabled 07/06/2016" }

Easy peasy lemon squeezy!