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Contact Lists and Office 365 Dynamic Distribution Groups

Create Contact Lists from Office 365 Dynamic Distribution Groups

Synopsis: This post will show you how to use Dynamic Distribution Lists to target smartphone users to create distinctive GAL contact lists.

CiraSync contact lists can use Collections as a source, or a target. This provides quite a bit of flexibility as you can use an existing group in the GAL and than apply exclusions to the group.

If you do not have an existing group defined in the GAL that meets your exact requirements, perhaps you can create a group that is derived from Active Directory attributes.

For example, let us assume your organization provides cell phones to employees and publishes the mobile phone numbers for the respective users in the GAL.

Using a single Azure AD premium subscription, you can create a dynamic distribution group that contains all users with a mobile phone.

DL Membership Rules

Some examples of other collections that you can create with dynamic DL’s are as follows:

  • A list of users in a specific department
  • A list of users with certain job titles
  • Users in a specific location
  • Users who are managers

The first step is to setup Azure Active Directory Premium for the CiraSync Service account. This will cost $6 per month unless you happen to have an E5 subscription for Office 365.

Using the Office 365 administration portal, you will need to first navigate to the Billing menu, then choose Subscriptions. You can also use this shortcut: https://portal.office.com/AdminPortal/Home#/subscriptions

Next you will need to find the Azure Active Directory tile. I recommend using the find command in your browser.

Azure Widget Pic

We have found that you need just one license for this particular task. After you have added the subscription, you should assign it to the CiraSync Service account.

CiraSync Service Account

Now you are ready to create the dynamic DL and you will need to do this using the Azure Portal.

Using your same Global Admin identity, navigate to the Office 365 Admin Centers and choose Azure Active Directory.

Azure Active Directory

If you have never done this before, there maybe a few steps to setup the portal. Once you get the portal started, you need to find the the Azure Active Directory menu shown at (2):

Azure Active Directory Menu

If you are having trouble locating that menu item, you should click on the menu called All Services (1) and search for Azure Active Directory.

Than Choose Groups (3)

Azure Active Directory Groups

Note that you will see all of the groups that were created in the Office 365 portal. Next click (4) to add a + New Group.

Azure Active Directory New Group

Here are the steps for defining the Dynamic Group:

  1. Be sure to use a Group Type of Security. Do not use an Office 365 group type as it will email every member in the group to announce their membership.
  2. Provide a highly descriptive name
  3. Even a more detail description is helpful
  4. Membership Type should be Dynamic User
  5. Click to define the query
  6. Choose Advanced Rule
  7. Enter in your query. This query will produce a list of all users with mobile phones: (user.accountEnabled -eq true) -and (user.mobile -ne $null)
  8. Hit the Add Query button

It can take several minutes for the DL expand properly. You can use the Members menu to see if the result is what you expect.

For greater details on crafting custom queries, this resource should help:

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/active-directory/active-directory-groups-dynamic-membership-azure-portal

Using the Dynamic DL in a CiraSync Collection

To create a collection using this DL, click the + symbol on the collection tile:

Dynamic DL in Collections

  1. First name the collection
  2. Search for the new Dynamic DL that you just created in Active Directory and select it
  3. Hit the + symbol to add the group
  4. Click Save

CiraSync Collections

You are now ready to use this Collection in a contact list. It can be included in a source, or a target list.

Vern Weitzman
Vern Weitzman
CTO and Founder of Cira Apps Limited. I have been building Exchange applications and related contact management for 15 years.