Import distribution groups to Office 365: Exchange Online with PowerShell

Today we faced an issue where a client needed to migrate their GroupWise distribution groups to Office 365. Since there is no easy way doing this we developed a PowerShell script to automate this proces. Well, actually it are two scripts.

The scripts are divided in one, creating the distribution groups and part two is adding the members to the newly created groups. First we have to gather the input for creating the distribution groups in Office 365. For this I only used the required attributes for creating a distribution group.

$import = Import-Csv -Path “C:\temp\Create-DG.csv” -Delimiter “;”
foreach ($item in $import) {
New-DistributionGroup -Name $item.Name -DisplayName $item.DisplayName -PrimarySmtpAddress $item.PrimairyEmailAddress -Type $item.Type
Export-Csv -Path “C:\temp\New-DistributionGroup_LogFile_$(get-date -Format ddMMyyyy).csv”

Once the distribution groups are created we can head on adding the members to them using the PowerShell script below.

$import = Import-Csv -Path “C:\temp\Add-DGMembers.csv” -Delimiter “;”
foreach ($item in $import) {
Add-DistributionGroupMember -Identity $item.GroupName -Member $item.UPN -Verbose
Out-File -FilePath “C:\temp\Add-DGMembers_LogFile_$(get-date -Format ddMMyyyy).log”

As we can see both the scripts import a .csv file containing the content. The .csv files and the PowerShell scripts can be downloaded below.


Please note that the distribution groups can be either created on-premises in Active Directory and then synced to Windows Azure Active Directory (Office 365) or either directly created in Office 365 with the help of remote PowerShell. Based on your infrastructure and migration scenario it can differ which is the best way to go. Functionally there will be no difference for Exchange Online. However in some hybrid scenarios it can be best to create the distribution groups on-premises and sync them to Office 36 with the help of Azure Active Directory Sync (DirSync).

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