Kieran Jacobsen

Kieran Jacobsen is the Head of Information Technology at Readify, a Microsoft MVP and regular speaker at conferences throughout Australia.

Automating Office 365 deployments in CloudFlare

Automating Office 365 deployments in CloudFlare

A few weeks ago, I wrote about Posh-CloudFlare, a PowerShell module I created for managing CloudFlare hosted domains. Since then, I was working on extending an Office 365 deployment, and realized that what was needed was a script which could automate the configuration of new domains. With that in mind, I developed a new PowerShell script,  Posh-Office365CloudFlare.

Let's understand the process for the addition and configuration of a new domain for Office 365.

The process starts with the Office 365 Portal. We navigate to the Domains section, click the "Add Domain" button, and after ignoring the introduction, we proceed to step 1. This step starts with us entering our domain name, let's use our old favorite Now we will be asked to verify that we own this domain, either through the creation of a TXT record or an MX record. The typical method is to use is that of a TXT record, created at the root of our desired domain with a value something like "MS=mx********".

After we create the domain, and the wizard successfully sees the appropriate record, we will be allowed to proceed to the next step. Step 2 isn't one that I usually make use of. I typically don't want to modify my users email domains, nor do I want to add new users at this time. I skip this step and move straight on to step 3.

Step 3 starts with another quick introduction screen, and then we will be asked if we would like the DNS for this domain to be managed by Microsoft. Obviously, we are going to answer no and move on. Finally, we reach an important step, we are asked what we want to do with this domain. First, "Outlook for email, calendar, and contacts", or in other words, email; the second, "Lync for instant messaging and online meetings", which is kind of obvious.

If you select “Outlook for email, calendar, and contacts”, then we will be told to create the following records in

  • MX - - which points to (priority 0)
  • CNAME – – which points to
  • CNAME – – which points to
  • TXT – – which contains a SPF record

If you select “Lync for instant messaging and online meetings”, then we will need to create the following records for

  • CNAME - - which points to
  • CNAME - - which points to
  • CNAME – – which points to
  • SRV - - with its appropriate port, weight, priority and target
  • SRV - - with its appropriate port, weight, priority and target

Reviewing this list of records, we will notice that the only record that changes for each domain is the MX record. The record consists of the domain name we want to add, with dashes replacing the original dots in the domain name. As you can see in the above example,'s MX record points to, where as would point to 

What about some records that could actually help our users? What if I said we could redirect sub domains of our own to the Outlook Web Access page? Wouldn't it be awesome if a user entered into their browser, and ended up with the Outlook Web Access? This can be achieved by creating a CNAME record that points to Let's have our script create entries for mail and webmail perform this redirection.

Now back to the script.

This was a simple script, it doesn't have any complex logic, it will need the following information:

  • CloudFlare API Token and email address; this is obvious as we need to talk to the CloudFlare Client API.
  • The domain name.
  • Do we want to create mail records? Lync records or both?

This is a very, very simple script, we just need to have a set of New-CFDNSRecord calls, with various controls depending on what we require.

For example, creating the MX record is as simple as:

This script only took an hour or so for testing and development time, however there was quite a bit of effort directed to changes in the Posh-CloudFlare and the New-CFDNSRecord CMDLet. If you look at the diff's between the last few versions, you will notice the following changes:

  • The CMDLet now accepts input from the pipeline (in this case via property name).
  • Restructure the CMDLet into Begin/Process/End (required for proper handling of pipeline input).
  • Implementation of parameter sets.
  • Cleanup of the validation of parameters.

I added parameter sets to New-CFDNSRecord with the aim to remove the somewhat faulty validation that I had previously. Whilst this sounded, and looked like it was simple, it actually took a few tried to ensure that the CMDLet would function appropriately. This was really interesting and deserves its own post in the future.

Parameter validation was updated in all of the CMDLets to improve email address validation. Previously, validation consisted of testing for an "@" character. Now I am using a regular expression.

Finally, I have spent some time cleaning up the code, not just within New-CFDNSRecord, but across all of the CMDLets. I have been trying, where possible to use ISE Steroids to ensure that everything I right is neat and presentable; it is a fantastic resource.

My final thought on all of this journey is, why couldn't Microsoft have implemented something like this? Microsoft has integrated the process with a bunch of other DNS providers, including the likes of GoDaddy, Network Solutions, 1 and 1 and even Yahoo Small Business. Why can't it also look at CloudFlare?

You can find the finished script over at GitHub, at Posh-Office365CloudFlare, the script is called Register-Office365.ps1. I have included comment based help with examples.

Kieran Jacobsen

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