Recently, I wrote an article about how Workspace ONE’s DEEM offering can really elevate your user experience. This week, we are going to discuss a great partner in the DEEM journey with the new Office 365 Apps Portal, which has grown quite a bit and is replacing the old legacy Telemetry Service. Elevating the modern cloud approach is crucial similar to how Google has the ability to deploy Chrome policies over the cloud. Ideally, we would love to do everything from a single portal, but Microsoft’s new offering brings so much value like easier updates, deploying cloud policies, deeper app health, and more! Let’s cover the offering and talk about how easy you can deploy it with Workspace ONE.
What is the Microsoft 365 Apps Admin Center?
The Microsoft 365 Apps Admin Center is a modern cloud-based approach to managing your Microsoft 365 Apps. It offers a number of features that are super useful:
- Office Cloud Policy Service
- OCT (Office Customization Tool)
- Office 365 Apps Servicing Profile
- App Health and more!
You can check out my demo below which gives you an nice little introduction into the Apps Admin Center. Overall, it provides you with a unified location for ensuring apps are kept up-to-date, healthy, secure, and reduces some of your GPO dependencies:
Office Servicing Profiles
One of the biggest complaints that we deal with once moving away from SCCM is maintaining consistent application updates for Office 365. Among those many issues are people deferring, Windows not detecting things, and just in general IT failures.
You will find that the Servicing Profile aka Office 365 Apps Automatic Updates solves many of these issues by moving clients to the new “Monthly Enterprise Channel” complete with nice customizations like:
- Scope Devices by Groups
- Specify Channels
- Filter by Disk Space
- Exclude Devices that have Macros or Add-Ins
It definitely has some work to do. The top thing I would want to filter by are devices that have a specific add-in. We have found over the years that some add-ins have compatibility issues with certain versions of Office, which could come into place here, but overall its a nice offering with minimal effort. Check the demo below:
The Office Customization Tool in the Cloud
Most of us have been familiar with OCT for a long time. I mentioned here how to deploy Office 365 via Workspace ONE using configuration.xml. It used to be a challenging process where we would modify a configuration.xml template and build it out based on our needs. The new OCT asks you questions and then spits out a ready to go XML to make your deployments a breeze.
There is no need to go too crazy here, but my video will show you how to customize those files and then export them with ease. They also make the old templates available that meet most people’s needs to keep it simple:
Leveraging Office 365 Apps Policies to Deliver GPOs Over-the-Air
My favorite thing about this portal and why its so necessary are Office 365 Apps Policies. You can now deliver the features you used to leverage via GPO through this portal. At this point, there are 2179 policies available via the console, which is a huge number.
I recommend starting by implementing all of the items in the security baseline (132 of those items exist). Those are recommended items that will tighten the security on your Office Apps. It’s crucial to point out that you must be licensed for Office 365 Apps for Enterprise to take advantage of these capabilities, which typically means an E3 or E5 license. (That’s not an issue for most people):
Check out the demo below about building out Cloud Policies:
Office App Inventory
The inventory section is great as it gives you your environment at a glance:
You can use inventory to see what versions of Office you have out there, the installed add-ins, and so much more. I recall in the Pharma industry when we have issues with co-authoring that we would have to hunt to figure out if everyone is on the same version of Office. It has always been a huge issue. This inventory section can be a lifesaver. Check out a short demo that shows how it all works:
The Apps Health module is probably one of the more impressive ones. Before we get too far into that, let’s cover onboarding via Workspace ONE. Once we show you how to onboard the OneDrive health reporting, we will cover the rest of this great module.
What is OneDrive Sync Health?
OneDrive Sync Health is very compelling. Essentially, you push down a key to your machines via GPO, script, registry, etc. and it will report health data up to the Apps Admin Center.
That data will show you stuff like devices with current sync errors, who is using known folder sync, versioning issues, and more. Keep in mind, it can take 3-ish days to get your devices in there and reporting so be patient. Check out the video below to see how great this feature is:
Onboarding PCs in Workspace ONE into OneDrive Health
Onboarding your PCs into OneDrive Health is easy!
First, inside of the Office 365 Apps Settings menu you collect the Tenant Association Key and copy it.
Now, you can insert that key into the code below and save it as a .bat file like OneDriveSyncHealth.bat
reg.exe add HKLM\Software\Policies\Microsoft\OneDrive /v SyncAdminReports /t REG_SZ /d eyJhb<insert Tenant Association Key> /f
Next, add that code via Product Provisioning or Scripts (coming soon) as a BAT file to execute like this below:
What do you get with Apps Health?
Apps Health is basically the DEEM hub of the Microsoft 365 Apps admin center, which gives you deep insights into metrics around individual Apps or Channels along with aggregating the advisories around your apps. One of the neat things about it is that it does also tie into Power Flow Automate like this:
My hope is that they will make this API available that we can talk to with Workspace ONE Intelligence or other services so we can create special experiences. Now, we can discuss and look more at Apps Health in the demo below:
I think inevitably in the world of a strong user experience, the platform is always agnostic. We must leverage the platforms our services live on and deliver value. It’s not about VMware, Microsoft, or anyone else, but using the right tool for the job. Things are never easy, but by bringing it all together we achieve greatness. It’s about knowing how to use each platform’s strengths to create fans. We waste time worrying about what platform does what and less about what problem we’re trying to solve. Nothing is perfect, but several pieces can solve the puzzle.