Best practices from the field: Roadmap to modern management of Microsoft 365 Apps in the enterprise
This article was written by Microsoft experts in the field who work with enterprise customers to deploy Office.
The Microsoft 365 Apps admin center provides several new admin capabilities to monitor, manage, and update the installation of Microsoft 365 Apps for enterprise. Based on our work with customers, we've developed the following best practices on how to adopt these new features.
There's no definitive or required way to adopt these features. But the order described in this article helps admins quickly recognize the benefits, while keeping the rate of change manageable. Adjust the approach to the needs of your organization. If you want to explore the user interface and options beforehand, we have interactive demos for Microsoft 365 Apps health and the inventory available.
Get insights within minutes: Microsoft 365 Apps health
A good starting point is to adopt Microsoft 365 Apps health. This feature provides insights into the stability, performance, and deployed builds of the Microsoft 365 Apps in your environment. It uses diagnostic data sent by your devices, so you don't have to deploy additional infrastructure or software agents to use it. You can get insights into the health of your Microsoft 365 Apps within minutes.
How to enable Microsoft 365 Apps health:
- Sign in to the Microsoft 365 Apps admin center at config.office.com.
- Navigate to Health > Apps health and choose Get started to enable the feature.
It takes up to 3 hours for the service to be provisioned. You can then access:
- Crash rates on a per-application level, grouped by version.
- Performance metrics, such as application launch times and document load times.
- Channel metrics, such as which channels and builds are sending diagnostic data.
You can also compare two builds. This feature enables you to quickly assess if a newly deployed build is more stable and faster than the previous build. You then can proactively address issues, as opposed to waiting for issues to surface after you release a new build into your environment.
There's a minimum number of sessions required per app and version. This minimum ensures that Microsoft 365 Apps health can calculate reliable insights. A session is the period from launching an application until it's closed. For example, you're likely to see more sessions from an app like Microsoft Excel than Outlook.
If you disabled Diagnostic Data for Office on your devices, you might only see a subset of your devices or none at all. To get the full benefit from Microsoft 365 Apps health, you have to enable Diagnostic Data and set the level to Optional.
Get insights per device: Inventory and security update status
Another new feature is Inventory. It's specifically tailored for the Microsoft 365 Apps and gives you a full overview of all Microsoft 365 Apps instances on Windows that are activated and connected to your tenant. It isn't limited by management or directory domain. So no matter how a device is managed (or not managed at all) or into which directory service it's joined (or still in workgroup mode), Inventory will provide you insights. All devices running at least Version 2008 of Microsoft 365 Apps will automatically register after enabling the feature:
- Sign in to the Apps Admin Center at config.office.com.
- Navigate to Inventory and choose Get started to enable the feature.
It usually takes up to 10 minutes for provisioning the service. After this has finished, devices will start to register into the inventory, and you can drill through data points like:
- Update channel
- Versions deployed
- Apps deployed
- Installed add-ins
- Whether macros are used on the device
It also populates the Security update status page, which provides an overview of:
- Which channels are deployed
- How many devices are on the latest security update
- Which devices are behind schedule and need attention
The Microsoft 365 Apps installation itself provides the inventory information, so there's no conflict with existing management solutions. For example, a device can be managed by Microsoft Intune and registered into the new tenant-based inventory at the same time.
Move devices to Monthly Enterprise Channel
Moving your devices to the Monthly Enterprise Channel provides a good balance between receiving monthly feature and quality updates (similar to Current Channel), while having a predictable cadence with only one update per month.
We highly recommend testing out Monthly Enterprise Channel. There are two common ways you can switch devices over without the need for a reinstall:
- The recommended way to switch your devices to Monthly Enterprise Channel is with a servicing profile. By using a servicing profile, your devices, both managed and unmanaged, will automatically move to Monthly Enterprise Channel if they're in-scope of the selected criteria. In this scenario, there's no need to move devices upfront and everything will happen automatically after setting up a servicing profile. Review adopting servicing profiles to learn more about available admin controls.
- You can switch managed devices to Monthly Enterprise Channel by using existing management tools. If you're using Microsoft Intune, review this guidance. For environments with Microsoft Configuration Manager, we recommend reviewing our best practices on how to prepare your environment for multi-channel management and perform the actual switch to Monthly Enterprise Channel using Configuration Manager. If you aren't using Configuration Manager, you can adapt the generic change update channel guidance.
- For unmanaged devices, you can change the default channel in the Microsoft 365 admin center. This will convert existing, unmanaged installation to the selected channel.
Prepare your network to receive updates from the internet
If you use Servicing Profiles to manage updates directly from the cloud, your devices will download those profiles from the internet. To determine if your network can handle this traffic without disruption, see published sizes of the update downloads. There are several ways to optimize your network for taking updates directly from the cloud.
For users on-premises, you should consider these options:
- Enable Delivery Optimization to allow devices to share content with each other through P2P mechanisms.
- If you have Configuration Manager deployed, enable Connected Cache on your distribution points. Use client settings to enable devices to use Microsoft Connected Cache servers for content download.
For users working from home or remotely by VPN, you should consider these options:
- Configure VPN with selective tunnel instead of forced tunnel. The VPN tunnel is then used only for corpnet-based services. Default route traffic (internet and all internet-based services) goes direct, as do Microsoft 365 Apps updates.
- If your VPN is configured for forced tunnel with exceptions and supports using FQDNs for Dynamic Split Tunneling, ensure that the URL for the Office CDN is included in the exclusion list (#92). For details, see our how-to guides for common VPN solutions.
- If your VPN is configured for forced tunnel and doesn't support FQDN-based exceptions, contact your Microsoft representative for support to implement an IP-based static solution.
Use servicing profile to keep devices current
You can use a servicing profiles to enable your tenant to take control over update deployment to all devices connected to the tenant, regardless of how the device is managed (if at all). You can set up rules to control which devices are in-scope for the update deployment and monitor progress through tailored reports.
No other infrastructure or software agent is required to enable this feature. If a device has provisioned itself into inventory, its characteristics will be evaluated by servicing profile. If the device matches the rules set by the admin, the service profile will manage Microsoft 365 Apps updates on the device. This functionality lets you cover installations on "BYOD" personal or unmanaged devices that are connected to your tenant and devices managed by Configuration Manager or Microsoft Intune.
Currently, servicing profile only supports managing Monthly Enterprise Channel updates. Any device that falls into the scope of the rules will be moved to this channel.
Before you adopt a servicing profile, consider the following factors:
- All devices that match the rule set will be switched over to Monthly Enterprise Channel and kept up to date.
- All devices that match the rule set will automatically stop accepting updates for Microsoft 365 Apps coming from other sources.
If these factors check out, navigate to the servicing profile blade, and follow the instructions in the wizard. Note that the Servicing Profile becomes active immediately when you save the profile. So, if an eligible device checks in with the service right after you finish the wizard, it will get the instructions to move to the latest Monthly Enterprise Channel update. The Adopting servicing profiles article has more details on how this feature works and step-by-step for the most common adoption scenarios.
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