Deploying Office or Office 365 has traditionally been a challenge in most corporate environments. The file types have changed, components have been added/removed, content size isn’t the most manageable, and the amount of business processes that rely on the productivity suite of products requires close management of the deployment to ensure that work can continue once the newer version is deployed.
Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) — as of version 1602 — integrates with Office 365 to offer the ability to deploy the Office 365 productivity suite natively with SCCM. The feature is called Office 365 Client Management and is found in the Software Library of the SCCM Console. Here’s a snapshot of what it looks like:
On the left, you have your Office 365 Folder with Office 365 Updates included. When in the folder view, you can see a summary of the number of O365 clients and their versions. If you notice the scroll-bar indicates there’s more to see…
The different sections can be summarized as such:
- Number of O365 Clients in total
- The breakdown and summarization of the different versions in the environment
- A button which will initiate a wizard to create an O365 client deployment package
- A chart indicating the number of systems running different languages of O365
- A button to create an Automatic Deployment Rule
- Another option to create client settings (These are standard SCCM Client settings, nothing special pertaining to O365)
- The number of systems configured to the different update Channels for Office 365 client management
- If ADRs were created, they would show in this section
I’ve had some great experiences working with the Office 365 Client management integration with SCCM. The ability to create a single package to support multiple different languages has taken my packaging time and reduced it to minutes.
In addition to providing a built-in package creation utility, SCCM also manages and services O365 packages moving forward. The updates are all provided through SCCM’s native Software Update technology but are provided to you in a separate node in the console so that you can view only the updates pertaining to the 365 clients in your environment. This makes it very easy to identify required and installed updates for your managed systems.
As for what’s needed to manage updates for O365 within SCCM:
To enable Configuration Manager to manage Office 365 client updates, you need the following (summarized from link above):
- System Center Configuration Manager, update 1602 or later
- An Office 365 client – Office 365 ProPlus, Visio Pro for Office 365, Project Online Desktop Client, or Office 365 Business
- Supported channel version for Office 365 client. For more details, see Version and build numbers of update channel releases for Office 365 clients
- Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) 4.0 — You can’t use WSUS by itself to deploy these updates. You need to use WSUS in conjunction with Configuration Manager
- On the computers that have the Office 365 client installed, the Office COM object is enabled
All in all, I have to say that I’m very impressed with the integration of Office 365 Client Management into SCCM. SCCM has been a very powerful tool and to add the ability to manage the productivity suite natively in SCCM will ensure that admins in large environments can spend more time managing than packaging.
Good Job Microsoft!