Tackling Office 365 Deployment Challenges
August 02, 2017
Paul Whalley | Product Manager | Ivanti
Neil Barnett | Product Manager | Ivanti
Office 365 adoption is exploding. According to a recent study from Skyhigh, one out of every five corporate employees uses an Office 365 cloud service—an enormous change from the less than 7% of corporate employees using Office 365 nine months ago. There are now over 100 million corporate Office 365 users according to Microsoft!
While Office 365 brings simpler pricing and reduction of on-premises infrastructure and maintenance, it also brings new challenges for IT. In this webinar, you’ll learn:
How to migrate from earlier versions of Office to Office 365 without user disruption
How to solve Outlook 365 and One Drive performance issues in virtual desktops and sessions
How to leverage and control the 1 TB of cloud storage for each user
Nannette: Good morning, everyone. Thanks for attending the webinar, "Tackling Office 365 Deployment Challenges." Your speakers today are Paul Whalley, who's Product Manager at Ivanti, Neil Barnett, Product Manager at Ivanti. And answering Q&A today will be Ollie Sills, who's our Senior Product Marketing Manager. And I'm Nannette Vilushis. I'm the Manager of Product Marketing. Thanks again for coming. We appreciate it. So let's do a quick run through of the agenda.
So what is Microsoft saying about why you should subscribe to Office 365? We've been having a lot of conversations with customers, and the challenges are not apparent from Microsoft's selling of Office 365. There are some challenges, there are some great benefits as well. But we wanna talk about those as well. The upsides, the downsides, and how to win, how to beat those challenges. And then future proof your decision to move to Office 365. So what things can you do to eliminate challenges before you implement?
And then Q&A. And of course we've got Q&A throughout the session. Ollie will be answering your questions via Q&A. If you look to the right-hand side of the panel and see the Q&A, feel free to type questions in there. And we'll answer them as we go along. We'll also have a section at the end where we can answer questions.
Okay, so according to Microsoft, here's why you should buy Office 365. And I basically pulled these right from there promotional pages. Focus on your business without worrying about managing server infrastructure, or how employees will access the information they need. So that is directed right at you in IT, and that is the primary message that Microsoft is giving. So here is how Microsoft sells Office 365 to IT from an end user perspective. So this is about your users. They can still use the apps they know and love. Office 365 will be there when and where they need it, always up to date, works on every device, and available from everywhere.
So they're selling this to users, but they're also selling it to you. So what you're saying about Office 365. A little different. First of all, I wanna turn it over to Neil Barnett to kinda go over this. He's been on dozens of these conversations and he's got some insights here. Neil?
Neil: Nannette, thank you. Yeah, so we've kinda seen that boiler plate, the reasons why. As Nannette mentioned, Microsoft, it's how they're position Office, all the value. And as we know, the entire stack is very deep. There's lots of reasons why one would look at 365. In conversations we've seen there's a common list of three items. Three areas where our customers are looking to enable 365. What are they trying to solve? By far and away, the most common is that top one, it's the 365 email services. Looking to retire their on-premises exchange service. They coming end of life, and they don't want to upgrade them. And they understand that as part of this new cloud-enabled world, specifically the hybrid world, it's a nice, simple way to get a lot of value out of those subscriptions.
The second one which we thought was probably, by far and away, gonna be the second most common was the one drive storage. But as it turns out in conversations with our advisory councils, and all the meetings that Paul, I and the team do, it turns that actually it's the Office Suite. It's the fact that you can install Office on up to five devices per user. And this meant that we saw our customers are looking for a way to actually standardize that productivity suite. And actually this was driven in the main by their move to Windows 10. So customers were looking to leverage that part of their subscription to say, "I'm gonna go onto 10, and I'm gonna move to Office 2016." We'll dip into more about what the value there is.
But that became a surprise certainly for me, that the second top reason why people were gonna move to 365. And then third is there, it's a simple one. It's, "I have a significant amount of user storage requirement. I might have a Legacy storage platform, and I'm gonna get terabyte for every single user. So I wanna go ahead, and I wanna unlock that."
So these are the top three. I'm sure that you all have different drivers in the business, but we're seeing overwhelmingly that these are one of the three reasons why our customers and the market is actually adopting 365.
Nannette: So let's start now and talk about the first challenge, which is Office 365 email. And Neil, back to you.
Neil: I'm gonna handover to Paul. Paul, you speak to a lot of customers about this challenge. You're instrumental in working towards solving one of the major problems, but go ahead and let's go through the value that customers are seeing by using 365 Mail.
Paul: Excellent. Hi, everyone. Yeah, so as Neil mentioned, I look after the Environment Manager products from a product manager's perspective. And certainly, moving your email infrastructure up to the cloud certainly does leverage a lot of off-premises capabilities. So complexity within your IT departments. It's a lot simpler to actually manage. You get rid of the PST problem mainly because you've got excess amount of storage, so you're not limited to the amount of on-premises file storage you've got for email boxes. So I think you get pretty much, it's around a terabyte. You get quite a significant amount of storage for your personal mailbox.
Neil: Sorry. Depending on the actual subscription you take, you get in between 50 and 100 gig, with unlimited amounts of archiving. So it really does kinda kill the idea that we need to have Legacy files floating around attached to Outlook.
Paul: Absolutely. So certainly from an IT perspective you get rid of that problem with having to manage archives that are scattered all over your network. You're removing the problem of having to patch and maintain unlicensed that given mail infrastructure that potentially you've got a team of guides within your environment who specifically setup exchange admins. And that ongoing hardware maintenance, it's something that you can shift across to that when you move over to 365, and move it out of your operational costs of your budget.
And then finally, a lot of that traffic is now actually gonna be utilized by the internet. So if you've got online 365 mailboxes, you're internal admins are no longer responsible for that bandwidth and that traffic that's coming from your internal environments. Basically, your admins get freed up to actually utilize their time in a more productive way. So moving onto the next slide. I think we can also look at some of the actual downsides to those unique selling points with Office 365. And these are mainly key within an virtual infrastructure.
Now a lot of the Ivanti user work space manager products are deployed in virtual environments. Although we work in a mixture of physical and virtual. But one of the key ways which a VDI [SP] and shared desktop environment is probably setup, and a pre-365 world, it's proper to use something called "online mode" for Outlook. Which basically uses an always online connection to your exchange server. Which when it's actually on your local network, it's not gonna have too much of an impact depending on how you've utilized and optimized your bandwidth internally on your LAN.
But now your mail server is gonna off your local infrastructure, and it's gonna be accessed via the internet. But that inherently sort of unleashes a problem in your virtual environments where you've got shared desktops. Where if you wanted just a little leverage online mode, basically you're utilizing that pipe on the internet across multiple connections. And things like search, actual updating your mailboxes, and just general network performance on your sessions, not just with Outlook, that's all gonna be impacted by this always-on connectivity to your 365 Mail.
Potentially, you could try to leverage other approaches to managing your exchange. So basically, you have an online mode, and you also have a cache mode. But cache modes within the VDI world, there's a challenge there. We're gonna talk about on the next slide, I think. So there we are. From speaking to our customers and seeing the pain that we're seeing, which is on the downside slide, we've highlighted these three specific sort of key points that we think customers need to winner [SP] in order to get user acceptance within their virtual environments.
So as they make this move to the Office 365, and as Neil mentioned, we've seen a lot of customers using the Windows 10 migration to also drive a move towards Office 2016. And so literally, these three points are key to actually getting the user acceptance and happiness in this new world of 365. So the first key point is, number one, we need to enable a cache mode, and get away from this online world where you're always connected to your online storage. And this will unlock all that bandwidth that you've been soaking up with the online mode connecting directly to your internet mailboxes.
Secondly, because virtual sessions are usually non-persistent, and sessions and user sessions are usually torn down at each logoff, and then recreated at each logon, we need a way of actually persisting these cache files. Which are predominantly the OST file for Outlook. We need a way of actually persisting that for the user across their sessions. So basically, at next logon, they're not having to recreate from scratch the Outlook OST and a complete setting.
And thirdly, we need to do this in a way that Microsoft will actually support. Now we know that there's Outlook group policies configurable to actually point an OST file and network share. But there's a lot of sort of ambiguity about the support and nature of that configuration. And I know Microsoft recently published an update on one of their support sites stating that one of their first troubleshooting methods with OST files and VDI environments will be to see how that OST is being attached. And they would only support something that was either attached as a local disk, or whether the actual file itself was local in the profile.
So that's something key. You don't want to set up an environment then find out later down the line that Microsoft is not actually gonna support your configurations.
And finally, Ivanti can actually help and take away a lot of these problems within the storage world around mail and 365. Now we're in the process of actually releasing an updated Whitepaper which actually documents how you can actually use our existing Environment Manager product to actually persist this Outlook cache across your sessions through a couple of quick, easy stack of sets. And you can actually persist storage Outlook cache. We can get rid of point three on the previous slide by actually storing this as a local drive. So it's mapped as a local VHD.
This is persisted across sessions. So only updates are actually being written to that OST file, and you're not recreating that file every time for your user. Instant access to mail and search. This is because we're persisting the OST file, so when you log into Outlook and your session loads up, your mailbox is instantly there and searchable. And this is actually something that actually works in a multi-user or a single-user environment. So we persist those settings. And if you're logging onto a shared desktop, you can still get your individual search for Outlook.
And then using our Environment Manager policy, we can actually make sure that those locations that are in your local data center are actually based local to your actual environment. So if you offer [inaudible 00:13:10] environment, or you might have a VMware Horizon view environment, we can make sure that using our Condition Engine, your actual cache files are actually local storage on the local network to where you're actual servers or VDIs are actually being run from.
Nannette: And regarding the Whitepaper that Paul mentioned, we will announce the availability of that Whitepaper and provide a link in an upcoming blog. So I suspect that that will be up in the next couple weeks, so keep your eyes peeled on ivanti.com and the blog. So let's talk next…
Paul: Yeah, absolutely.
Nannette: Yeah, productivity app standardization. And over to Neil.
Neil: Yeah, so this is the gonna be Paul and I talking about this one. So this the second of the two reasons why we're seeing our customers adopt Office. And it's the idea that Paul mentioned, and I've mentioned before, Windows 10 in the migration is really a driving force a bigger change. Not just moving to Office 365, but actually changing that digital work space. Actually taking this point to really transform how we deliver desktops to our users.
So that whole transform the workplace, everyone's talking about it. It's very current. And I think Microsoft, themselves, are really driving this with their model change for Windows 10. So what we're seeing across the board is this standardization. This idea that I'm gonna work hard, I'm gonna overcome the app capabilities problems as best we can. And actually provide a world where I no longer need to patch these productivity apps. I'm gonna let Microsoft do that for us.
But at the same time, rolled into this easier use, and then I mentioned the boiler plates stance that the complexity is reduced. If you're an Office 365 user, you're gonna get Office. You're gonna get the productivity applications. So no longer that license management to worry about. Now all of this means that I'm gonna reduce my admin time. Which is huge because these transformation projects themselves are difficult to achieve.
But at the same time, because you've standardized your endpoint, you've transformed your desktops, you are going to as a result reduce your [inaudible 00:15:37] costs. So these are the key deliverables. I think Paul, when we talk to people, that this is a massive common theme when it comes to standardizing their endpoint with Office 365.
Paul: Yeah, absolutely. Especially on the IT control, we're seeing a lot of… You might have a Legacy third-party plugin which mightn't work on the latest version of Office, or you might have a particular issue with one of the applications. And so you might have to actually run it in a sort of agile environment. So your user might have to be a 2013 version of Excel, for example, for a particular finance application. But all the other applications might be written on 2016. And it's hard to get that consistent look and feel as that user runs across the sessions. That's where the challenge comes in for IT, to be able to control and manage that session for the user.
Neil: And here's an area, Paul, that… Can you just go back to that? Did I zone out there about the experience? One of the things that is probably the most frustrating, and it's kind of the same case for dealing with the Windows 10 change, Paul, right? Which is lots of changes beneath the user. Our processor users have a lot of things changing beneath their feet, and anything we can do to streamline that.
Paul: Yeah, absolutely. Because just think about it. It's a whole new wave of services that are potentially available to connect your users to various online storage. Potentially, you mightn't want that flexibility in your environment. You might need a way of controlling that functionality and potentially locking down and preventing it.
Neil: I certainly lost you for a while there, Paul.
Paul: Okay, am I back on?
Nannette: We can hear you.
Neil: I just brought up the user experience piece around how, if putting aside standardizing the desktops, just given consuming Windows 10 is such a large change for the user base. Anything you can do to actually stream that by carrying settings, trying to make it the most representative endpoint that they had before, is a way to actually try and solve some of these problems.
Paul: Yeah, absolutely.
Neil: So the next slide.
Paul: Yeah, I think this is pretty similar to how we walked through the email problems. So these are the top three things that we've identified to remove that friction. To actually have a happy user in this new world, we need to make sure that firstly, we can capture as much of the customization, as much of the previous world that the user's used to in their pre-365 environment. We can take that across with them and prevent the need for actually having to retrain users, and get them used to new workflows, or new dashboards and panels.
So through a combination of capturing the customization, also managing and control in the settings, we can actually address a lot of the issues just with points one and two. And then point three is basically using application compatibility example in the previous slide. We can actually, based on where the user is, you need to be able to control either one, 2016 settings coming down on a 2013. So you need to be able to have some contextual control over what the user's actually got access to when they're actually using Office and the applications.
So basically, they're the three main blockers that we see. And then I think moving up to the next slide, we should be able to see some of the ways that Ivanti has previous helped with previous Office migrations. And some of the key things with the 2016 and 365 migrations. Now we've obviously had the product called "Environment Product." For some releases now, we've been able to take application settings and actually decouple them, and actually make them upgradeable between Office versions, where the Office application allows it.
So predominantly, that's things like the mail profile, which we can actually ensure that the users doesn't have to reset up the profile. You don't have to add in a user name and password, and things that are all take up time, and probably are gonna actually [inaudible 00:20:16] support desk calls on day one. So we can rid of that bit of friction for the user, so when they launch Outlook for the first time, everything's set up. They click on "new email," and they get their existing email signatures. So there we go. We've already reduced a lot of friction. The mailbox and views, we can persist from the previous 2013 versions, for example. And also things like the custom dictionary. So that the words and the phrases that the user has built up over time, and it's being persisted within Office in 2010 or 2013, for example, we can actually upgrade those settings. And personalize those settings, and make them available within the 2016 versions so that the users have got continuation of the existing workflows. But they're actually getting the benefits of the products.
How IT can actually control and manage those new products is by using our Policy Engine, which integrates quite nicely with group policy. Because obviously, Office releases a series of templates for every version of Office. So we can actually combine them with our condition engine, to actually give that granular control that we talked about on the previous slide. So we can apply policies. We can get rid of things like a first time animations, and accepting user's terms and conditions in the ULA [SP] that might pop up on first run.
We can sort of clean all that up for the user, so they can just literally launch applications and away we go. The Office Lockdown tool is something that's quite the spoke to Ivanti products, because we can actually tailor and lockdown specific sections of the menu bar and quick access bar, and also some of the menu items that are on the main landing page within Office. So for example, this is utilized quite frequently by our customers because it goes above and beyond group policy. Because actually depending on your location you can, for example, control access to specific file storage, access to the save button within documents [inaudible 00:22:17], for example.
So if your users open Word attachments from off the network, you could actually prevent them from taking copies of those files. Also things like printing. So depending on your network location, you could actually disable the print option to the Office Suite. These are all ways which Office Lockdown really gives you that extra value within the products.
And then finally, we decouple the settings in the profile. So actually phasing the migration upgrade to the more recent version of Office. You can actually keep your old settings in your 2013 environment, for example. And then you can migrate your users to Office 2016, but still persist the old settings. So for example, if you need to set up an app V [SP] version of Excel 2013, for example, or you might need to actually publish an application for your finance departments, as we talked about there might be application compatibility problems. You can actually keep those old settings specific to Excel 2013 and just stream them down to those settings on that particular endpoint, while keeping your 2016 settings intact.
And using our Personalization Rollback functionality, that even becomes more granular because we take snapshot settings per actual application. So you could rollback your settings for your users or enable self-service. It just gives you a lot more control above and beyond the out of the box migration tools that come with Office.
Nannette: Okay, so next, we're going to our third problem. Which is use the one terabyte of data given to each user with Office 365. And as Neil said, we thought this was gonna be number one. It's not number one. It's number three. It's still top of the list and it's a way to not just get back time, but reduce costs within your data center. So, Neil.
Neil: Yeah, thanks, Nannette. So yeah, like I said at the start, File Director, as we'll go through it, is actually a product that I manage. And of course and talking to every customer, they wanna use the OneDrive Storage. They get the value. The idea of anytime, anywhere access per user, which means that I'm not gonna have to manage VPN. Also it means that the users themselves, aren't gonna have to rely on VPN to get access to certain content. As Paul mentioned in the on-premises mail services, one of our deliverables was that we had to manage the bandwidth. We had to facilitate a good enough connection for our user base to access the mail services.
The same is true of file storage. In fact with file storage not really having a reliable form of local cache, like OST doesn't in Outlook, it's even more problematic. There's obviously going to be a results of adopting OneDrive, a huge reduction in storage costs, and product costs, and management costs. Because I think that the current landscape is something around 60% of the data infrastructure. It's pretty much private to each user.
So this hugely changes what tomorrow's storage budget looks like. Because of course you can't move everything to the cloud, but you can certainly move the private user data out to OneDrive. So these are the gains. And every customer I've spoken to about wanting to unlock this terabyte storage, they said these are the value positions. We're not even talking about the sharing workflows, or the collaboration and extension services. Just straight out of the gate, five points that give me the value.
The next slide, please, Nannette.
Nannette: Yeah, Neil, I think that this is more about IT than it is about users. So there's a pain related to a pain that you remove with not having to use the VPN. Just speaking as a user. But the other two are more user focused. And this is really more about value for IT.
Neil: Yeah, absolutely. These are some blockers, some pretty big blockers in my book. Talking to our members, many customers, lots of webinars, trade shows, these are not problems. These are genuine blockers. The top of the list is the lack of control. When you're running your file services from premises, from data centers, it's all under your control. You push that out to the cloud, whereas for the mail services, it's nice to give that control. Because they're a pretty standard service. Here, you lose those controls, which means you're gonna lose things like reporting, you're gonna lose the idea that you can start tracking what people are doing. You can no longer use AD [SP] to start changing the way people actually access content. It's kind of read to write for everybody.
Also, it's not applicable for every endpoint. So Paul's talked already about the VDI on the shared workstation environment. So those of you that have tried to use the OneDrive native client on anything other than a physical device, a single-user physical device, you'll see this is a problem. And then the third one is a theme we've got going through this presentation today, which is user acceptance. There are certain users, the process workers, many of the guys on the finance team, they don't wanna change their working behaviors. They're used to working from the library locations on their endpoint.
And although there will be some more of the power users that are happy to remember to save documents to a certain location, you're going to be asking everybody to do that. So that can result in lost data, increased support calls, or just user frustration. And then the last one is that because of the limitations around the controls, and the fact that the users have to change the way they work, we're not seeing anybody successful use the OneDrive storage for something as big and important as a Windows 10 migration.
So there's a couple of slides around how we get rid of the blockers. The first one is all on the experience for the user. So what we need to do is we need to give them a desktop that doesn't require them to change, no training required. So this is just like Paul discussed with the Environment Manager, and the way we will take settings and move them around. This is all done without the user having to learn something or change their behavior. And we need to do the same when we wanna use that terabyte of storage. We also need to make sure that we can use this storage on every single endpoint in our business. It's not enough to win on one hand, but then be limited in our shared workstation environment.
And also around that user experience that it's not all gonna be in OneDrive. It's gonna be a hybrid access. There will be shares that you can't and won't move out to Microsoft. So you need to give the user a consistent experience around accessing both these kinds of storage.
And important stuff for you guys, how to remove those blockers and how to maintain control. So you need to be able to centrally report on all access. If you can do that, then you can go ahead and use your cloud storage. The ones who want sync nature, that we see today and the lack of control of what gets synchronized that needs to change. So if you can control what, when and how you sync that cloud, you're gonna be successful around something as big ticket as a Windows 10 migration.
And that does lead into the next one, which is when these users are talking direct to the storage, they're the ones in control. They're the ones using your corporate network. We need to move that control back into the hands of IT. So how do we take away the roadblocks? So with File Direct we've got a whole bunch of features around this. But the key five ones that we talk about, these are the ones that completely unlock the storage for all your endpoint types, ensure you have central reporting, but also [inaudible 00:30:43] the users.
The first one we have is a feature called "in-location sync." And I apologize for those that haven't looked at file director or used file director. But I'm gonna use the names of the features. The In-Location Sync they feature where you can synchronize files without ever moving them. This means that every single user can work from all the library locations, wherever they save the documents, they can leave them where they are and you can let Ivanti's File Director do the sync.
We also have a feature called "Map Drives." This is allowing you to give your users a U-drive or a Z-drive. But actually File Director is accessing the content for you. So these two user experience features means that the user doesn't have to change anything they do, you've not actually changed their endpoint. You've not done any wholesale. You moved into files and some redirections to try and fake a native experience. Just let File Director do all the work under the hood.
We also have a thing called "Ghost Files." And Ghost Files is basically we will put all files and folders where they're supposed to be without moving one byte of information. And this is a solution for your shared workstation and for your VDI environment. So when Paul's been talking about leveraging the OST to give the user the best experience when they're working with their mail services and those endpoints, we do the same with our Ghost File feature. We'll let you see the files and just a simple double-click in Explorer will sync the file instantly to the user.
And the Granular Sync Engine is a way to ensure that the user experience is at the top of the tree. So regardless of what's happening, the user request is always the most important with respect to what we're syncing.
And the last one we have a very granular and customizable exclusion engine. And this just lets user and admin decide what you're gonna synchronizing. So it might well be that using Ivanti's Policy Engine that you're gonna not allow certain file types to be seen and accessed in VDI, but you're happy to synchronize them from their physical endpoints because you're using this for not just to unlock the cloud storage, but actually to do a Windows 10 migration.
So five key features as to how we can allow you to unlock the one terabyte storage and get more value out of your 365 subscription.
Nannette: Thank you. So with all this said, go ahead get Office 365. The problems that are customers are showing us we'll see in the marketplace, you can solve. So Neil, if you could review again how we eliminate Office 365 challenges.
Neil: Yeah, so these map directly to the reasons why our customers are taken 365. So number one, you're now using the cloud. There's gonna be an impact to performance, not just on your network but also the user's perception performance. So you need to solve that challenge. You also need to find a way to roll out a standardized experience for all of your users, but maintain control and ensure that that will move across all the endpoint sites that your user population will work with.
The last one is you need to be able to use that storage as part of your subscription everywhere, not just in certain places.
So a bit of product time for the conversation, no hard sells here. Just letting you know exactly how we achieve this. So the former access [SP] product lines are actually a part of the Unified Endpoint Management suite. And we can see here that there are two ways to achieve this. And the Endpoint Manager, which many of you are aware of I'm sure, being customers, that can do a variation of this. But on the next slide, Nannette, what we'll see is what we've talked about here today is our user work space management offering.
This is a suite of products that actually do all the heavy lifting in the background in real time for the users. So when Paul has been talking about how we can persist Office settings across multiple versions of Office, across multiple different desktop types, that's Environment Manager. Unlocking access to the one terabyte is File Director. And then we also have Manage Center which is all part of new remodel. This is an alternative to using SCCM. It has huge benefits in terms of pushing out updates, and again, completely transparent to the user.
And then we have Extraction Insight which are reporting engines. Inside there is a huge wealth of data that can be gained from actually analyzing what's happening on the endpoint. This is a world where you can actually analyze logon times. You see we have bottlenecks. Of course extraction will give us a way that we can actually see what's happening, and we have dashboards built specifically around managing user migration. And Paul, there's some great dashboards that I've seen that you've been working on with Andy Swindles [SP] around actually analyzing our personalization data, which is all part of helping to standardize the applications from Office 365.
Paul: Yeah, that's right. So once you're on board, and you users and your application to Environment Manager, you get a single pane of glass dashboard. Which basically is a combination of queries coming from the various products of [inaudible 00:36:18] suite, but actually build an open picture in your environment once your departments and areas of your business have been migrated into this profile solution, into this personalized world, you can monitor not only the actual size of the data being capture, but also the type of files being captured.
So it might be that you might be starting to personalize a lot of data that potentially you didn't actually want to be caught and persisted between sessions. So it's actually a nice way within a service dashboard of actually just monitoring your environment and your migration. So as you make the move into 365, you can actually see your personalization, the amount of data that you're capturing is actually mapping out. And it's just really type of crispness. Really optimize the user's workflow and experience. And also minimizes any disruption as your rolling out. Because you actually see this in real time from the dashboards.
Nannette: Paul, while you're on, if you could dig a little bit into Environment Manager it would be awesome.
Paul: Yeah, absolutely. Because as I said, we're just gonna quickly just outline some of the additional benefits you get from Environment Manager. Obviously we've talked to this as 365 world, but actually we can optimize the experience at the OS level. So we can personalize specific bits of the Windows OS and we can actually migrate those settings across operating system versions, and actually move into a Windows world where service updates and feature update are potentially gonna be twice a year with the service and model.
It's pretty key that your users are not losing functionality and expected workflows as you're rolling out these updates. So just by taking on board of your existing settings and actually moving them into this personalized world, you could actually control and deliver those consistent experiences. Now this is all centrally managed within Environment Manager. We offer a web console for the service desk. We have dashboards as previously mentioned, which are a combination of the different products in the suite.
And that really gives IT the control to actually either manage personalization via the service desk utilities, or actually handover some of the tasks to the user. So they can actually manage their own personalization and actually sort of do some quick backup and rollback functionality within your different applications. So potentially if they've overwritten the Windows signature, for example, so the mail signature has been overwritten and the user wants to go back to the signatures they had a couple of days ago, they can literally just rollback those settings. And get the previous settings restored from the database.
So this is all just added value that you get in what is being frequently called "the Windows of the service world," where you actually need some sort of robust solution outside of just managing user profiles. You need to actually take it a step further and make sure that as your endpoints and your applications are being upgraded, you actually got the users' settings and all those specific controls in place to actually manage those experiences.
Nannette: I think also there are some other problems related to a VDI [inaudible 00:39:38] Environment Manager and the director as well.
Paul: Oh yeah, absolutely. So as we mentioned earlier, this Whitepaper and best practice which we're gonna be publishing very shortly, we have a lot of early access customers. We have 20 to 30 customers and they're all testing the functionality around 365. But they're also leveraging it to solve common [inaudible 00:40:02] problems in a virtual session world. Because literally, the idea in Ivanti is to get away from any sort of faulty redirection, which also eats bandwidth. It's been proven. There's many articles out there on the internet that you can research to actually see why redirection of things like the alpha [SP] data folder within the user's profile is just a really bad idea because the constant chattering that goes on from applications to that network resource.
So we can actually persist things like the Java [SP] cache, which is one of the key points which a lot of our users are actually using with the cache roman [SP] solution. Things like OneDrive and OneNote, so we can actually persist those caches as well. The Skype [SP] global address list, this is something which a user might build up, and he might be [inaudible 00:40:48] on the local disk. You don't really want that being thrown each session closed. So just by leveraging that sort of workflow of the cache roman feature, we can actually manage a lot more roman application problems.
But potentially, we cannot use our personalization product because our personalization product is more about settings than data. What we're seeing now in this new world is that there's actually an overlap between what is actually a user setting and what is actually data. So things like OST files is actually a data file, but we need to actually persist with our profile management solution. And so basically from an application point of view, there's no reconfiguration. It doesn't know that it's connected to this new cache roman functionality. It just carries on working to the local folders, and we use our technology under the hood of the OS to actually redirect and manage those end caches between sessions.
Oliver: Paul, this is Oliver here.
Oliver: You had a question through asking how is it that he handles search indexing on a persistent machine without look searching?
Paul: So with the Outlook search, we can do that either on a per user or on a shared work space by just managing the actual relevant file within the actual VDI environment. We have some challenges which we are looking at, and have very shortly an upcoming release where we'll be able to support actual multi-session for not just Outlook search but actually Windows search as well. So that is something that is coming in a very soon to be released version of the product.
But as it stands, we can actually manage VDI and single session environments for both Outlook search and Windows search. So that's all gonna be documented in your upcoming guide.
Oliver: Thank you very much, Paul.
Paul: No problem.
Nannette: Okay, now let us talk a little bit with Neil about File Director. Dig into that a little bit.
Neil: Yeah, so Paul's spoken about Environment Manager and it's role. We have seen in the last six to nine months, Paul, certainly there's been this big change, as you mentioned, in what is a file, and what is data, and what is a setting, and what is data? And this is where Environment Manager and File Director are certainly tied at the hip when it comes to managing migration, or managing access to content across multiple endpoints.
File Director's job has been always to manage the user's files and folders. This is user generated content. Content you'll find inside all the library locations. Also content they can access over group share. The value has always been in two areas for File Director. The first one is the physical endpoint. So this is, "I have issued laptops or workstations to users." You might find in the main that they are a using single user device. And as part of the migration, as part of the File Director and Environment Manager together, we solved the two key areas around the physical endpoints. It's a great fix in Office migration.
When Paul mentioned that Windows 10 upgrade cycle, migrations in the past has been every three, four years maybe. It's now a lot more frequent. And that's where Environment Manager and File Director together can solve this migration challenge, not just today but ongoing. And that's for the physical world.
Now for the shared and virtual workstations, the control mechanisms that I mentioned. Earlier on we talked about unlocking that one terabyte is super important. You need to be able to remove this [inaudible 00:44:46] and control what goes to these various endpoints. But not do so at the cost of user experience. And when Paul talked about the evolution of the cache roman and the cache management piece, and he mentioned the OneDrive, it's also possible to do the same with File Director. So you could actually optimize that cache and move that across various sessions even though it's actually File Director cache.
So File Director's job is to manage and deliver the files and folders for the user. And Environment Manager basically takes care of the rest. Between the two of them, you've now got a decoupled user profile that can more an overlay onto different OS and endpoint types with different application types as well.
Nannette: I think we've got an animation next that shows…
Neil: We do indeed, yeah. So this one is a funny little animation. But I think the important here is that what we're showing here is that what we can do without… No, go to the next screen. It's the next one on that. Without impacting the user, without asking the user to change what they do. Without just [inaudible 00:46:04] creating a break point where we tell everybody, "Stop using the computer for three hours on Wednesday because we're going to do something." All of that's removed.
And what we can do remotely and in the background is capture everything that is important to that user. And Paul, you've mentioned the granular, the context engine in Environment Manager, that we can do this based on an OU [SP]. So what's important to finance, might not be important to sales, for example.
Paul: Yeah, exactly.
Neil: Yeah. Or the business might decide that what I want to collect from a files and folder point of view from finance is not the same as the marketing team. Because marketing needs MP4s and MP3s as part of their business. But actually, finance has no need for those contents. If we find them, let's just exclude them from the sync engine. So it's important that we can granularly capture everything important to the user.
At the same time, don't ask the users to change their behaviors. Let them keep using their existing workflows. How they worked yesterday, let them keep working today. In fact, let them keep working today whilst we're collecting the data and their settings. And of course, take that to their endpoint. And then controlling what and when we do it is super important. If you look at this from a migration point of view and you've got 16,000 endpoints, you don't do everybody on Wednesday. You will phase them. There is the human side of the migration project. It might be a refresh, or a reimage, and you'll be doing this based on region or job function. So you need to control what and when you do it.
And then finally, you need to have complete visibility. You need the dashboards, the extraction to give you to actually look at your entire estate and get a gauge on where all these people are. You might decide that a subset of your user population are gonna get a refresh, they're gonna get a new device. You need to know when they're ready to be given their new device. But all of this is done even when you're using as much of your 365 subscription as possible.
Nannette: Thanks, guys. And we're gone. There we go. So Ollie, any additional questions?
Oliver: Hi, Nannette. Yes, we just had one through actually. Is the Outlook local OST cache directory still redirected to the VHD by symbolic link? Or will this functionality be made more transparent to the OS by using file system drivers in the upcoming releases?
Paul: So yeah, at present we are using the junction method, which is the symbolic which is mentioned. Actually coming from future releases, probably when we come into the Windows search world and we start looking at other use cases, that's the stage we're probably gonna start looking a bit deeper into how we manage the redirections. But at the moment for this point solution, we're seeing a lot of value and success with the current policy method. So yeah, we probably are gonna build on this feature as we reiterate across versions. But at the moment, it will be the sym [SP] link method as mentioned.
Oliver: Okay, thanks. Okay.
Nannette: Any other questions?
Oliver: None so far, Nannette.
Nannette: Okay. Well thanks, everyone, for watching the webinar and listening to the webinar today. As we said earlier, that Whitepaper will be available the next couple of weeks. Just keep your eyes peeled on our blog. We'll post it when it's available and be able to point you to the Whitepaper download and the files you need to do this yourself with Environment Manager and File Director.
Thanks very, very much for attending the session today. We really appreciate your time and your attention. And we will see you next time. Thanks a lot.