How to accelerate Office 365 deployment in your XenApp & XenDesktop environment

January 31, 2018 Comments

At Flexxible IT we make the adoption of digital transformation technologies fast and secure. The Flexxible|SmartWorkspaces Appliance automatically deploys a full installation of Citrix XenApp & XenDesktop in less than a morning. But that's only the beginning...

To create, optimize and customize XenApp & XenDesktop templates with the correct applications for a particular business is a large effort in this type of deployments. And when we talk about universal applications, Office 365 is always present in the discussions. With more than 120 million active users per month, Office 365 is, at least 90% of the time, the first application that the administrators deploy to their XenApp & XenDesktop environments.

In our eagerness to accelerate the deployment and management of modern workspaces, we at Flexxible IT have made the installation and management of Office 365 the fastest and easiest it has ever been. In this post, we will see how to deploy Office 365 applications automatically in a Flexxible|SmartWorkspaces environment. Let's go!

Productivity with Flexxible|SmartWorkspaces and Office 365

For this post we are going to use the 50 user version of the Flexxible|SmartWorkspaces Appliance. In less than 3 hours, following a quick web-based wizard, we have deployed all required elements for a Citrix XenApp & XenDesktop infrastructure in the Appliance and we have gained access to Flexxible|VDI OS Manager, the web application that allows an administrator to manage 100% of the Citrix infrastructure from a single pane-of-glass interface. We have also used VDI OS Manager to create our first Windows 10 Master Image. Using this same tool, it only took 25 minutes to create a VDI-ready Windows 10. Our virtual desktop environment is ready and optimized in less than a morning!

Flexxible|VDI OS Manager

As the next step in our deployment, we are going to install Office 365 in that Master Image. Instead of doing long and tedious jobs of download, installation, configuration and optimization, we can use the Flexxible|VDI OS Manager optimization with Office 365 to automate this procedure. In the first step of the integration wizard we have to select if we want to do the installation on a XenApp or XenDesktop Master Image. We will be using a XenDesktop VDI Master Image for this post, but the process is equally easy for XenApp app publishing.

Flexxible|VDI OS Manager - Office 365 integration

To make the installation as easy as possible, the wizard asks for our Microsoft Account information. Using Microsoft's API we can retrieve the Office 365 license available for the organization and we will make the deployment process even easier. We can also opt to select the license manually.

Flexxible|VDI OS Manager - Office 365 integration

Flexxible|VDI OS Manager - Office 365 integration

We will be able to deploy web-app shortcuts or the full applications to the desktop depending on the detected or manually selected license. We have access to the full suite of applications for this example, so we can go ahead and select all of them and the language and architecture for the installation. We select the desired Master Image for deployment from this step, too. All in a couple of clicks.

Flexxible|VDI OS Manager - Office 365 integration

The installation can be done immediately after the wizard or it can be scheduled for a later date. The desktops and application servers already deployed from this Master Image can also be automatically updated after the Office installation has finished.

Flexxible|VDI OS Manager - Office 365 integration

The task orchestrator will automatically download and install the applications. The Flexxible|SmartWorkspaces Office optimization policies are automatically applied to the desktops and application servers to guarantee the best user experience when accessing these resources.

In this particular example, the download and installation of all Office 365 applications took less than 20 minutes, but your mileage may vary depending on the Internet connectivity and the number of selected apps.

Flexxible|VDI OS Manager - Office 365 integration

And that's it! After logging in again to the virtual desktop, Office 365 will be ready and with the best user experience available. Thanks to Flexxible|SmartWorkspaces this task can be done quickly and easily!

Flexxible IT Team
We have been researching and implementing End-User Computing technology in the cloud and on-site for more than 8 years. We share our know-how and extensive experience in this blog.