Office 365 deployment tips

Once you've decided to use Office 365, you will need to plan and strategise how to deploy. Think about the people and devices that will be connected to Office 365 and what you want supported on those devices.

For example, if Lync IM is a requirement for mobile devices, then you will need to think about how to deploy the Lync apps to the different mobile devices, or if minor editing of documents is required on the mobile phones, then you will need to think which phones support native Office 365 editing (Windows Phone) and which phones (currently every non-Windows phone) may need a download in order to use the document editing components.

Office 365 is available to everyone who is allowed to logon to your Office 365 environment, however some downloading and upgrading of clients is required.

Let's break the deployment plans down. To make it simpler to write this article, we will pretned that a company has the requirement for all Office 365 components. Obviously if you are on the lowest plan, there will be less deployment if at all.

Client and server deployment is based on

  • the Office 365 plan purchased
  • the devices requiring Office 365, desktop clients, tablets such as iPad and mobile devices such as the Samsung Galaxy S3.
  • the requirement of an on-premise component. Should companies require Exchange email, Lync, and SharePoint on-premise then the deployment plan will include these backend servers as well, either from a federation perspective or a new deployment, if the on-premise server doesn't already exist.

For small businesses who move totally into Office 365, the only deployment required are the clients. For small businesses under say 50 employees, the deployment is relatively quick and straight forward. There may be a few hours downtime required if deployment is initiated during the working day, assuming the Office 365 plan containing all Office 2010 components is required.

Components requiring installation for the full plan include:-

  • Office Apps which integrate into the SharePoint online repository.
  • Office apps for non-windows mobile phones should there be a requirement for the mobie phones to perform quick edits on documents.
  • Lync clients to the desktop.
  • Lync client to the mobile device done via an app.
  • Firewall configuration to allow Lync communication through

Some client deployment can be automated via Active Directory group policies (if you have them) or by Microsoft SCCM (System Center Configuration Manager). Other deployment may be a bit tricky for example Lync apps to the mobile phones due to the variaints in mobile phone Lync apps required.

If you are an enterprise size organisation for example with 10,000 plus employees, standard software pilot, change configuration and stage deployment rules apply. Microsoft has several tools and documents to help with the deployment. These include:-

Good luck with your deployment.