I have been expanding my wings a little and working more with customers around Office. For me, the fusion between Office, SharePoint, Lync and Exchange has never been so strong. Users can transition between all of these applications doing everything from the simple personal project to communicating and sharing information on a large scale.
Office itself has a ton of new features with the release of Office 2013 that are truly exciting. A few of those are side-by-side installation support, click-to-run, Office on Demand, support for 5 installs per machine and more.
The one I want to focus on today though is a new feature called Office Telemetry. This is a feature is available with Office 365 purchase of Office ProPlus - http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/0d12e253-69b3-4992-9fb2-b44c52dc5044#bkmk_OfficeTelemetry.
Now you may ask what is Office Telemetry; sounds really cool but “what is it”? That is what I said and I dug little bit into it and I was pleasantly surprised. This is a new capability that helps organizations monitor usage of Office 2013, 2010, 2007, and 2003. This tool will help organizations really understand how Office documents and solutions are being used across the organization. Utilizing information collected by this tool, organizations can really look at Office strategy and determine the best path forward.
One of the biggest challenges organizations have when considering a move to the next release of Office is understanding how it currently deployed and even more importantly how is it used. In many cases I have seen enterprises sitting on Office a few versions behind and not leveraging the latest software. The Office Telemetry solution was created specifically to help customers get a handle of Office utilization.
Microsoft has provided several tools in the past to support such activities. They worked very well and provide an immense amount of information. So much so that organizations had to spend a significant amount of time analyzing the data. Every organization wants to ensure that there is little disruption to the workforce when there is a change to Office. Office is a predominate tool that enterprise business workers use on a daily basis; disrupt them and you disrupt the business. Organizations considering a move forward with Office need to know about all the document types, how are they being used, what sort of add-ins need to be supported, etc. Without this information organizations slip into a situation where they get far behind on Office deployment and cannot recognize the value.
Microsoft looked at this challenge that organizations have been faced with and wanted to add a solution to the new Office that would really help organizations strategize where they are with Office now and in the future. The Office Telemetry solution is really just a piece of this objective to help organizations realize the power of Office quickly. Things such as:
- Side-by-side installation – Ability to run more than one copy of Office at a time.
- Click-to-run – Ability to quickly download and install off on a machine in a few minutes versus having to do a heavy install.
- Support for 5 installs per machine – A change of licensing with Office ProPlus in Office 365 allowing a user to install Office on multiple machines given the proliferation of devices.
- Office on Demand – Ability to just run Office on demand, on the spot without utilizing a user install. It will quickly install Office using the Click-to-run and then uninstall Office just as quickly when the user is done.
All of these solutions provides true flexibility in how organizations can leverage Office. It recognizes that users are need the ability to job around on multiple machines and stay productive.
One of the first things an IT organization will need to do is work with the “business” to determine how Office is used today. This tool could be run before talking with them or used while talking with them. Either way information gathered by this tool will help facilitate discussions on how is Office utilized. It is recommended to run the Telemetry solution against 20% of the workforce ensuring there is a distribution across all lines of business.
Once you have gathered information, you should be able to gain some really good insights into:
- You should be able to see if all lines of business have been represented in your reporting.
- You should be able to see what are the most common documents and solutions that require further investigation.
- You will be able to see trends on how documents are used. This could drive the organization centralize documents in SharePoint, utilize features such as co-authoring, identify areas you want to classify documents as taxonomy in SharePoint, etc.
- You will be able to identify Office solutions that may not have high utilization however once talking to the business you may find out they are used during very strategic business operations. You can then make plans on how to support them.
- You will be able to see characteristics what types of documents are used the most and from where.
- You will be able to see what Office add-ins are used.
With this information, an IT organization can really work with “the business” and determine the most important Office solutions that need to be focused on as part of the move forward. Now you will be in a position to test Office 2013 with solutions that are important to the business and then strategize a plan forward utilizing many of the new Office deployment features I mentioned above.
The Office Telemetry Dashboard is a new solution that you will use to help you do this analysis. Below is a screenshot of this tool. As you can see the Dashboard is using the Business Intelligence features of Excel. It is connected to a SQL Server database that has collected all this Office utilization data.
In the detailed views of the Telemetry Dashboard lots of things can be discovered. For instance:
- You can see the number of users who use the solution with the ability to click any number to see who uses the solution.
- You can see rate at which Office may have critical issues. As well you have the ability to see the actual number of critical errors and view the actual users who are encountering those issues.
- You can see information about how much time it is taking for solutions to load.
- You have the ability to see which applications are being utilized and if it is an add-in associated.
The Office Telemetry solution is made up of a few components:
- Office 2013, Telemetry logging is built into the product itself so nothing needs to be installed on those machines to collect data.
- For Office 2010, 2007 and 2003 a Telemetry Agent must be installed to collect the data.
- Shared folders must be set up to collect data submitted by the Telemetry Agent.
- The Telemetry Processor must be installed on a Windows Server which gather all the data submitted by the Telemetry Agents.
- SQL Server is utilized by the Telemetry Processor to store information that is collected.
- Excel is finally used to provide the Dashboard.
I really like this diagram because it shows how this gathered and made available for review in the Dashboard.
One question that comes up a logging is ensuring that there is privacy. This solution is gathering very detailed information. A few features have been built in to help with this.
- Obfuscation - document names, titles and paths can be protected.
- Exclude – Application and solutions types can be excluded.
- Set Threshold – Only show files that are used by more than X users.
Add In Management
One more thing is that you will hear a lot about with the new Office Telemetry solution is added features and capabilities to help understand how add-ins are used. Additionally there are features part of this solution that will help you “manage” add-ins.
For instance you have the ability to now with group policy you can always enable, always disable (block), or make configurable by the user add-ins. With data collected in the dashboard you will know which add-ins are being used across the enterprise. Additionally the dashboard has the ability to assist you by generating these group policies. Very cool.
Another nice feature I ran across is a solution called Compatibility Mode in Office 2013. This will ensure that if a document is edited by Office 2013, it will ensure to disable features of Office so that a document can continue to work in older versions of Office. You can create group policies around this to help your transition.
Moving forward the Office Telemetry solution is built into Office 2013. As your organization moves forward, know that you can continue to tap into Office Telemetry to re-evaluate where you stand and manage your Office deployment and support strategy.
- Office 2013 compatibility guide - http://technet.microsoft.com/library/ee819096(v=office.15).aspx
- Deploy Telemetry Dashboard - http://technet.microsoft.com/library/jj219431(v=office.15).aspx
- Technical Diagram - http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=34991