I saw a down-and-dirty comparison of the five main options you have to deploy Office 2010 in your organization. You might think of them as five flavors spread out along a spectrum between sweet flexibility at one end and tart control at the other. Microsoft's got a nice table with links to articles on more than five options at "Deploy Office 2010." Here's a taste of the five options:
- Network share
- Group Policy startup scripts
- System Center Configuration Manager
- Application Virtualization
- Presentation Virtualization (Remote Desktop Services)
Network shares are the anchor at the flexibility end of the specturm. The pluses and minuses of using network shares to deploy Office 2010 (according to Microsoft) are as follows:
Plus: Easy deployment--you copy files and deploy them out.
Minus: They're hard to monitor; you can't define or manage them.
See Microsoft's "Deploy Office 2010 by Running Setup From a Network Share."
Group Policy startup scripts build on network shares, moving you closer along the spectrum toward control.
Plus: Ability to define installation requirements, ability to control when and how deployed.
Minus: Limited awareness after install state.
See Microsoft's "Deploy Office 2010 by using Group Policy Startup Scripts."
System Center Configuration Manager (and System Center Essentials) plant you firmly in the control end of the spectrum.
Plus: Central control.
Minus: Some learning curve; need support infrastructure.
See Microsoft's "Deploy Office 2010 by Using System Center Configuration Manager."
Application Virtualization means thinking of the client in terms of a user's needs--deploying to an individual, not to a client machine.
Plus: Microsoft Office guy giving presentation: "If you've got it, use it!"
Minus: Only available to Software Assurance customers.
See Microsoft's "Methods to Deploy Office 2010 by using Application Virtualization."
Presentation virtualization (Remote Desktop Services) is what you used to know as Terminal Services and is on the less flexible end of the spectrum.
Plus: Centralizes management, provides thin client, reduces network traffic.
Minus: App availability is dependent on infrastructure and servers--you need to actually be able to support the app the user is using.
See Microsoft's "Plan to Deploy Office 2010 in a Remote Desktop Services (Terminal Services) Environment."