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Microsoft acquisition of FSLogix to help push cloud desktops

FSLogix can help Microsoft solve problems that have plagued the integration of Office 365 and virtual desktops, and it will immediately benefit the new Windows Virtual Desktop.

The Microsoft acquisition of FSLogix gives organizations another reason to consider the company's Windows Virtual...

Desktop offering.

Microsoft this week acquired FSLogix, an application provisioning and performance management vendor in Suwanee, Ga., to improve the Office 365 user experience on virtual desktops. The move could help Microsoft compete with cloud desktop offerings, such as Amazon WorkSpaces, and attract more organizations to Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD).

"Microsoft recognizes FSLogix as a company that can help provide that more predictable experience and performance to stand out among the technologies that host Windows and Office 365," said Mark Bowker, analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group in Milford, Mass.

Windows Virtual Desktop, introduced at Microsoft Ignite in September, enables IT to run virtualized Windows 10 on Azure. FSLogix's technology will allow for faster user profile load times in Office 365 ProPlus on Windows virtual desktops, particularly within the Outlook email application and OneDrive file-sharing service, according to a Microsoft acquisition blog post.

"User profiles for Office 365 have long been a frustration for users and administrators of VDI and virtual app environments," said Jo Harder, a cloud architect at a hosting provider and analyst at The Virtualization Practice. "FSLogix is able to successfully address the user experience gaps ... and this will become even more important as Microsoft brings Windows Virtual Desktop to life."

The company did not update the status of Windows Virtual Desktop, however, which it had pledged to release into preview by the end of the year. Some customers will want the latest Microsoft acquisition to help improve performance for on-premises deployments of Windows and Office, but that does not seem to be Microsoft's objective.

"[The acquisition] is really focused on the cloud deployment aspect of it," Bowker said. "This is about providing the best experience for Office 365."

FSLogix addresses Office 365 virtual desktop performance

Microsoft recognizes FSLogix as a company that can help provide that more predictable experience and performance.
Mark Bowkeranalyst at Enterprise Strategy Group

FSLogix Apps, the company's flagship tool, helps IT simplify app provisioning with a number of features. FSLogix Profile Container isolates and stores user profiles in containers, so IT can manage profiles independently and deliver more resources to users. Office 365 Container extends that capability to Office 365 profiles, and Cloud Cache stores profile containers on premises or in the cloud.

The Microsoft acquisition of FSLogix will help with Office 365 performance issues in particular, experts said.

"The problems in [end-user computing] grow bigger each and every day because of the way Office 365 works," said Trond Eirik Haavarstein, a Citrix and Microsoft technology blogger and trainer based in Brazil, in an email. "[It] seems like the latest FSLogix Cloud Cache and Microsoft WVD was what finally got Microsoft to buy FSLogix."

Some customers run into connection problems or slow load times in Office 365, for example, Bowker said.

"If a customer starts to feel hesitation or speed bumps along an Office 365 deployment, it's going to slow their adoption of cloud-connected Office 365 in some cases," he said. "A company may take a closer look at something like Google G Suite."

Office 365 can be especially problematic in nonpersistent virtual desktop deployments. Searching the Outlook inbox, for example, can hit snags, because the client stores search index on a device-by-device basis. If a user logs into a virtual desktop from different devices, the search index will not follow him. Office 365 customers have also experienced caching problems.

To iron out those issues, organizations may look to third-party tools, but this introduces additional costs and complexities, said Sacha Thomet, system engineer at Die Mobiliar, a large insurance company in Bern, Switzerland.

"A lot of customers ... have maybe a bad user experience after [moving] to Office 365 without any third-party products, especially combined with virtual desktops and apps," he said in an email.

Plus, an app that runs on the internet can be unpredictable, so IT departments welcome any additional control over cloud app performance, Bowker said.

Microsoft did not disclose pricing of the acquisition and declined to comment for this article.

Executive editor Alyssa Provazza and assistant site editor John Powers contributed to this report.

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