More and more enterprises are considering making the move to migrate to the cloud. The decision is one that will eventually come for most enterprises. The migration itself requires a lot of planning and preparation. This week we had the chance to sit down with Olivier Raynaut, the lead US Microsoft Specialist for GSX in the US to get his insights on the migration to the cloud, and the common questions customers have.
There is a steady increase of customers that consider moving to Office 365. How can they find out the benefits and drawbacks of doing so?
Indeed we see the trend of companies moving to the cloud increasing a lot these past years. Microsoft provides you with a list of benefits that you can take a look at (http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/business/why-office-365-for-business-FX104138860.aspx), of course this might sound like a marketing speech but it is still something interesting to read.
The main benefit, I would say is staying up to date as Microsoft will roll out for you the latest updates, not having to configure your environment and care about planning for changes. If a lot of custom development has been made on premise then it might get tricky once being full cloud. A common scenario that we see is going hybrid for most of the platform, especially Microsoft Exchange. This allows to have the best of both worlds, but still introduces limitations, especially for the interactions between online and on-premises users (e.g. it is not possible to delegate access to a user online from on-premises or the opposite).
I think that benefits and drawbacks are really unique to each company and thorough planning should be achieved before any migration.
Some customers move to Office 365 for a set of users but not all of them. How can you ensure that Office 365 is running fine for specific users such as Executive or "VIP users"?
This is always a tricky thing to ensure that it is working fine, especially for your boss or the CEO of the company. This is one of the many benefits of using a monitoring solution, you can directly configure scenarios on specific mailboxes to ensure availability and performance. For example you can configure opening the CEO mailbox every 10 minutes and be alerted as soon as there is a performance or access issue, before your CEO complains to you.
Moreover we have seen in the past that Office 365 had encountered a few issues, without automatically notifying their customers right away, therefore it is very important to have monitoring in place in order to find out the truth, and be able to know where the issue is coming from.
Figure 1: VIP Scenario with evolution of Access Time
How can I ensure that Office 365 will provide the same quality of service as an on-premises messaging environment?
For user connectivity to their mailbox
Routing email inbound vs Outbound
Again, extensive planning should be performed before moving to the cloud in order to answer these questions beforehand. Using GSX Monitor & Analyzer you can monitor and report on the user connectivity as well as routing time. What our customers usually perform are a set of scenarios using GSX Monitor to perform an "Open Mailbox" both online and on-premises, and compare the execution time and availability of these in our reporting tool GSX Analyzer.
As for the mail routing, it is possible to configure any type of scenario to send email from one location to another. So for example, having an internal mail routing in-between two on-premises users, compared to two online users; a round trip mail routing test from on-premises to an echo service (which will bounce back any received email to the sender), and same from online to the echo service.
Performing these scenarios for a couple of months will help you find out the differences (or similarities) of the service delivered from the on-premises environment or Exchange Online.
Figure 2: Comparison of opening an on premise mailbox and online mailbox
When using Office 365, how can I tell where the issues come from (e.g. ISP, Internal network, Office 365)?
GSX Monitor provides you with URL monitoring in order to monitor the Office 365 portal (portal.onmicrosoft.com), Office 365 login page (login.onmicrosoft.com) and some whiteness URLs. Basically by comparing these URL performances you can determine the root cause of any connectivity issues. For example, seeing the Office 365 login page and the "open mailbox" scenario time increase considerably but not the two witness URLs will indicate an issue from Office 365. Otherwise seeing a global increase on all the scenarios and URL will indicate an issue at the ISP or internal network level, which could then be narrowed down by monitoring internal equipment such as an intranet website.
Is it still important to define SLAs when I move to the cloud?
No matter what the environment is, it is critical to any organization to define a set of SLAs. SLAs allow to define a set of ground rules that should be followed in order to improve quality of service while limiting costs. Therefore based on the SLAs defined you might need to improve redundancy, backups, storage, or any equipment. For example without defining SLAs the IT department might struggle to get approval for new equipment.
Therefore, while monitoring the Cloud, it is important to get user-experience SLAs. And although the service is delivered from the cloud, you are still responsible for the quality of this service, to the different locations where your end users are.
While using GSX Monitor & Analyzer, you can easily create reports on SLAs and KPIs by using templates available across the different platforms you monitor.
Figure 3: Up time of scenarios compared to the 99% SLA defined in red.
Figure 4: Execution Time of scenarios sorted decreasingly
Video: Quick tour of GSX Monitor & Analyzer
Check out this new video and get the chance to understand GSX Solutions' business value!