GSX Blog

Top Ways to Check your Office 365 Health

Posted by Jean-Francois Piot on Thu, Jan 12, 2017

blog healthcheck-1.pngThe IBM Domino environment was mostly replaced by Microsoft on-premise technology, and later replaced by the Microsoft Cloud Services. One thing that hasn’t been replaced is the need for administrators to have control and visibility of service delivery to end-users.

Whether you’re using IBM applications, Microsoft on-premise servers, or Microsoft Office 365, as the messaging administrator you need to provide availability and performance metrics of the service delivered to your management. You also need to understand issues when they arise.

In a word, you’re still responsible for the service that you deliver, even if the servers are physically in the Microsoft datacenter. So, how do you measure the health of your Office 365 service delivery and how do you anticipate issues before they impact your end users?

Microsoft works to maintain the 99.99 percent of availability they promise out of their datacenter as well as to improve the features they provide and the performance they deliver. The issues that arise generally impact only some features and usually only affect a subset of users with a specific configuration or in one location. It’s difficult to know exactly how these issues impact your global network, and it’s impossible to predict, but it helps to know that Microsoft offers a health dashboard. The dashboard provides an understandable view of the availability and performance of each Office 365 service out of the datacenter. It also lets you configure alerts. The disadvantage is that the dashboard only shows service out of the datacenter, and doesn’t provide any idea of the service that is experienced by your users or relative to your own tenant. It doesn’t provide information into how issues are impacting the availability and performance in your company. Lastly, it doesn’t take into account user complaints that can stem from many issues within the Office 365 environment.

Microsoft provides two tools that can be useful for measuring the health of the Office 365 services delivered to your users. First, the Remote Connectivity Analyzer allows you to run a series of checks from the cloud to the cloud that will tests different part of the Office 365 services. This allows you to check if your tenant has problems with the basic functions of Office 365 by running Outlook connectivity tests, opening a mailbox, performing a mail routing, or connecting to Skype to Business Online. The disadvantage is that it is performed from Microsoft Azure to Microsoft Office 365, so basically from one cloud to another. It doesn’t provide you with any information that could help you troubleshoot what is happening at the user location.

Microsoft’s other tool that can be useful when it comes to checking the connection is called the Support and Recovery Assistant. This tool lets you perform tests to help you understand what’s happening when a location gets poor performance from Office 365. The problem is that these tests aren’t automatic or continuous, and they don’t alert you when an issue begins to arise. You still have to rely on user complaints for that.

That leaves manual testing as the last option for administrators. Manual tests are available in PowerShell. When conducting tests, you should start by testing pings to Office 365, DNS resolution time, latency, and end-user egress points to understand the impact of the network on your Office 365 service delivery.

Even if these tools are clearly not enough to measure, alert, report or troubleshoot the service to the end users, they still provide something to work on to check the health of the Office 365 service delivered to the end user. They show that Microsoft understands that the service out of the datacenter is not what matters most. That is why when people think about the health of the Office 365, they should always consider the entire route of the service, from the Microsoft datacenter to the user sitting at his desk.

When we measure health, we understand availability and performance of the service.The border between poor performance and unavailability is small, especially for end-users.

In order to understand the health of your services you need metrics, facts and alerts.

What matters is not really a poor performance but a degradation of the performance, because that is what users perceive. To measure a degradation of performance, you need to know what what’s normal. It is called baselining. This requires something that continuously measures the performance delivered to your end users and that can alert you when the performance is declining.

Finally, most of the Office 365 service are used in correlation with internal infrastructure applications and appliance that also have an impact on the service delivered. If you don’t monitor these applications at the same time and on the same dashboard, you will have difficulties troubleshooting the issue. Some companies have hybrid Exchange, some have also remaining Domino application servers, some are using gateways, proxy servers, and so on.

It all comes down to service delivered to your end users. Whether issues arise from the datacenter or your network, it’s important to monitor and understand what users are experiencing so that you can maintain the highest level of service. Understanding the relationship between availability and performance from the user’s perspective helps you achieve better insights and oversight of your cloud or hybrid cloud health.

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Tags: Office365, office 365 reporting, Office 365 usage, office 365 reports