GSX Blog

Navigating User Expectations in a New Office 365 Hybrid World

Posted by Juliette Ollagnier on Tue, Sep 26, 2017

As technology changes, so does user experiences and expectations. The technology shift from computer mainframes to cloud computing brought about a host of new challenges for IT administrators to manage; and how we handle end users’ complaints must be carefully considered within the scope of how the technology has changed.

With on-premises monitoring, we could monitor the server and solve problems directly; however, with the cloud, we no longer have that luxury as the cloud limits the access IT administrators have. For example, before, we could monitor counters, knobs and dials to know how they would affect users; however, on the cloud, we will never have access to these counters– they are Microsoft’s now. Even though our access has changed, users still rely on us to solve their problems; therefore, since the control IT admins have has changed, IT admins must also change how they handle customer support.

It is important to consider that there is no such thing as cloud-only enterprise and that most applications run on a hybrid of cloud and on-premises. Plus, the level of on-premises use varies by user and user location, which is why understanding varied user experiences can be so complicated. Furthermore, this hybrid system causes user experiences to have many nuanced layers.

There are proxies, security, servers and so many other factors that alter how the application operates. Because of this, what users expect versus how Office 365 operates, varies. Simply put, if users are used to certain actions, speed and operations on Office 365, and they feel it is not running accordingly, they are going to open up a support ticket for help. When IT admins receive these support tickets, they have to know the facts and numbers for that specific location.

We monitored the user experience before, during and after migration to the cloud. We discovered that Office 365 on the cloud operates slower than when using On-premises. Based on the action the end user is performing, actions on the cloud can be significantly slower. If the user threshold on opening mail, creating a meeting or any other action is based on on-premises speed, and then the user switches to the cloud, these actions can take twice as long, exceeding the user’s threshold. When the user threshold is exceeded, it causes users to open support tickets. Also, the speed and user threshold for each action also varies by location.

With every operating system, there is an ideal state where the application runs the smoothest and the fastest; but not all users are in an area where that can occur. Microsoft offers user detail on the backend by giving data from the Microsoft data center. However, although Microsoft user data shows the application is operating smoothly, this is from the Microsoft bubble and not all systems are operating from this ideal bubble. Basic connectivity testing does not work testing individual user experience does. By sending probes in different locations going through different proxies or other network components, we learned many factors can cause a change in application speed and user experience. IT admins need to have these facts for each location to be able to assist users properly when they open support tickets.

Ultimately, IT admins must be aware of the conditions in each location and manage users’ expectations for their specific location. If they can manage user expectations as well as the system, they can normalize each user’s individual experience and lower the number of support tickets opened.

[Webinar Podcast] Got complaints with Office 365 performance?
In this podcast, we do a technical deep dive into the metrics that are behind the tickets and the complaints. We dissect user actions, dig into the response times and show you what is really happening when tickets come in saying "Outlook is slow." Watch the podcast today >>

banner podcast Webinar.png

To learn more about the latest GSX Solutions, please visit the company at Microsoft Ignite, September 25-29, 2017 at booth #1165 or and at Microsoft Experience 2017 in Paris on October 3-4, 2017 (Formerly called Techdays Paris) at GSX Booth #37.

Tags: application performance management, application performance monitoring, APM, Office 365 monitoring, End user Experience, office 365 performance, outlook slow, DEM, Office 365 Hybrid