Systems

Out Of Office: Monitoring

Out Of Office: Monitoring

One of the biggest complaints you’ll likely hear after moving to Office 365 will be about its speed, or lack thereof. Now that data isn’t sitting on your LAN, there is lots of room for latency to hit your connection. There’s no doubt that your users will alert you to the problem in short order. So what can you do about it?

IT’S ALL ABOUT SPEED …

If speed is the primary concern, one of the first things you should do is get a baseline. If someone is complaining that performing a task is slow, how long is it taking? Minutes? Seconds? When it comes to making improvements, you need a way to ensure that changes are having a positive impact. In the case of Skype for Business, Microsoft actually has a tool to help assess your network.

Along with speed, you’ll want to be able to figure out where the problem lies. Now that large amounts of your data are in the cloud, you’ll have a lot more WAN traffic. Be sure to check your perimeter devices. With the increased volumes, these could easily be your bottlenecks. If the congestion lies past your perimeter, you can take a look at Azure ExpressRoute. Using this, you can create a private connection to Azure data centers, for a price.

…EXCEPT WHEN IT’S NOT ABOUT SPEED

Although speed will likely be one of the first and loudest complaints, you’ll also want to monitor availability. Microsoft offers service dashboards when you log into the portal, but you should also consider third-party monitoring solutions. Some of these solutions can regularly check SMTP to make sure it is accepting mail, or routinely make sure that your DNS is properly configured.

Routine checks like these can help keep the environment healthy. The benefit of going with a service for these sorts of checks is that they can alert you fairly quickly. Also, you won’t need to remember to actually do it yourself. Be sure to know what your SLA terms are as well—depending on what sort of downtime you are seeing, you may qualify for credits.

DON’T FORGET ABOUT SECURITY

Office 365 is a ripe target for hackers, plain and simple. Phishing attempts are the perfect attack vector because users might be used to logging in with their credentials on a regular basis. The point I’m getting at is that you’ll want to make sure you consider security when putting together a monitoring plan.

Office 365 has a Security and Compliance Center, which is a great place to start securing your environment. You define known IP ranges or audit user mailbox logins, and from what IP. Once again, there are plenty of third-party services that can yield additional reporting that isn’t available “out of the box” (or should that be “out of the cloud”).

WHO SHOULD KNOW WHAT?

In smaller environments, a lot of folks wear multiple hats. Reporting tools can quickly get folks the information they need. In larger environments, there are usually multiple teams involved. Similar to a point made in an earlier post, knowing who should be aware of problems is key. This also applies to users. If your monitoring tells you that a large portion of your users’ mailboxes are offline, what’s your plan to alert them?

Being able to monitor your environment’s health is one thing, but taking actions is another. This doesn’t just apply to Office 365. Hopefully, these posts have helped with planning out a smooth migration. But don’t forget to also plan for disaster.


Matt is an IT Manager by day in addition to a VMware vExpert, Veeam Vanguard, and Cisco Champion. With over 15 years of experience in various IT roles, he still continually strives to keep up with new trends, technologies, and products.